A proposal by the Donald Trump administration to list Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a ‘foreign terrorist organisation’ (FTO) has been stalled due to concerns that the move could backfire, US officials have revealed.
Speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, a US official said, “If you do that, there is no way to escalate, and you would foreclose any possibility of talking to the Iranians about anything.”
A possible presidential order on the matter has been sidelined amid debates it could undermine the fight against Islamic State, draw opposition from key allies, torpedo any US-Iran diplomatic prospects, and complicate enforcement of the Iran nuclear deal, US and European sources told Reuters.
The IRGC was formed following the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and is seen as Iran’s most powerful security force, wielding not just military but also political power. A ban on the organisation would mean a broadening of sanctions implemented against Tehran.
Iran is listed by the US State Department along with Syria and Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism. Tehran denies these accusations.
A Kurdish group and Iranian dissidents recently launched a social media campaign in support of the Trump proposal, saying the Islamic government and IRGC were guilty of war crimes and human rights violations.
IRGC forces and the organisation’s outgoing commander Major General Qasem Soleimani are thought to be active in Iraq and Syria on the side of both Baghdad and Damascus in the fight against the jihadist Islamic State (IS) group.