The Trump administration is reportedly preparing to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization, the first such designation of another country’s military, as early as next Monday.
The designation might come as early as Monday, three US officials told Reuters and the Wall Street Journal, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Such a move would be a major escalation of the Trump administration’s policy of pressure on Iran, which began with the pullout from the nuclear deal last May and continued with the reimposition of sanctions suspended under the 2015 agreement.
The IRGC was founded after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution. Its foreign expeditionary branch, the Quds force, has been heavily involved in fighting against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists in Syria, as well as other militant groups opposed to the government in Damascus.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, considers Iran an existential threat to his country, and has even made thinly veiled nuclear threats against Damascus and Tehran over IRGC’s presence in Syria.
The timing of the announcement is especially interesting, given that Netanyahu is facing a tough election next Tuesday. In addition to ditching the nuclear deal, US President Donald Trump has made several other moves in support of Netanyahu, including the relocation of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and the recent recognition of Israel’s claim to the Golan Heights, which it has occupied since the 1967 war with Syria, Jordan and Egypt.
Proposals to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization have been circulating around Washington for years, though critics have warned that doing so would open US military and intelligence officials to retaliation by other governments.