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The Revolutionary Guard… Afghanistan 2.0

The Revolutionary Guard… Afghanistan 2.0

Monday, 21 March, 2022 - 11:00
Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

We have started seeing leaks in the media that the US administration is considering removing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps from its foreign terrorist organization blacklist in return for Iranian assurances of reining in the IRGC, which, in turn, is also in return for reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.

If the United States actually does remove the IRGC from the foreign terrorist organization blacklist against the backdrop of the nuclear deal in Vienna, the step could only be described as a withdrawal from Afghanistan 2.0.

Removing the IRGC from the blacklist now would be a replication of the disappointing US withdrawal from Afghanistan last year, and our region would then have two dates to remember as the major turning points that undermined security and stability in our region.

The first date would be the day a French plane brought Khomeini from France to Tehran, and the second date would be the day the Biden administration removed the IRGC from the foreign terrorist organization blacklist.

In the event that this happens, we would be faced with a genuine American screw-up. The step would be as big a blunder as the management of the Iraq invasion or the glaring strategic mistake of withdrawing from Afghanistan.

While it is true that the United States wants to withdraw from the region and free itself up for China, by taking this step, Washington would be granting China, Russia and Iran unprecedented strength and freedom. How can Washington announce its hostility to the Russians, devote itself to China, and then give the IRGC free rein in the region?

If this is not a blunder, what would you call it? By removing the IRGC from the foreign terrorist organization blacklist, Washington would be granting Iran the freedom to roam and behave as it likes in the region within an Iranian-Russian-Chinese alliance.

China is the obvious winner from the war in Ukraine. Russia will be its main ally, and the latter’s most prominent ally at the moment is the Iranian regime, and so we will see a refortified axis of resistance, especially amid the sanctions imposed on Russia.

The matter doesn’t end there. By lifting sanctions on the IRGC, the US administration would achieve former President Barack Obama’s vision for sharing control of the region with Iran, as explained in his notorious interview with the Atlantic headlined “The Obama Doctrine.”

Obama said it at the time: “The Saudis have to share control of the region with their Iranian rivals.” But Saudi Arabia, in total contrast to Iran, does not want to control but to ensure that they are stable and independent.

The question here is: Would it be tenable, for example, to assert that European countries should share control of the continent with Russia? Would the current US administration accept that? Would it even float the idea in the media, let alone propose it politically?

And so, removing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps from the sanctions list is akin to a conspiracy against the region as a whole, not a particular country in our region, especially after the IRGC claimed responsibility for 12 ballistic missiles launched on Iraq.

Lifting the sanctions against the Revolutionary Guards while Hezbollah ravages Lebanon and Syria freely, Iranian militias wreak havoc in Iraq, and as Iran continues to provide the Houthis in Yemen with support, is nothing less than a crime against our region and those who lost have lost their lives to Iran and its so-called Revolutionary Guards.

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