Is “Terrorist” an Appropriate Designation for Iran Guard Corps?

On April 8 (2019), the USA has announced to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. What followed is a heated debate on broadcast-media across the world as well as on various social-media platforms.

Following the announcement, some analysts appearing in the global broadcast-media outlets suggested that the move was directed at the Israeli audience who would be heading towards polling stations to elect their next government. They believed that the designation was done to help Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his tight re-election campaign.

However, the ‘reason’ wasn’t connected to Netanyahu’s re-election campaign, but the ‘timing’ was.

Designating the IRGC – which is a part of Iranian armed forces and not a group of armed militias – only for the purpose of helping the re-election of the Prime Minister of an all-time-ally does not seem a right speculation.

Infact, the move was on the cards for a long time anyway due to the IRGC’s support for the spread of terrorist proxies across the Middle East, but the ‘timing‘ could have been chosen to help Netanyahu’s re-election campaign.

Whether or not the decision was a sensible one needs no further consideration. Yet the debate that followed on mainstream broadcast-media and various social-media platforms need to be addressed. For this, a bunch of incidents and happenings that have been taking place in Middle East have to be considered alongwith their connection to the IRGC. Syria seems the appropriate conflict zone to start with.

In Syria, a 13-year-old boy’s penis was cut off by the brutal mukhabarat (which is the secret police of Syrian dictator Bashar-al-Assad) in 2011. The boy, named Hamza Al-Khateeb, was returned to his family with his body mutilated.

Hamza’s head was swollen, purple and disfigured, body was a mess of welts, cigarette burns and wounds from bullets fired to injure, not kill. Kneecaps smashed, neck broken, jaw shattered. The most brutal part of the torture was that, as mentioned earlier, his penis was cut off.

After a video of his tortured-body was posted on YouTube, thousands of Syrians rallied and chanted “We Are All Hamza!”.

The boy was among hundreds of children and teenagers who faced the same fate in the hands of Assad’s police and army, though it was the boy’s story that attracted more coverage during the time from the mainstream media.

As Iran’s leaders always try to portray themselves as the symbol of moral values, many in Iran and elsewhere expected them to act – or atleast speak – for the slain victims and against the heinous activities of Bashar-al-Assad and his loyalists. Iranian leadership instead chose to side with the longtime ally Assad, who was already named – by the people from his own country, the region and the world – as the “Butcher”.

What’s more, Iranian leadership’s military arm, the IRGC, had led the campaign of killing the Sunnis and non-twelver Shias in thousands to depopulate many Syrian and Iraqi areas from Sunnis and non-twelver Shias — something which is no less than genocide.

This fear of being killed for their sectarian identities had compelled a portion of the remaining Sunni and non-twelver Shia population to leave their homeland and seek refuge in other countries (particularly neighbouring countries and Europe) so that they could escape the genocide. Compelling these people out of their native land – and in some places actively driving them out from their native areas – is something which amounts to ethnic cleansing.

Everyone with the slightest interest in Middle East affairs is well-informed about the sectarian cleasing that happened in Iraq’s Fallujah. The Iraqi forces and Iran-backed militias killed thousands of innocent Sunnis and non-twelver-Shias in the cover of “liberating” the area from ISIS. In the areas around Iraqi city of Samarra too, the Sunnis were driven out with the intention to create a Sunni-free corridor.

All of the above said killing campaigns had been monitored, aided, funded and managed in the ground-zero by the by the Quds Force, which is responsible for carrying out the IRGC’s campaigns outside Iran.

In Syria, the IRGC had carried out the campaign with the help from Assad’s army and Iran-backed Lebanese militant group named Hezbollah. In Iraq, the IRGC had carried out the campaign with the help of sectarian elements in Iraqi army, Iran-backed twelver-militias in Iraq and Hezbollah.

Although, for years, the IRGC has been training the terrorist proxies in a number of regional countries, the IRGC-members went a step further in the recent times to directly engage themselves to the killings of innocent civilians in Syria and Iraq based on sectarian identities.

What’s more, the repeated gas/chemical attacks on Syrian civilians, who were residing in rebel-held areas, could not have been carryout by Assad’s airforce without the backing from the IRGC and without Iranian leadership’s endorsement. All the mainstream global media outlets had either published articles or broadcasted the footages of the aftermath of these attacks on civilians.

The broadcasted-footages clearly show how these attacks killed civilians, especially the children, who had to go through enormous sufferings and pain before ultimately losing their lives.

Hence, it wasn’t an unfair move to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as ‘terrorist’, especially when the organization has aided and committed so much atrocities (only few of which have been mentioned above). Therefore, if it is right to designate any atrocious group (including ISIS) as ‘terrorist’, it was equally right to designate the IRGC as ‘terrorist’.

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