President Donald Trump on Monday announced the United States is designating Iran’s elite military force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a terrorist organization.
Trump said in a statement that the “unprecedented” move “recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.”
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was formed after the 1979 Islamic revolution with a mission to defend the clerical regime, in contrast to more traditional military units that protect borders.
At home, the Revolutionary Guards have amassed strong power, including with significant economic interests.
The Guards’ prized unit is the Quds Force, named for the Arabic word for Jerusalem, which supports forces allied with Iran around the region including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
Addressing reporters following Trump’s announcement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned all banks and business of consequences to dealing with the Revolutionary Guards.
“The leaders of Iran are racketeers, not revolutionaries,” Pompeo said. “Businesses and banks around the world now have a clear duty to ensure that companies with which they conduct financial transactions are not conducted with the IRGC in any material way.”
The Trump administration has already imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran after withdrawing last year from an international agreement under which Tehran drastically scaled back its nuclear program.
A senior Trump administration official said the new measure would criminalize contact with the Guards and “enable our prosecutors to bring charges to those that bring material support to the IRGC.”
“The IRGC is interwoven into the Iranian economy.… The safest course is to stop doing business with the IRGC. If you do business with the IRGC you run the risk of bankrolling terrorism,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Another official said the Guards have “been a principal driver of violence on a vast scale for many decades” in an attempt “to reshape the Middle East in Iran’s favor.”
The dramatic escalation of Washington’s attempt to undermine Iran’s influence comes on the eve of Israeli elections where close Trump ally Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking to extend his 13 years in office.
Trump, who describes himself as the most pro-Israeli US president ever, has recently recognized Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, as well as previously moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the contested city of Jerusalem.
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The California Democrat told reporters Thursday that Trump had obviously abused his office by attempting to pressure Ukraine into investigating political rival Joe Biden.
"The evidence is clear that the president -- the president -- has used his office for his own personal gain," Pelosi said.
Pelosi lamented that "Republicans are in denial about the facts," saying "the sad tragedy of all of this is the behavior of the president and the defense of that behavior by the Republicans.”
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Former conservative insider reveals the terrifying right-wing media bubble protecting Trump from impeachment
David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush and a one-time insider in the conservative movement, explains in his latest column for The Atlantic how President Donald Trump is being saved from impeachment by a right-wing media ecosystem that doesn't allow its viewers to hear any contradictory facts.
In particular, Frum points to Rep. Devin Nunes's (R-CA) bizarre, conspiratorial rants during the impeachment inquiry to demonstrate the astonishing power that right-wing misinformation has on American political discourse.