There's growing apprehension in Israel – America's strongest and most loyal ally in the Middle East – that the U.S. might consider lifting the terror designation against Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a condition of the looming nuclear agreement.
In 2018, President Donald Trump nixed U.S. involvement in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – known commonly as the "Iran nuclear deal" – due to Iran's unwillingness to take any steps to curtail its nuclear weapons program. Now, a few short years later, the Joe Biden administration is making its best attempts to salvage the nuclear deal with Iran that never worked in the first place.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett recently issued a warning, expressing that the Iran deal would "likely create a more violent, more volatile Middle East." He also warned that Iran is demanding the IRGC be removed from the U.S. State Department's list of Foreign Terror Organizations (FTO) if a nuclear deal were reached in Vienna, lamenting "they are now asking to let the biggest terror organization on Earth off the hook."
The IRGC was designated an FTO in mid-April 2019, during the Trump administration. And now Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid finds himself calling upon Biden's White House to not delist the terror group.
American Family News spoke to Clare Lopez about the concern. Lopez, the founder and president of Lopez Liberty and a former career operations officer with the CIA, explains that the IRGC was a "special forces" unit created by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini after the 1979 revolution in Iran. She describes the "unconventional force [as a] counterbalance [to the existing Iranian military] – one that Khomeini could count on with complete confidence." The IRGC has been estimated to include over 190,000 active personnel.
Lopez says the IRGC operates both domestically inside Iran and abroad, adding that the IRGC's Quds force is specifically designated to be the overseas expeditionary force for the Iranian regime. Each collaborates with the Iranian-back terror organization Hizballah, which also has a presence all over the world.
The IRGC has been responsible for propping up several terrorist proxies, like Hizballah, and plotting or executing attacks on civilians, diplomats, and military personnel across the globe. For these reasons alone, the former CIA operations officers contends that the Biden administration should be resolute against removing the IRGC from the FTO list. But there's an even greater reason, Lopez points out.
"The IRGC should remain on the Foreign Terror Organization list because of its close, coordinating, directing, and executing role in the attacks of 9/11," she tells AFN.
As one of the expert witnesses in Havlish, et al. v. bin Laden, et al., Lopez explains that it was concluded by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District New York that Iran and Hizballah were co-responsible with Al-Qaeda for the attacks of 9/11. An affidavit by Lopez and Bruce Tefft outlined their statements to the court.
Lopez concludes that erasing IRGC's name from the State Department's list would only make Iran more belligerent.
"Having never actually been held to account for 9/11, Iran feels invulnerable … never mind the weakness [the U.S. is] showing at the Vienna talks," Lopez laments. "Gifting the removal of the IRGC from the FTO list would only embolden a regime that already feels it can get away with anything."