In a significant concession aimed at reviving stalled negotiations with the United States, Iran has dropped its demand that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) be removed from Washington's list of designated terror groups, Middle East Eye reports.
Previously, Iran made the IRGC's removal from the list a precondition for restoring the multinational deal that limits Iran's nuclear energy program in exchange for sanctions relief. In May, it was reported that Biden decided not to budge on the IRGC designation.
The Iran nuclear deal—officially, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—was signed during the Obama administration after lengthy and intense negotiations involving not only the United States and Iran, but also China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom. It imposed a host of additional restrictions on a nuclear energy program that was already operating under tight International Atomic Energy Agency supervision.
Though Iran was complying with the deal, Donald Trump—caving to neocon foreign policy advisors and Israel-first mega-donor Sheldon Adelson—unilaterally withdrew the United States from the deal in May 2018.
Progressing further along a neocon to-do list that also included moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Trump designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization in 2019. In a Hebrew-language tweet, then-Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Trump for "acceding to another one of my important requests."
Lacking any specifics, Trump's designation centered on vague claims that Iran engaged in "malign" behavior in the Middle East and around the world.
The IRGC is a major Iranian military organization that's independent from the country's regular army. Established in 1979 to safeguard the nascent Islamic republic, it has grown to become the country's dominant military entity—a force of some 125,000 complete with its own army, navy, air force and intelligence service. It also wields political and economic power.
It was the first time a state military institution had been labeled as a terrorist organization. The move was opposed by officials in the CIA and Department of Defense, along with former Obama national security advisor and current secretary of state Antony Blinken. Given other sanctions already in place on Iran and the IRGC, the designation's actual financial impact was muted.
In tit-for-tat fashion, Iran responded by designating the Pentagon's Central Command (CENTCOM) a terrorist organization and the U.S. government as a "supporter of terrorism." CENTCOM is responsible for military operations across a geographic swath stretching from Egypt through the Middle East to Kazakhstan and Pakistan.
If there's a terror case to be made against the IRGC, there's one to be made against CENTCOM and the USA too—given CENTCOM's cooperation with al Qaeda in Yemen and the American government's arming of Salafist terror organizations in Syria, just for starters.
On top of that hypocrisy, the U.S. government's application of terrorist designations has been impulsively disingenuous to the point that it saps the label of any meaning apart from the financial consequences. In practice, terror designations are just another means of bludgeoning countries that are out of favor with the U.S. government.
Underscoring that reality, Democratic and Republican members of Congress recently urged Biden to designate Russia a state sponsor of terror in response to its invasion of Ukraine. “With the designation, the United States would be able to ban dual-use exports to Russia and take economic action against other countries that do business with Russia,” said congressman Ted Lieu.
Then there's Cuba's whipsaw experience. Reagan declared Castro's government a state sponsor of terror in 1982. Then Obama decided he wanted to start normalizing relations and, suddenly one spring day in 2015, Cuba wasn't a terror sponsor anymore. Then Trump became president and, two weeks before the end of his term, Cuba was a terror sponsor all over again.
However, the most devastating blow to the credibility of America's terror-state list comes from the countries that aren't on the list but should be—chief among them, Saudi Arabia, where Biden is set to visit in July, reportedly to further commit the U.S. to the kingdom's protection.
Apart from Saudi Arabia's support of ISIS and other Salafist groups, recently-declassified FBI documents have added additional weight to accusations that Saudi embassy and consulate officials facilitated 9/11 hijackers' transition into American life ahead of their devastating attacks on New York and Washington.