The United States today announced its decision to name the Iranian Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (usually foreshortened to 'Revolutionary Guards in the West) as a 'specially designated global terrorist'. The announcement is a precedent setting move, since the AGIR is the first formally-constituted national military force to be branded as a terrorist organization. The designation will allow American intelligence and law enforcement to target the AGIR's extensive international business operations and finances, as well as bring action against companies that do business with the Revolutionary Guards.
The AGIR is estimated to have some 125,000 troops, and exists parallel to and indepedent from the regular Iranian Army. It has its own airforce, navy, army and intelligence services. The AGIR also supports a huge potential militia force, estimated in 2005 to have a strength of 11 million. That's right kids, 11 million. So, if anyone is keeping track, the USA has just designated 11.125 million Iranians as terrorists.
And why, you might ask? It has to do with the alleged activities of the AGIR in Lebanon and Iraq. In the latter case, the Revolutionary Guards are accused of supplying weapons and training to Shiite militias. These claims are not unfounded, nor are they conclusively proven. At any rate, Iran denies all of the allegations, and the designation is bound to ramp up tensions in the already prickly relationship between Tehran and Washington.
I'm not sure whether to view the designation as a somewhat heavy-handed, if somewhat justified, law enforcement move, or a diplomatic gambit that reflects the Bush Administration's growing frustration with Iran. Either way, the fallout is going to be intense.
Photo: AGIR personnel on manoeuvres. Courtesy of CommonDreams.Org.