News Release

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard: A Terrorist Organization?


“The Bush administration is preparing to declare that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps is a foreign terrorist organization,” the New York Times reports. It would be “the first time that the United States has added the armed forces of any sovereign government to its list of terrorist organizations.”

Erlich, the author of the forthcoming book The Iran Agenda: The Real Story of U.S. Policy and the Middle East Crisis, has been to Iraq and Iran multiple times. He is available for a limited number of interviews. He said today: “Once again the Bush administration is exaggerating the Iranian threat in order to inflame domestic and international opinion. The Revolutionary Guards are a repressive force used against the Iranian people, but they pose no significant threat to Americans. The Iranians are giving political, economic and military support to certain Iraqi factions; but so is the United States. The Bush administration exaggerates the Iranian role in order to justify future military attacks on Iran.”

Erlich added: “The ‘explosive penetrators’ supposedly supplied by Iran, for example, are being made in Iraqi machine shops. The U.S. is isolated internationally and can’t get U.N. support for more sanctions, so it is stepping up unilateral action.” [Erlich is in the Pacific time zone and should be called after 11 a.m. ET.]

Memerian is an Iranian journalist and winner of the Human Rights Defender Award from Human Rights Watch. He said today: “Declaring Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps a foreign terrorist organization is unlikely to create financial pressure on the Islamic Republic to halt its nuclear program. This organization has been traditionally accused of involvement in terrorist activities and has hence prepared itself for any charges. They have kept themselves independent of financial ties to any Western entity in light of potential sanctions. Therefore, financially they are quite protected. Additionally, this organization has created a covert and complex network for its financial investments, making it virtually impossible to trace.”

Memerian added: “However, politically they are far more susceptible since many of the Iranian officials from members of parliament to ministers have been members of this organization in the past. The major result on this group is that they will have great difficulty in traveling, investing, educating their children, or engaging in economic transactions in Western countries. … By labeling a faction within a government as a ‘terrorist organization,’ the U.S. is technically placing the government in the same category, and therefore preparing their public and the stage for a serious confrontation with Iran.”
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Ong is Iran Policy Analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation. She said today: “The move to list the Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization is just a new chapter in the Bush administration’s fatally flawed policy in dealing with Iran. … The move is also counterproductive and could isolate the precise friends and allies to whom the U.S. has farmed out its negotiating power to help resolve the ongoing dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. Rather than ramping up rhetoric against Iran, the administration should drop its refusal to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program without preconditions and continue to work with European Union countries, Russia and China to diplomatically solve the ongoing differences with Iran.”
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