U.S. and Iran

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Washington Times – Editorial: The United States recently labeled Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terror group. Many Americans worry that it’s not enough. They should, because the IRGC and the Iranian regime have been engaged in a one-sided “Death to America” campaign for 28 years. The Washington Times

Editorial

By Paul E. Vallely and Fred Gedrich

The United States recently labeled Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terror group. Many Americans worry that it’s not enough. They should, because the IRGC and the Iranian regime have been engaged in a one-sided “Death to America” campaign for 28 years.

Ayatollah Khomeini created the IRGC in 1979 primarily to safeguard the ideals of his Shi’ite Islamic Revolution, protect his regime from domestic and foreign opponents and export his brutal brand of Islamic fundamentalism, influence and terrorism to neighboring states.

The group operates independently from Iran’s regular military — reporting directly to the supreme leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei — and currently has about 200,000 members assigned to special army, air force, navy and intelligence units.

The IRGC exports the revolution through its notorious Quds (Jerusalem) Force. The force is comprised of about 20,000 highly trained personnel specializing in guerrilla war, armed insurgency and terrorism in places like Iraq, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

IRGC members participated in seizing the American embassy in 1979 and holding 52 hostages for 444 days — in violation of international law and millennia of diplomatic protocols. Its Quds Force used Hezbollah proxies to bomb U.S. embassies and the Marine Barracks in Lebanon, residences in Saudi Arabia, and it orchestrated the kidnapping and murdering of American captives. They now manufacture and supply lethal roadside bombs to Shi’ite militias in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan that kill and maim American troops.

In addition to having a powerful security apparatus, the IRGC exerts tremendous political and economic clout. Former and current group members occupy 14 of 21 cabinet positions, 80 of 290 parliament seats, and a host of local mayorships and council seats. Past and present members also include Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, ambassador to Iraq Kazemi-Qomi and Supreme National Security Council Secretary Larijani. IRGC is also a business conglomerate controlling some 500 companies active in a wide range of industries including nuclear power, banking, insurance, and recreation.

IRGC and Quds Force headquarters are located in Tehran, the latter in the former U.S. embassy. Their main tactical bases for Iraq operations are located in the Fajr and Nasr garrisons in Khuzistan and Azerbaijan provinces — and the principal terrorist training facility is located in Northern Tehran’s Imam Ali Garrison. Lethal roadside bombs (explosively formed projectiles) are produced by Sattari Industries in Tehran’s Lavizan District.

It’s highly unlikely that the designation of the IRGC as a terror group will make much difference. The best the United States can expect is that some foreign businesses may decide to curtail current business arrangements with the group. Since 1984 the United States has imposed congressionally mandated economic and export penalties on American firms doing business with Iran’s terrorist regime. The net result: French, German, Russian, Chinese and Japanese businesses simply supplanted U.S. businesses as Iranian trading partners, and by 2006, Iran’s annual trade blossomed to $110 billion.

If the United States truly seeks to achieve greater Middle East peace and stability it should incorporate military measures into the current Iranian policy and covertly encourage all Iranian opposition and resistance groups and dissidents — including the MEK, which the United States unjustly labeled a terror group during the Clinton administration in a failed rapprochement attempt — to increase activities to peaceably change the government.

Accordingly, Mr. Bush should:

One, inform Iran that it must stop 1) developing its nuclear program immediately and verifiably; 2) providing ordnance and training to Iraqi Shi’ite militias like the Mahdi Army, Badr organization and others; 3) supporting foreign terror groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad; and 4) providing sanctuary to al Qaeda leaders and operatives. If Iran refuses, the consequences will be limited and selective military air strikes on nuclear facilities and anything supporting them; roadside bomb factories, and the IRGC and Quds Force headquarters and facilities in Iran. As Henry Kissinger sagely notes, diplomacy not backed by the potential use of force equates to impotency.

Two, assure Iranian opposition and resistance groups and dissidents that the United States is committed to regime change. Iran is rife with disenchantment and dissent and unfortunately severe repression — as illustrated by the regime during recent months arresting more than one million people and hanging and stoning several hundred of them to death. In all, there were some 4,800 anti-government demonstrations and protest acts since during the past year, among them student demonstrations, workers protests and riots to protest gasoline rationing. Any significant diminishment of IRGC capabilities, through selective U.S. air strikes, and a concurrent popular uprising among Iran’s 65 million citizens could possibly lead to the downfall of the regime.

Three, obtain approval from Congress to use military force in Iran or, if circumstances demand, use existing constitutional war power authorities to neutralize the security threat.

The fact the United States has never adequately responded to Iran’s repeated “acts of war” against U.S. troops, citizens and interests has not been overlooked by the American public. It’s one reason why a Zogby Poll (released on Oct. 29) reports that 52 percent of surveyed Americans support a military strike on Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.

After years of hand-wringing and failed diplomatic efforts dating back to the Carter presidency, Americans deserve a policy commensurate with the security threat. Hopefully, it’s one that drives the current Iranian thugs from power or leaves them with a much-deserved bloody nose.

Army Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely, retired, is chairman of Stand Up America and a member of the Iran Policy Committee. Fred Gedrich is a foreign policy and national security analyst who served in the Departments of State and Defense.

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