Tehran received a major blow following the blacklisting of Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist organization by the U.S. Treasury Department after President Donald Trump’s October 13th landmark Iran policy speech. This has senior Iranian officials extremely concerned as the regime in its entirety is desperately attempting to cope with the aftermath.
There are those heard struggling to downgrade the impact and save face.
“Sanctions against the IRGC are nothing new… The IRGC is not an economic entity for them to attempt to impact its future through sanctions. The IRGC is a military entity that will negotiate with no one regarding its duties,” said Hessam-edin Ashena, an advisor to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to a state daily.
Understanding the importance of U.S. sanctions, Gholamreza Tajgardoon, chairman of the Budget & Planning Commission in Iran’s parliament resorted to similar remarks.
“Sanctioning the IRGC will have no impact on the country’s economy… U.S. sanctions are an issue of international relations. The IRGC has no role in international economic relations. The IRGC is, however, active in military affairs inside Iran and the region,” he also said to state media.
Despite these remarks, and the fact that the IRGC dominates the Iranian economy, merely two days later on October 17th the Vatan-e Emrooz daily, known to be linked to the faction loyal to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, made a major U-turn in a piece titled “Black hole!”
This article shed light on the “unprecedented economic impact and expenses expected through the mother of all sanctions” – a term used by Iranian experts – on the entire regime apparatus.
This piece very explicitly explains the crippling results of new U.S. sanctions for Tehran. The piece, under the subtitle of “The Impact of Economic Sanctions Against The IRGC” explains:
“Despite its initial goal of numerous security objectives across the Middle East and inside Iran, this section of the mother of all sanctions seeks to dysfunction Iran’s economy, or as U.S. senators have described, shut down and turn off Iran’s economic cycle. Based on the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, first the IRGC and all branches and entities in any way related to the IRGC, alongside all companies cooperating with the IRGC will be designated in the SDN sanctions list.”
Furthermore, individuals and entities cooperating in any way with the IRGC must be designated and included in the SDN sanctions list under Executive Order 13224. The scope of these new sanctions will be extreme and far from any expectation under this executive order.
For example, more than 5,000 private companies are cooperating with the IRGC’s Khatam al-Anbiya construction company. Based on Trump’s new orders, all these companies are on the verge of being designated in the new list of sanctioned companies.
If Iran’s Central Bank or National Bank provides services and facilitations to these companies, and the U.S. State Department identifies this cooperation, these firms will be blacklisted in the SDN list of sanctions by the Treasury Department.
This major economic quagmire before the Iranian regime is the reason this bill is described as the “black hole” of sanctions.
What are we to believe?
On one hand there are claims of the IRGC not being an economic entity for sanctions to impact its future. On the other hand, there are those describing the IRGC blacklisting as a terrorist organization as pinning and shutting down the Iranian regime’s economy.
The simple truth is that the new U.S. sanctions against Iran are unprecedented of such plans imposed on a country. These economic and national security measures seek to patch loopholes in the highly flawed Obama-blueprinted Iran nuclear deal.
Following Trump’s speech, the Senate responded with a draft legislation proposed by Senators Bob Corker and Tom Cotton set to impose tough terms on the Iran nuclear deal. Sanctions lifted under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal would “snap back” if Iran tests ballistic missile enjoying the capability of delivering a warhead, or prevents nuclear inspectors’ access to all sites.
The House of Representatives also adopted four new sets of sanctions. The U.S. government is obliged to sanction individuals and entities facilitating financial resources and recruiting new members for Hezbollah.
Another bill calls on the White House to pressure the United Nations Security Council to level sanctions on Hezbollah for its use of civilians as human shields.
Wednesday’s last legislation focusing on the Iran-backed militia was a resolution calling upon the European Union to designate the Tehran offspring as a terrorist organization.
All three pieces bill, not in violation of the Iran nuclear deal, enjoyed bipartisan support with over 320 votes in favor.
The fourth and final bill, voted in nearly unanimously on Thursday with 423 in favor against two, aimed to sanction Iran in response to further developing its ballistic missile program.
Iran, sensing an end nearing to its days of cheating the nuclear deal with impunity, is showing signs of frustration. The Iranian Foreign Ministry has filed 18 instances claiming the U.S. has violated the deal. Analysts believe this could set the stage for Tehran to abandon ship while blaming Washington for the whole ordeal.
Lifting the entire issue to a whole new level, escalating protests by thousands of ordinary Iranians who have invested their savings into state-owned financial institutions are causing grave concerns for the ruling elite in Tehran.
Raising eyebrows is the fact that such protests are evolving politically in nature and gaining coverage among mainstream media.
Fox News’ Ben Evansky reported:
“According to a report and video from an Iranian opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), there were more than 2,000 people protesting outside the country’s parliament, known as the Majlis. The protesters who were accosted by the police shouted slogans against the regime:
“Shame, shame on the police force!”
“Death to the dictator.”
“Death to the demagogue.”
Welcoming these rallies, Iranian opposition NCRI President Maryam Rajavi hailed the brave protests and called on her fellow countrymen to join in solidarity and express their support.
“Institutionalized fraud along with institutionalized murder and belligerence constitute the pillars of the mullahs’ decadent regime… As long as this regime is in power, there will be no end to the astronomical embezzlement, poverty, unemployment and catastrophic economic conditions,” she said.
And once again, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson voiced his government’s support for the will of the Iranian people.
“There are strong feelings and values inside of Iran that we want to promote in terms of one day the Iranian people being able to retake control of their government,” he said during his trip to India.