|Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) (photo-AFP-JIJI)
Formed after the Islamic revolution of 1979, the IRGC is not only Iran's most powerful military institution, it has deep influence over domestic politics and the economy.
The designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization will allow the US to impose further sanctions, particularly on trade. Certain affiliates of the IRGC have been targeted for sanctions for supporting terrorists and violating human rights.
President Trump says the designation “will significantly expand the scope and scale” of pressure on the Iranian regime, insisting that any group or individual that does business with the IRGC is sponsoring terrorism. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned banks and businesses of consequences if they continue to do business with the IRGC. He told a Senate Committee on Wednesday that President Trump will step up pressure on Iran to force it to change its behavior.
The IRGC has great political influence and an important role in Iran’s economy. It has relations with many foreign individuals and organizations. The US’s move will disrupt Iran’s economic and diplomatic relationships and global connectivity. Analysts say the US’s move and Iran’s retaliation as well as reaction from Shi’ites in other Middle East countries will heighten regional confrontation.
The Pentagon and the US intelligence community are concerned that Trump’s move will trigger a strong backlash against American troops in the Middle East, while harming Iran’s economy less than hoped. Fighting groups in Palestine and Iraq have rejected the US’s designation, and said the move will not affect their actions. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condemned the US decision, insisting the IRGC has been fighting terrorism since it was established. He said Iran will not allow the US sanctions to deter its scientific and military development.