Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What I wouldn't give for a competent and functioning State Department

This is about as sane as that time Caligula made his horse a Senator.

The Bush administration has decided to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a "specially designated global terrorist organization.” This move will take place under Executive Order 13224, signed September 23, 2001. The EO authorizes the US to seize the assets of businesses, individuals and charities that the United States government identifies as having ties to terrorist organizations on the list. It also allows for the disruption of operations by foreign businesses that "provide support, services or assistance to, or otherwise associate with, terrorists."

The classification of the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization is the first time a military branch of a sovereign government has been so designated.

The driving purpose of this move is to impinge upon the Revolutionary Guard’s far-reaching business interests, and as a cudgel to wield against foreign companies that do business with the Revolutionary Guard, and individual IRGC members.

"Anyone doing business with these people will have to reevaluate their actions immediately," said a U.S. official familiar with the plan who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision has not been announced. "It increases the risks of people who have until now ignored the growing list of sanctions against the Iranians. It makes clear to everyone who the IRGC and their related businesses really are. It removes the excuses for doing business with these people."

Expect this to set off a great hue and cry among U.S. allies and trading partners that do business with the Iranian military branches. China is Iran’s number one trading partner, and Russia has strong business ties with the IRGC.

Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear proliferation expert at the Center for American Progress fears that this move could have a deleterious effect on diplomatic efforts, "It would greatly complicate our efforts to solve the nuclear issue. It would tie an end to Iran's nuclear program to an end to its support of allies in Hezbollah and Hamas. The only way you could get a nuclear deal is as part of a grand bargain, which at this point is completely out of reach."

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