The media and legal experts in Iran have already begun examining the implications a potential decision by the Trump administration to designate the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) as a terrorist entity. Tabnak, an outlet affiliated with former I.R.G.C. chief commander Mohsen Rezaei, published a lengthy article that analyzed how such a move by Washington would impact the Islamic Republic and explored Tehran’s options to challenge and retaliate against it.  

Dr. Yousuf Molayi, a legal expert and international law lecturer at Tehran University, opined that a potential U.S. blacklisting of the I.R.G.C. could indirectly undermine the nuclear agreement Iran signed with the United States and five other world powers in July 2015. He also noted that Tehran has limited legal avenues to challenge it. “The global economy is deeply dependent on America. Therefore, major countries and companies do not want to lose the American market. When a [terrorist designation] list is prepared and leaves its direct impact on Iran’s economy, all countries and companies that could invest in and do business with Iran will refrain from doing so and we will face a lot of detriments,” he explained.

Comment: The U.S. media reported yesterday that the Trump administration is considering designating the I.R.G.C. and the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist organizations. If implemented, such a move would put the I.R.G.C. together with a long list of U.S.-designated terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda and the Islamic State. The White House has not confirmed or denied the reports, but Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters: “There’s no one that can question the president’s commitment to fully attacking and addressing the threat that we face by Islamic terrorists.” The news comes just days after the Trump administration put Iran “on notice” over the latter’s missile activity and support for terrorism and imposed new sanctions on Iranian entities.

The I.R.G.C. is Iran’s elite military force, which was established by the Islamic Republic’s founder Ruhollah Khomeini to defend the fledgling clerical regime following the 1979 revolution. But over the past 37 years, the I.R.G.C. has not only turned into Iran’s most powerful military force but it also dominates Iranian economy and has extensive influence over the country’s politics as well. The Quds Force, the I.R.G.C.’s elite branch responsible for external operations and run by Qassem Soleimani, has played an active role in arming, training and funding terrorist and militant organizations in the Middle East, particularly after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.