Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Why Designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Terrorists Would Paint a Big Red Target on U.S. Troops in Iraq

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Why Designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Terrorists Would Paint a Big Red Target on U.S. Troops in Iraq

Article excerpt

The Trump administration is considering designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization. This is an old Joe Lieberman idea from 2007, and it is a very bad idea. It keeps being done rhetorically (2007, 2017), and then announced again out of amnesia. It is illogical, but it is also practically speaking a potential disaster if it were actually thoroughly implemented.

The notion is illogical because the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is a state actor, not a non-state actor. Terrorists are civilians who commit violence against other civilians to achieve some political goal.

The IRGC is sort of like the U.S. National Guard. It isn't the formal army, but it is an adjunct to it.

If the U.S. has a problem with IRGC actions, it should accuse the Iranian government of war crimes. States commit war crimes. There are international laws and institutions for dealing with war crimes.

But the practical side of the issue is that Iraqi Shi'i militias close to the IRGC are essentially the hosts and protectors of the some 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Saturday for the Iraqi government to expel U.S. troops from Iraq as soon as possible, lest they become entrenched. Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi is on a state visit to Iran. Iran is proposing dozens of joint projects, despite the U.S. increasingly severe sanctions on Iran.

When ISIL took over 60 percent of Iraqi territory in 2014, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani called for Iraqis to mobilize against the terrorist organization. …

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