Navid Mohebbi writing in Al-Arabiya English

In desperation to reach a nuclear deal, so-called progressive pressure groups and Democratic members of the Senate, such as Chris Murphy, pushed the Biden administration to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the US Foreign Terrorist Organizations list.

President Biden is eager to revive a signature legacy of the Obama Administration, returning to the nuclear deal at any cost. It has created much bipartisan outrage and has also been opposed by many Iranians inside and outside Iran.

Nevertheless, Biden has faced strong opposition to such a move not only from Republicans but also from Democrats in the House and the Senate. But perhaps more importantly, the Biden administration is risking America’s international reputation as a superpower and moral authority.

Delisting the IRGC as a terror group will mean that the leader of the free world designates terrorist groups not on the merits but political considerations, setting a dangerous precedent. There is overwhelming evidence that the IRGC is the largest and most powerful sponsor of global terrorism.

The IRGC has planned the abduction of Iranian-American dissidents on American soil and is actively planning violence against current and former American officials, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former US Special Representative for Iran, Bryan Hook.

Given the gravity of the IRGC’s nature and goals, what justification can the United States have to delist a group that is the textbook definition of terrorism while keeping Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad affiliated with the Islamic Republic on the list?

Furthermore, delisting the IRGC also signals to brutal dictators and regimes that if you pressure the United States, whether with nuclear proliferation or otherwise, you can get your way and continue on your path of evil, rewrite history, and shed your terrorist past.

Would the United States also delist ISIS or Al Qaeda if they, too, sought nuclear weapons?

In the long term, delisting the IRGC will negatively affect the Iranian people’s perceptions of the US. Biden’s action will show Iranians, one of the most pro-American populations in the Middle East, that their oppressors will pay no price for their crimes against humanity and acts of terrorism, both at home and abroad.

For Iranians, the IRGC is an occupying force that strictly ensures the survival of the Islamic Republic instead of protecting Iranians’ national interests. The list of IRGC crimes against the Iranian people is long. On January 8, 2020, the IRGC shot down the civilian Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752, killing 176 passengers and crew. The IRGC also led the massacre of an estimated 1500 peaceful protesters in November 2019.

Iranians view the IRGC, not as a force that ensures their safety but instead as a mafia group that not only slaughters protesters in the streets but also exploits Iran’s abundant resources to pursue an expansionist regional policy while impoverishing the people.

The IRGC is also responsible for killing and wounding thousands of Americans. In 1983, the IRGC plotted the bombing of Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 US military personnel.

Additionally, based on a declassified report, the IRGC backed militia groups were responsible for killing over 600 members of the United States military in Iraq.

The delisting of the Guards will send a clear message: the American government stands not with the Iranian people but with their oppressors.

The arguments for removing the IRGC from the terror list are unconvincing. They will have far more dangerous long-term ramifications for the United States and global security. Biden’s delisting would send the wrong message and disrespect the legacy of those killed to defend our nation.

The IRGC has illustrated the threat and danger it poses to Iranians, the region, and worldwide. In the face of such brutality, the United States should not give in but rather impose sanctions and maintain the IRGC on the terror list, as that is exactly what the IRGC is: a terror organization.

On top of the tangible impacts of the IRGC sanctions, the moral and ethical consequences are powerful. Delisting the IRGC makes clear that the US will avoid acknowledging terrorism and imposing consequences on its actors. It should recognize the moral distinction between good and evil and impose moral stains on those who commit evil.

America must not abandon the policies of exerting truth and justice. The framework of removing the IRGC from the terrorist list will harm America and empower those who oppress Iranians.

Navid Mohebbi, a former political prisoner in Iran, is a policy fellow at the Washington-based National Union for Democracy in Iran.

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