For nearly 40 years, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has tormented Iranian society. Using their status as the so-called Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, the IRGC, as the organisation is commonly known, has emerged as the most powerful and corrosive forces both inside Iran and in the wider region.
The depth of the IRGC’s reach, whose activities span the globe from Afghanistan to Venezuela, has now grown to epidemic proportions. Their direct and indirect involvement with terrorist groups and terror activities goes back to the early years of the revolution. As the shock troops and fanatical protectors of Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic revolution, the IRGC were and remain dedicated to waging war on the West and Israel.
The IRGC’s entire existence is rooted in their origins as a group of veterans who had fought and trained with Amal – the Lebanese Shiite militia that was the forerunner to Hezbollah – and Yasser Arafat’s PLO. Using asymmetrical methods to kill and terrorise populations has been in their DNA since they first began liquidating political opponents in Iran in the months immediately after Khomenei’s February 1979 return to Tehran.
The Guards’ connection to the killing of hundreds of US Marines and French paratroopers in Beirut; the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires; unleashing waves of sectarian bloodshed in Iraq and Yemen; the sponsorship of radical terror groups Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hezbollah, its support for Venezuela’s buffoonish autocrat Nicolas Maduro, and their alliance with Russia and Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad in the latter’s brutal, and still ongoing, civil war classifies the IRGC as a terrorist group.
With roughly 150,000 military personnel, including ground, air, and naval forces, and along with the elite Quds Force, which acts as the major trainer and organiser of radical terror groups and militias, the IRGC has permeated all aspects of Iranian society. It remains the dominant economic and intelligence gathering force in Iran to the extent that it stifles entrepreneurship and indirectly punishes its own citizens by forcing the world community to isolate Iran because of the IRGC’s aggressive policies abroad.
By stigmatising the IRGC and exposing them for what they are as a terrorist group with the mentality of an organised crime syndicate, the US has taken the right step towards checking the IRGC’s destructive behaviour in way that the Guard will have no way respond – through the imposition of historic levels of economic pressure that will help drive up the costs of their expansionist and violent foreign policy.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and those who lead it, including General Qasem Soleimani, have the blood of countless numbers of Iraqis, Yemenis, Syrians, Lebanese, Israelis, Kurds, Argentines, Afghans, Europeans, and Americans on their hands. For that, Europe now needs to recognise that the days of having it both ways with Iran’s government, so long as the IRGC is the main force behind its policy decisions, is over.
The EU needs to join its American partners and officially call Soleimani and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps what they are – terrorists, who threaten global security.