Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps


The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

 

A Global terrorist Organization;

 

A Fact, A Myth or More?

 

 


Mehran Sirani                                       01.05.2013

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

Table of Contents………………………………………………………………………..2

 

Abstract…………………………………………………………………………………..3

 

Introduction……………………………………………………………………………...4

 

1. Methodology…………………………………………………………………………..4

 

2. The Historical Background of the IRGC……………………………………………5

 

3. The Main Discussion………………………………………………………………….8

 

3.1. What is the Role of the IRGC in the International Arena?...................................8

 

3.2. Meddling and Intervening in the Internal Affairs of other Countries………….10

 

3.3. Establishing and Supporting the Extremist Groups……………………………..11

 

3.4. The Terrorist Activities……………………………………………………………12

 

3.5. Illicit and Black Market Activities………………………………………………..13

 

4. Definitions of Organized Crime & Transnational Organized Crime………….....15

 

Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………16

 

References…………………..………..…………………………………………………18

 

 

 

 

 

Abstract:

In 2007, the Bush administration has decided to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as an especially global terrorist organization. The so-called Kyl-Lieberman Amendment would have allowed the US to target the IRGC’s business and financial operations. Although, the Bush administration did not enact the amendment, this issue created a heated debate amongst politicians as well as scholars. Some were against this amendment and argued that the IRGC is the national army of Iran and the US should not designate it as a global terrorist organization, due to the fact that this event would create a more hostile environment between Iran and the US. In order to evaluate this event, this essay explores the origin, process of development and the scope of power of this entity in Iran as well as some of its activities abroad. The results show that this entity is not just a regular national army in Iran; in fact, the IRGC as a multidimensional and transnational entity is involved in different other activities and play an important role in different aspects in the international arena.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction:

In 2007, the Bush administration has decided to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as an especially global terrorist organization. Based on Executive Order 13224, the move (which is known as the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment) would have allowed the US to target the IRGC’s business and financial operations. There were three main reasons behind this proposal including: 1- the IRGC’s meddling in Iraq and Afghanistan, 2- the entity’s support for different Shiite extremist groups in the Middle East and 3- the ineffectiveness of the United Nation resolution against Iran’s nuclear activity. However, after all, the IRGC was not designated as a terrorist organization by the Bush administration, but this issue sparked heated debates amongst politicians as well as scholars in that time. Some famous US politicians either voted against or did not vote for this amendment, amongst them then Senators John. Carry (the current Secretary of State), Chuck Hagel (the current Secretary of Defence), and Barack. Obama (The current president) could be mentioned (WP, 2007, Threat watch, 2007, WP, 2013).

In addition to the politicians, some scholars were also against this proposal. Amongst them was Trita Parsi, then & the current president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC); a US based so-called nonpartisan, and non-profit American-Iranian NGO. These negative responses were mainly based on some reasons as follows. Some argued that the IRGC is the national army of Iran; thus, the US should not designate a national army as a terrorist organization. Some other claimed that the amendment would target the IRGC financially, but at the same time, it might facilitate a legal justification for the US to take a military strike against the IRGC units and posts. However, given the fact that the IRGC as a national army plays a remarkable role for the Islamic Regime and Iran is one of the most controversial members of the international community, an important question would trigger in the curious mind: Would this entity pose any threat to the international peace and security? Although, analyzing this issue in depth requires more data and time, but this essay will attempt to find an appropriate answer to this particular question (NIAC, 2007, Threat watch, 2007, WP, 2007, WP, 2013).

 

1- Methodology:

This research was limited to the secondary resources; therefore, desk study technique was found to be the appropriate approach for analyzing the nature and activities of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) inside and outside of Iran. Through this process, I collected, studied, and analyzed the data from various books, journals, articles, and internet resources about the IRGC and its activities. This essay is organized as follows: The first part explores the origin of the IRGC, its development and the scope of its power within Iran. The second part identifies and discusses some of the activities of the IRGC abroad, particularly in the Middle East. The third part explains the definitions of organized crime and transnational organized crime. The final part is conclusion.

 

2. The Historical Background of the IRGC:

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) or the Sepah-e Pasdaran in Persian was established in 1979 by a direct decree from Ayatollah Khomeini. As is stated in Article 150 of the constitution, the main task of the IRGC is to defend and protect the Islamic Revolution along with its achievements against any threats. In the beginning of the Islamic Revolution, the main task of the IRGC was limited in defeating the domestic threats, particularly those forces, which were loyal to the disposed regime i.e. high-ranking politician, military and intelligence officials of the Shah’s Regime. In a short period and just during the couple of months after the Revolution, the IRGC dismantled the forces loyal to the Shah with severe brutality. During that bloody period, the large numbers of the officials of the Shah’s regime including some military generals, ministers and intelligence officers were executed, most of them even without any judicial process and legal procedure (Buchta, 2000, Sirani, 2012).

