OpinionIran in the World PressIran: It's about time

Iran: It’s about time

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Washington Times: It’s about time. The Bush administration has finally decided to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a global terrorist group. My only question: What took them so long?
The Washington Times

Commentary

James A. Lyons Jr.

It’s about time. The Bush administration has finally decided to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a global terrorist group. My only question: What took them so long?

In fact, if diplomatically feasible, the entire corrupt Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini regime should be designated a global terrorist group. Since 1984, Iran has been on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. After all, with all the hard evidence we now have on Iran’s complicity in providing all forms of warmaking material, including sophisticated IEDs (improvised bombs), training of Islamic foreign terrorists including Hezbollah who are used as proxies to fight our forces in Iraq, we should not stop at the IRGC.

But it’s a start. The IRGC with its Quds Force has been linked to the growing flow of explosives and other arms to Shi’ite militias in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Quds Force also provides support to Shi’ite allies such as Hezbollah and to Sunni movements such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and facilitates the trafficking of heroin from Afghanistan to Western Europe and the United States. A corrupt organization, the IRGC is heavily involved in basically every major commercial industry in Iran. Many of the front companies procuring nuclear technology are owned and run by the Revolutionary Guards.

Economic sanctions on Iran have generally been ineffective. Designating the IRGC a terrorist group would have a major impact on restricting or seriously disrupting the Revolutionary Guard’s vast business network as well as on foreign companies conducting business with the Guards. They will increase the risks for countries that have ignored the existing sanctions against Iran.

And yet, though the U.S. focuses on imposing serious economic sanctions on Iran, and the U.S. Treasury Department spends considerable effort locating Iranian assets to freeze, the World Bank (of which the United States is a main sponsor: we contributed $950 million in 2006 and $940 million in 2007, with $950 million scheduled for 2008) continues providing substantial developmental funds to Iran. This is lunacy.

Why the World Bank provides any development funds at all to a designated state sponsor of terrorism — in particular a country awash in petrodollars — is a question to which the White House, the Congress and the American people should demand an answer.

After all, Iran exports 2.6 million barrels of oil per day. Its oil export revenue has almost doubled between 2003 and 2005, from $23.7 billion to $46.6 billion. In 2006, revenues grew to $50 billion. No wonder it was able to quickly provide $100 million to Hezbollah after its 2006 conflict with Israel. Even though Iran publicly funds Hezbollah and Hamas, and openly defies United Nations Security Council resolutions, the World Bank’s board continues to approve more funds for Iran.

It is interesting to note that the World Bank continued funding Iran even during noted neocon Paul Wolfowitz’s stormy tenure as the Bank’s head. In fact, the World Bank is scheduled to provide development funding of more than $870 million to Iran through 2010. Talk about ridiculous.

But there’s more: The World Bank is part of the U.N. but for reasons unknown is not seemingly bound by U.N. Security Council resolutions. This is a serious flaw and must be remedied. The World Bank cannot remain oblivious to Security Council resolutions. The European members of the board of directors need to join with the United States in forcing bylaw changes in the World Bank.

Indeed, if economic sanctions are ever to work in forcing Iran to comply with U.N. resolutions, all U.N. organizations, including the World Bank, must operate on the same page.

While I believe it is doubtful economic sanctions will work against Iran, designating the IRGC a terrorist organization opens the possibility of sanctions with teeth as well as potential military options against key IRGC infrastructure facilities. It is one way to start putting Iran on the defensive.

James A. Lyons Jr., a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet (the world’s largest single military command), senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations and a former deputy chief of naval operations, where he was principal adviser on all Joint Chiefs of Staff matters.

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