[Hat tip to Small Wars Journal]
By Robert J. Bunker and Hakim Hazim
The recent U.S. consideration to designate the 125,000 person strong Revolutionary Guard of Iran as a “specially designated global terrorist” (per Executive Order 13224) has quite a few international security implications. (1) On the most basic level, it highlights growing U.S. and Iranian tensions over Iran’s nuclear weapons program and Iranian involvement—via its Quds Force belonging to the Revolutionary Guard—in both fermenting and supporting terrorist and insurgent activities in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
What may be far more significant, however, is the U.S. designating the military branch of a sovereign state as a terrorist organization. In the past, such designations have applied only to non-state entities. (2) While the intent of such a designation would be to target the Revolutionary Guard’s multi-billion dollar business network with ties to over 100 companies, (3) broader implications concerning state sovereignty, political legitimacy, and, ultimately, non-state-on-state conflict readily emerge. Before these issues are discussed, a short overview of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard or IRG should be provided with a focus on the Quds Force.