Tehran Plays Chess, Trump Admin Plays Checkers
Why US declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a "terrorist organization", and why it will fail to have the desired effect
Usual suspects pushed Trump to designate
#IRGC as FTO. Why?
- Constrain Trump’s deal-making instincts
- Box in next US president on Iran (Dems say will rejoin JCPOA)
- Force Lebanon/Iraq into picking between Iran/US
- Force Europe to further cut whatever meager outreach
Beyond these four objectives, ultimately — as has been case not just since Jan 2017 but even prior to that, true aim of usual suspects is to:
- provoke Iran to scrap JCPOA
- and, ideally, initiate military confrontation
Question now is what’s next. Ball is in Iran’s court.
Iran may take several steps to respond in kind, albeit in a relatively measured manner. First and foremost, the Iranian Parliament will likely move to label the US military a terrorist organization. MPs have already made this clear.
Second, Iran has just been handed pretext to pressure Europe to *back off* from making increased noise about missiles & regional influence. — E3 recently sent letter to UNSC re: missiles, and G7 communique said nothing about UNSCR 2231 (endorsing JCPOA). This behavior will boomerang.
Third, Quds Force will liaise with regional partners which are also directly/indirectly targeted by US Govt. Most of these key Quds Force partners are based in Lebanon and Iraq. And they are part of/paid by national Governments. They now have even more incentive to harass/expel US forces.
Having said this, those who aim to provoke Iran into shooting itself in the foot – including by entering into a direct clash with US military — will be left disappointed. If Iran opts for a measured and highly calibrated response, it is for one reason:
Iran will continue to play long game. Unlike those behind IRGC’s FTO designation, Iranian leaders have one key advantage: Consistency in leadership and thus luxury of strategic patience: something that potential one-term White House residents (and their groupies) can only dream of.
If anyone is aware of Iran’s long game, it’s those in power in Beirut & Baghdad (who have been in partnership with the Islamic Republic or Iran for almost 40 yrs). Those who believe “maximum pressure” over 2 or even 6 years will decide these relationships only display cluelessless about how region works.
So what’s end result of show put on today? US pressure on Iraq to halt Iran natural gas/electricity imports is a good case study: Reluctant US sanctions waivers; Iraqi promises to cut “in a few years” (while signing more deals with Iran). Eg prime can-kicking on all sides.
Now, if anyone is to be potentially genuinely (and immediately) impacted by FTO designation, it will be potentially millions of Iranians/Iraqis/Syrians/Lebanese/Afghans/Pakistani young men. Allow me to elaborate…
Per US State Department, “It’s a crime for a person in US or subject to jurisdiction of US to knowingly provide ‘material support or resources’ to or receive military-type training from or on behalf of a designated FTO.” Why does this matter?
All able Iranian males must undergo military service. All conscripts have to do basic military training. Those with degrees are then usually sent to serve in state offices. Many others end up in barracks. So basically everyone ends up trained by either Army (Artesh) or IRGC.
Depending on how far US wants to take “receiving military-type training from or on behalf of designated FTO”, we’re thus talking about millions of Iranians (and 100s of 1000s of men from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc trained by QF) now classified as criminals.
It gets even more twisted since to be allowed to exit Iran, you either need to have done your military service or been exempt from it. So we’re talking about potential of 1000s of *Iranian-Americans* + Iranian students possibly having become “criminals” overnight.