April 10 (UPI) -- The United States has decided to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a Foreign Terrorist Organizations under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189).
The IRGC certainly meets the three criteria: a "foreign" organization that "engages in terrorism or terrorist activity or retains the capability and intent to engage in terrorism or terrorist activity," which "threatens American nationals or the national security of the United States."
What is the significance and the implications of this designation and are further steps needed to counter the Iranian regime's terrorism?
Tehran's reaction before the designation was very telling. The usual hollow show of force and empty rhetoric by IRGC and military commanders brings to mind a man whistling past the graveyard. The mullahs only understand the language of force and back down when confronted with firmness.
Case in point: They have done nothing in reaction to devastating attacks on IRGC units and proxy forces in Syria. The regime threatened to burn the nuclear deal if the United States pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action and to rapidly resume enrichment. Yet, a year after the United States pulled out of the JCPOA, the mullahs are still searching for a cigarette lighter to burn the agreement.
Tehran is much weaker now than it was a year ago in light of the continued protests and strikes all over the country, loss of 70 percent of its currency value, at least 40 percent inflation and 50 percent unemployment rates. The National Council of Resistance of Iran, U.S. Representative Office recently published a detailed book, The Rise of Financial Empire of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. The book includes information on many institutions affiliated with the IRGC, such as major Iranian businesses and financial institutions, banks, the auto industry, communication and telecommunication industries, construction, agriculture, commerce and services, oil and gas industries, mining industries, steel and aluminum industries, the pharmaceutical industry, and many more.
The IRGC Cooperative Foundation (Bonyad TaavonSepah) is regarded as the most powerful financial institution in the country. Ansar Bank, the fourth-largest bank of Iran is owned by the IRGC, which is also a major shareholder in Saderat Bank. These two banks have 3,232 branches in Iran. Another major bank, Pasargad is also tied to the IRGC.
The IRGC is the primary decision-maker at the second-largest automaker in Iran, Saipa. Khatam al-Anbia, which is actually owned and operated by the IRGC, is the largest contractor for government projects. Khatam has 5,000 subcontractors and about 135,000 employees. Khatam also has extensive operations in the sectors of oil and gas and petrochemicals.
For instance, it is responsible for the Phase 15 and 16 development of the South Pars oil and gas field. State-run news agency IRNA quoted the director of the National Iranian Oil Co. as saying that Khatamoil contracts had surpassed $25 billion.
The FTO designation for the IRGC would have the following impact:
1. It puts the Iranian regime in a defensive position, demoralizes the IRGC and its proxies.
2. It helps dry up the resources for the militia groups trained and funded by the IRGC.
3. It boosts the morale of the Iranian people, as they consider the IRGC as a major force in suppressing the population, as well as plundering their wealth.
4. It gives an additional tool to the U.S. administration to prosecute Americans who are providing material support to the regime.
5. European companies will think twice before making any trade or investment, as their counterparts are likely to be IRGC and its affiliate entities. The IRGC controls over half of the Iranian economy.
The next step after the designation is to identify all affiliate entities of this notorious organization and subject them to sanctions. Designation of the IRGC amounts to a major blow to the terror apparatus of the Iranian regime and sends a strong signal that terrorists will finally have to pay the price. Now is the time.
Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the Washington office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, is credited with exposing Iranian nuclear sites in Natanz and Arak in 2002, triggering International Atomic Energy Agency inspections. He is the author of "The Iran Threat." Follow him @A_Jafarzadeh.