The Folly of Lifting Sanctions on the Deadliest Arm of the Iranian Regime

April 12 2022

In exchange for agreeing to return to the 2015 nuclear deal, Tehran is demanding that the U.S. cease to consider its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the U.S. has no intention of doing so, yet reports have also circulated that Foggy Bottom is seeking a workaround of some sort. Elliott Abrams and Behnam Ben Taleblu argue that any such compromise “would be pure strategic folly.”

To begin with, the IRGC was created four decades ago as a parallel military force to the national army. . . . In the ensuing decades, the IRGC has become a powerful, and perhaps the most powerful, player inside the Islamic Republic. . . . The closest analogy is to the Soviet KGB at the height of its powers.

The IRGC has engaged in or supported acts of terrorism, kidnapping, or regional destabilization across multiple continents throughout its existence and has been at the forefront of the Islamic Republic’s efforts to “export” its revolution. The IRGC is the chief military unit responsible for Iran’s foreign operations, with branches like the Quds Force that train and equip proxies to target U.S. military personnel, interests, and partners. During the Iraq War (2003-2011) for example, Iran, through the IRGC and its proxies, was assessed as being complicit in over 600 U.S. fatalities and thousands of injuries. This means that a reported one in six U.S. deaths during the Iraq war can be traced to the Quds Force, directly or indirectly.

The FTO designation is . . . America’s most powerful counterterrorism authority and has been singled out by Tehran for that reason. Iran is unlikely to have jeopardized a nuclear deal that stands to free an estimated 130 billion dollars of frozen assets over the revocation of a designation that some chalk up to being mere “symbolism.” . . . Removing the IRGC from the FTO list will endanger American lives.

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Read more at National Interest

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Iraq war, Terrorism, U.S. Security

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship