By: Diliman Abdulkader
NRT, Feb. 22, 2017 - The Trump administration is determining whether to designate Iran’s elite arms unit, the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), as a foreign terrorist organization. Officials from both the US State and Defense departments had warned the President to hold off on the order. The State and Defense departments’ hesitation is largely due to the fear of losing Iraq, as Baghdad heavily relies on both the IRGC and the US for military aid. The fact remains that Iraq has already been lost to Shia dominance since former Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has favored his own majority, rather than serving beyond ethnic and sectarian lines.
The IRGC has immense influence across the Middle East, most notably in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon the Palestinian territories, and Libya. In addition, the IRGC are placed across South America including Bolivia, Brazil, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Venezuela. Since 2007, the United States has designated the Quds Force – IRGC Special Forces – as a terrorist organization. What triggered the call for this label was Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ordering a ballistic missile test, a direct violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed under the Obama Administration.
The President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Maryam Rajavi stated that, “the clerical regime must be evicted from Syria, Iraq and the IRGC must be placed on the list of terrorist organizations.”
Kurds are also pushing the new US administration to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization. Aso Saleh, representative of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDK-I), mentioned that “all Kurds believe that the IRGC forces are acting in violation of basic human rights by killing civilian people and supporting other terrorist organizations.”
Constant clashes occur between Kurds in Iran and the Islamic regime in a sort of ‘silent war’ due to the lack of access of free media in the region. The IRGC is famously known for assassinating Dr. Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou in 1989, Secretary-General of the PDK-I in Vienna.
The Islamic regime is solely responsible for killing thousands of Kurds in addition to violating Kurds’ freedom and basic human rights. Constantly under the threat of the IRGC, Kurds in Iran are discriminated against, unable to practice their language and teach future generations’ Kurdish history, traditions, philosophies, etc. Article 15 of the Iranian constitution allows for the usage of minority languages, but this is not the reality on the ground.
Iran also publically executes Kurds on a constant basis without legitimate court proceedings. The Islamic regime has been known to murder Kurdish minors, despite the state of Iran being a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. According to UNPO, Iran “is the only country in the world known to publically execute minors, with an estimated 134 minors on death row.”
Diliman Abdulkader is a NRT English columnist and Masters Student at the School of International Service, American University in Washington DC.