US President Donald Trump has labelled Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organisation. It is the first time the US has called another nation’s military terrorists.
The White House said the IRGC was Iran’s primary means of “implementing its global terrorist campaign”. Washington-Tehran tensions have risen since Trump withdrew the US from the international Iran nuclear pact.
Trump released a statement on Monday saying that, “this unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognises 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 president added that the move was meant to “significantly expand the scope and scale” of pressure on Iran. “If you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism,” Trump said.
What is the IRGC
The IRGC was set up shortly after the 1979 Iranian revolution to defend the country’s Islamic system, and to provide a counterweight to the regular armed forces.
It has since become a major military, political and economic force in Iran, with close ties to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and many other senior figures hailing from its ranks.
The IRGC is estimated to have more than 150,000 active personnel, boasts its own ground forces, navy and air force, and oversees Iran’s strategic weapons, including its ballistic missiles.
It also controls the paramilitary Basij Resistance Force, which has helped suppress domestic dissent, and the powerful bonyads, or charitable foundations, which run a considerable part of the economy.
The IRGC exerts influence elsewhere in the Middle East by providing money, weapons, technology, training and advice to allied governments and armed groups through its shadowy overseas operations arm, the Quds (Jerusalem) Force.