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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Iranian Army Is a Terrorist Organization - What's This All About?

The New York Times reports on a recent US Senate resolution.
The Senate approved a resolution today urging the Bush administration to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, and lawmakers briefly set aside partisan differences to approve a measure calling for stepped-up diplomacy to forge a political solution in Iraq.

Since last month, the White House has been weighing whether to deem the entire Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group or to take a narrower step focused only on the Quds Force, an elite unit of the corps. Either approach would signal a more confrontational posture by declaring a segment of the Iranian military to be a terrorist organization.
Saying that it's "confrontational" is putting it mildly. Is there a logical reason for doing this? Here's what General Petraeus says,
It quoted General Petraeus as saying it is “increasingly apparent to both coalition and Iraqi leaders that Iran, through the use of the Iranian Republican Guard Corps Quds Force, seeks to turn the Shiite militia extremists into a Hezbollah-like force to serve its interests and fight a proxy war against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq.”
Ahhh .... now I get it. We have a case where foreign soldiers in Iraq might be helping certain militia groups in order to serve its own interests and fight a proxy war against its perceived enemies. All soldiers who do that are terrorists, right?

Makes a lot of sense to me.

As an aside, I note that the US Congress is a lot more confident about military intelligence these days. I guess the fiasco of Colin Powell's UN Presentation on February 6, 2003 has been forgotten in light of a vastly improved intelligence gathering network. We can now be confident that all pronouncements about the evil axis countries are accurate, right?

[Photo Link: U.S. Special Forces Secure Tribal Sheikhs Meeting In Diyala Google.]


  1. Don't rub it in. I can't even begin to express how depressed I am by the utter spinelessness of our "opposition" party (which technically controls Congress, but you'd never know it.)

  2. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the Iranians were supporting Shia fighters in Iraq. I think this should be condemned (it also goes to show that we need dialogue with all parties with an "interest" in Iraq, including the Iranians). However, by this logic, the CIA should be branded terrorists, since they have provided support for various groups, in various countries at various times, past and present.

    Moreover, I'm unsure as to what exactly is gained from this designation? Is fixing a particular label to the revolutionary guards going to make a blind bit of difference? What practical steps does this enable?

  3. Moreover, I'm unsure as to what exactly is gained from this designation? Is fixing a particular label to the revolutionary guards going to make a blind bit of difference? What practical steps does this enable?

    When they conduct opinion polls asking 'do you think the US should fight terrorist groups?', they will have a mandate.

  4. Very subtle sarcasm, Larry. Of course your description matches exactly what American troops are doing right now in Anbar province (and hailing it as a major success story). They're doing the same thing in Kurdistan for that matter - equipping terrorist groups like the PKK and allowing them to cross freely into Iran.

    The hypocrisy of the Americans is stunning. They invade a country without provocation and then whine when everyone else in the region doesn't roll over and let them have their way.

  5. > We have a case where foreign soldiers in Iraq might be helping certain militia groups in order to serve its own interests and fight a proxy war against its perceived enemies. All soldiers who do that are terrorists, right?

    Hadn't thought of that aspect of this announcement--this is reminiscent of the journalist quoted a few days ago saying that Iran took a page from the U.S. in concluding that it's better to fight proxy wars with enemies on other people's turf than your own. Which article I found very insightful...

  6. This is not the whole Iranian army, but the 125,000 plus member Revolutionary Guard Corps.

    The debate over the wisdom of designating Revolutionary Guard Corps as terrorists aside, here's some background.

    The Revolutionary Guard created, trained, and armed Lebanon's Hezbollah. Revolutionary Guard officers are involved in Hezbollah's terrorist operations. Many of the Revolutionary Guard's international activities are through its own Quds Force unit. Long before both the Iraq War and 9/11 there have been many terrorist operations by the Revolutionary Guards (through Quds Force, Hezbollah or both) against the US, Europe, and other regions.

    The former commander of the Revolutionary Guard is among those sought by Argentina for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center.

    The Revolutionary Guard Corps is alleged to be involved in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing.

    Amid Mugniyah, also wanted by Argentina for the 1994 bombing and wanted by Interpol, is Hezbollah operations commander and is sponsored by the Quds Force.

    Council on Foreign Relations

    "Mugniyah appears to operate as a bridge between Iran and Hezbollah, working for both and calibrating their agendas, experts say. "Imad Mugniyah embodies the complexity of where to tackle this terrorism because he stands with one foot in Hezbollah, reporting directly to Nasrallah, but he also has one foot in Iran, with the Iranian MOIS [the Iranian intelligence service] and the al-Qods, or the Jerusalem Force, of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard," says Ranstorp."

