By Babak Dadvand
September 9, 2017
In the first week of August 2017, President Donald Trump signed into law, arguably the most impactful Iran sanctions bill ever drafted by congress. To those of us who follow Iranian regime and America’s attempts to curtail its malign influences, “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (H.R.3364) is a historic development, to say the least. This is not an overstatement since for the first time ever U.S. law treats, as a foreign terrorist entity, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). For 4 decades, the IRGC has served as Ayatollah’s primary domestic suppression and foreign terrorism arm. Yet history shall ultimately testify that this newly ratified law will serve as a vibrant demonstration of this nation’s moral compass while helping to deteriorate further, the pillars of religious tyranny in Iran.
The sanctions levied against IRGC and its agents or affiliates are today similar to those applicable with respect to a foreign terrorist person/entity and subject to Presidential Executive Order No. 13224. Signed by President George W. Bush on September 23, 2011; the Order and its sister edicts are major tools with which the United States Government disrupts the financial support network for terrorists and terrorist organizations.
More importantly, section 106 of the act imposes additional sanctions on Iran with respect to persons responsible for human rights abuses (more on this later). It would be instructive to note, however that many atop the Iranian theocracy are past and present IRGC members or agents. If duly enforced, the law will hence help cripple Tehran’s ability to project terror within and outside of Iran.
Given the political atmosphere in Washington, considerable public attention was understandably directed at the bill’s impact on Russia and to a lesser extent on North Korea. However, the Act’s first paragraph provides many clues about its focus, its potential in curbing Iranian adventurism, and positively impacting the Iranian people & their democratic aspirations.
The law, “directs the President to impose sanctions against: (1) Iran’s ballistic missile or weapons of mass destruction programs, (2) the sale or transfer to Iran of military equipment…and (3) Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated foreign persons.” Congress should certainly be applauded for drafting the legislation. In making of the law, the United States is now in a prime position to truly weaken the religious tyrants in Tehran.
The sanctions include IRGC activity related to:
1) The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems for such weapons (Exe. Orders 13382, 13224)
2) Support for acts of international terrorism (Exe. Orders 13224, 13606)
3) Human rights abuses in Iran & Syria ((Exe. Orders 13224, 13553 & 13606)
The act also requires the President to hold American allies accountable, if they fail to impose corresponding sanctions on the IRGC.
On human rights, recent congressional action and regime’s own behavior suggest that such abuses will no longer be on the backburner. Particularly, the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners is coming back to hunt the Ayatollahs. In the summer of that faithful year, on orders of then supreme leader Khomeini, many of Iran’s current leaders engaged in a systemic extrajudicial execution spree. Adding to the worldwide attention on the crime, 55 bipartisan members of congress co-sponsored House Resolution 188, “Condemning the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the 1988 massacre of political prisoners and calling for justice for the victims.”
On Iran, it is now American law that our President reports to Congress, the names of those “responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against individuals in Iran” and Syria. It does not stop there. U.S. now demands that the reigning administration, “expose illegal activity carried out by officials of the Government of Iran.”
In March 2017, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley pledged to put, “the issue of human rights on the agenda.” “This is “not just a question of morality,” she said, “It’s a question of the very peace and security.” Iranian-Americans and devotees of liberty & peace should be pleased for, less than 6 months later; it is at last the IRGC that is blacklisted and on the defensive.
In this new paradigm, the murderers of Tehran will certainly find fewer places to hide.