Iran Briefing – Less than ten days after the US announced that two Iranian citizens linked to the IRGC were involved in an assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador to the US, the scope of this news intensified to include punitive action against the IRGC. The United Kingdom, Canada, and the European Union together have placed five suspects who are linked to or members of the IRGC (Mansour Arbabseer, Gholam Shakouri, Ghasem Suleymani, Abdolreza Shahlaei, and Hamed Abdollahi) under travel restrictions and investigation. These individuals’ assets have also been frozen.
Although there are people who consider the accusations of the US deceptive, the fact that the US and its supporters (Canada and the EU countries) have taken a position in less than ten days categorically shows the power of the US to mobilize its supporters. Without doubt, the power of the US in mobilizing world opinion against the Islamic Republic will not be enough. It is very likely that Saudi Arabia (which, based on US claims, is the victim of this incident) will encourage the Arab world to align with other US supporters.
Most interestingly, after the EU placed sanctions on the five aforementioned individuals, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Katherine Ashton, stated that the EU made its decision in the name of combating terrorism.
In reality, Ms. Ashton’s announcement opens a new door against the IRGC: its name will practically be included on the list of terrorist organizations.
Meanwhile, the IRGC already has a bad history from the past to the present. Exploits such as the assassination of Shapour Bakhtiari and his secretary in France, the Mykonos assassinations in Germany, the bombing of the Jewish Center in Argentina, the IRGC’s heavy presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, the transfer of arms to Nigeria and Senegal (which eventually cut Senegal-Iran relations), the rumored IRGC involvement in crushing the ongoing protests in Syria, and most importantly the IRGC’s influential role in the crackdown on the Iranian protests—have complicated the IRGC’s efforts to negate accusations against it.
Now the IRGC has changed into a military-security-economic organization with a heavy presence in all of Iran’s institutions and projects. The appointment of Rostam Ghasemi as Minister of Oil symbolizes the peak of IRGC influence on the Ninth Government. At the same time, the IRGC is the Supreme Leader’s eyes and arms. Both the IRGC and the Supreme Leader aim to change the IRGC from just a military organization to a more powerful security-economic organization.
Hence it’s clear why, before September 7, Deputy IRGC Commander General Hossein Salami announced that the “Regime’s response to the enemy’s threats will be hard and crushing.” General Salami implied that he was very well aware of the scope of the incidents that the Islamic Republic aimed to carry out.
Looking at the wide-scale attack against the IRGC following the US announcement, it’s expected that the scale of these attacks will increase. It’s highly likely that in the near future the IRGC’s name will enter the list of terrorist organizations.
General Salami and many others in the Islamic Republic—which is delighted with the IRGC’s missile and varied armed capabilities—are ready to give “hard and crushing response.” It seems that they didn’t realize that the US possesses knowledge of the IRGC’s hardware capabilities and would put to work its software power to fight the IRGC. The IRGC lacks the ability to execute operations in the area of software.
In essence, the CIA and the FBI soft trap avoids old-fashioned hard combat with the Islamic Republic (in which the IRGC plays a critical role).
Before President Barack Obama begins his presidential campaign for a second term in the White House, the US will avoid entering an old-fashioned war.
If the latest US claims at the UN Security Council will be proven correct, the IRGC will bear hard consequences. Even without substantiation of the claims, America and its allies will fundamentally choose to debilitate the IRGC and eventually the Supreme Leader because of the IRGC’s bad history of cracking down on the Iranian protesters, its cancerous presence in even the minutest details of government, and its position as the biggest force of the Iranian establishment.
Understanding this soft trap and considering reports from inside the IRGC that indicate many IRGC personnel are discontent with the crackdown on the Iranian people’s protests, placing elite IRGC members under a variety of sanctions will deprive them of the possibility to act. It’s enough to look at the US and EU human rights sanctions lists to find the names of many elite IRGC members. Furthermore, the names of many influential IRGC members are on the list of sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program.
Most interestingly, the latest rounds of EU sanctions against the Islamic Republic specifically target the IRGC Quds Forces, not because of the nuclear issue, human rights violations, or the crackdown on the Iranian people’s protests, but for supporting the Syrian government in suppressing the ongoing protests in Syria.
The Complementary Trap
While the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Iran Human Rights, Ahmad Shaheed, presented his report to the Secretary General, thanks to the pressure from the US and its allies (EU, Canada, some Arab countries, as well as Australia, Japan, and South Korea), the Islamic Republic is now psychologically isolated.
In addition to the soft trap targeting the IRGC, the United States’ other trap is to basically disturb the Islamic Republic’s financial operations. Based on claims from US officials, the Islamic Republic’s Central Bank (the country’s main artery in conducting transactions with the outside world) will also be sanctioned.
If China and Russia block this resolution containing such proposals and the US fails to get UN Security Council to sanction the Islamic Republic’s Central Bank, then the US and its supporters will still disturb the financial transactions between the Islamic Republic’s banks, in the end seriously affecting the IRGC’s activities.