    Imad Mugniyah was involved in the 1983 marine barracks bombing in Beirut and, according to one of the 1998 African embassy bombers, collaborated with al-Qaeda in Sudan.


  7. The points raised by stevef, Brian, and lee merrill on US use of proxy forces and training insurgents are well taken. In any case, there is no doubt that Iran conducts much of its foreign policy through the Revolutionary Guard Corps unit Quds Force and its closely affiliated proxy, Hezbollah.


  8. Off topic, shouldn't the monks rebellion against the dictatorship in birmania be a fascinating topic for open-minded atheists? Religion has many times been the glue and the liberating force in politically spiky situations.
    Yet no one seems interested in commenting these things very much.

  9. "Understood in this sense, propaganda has long since lost its odium of inferiority inherited from the past. It holds first rank among the arts with which one leads a nation, It is indispensable in building a modern state. It is something of a connecting link between government and people."

    Joseph Goebbels, 1934

  10. Doctor Goebbels Ph.D.again;
    "But propaganda is still necessary if a good cause is to succeed. A good idea does not win simply because it is good. It must be presented properly if it is to win. The combination makes for the best propaganda. Such propaganda is successful without being obnoxious. It depends on its nature, not its methods. It works without being noticed. Its goals are inherent in its nature. Since it is almost invisible, it is effective and powerful."

    Many U.S. universities grant degrees in propaganda, but never openly labeled propaganda. The varied curricula can be labeled; Communications, Marketing, Information Theory, Cognitive Studies, Rhetoric or Framing Science (sic).
    Why, there is even a semi-serious movement claiming that objective science must adopt propaganda technique to be with it in a yuppie sense.

  11. Here is a very direct answer to the question; "What's all this about?"
    Layla Anwar, the author, is a Arab lady who has lived what it's all about. It is about more.

    Is there anything in Iraq that the Americans have not destroyed ?
    Anything at all ?
    And you dare wonder why I detest you so much...And you have the audacity to come to my blog to question me about my origins, my location, my ideas, my roots, my sense of belonging...
    What kind of a race are you ? What kind of a people are you ?
    Yes, I said people not government. I am not politically correct. Your government is part of you and you are part of it. Like it or not.
    And don't come and tell me in your sheepish ways that I know all too well : " Oh, but I did not vote for this one. "
    I don't give a fuck whom you voted for or did not vote for. It is not my problem.
    My problem is you. Your culture, your behavior, your mentality, your character, your haughtiness, your arrogance, your false pride, your denial, your collective stupidity and ignorance, your way of life which I find boring, empty and distasteful, your accent which is an affront to my ears...and to my senses.
    I do not like you. Full stop.

    I know, I know, some of you are good people...
    I know, I know, America is not a homogenous group... I know all that shit.
    It does not make one iota of difference in my life and that of other Iraqis.
    I no longer give a damn about your nuances, your political leanings, how good or how bad you are...It is meaningless to me and to countless others.
    Our lives have been ruined, totally ruined...We do not give a fuck about your nuances.
    And all I know if that you have destroyed my country. Beyond repair.

  12. It is distressing when politicians devalue concepts that serves to protect segments of populations, including their own. Willfully labeling military as terrorists will deny them their rights by treaties.

    I agree with Tupaia that SteveF, Brian and lee_merrill points are valuable.

    what exactly is gained from this designation?

    I assume that labeling iranian military as terrorists whether they are acting on behalf of their government (military) or their own interest (terrorists) is helpful if, which is likely, the iranian government will deny any involvement. This puts direct pressure on the iranian groups by permitting non-standard methods, and indirect by denying them rights.

    Is it a military method? No, it is realpolitik at its worst. Even if it shortterm may protect US troops and advance military actions, it is longterm harmful. But when did politicians think longterm?

  13. gerald, I meet many iraqi that has fled (estimates seem to indicate 5-10 % of the former population has done so) but they don't express themselves so clearly. Granted, there are often language difficulties (but after 1-2 years it is disappearing) and their situation is risky. So it was refreshing to see a clear and unequivocal voice.

    For my money Anwar is mostly right. I would say that she doesn't get or care for a democratic system (which wouldn't be surprising) but that she never the less have a point. Ordinary democracies doesn't go to aggressive war and I think have safeguards to do so willy-nilly. For some reason US system doesn't work as it should.

    Anwar could very well be correct in blaming the people, again assuming that we are dealing with a real democracy. And sure, it fulfills all the ordinary requirements, so what went wrong?

  14. Torbjorn, As a guilty but powerless U.S. citizen, I shamefully admit that Layla Anwar's anger and contempt are all too true, period.
    Here is Layla's