As part of the Trump Administration campaign to isolate Iran, Secretary Mike Pompeo declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist group.
The IRCG was created in 1979 to protect the newly established Islamic Republic of Iran. Today it does much more. In Iran, the IRCG is an important actor for business including telecommunications, and energy.
They have close ties with the current Supreme Leader of Iran, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which gives them influence beyond the Iranian boarders. For example, their sub-group Quds operates in Syria, Israel, and other Middle Eastern states.
Pompeo cites the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia and the 2011 foiled plot by the Quds to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US. It seems as if this move has been a long time coming due to previous attacks relating to the US and its allies.
Trumps use of ‘maximum pressure’ is a part of this move to add IRCG to the list of terrorists and it is used as a way to stabilize the region to create peace.
However, the timing suggests this action may be political to support Benjamin Netanyahu, who was running for Prime Minister of Israel. Trump and Netanyahu have very close relations since the end of the Obama administration, so it would be plausible for Trump to make this move to support his friend in the Middle East, while continuing his campaign to isolate and threaten Iran.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has also responded in word and action with Trumps decision to designate the IRCG as a foreign terrorist group. In return, the Iranians have declared all American forces in the Middle East as terrorists.
This latest development increases the already heightened tension. This could be catastrophic in the Middle East. Since both militaries consider their counterparts terrorists, it could lead to war between the US and Iran.
The US has made many harsh moves to isolate Iran since the election of Trump. Although, it seems that tensions between the US and Iran are at an all-time high. President Trump just might want to reevaluate the way he’s using his power.
Nick Webb is the Research Fellow at Rise to Peace.