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Iranian Commanders: IRGC ‘Most Powerful Force’ Against Terror, U.S. Supports Islamic State

With the possibility of President Donald Trump formally designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organization, the two top Iranian commanders praised their corps as terrorism fighters and accused the United States of providing material support to the Islamic State, including weapons.

Brig. Gen. Amir Hatami, Iran’s top defense official, claimed the IRGC is “the most powerful” force on the “frontline” of the war against terrorism.

“Any plot and action undermining this anti-terrorism foundation will help promote terrorism and insecurity in the region and across the world,” Hatami declared.

“The IRGC, the Army and all the country’s forces stand united against the hostile, belligerent policies and actions of the U.S. government, and will not allow them to jeopardize regional security through proxy war and terrorism,” he added.

This dovetails with IRGC ground forces commander Brig. General Abdullah Araqi accusing the United States of supplying logistical support, food, and even weapons to the Islamic State in Syria.

“The Americans have been in Syria and Iraq under the pretext of opposing and fighting Daesh, but the reality contravenes the U.S. claim,” said Araqi.

“The Americans do whatever they have in their power to support Daesh because they know very well that the Islamic Republic of Iran and the resistance front are the enemies of Daesh,” he added, using another name for the Islamic State.

Iran’s vassal in Lebanon, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, made similar claims recently. The Iranian storyline holds that the United States is keeping ISIS alive as a thorn in the side of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, a major ally and client of Tehran.

Inconveniently for Iranian propagandists, a weapon provided to Iraqi terrorists by the IRGC is making a comeback in parts of Iraq dominated by Iran-backed Shiite militias. Those militia groups have made no secret of their desire to drive the United States out of Iraq now that ISIS has been routed.

The explosively formed penetrator, or EFP, is a roadside bomb that fires superheated copper or steel into armored fighting vehicles. As the Washington Post recalls, the bombs were initially supplied to Nasrallah’s Hezbollah gang by Iran to kill American soldiers. Locally-produced variants began appearing as the technology spread, eventually finding their way into the hands of al-Qaeda, and possibly ISIS. Al-Qaeda affiliates in Afghanistan, Somalia, and the Palestinian territories have been known to use the Iranian weapons.

An EFP bomb killed American soldier Army Spc. Alexander Missildine on a road north of Baghdad at the beginning of October. Investigators are not yet certain where the bomb was made, or if it was planted by Iran’s militia allies. They consider it possible that ISIS or another group obtained EFP bombs and either used them because of their notorious effectiveness or because they wanted to frame the Shiites. Some speculate that Missildine’s death might have been the beginning of a major Iranian proxy war against U.S. coalition forces in Iraq, which Iran has ambitions to dominate.

In any case, Iran and its Revolutionary Guard Corps are the original source of the weapons and have not been held to account for their terrorist activities in Iraq. Dr. Sebastian Gorka, former Deputy Assistant to President Trump and former National Security editor at Breitbart News, argued on Thursday’s Breitbart News Daily that designating the IRGC terrorists should be implemented along with decertifying the Iran nuclear deal as a “double whammy” rebuke of Iran, with an eye toward taking back some of the diplomatic capital President Barack Obama gave Tehran with his nuclear deal.

Gorka expanded on what he dubbed the “decertify and designate” strategy in an op-ed on Thursday, saying:

President Trump has shown in a short amount of time his great respect for those who wear the cloth of the Republic and that he is willing to stand by our friends and stand up to our enemies. Since 1979 Iran has been our implacable foe. Now is the time to tell the world that Tehran’s terrorist arm will no longer be ignored.

Such a designation by the President, in parallel with decertification of the JCPOA would clear the decks of a new comprehensive approach to the Shia Jihadi threat that is the theocratic dictatorship of the mullahs.

I know how seriously our Commander-in-Chief takes his primary responsibility to protect all Americans. Now is the right time for him to reverse 8 years of lies and obfuscation when it comes to a regime that daily calls for our destruction as it attempts to acquire nuclear weapons.

Gorka argued that President Trump already signed an executive order in August that should serve as the basis for designating the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, not just its particularly odious Quds Force dirty-tricks unit, as a terrorist organization that carries out “destabilizing activities” across the Middle East, from Iraq and Syria to Yemen and Israel.

The primary arguments against a terrorist designation were summarized earlier this week by James Durso at the Hill: It would anger Iran and prompt it to back away from making concessions on its ballistic missile program; it could empower “hardliners” in the Iranian government at the expense of “moderates”; it may interfere with efforts by the secular government of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to chip away at the enormous financial power of the ayatollah-controlled IRGC; designating formally recognized elements of a nation-state’s military as terrorists might prompt other countries to do the same to American troops; and it hasn’t been done since the Nazi Waffen-SS was so designated at the Nuremberg Trials.

Ariane Tabatabai of Georgetown University adds at the Atlantic that the IRGC is uniquely adept at exploiting hardships in Iran to grow more rich and powerful, it already controls so much of Iran’s economy that it is too big to discredit by labeling it a terrorist organization, and that the IRGC’s adventures in Syria have made it very popular with the Iranian people so a terrorist designation could backfire by rallying the public around the Revolutionary Guard and making political reforms agreeable to the Western world less likely.

Tabatabai credits President Rouhani with seeking to cut the IRGC’s funding, and for the first time in two decades naming a military commander who is not a member of the Guards to the top spot at the Ministry of Defense. That would be General Amir Hatami, the guy who praised the IRGC as the greatest terrorism-fighting force in the world and promised it will stand against “the hostile, belligerent policies and actions of the US government.”

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