The Trump administration is turning up the heat on the ayatollahs. On Monday, April 8th, the White House formally announced that it was adding the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to the State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization list – putting Iran’s clerical army on a par with global terrorist groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
The move, which formally goes into effect on April 15th, is hardly unprecedented. As the State Department has extensively detailed, Iran consistently ranks as the world’s leading state sponsor of international terrorism, and the IRGC is the principal instrument of this malign activity. From direct involvement in numerous acts of terror over the past four decades to the ongoing training of radical proxies like Lebanon’s Hezbollah and assorted Shi’ite militias, the IRGC has established itself as a truly global threat actor.
But the Revolutionary Guards are also much more. Within Iran, they are nothing short of an economic powerhouse, in control of numerous companies and corporate entities that stretch across broad swathes of the national economy, from transportation to energy to construction. IRGC-controlled and -affiliated entities now permeate virtually every financial sector in the country, and wield extensive influence over Iran’s gray- and black-market activities. All told, the IRGC is believed to control one-third or more of the total economy of the Islamic Republic.
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