Soon after that, the Iranian opposition groups became the main target of the IRGC; whether they were left or right, military or non-military organizations; the IRGC suppressed and disintegrated them with full-scale atrocity and cruelty. Through these types of ferocious activities, the IRGC occupied a special and considerable position in the hierarchical ladder of the power within the Islamic Regime structure. The IRGC’s position within the structure of the Islamic Regime became much stronger, when the war between Iran and Iraq broke out in 1980 (Buchta, 2000, Afshari, 2011, Sirani, 2012).  

The IRGC’s development during the war period and onwards confirms one of Paul. D. Williams’ statements, when he claims:

 

“War,,,,, has caused huge amounts of suffering and destruction but it has also been a major engine for social, political, economic and technological change. It has influenced many of our most enduring cultural reference points, shaped the deep meaning of masculinity and femininity, and set the contours of many of our laws, institutions, and customs” (Williams, 2013, P. 187-188).  

 

The eight years war with Iraq changed and shaped the nature of the IRGC profoundly; it transformed the IRGC from a just simple domestic paramilitary organization into a highly organized, developed, equipped, and powerful modern military entity, even much more than the regular army in Iran. In 1982, during the war with Iraq, the IRGC established its own Ministry. This event promoted the IRGC further in not only the literary form as a new ministry but also as a financially independent and autonomous entity within the Islamic Regime structure. During this time, the IRGC established its own weapons procurement organization in order to offset the US weapons embargo. In doing so, the entity built a strong tie with North Korea, China, the former Soviet Union, and became the major arms dealer within the country (Buchta, 2000).

 

The IRGC’s process of expansion and development was too fast and broad that the post-war reform such as the 1989 creation of the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics, which dismantled the Ministry of IRGC and consequently subordinated this entity under its category, could not limit the activities of this entity. The war, in fact, paved the way for the IRGC towards an unlimited expansion in different arenas. Since the termination of the Iran-Iraq war, the IRGC has been expanding its influence and domination beyond the military affairs into different arenas in Iran (Buchta, 2000, Rand, 2009, Cfr, 2011, Sirani, 2012, Iranprimer, 2013, WP, 2013).

Regarding the overall influence and expansion of the IRGC in different arenas, Selvik & Bjorvatn (2007) states:

 

“Sepah (i.e. the IRGC) forms the core of the country’s security system with an estimated manpower of 125,000 and access to Iran’s most sophisticated weaponry. Almost one-third of the members of the conservative parliament elected in 2004 are former Guard members. Economically, it is engaged in various large-scale development projects like building roads, dams, pipelines, and telecommunication networks. Guard-affiliated companies have also obtained contracts in oil, gas, internet, smart cards, electronics, and scientific research. In addition, Sepah controls the weapon industry and much of the country’s illegal trade. Through private piers on the Persian Gulf---dubbed “invisible piers” in the Iranian press---       a wide range of consumer and industrial products are informally imported from Dubai. The smuggling is all the more efficient as it takes place under military secrecy and protection from high-ranking officers”

                                                                       (Selvik & Bjorvatn, 2007. P. 2317-2318).

 

The report developed by Rand Corporation also confirms the fact that this entity is heavily involved in military, economic, political, social, cultural, and financial sectors. Regarding the overall involvement of the IRGC in nuclear activities and high-tech weapons, Anthony H. Cordesman, who holds the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) claims that the IRGC is attempting to obtain and develop nuclear weapons and surface-to-surface missiles. Another report developed by Mohammad ELBaradei then director of the International Atomic Energy Agency confirms this issue and claims that Khan’s network was responsible for the transfer of nuclear weapons-centrifuges technologies and blueprints to Iran. Regarding the same issue, W. D. Hartung quoted from Clay (2004) and claims, that Iran was Pakistan’s major customer. Based on all explained above, therefore, it is not exaggeration to say that currently almost all crucial and important sectors in different arenas in Iran are under the full control and supervision of the IRGC, either itself or some of its high-ranking officials or by some of its subordinate organizations directly or indirectly. There are different estimations about the numerical strength of this entity. As most of the reports indicate, the IRGC consists of between 120,000 (Buchta, 2000, Rand, 2009) to 125,000 (Cfr, 2011, Selvik & Bjorvatn, 2007) or 150,000 (Iranprimer, 2013) armed men, who are engaged in ground, naval, and air-space forces. Moreover, this entity has its own intelligence service, which is committed to close collaboration and cooperation with the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) in different activities inside and outside Iran (Buchta, 2000, Selvik & Bjorvatn, 2007, WP, 2007, Rand, 2009, Cfr, 2011, Iranprimer, 2013, Williams, 2013).

 

Furthermore, the IRGC has two important subdivisions including: 1- The Basij (Mobilisation in English): This organization consists of approximately 90,000 well-trained, full-time armed forces and functions under the direct command and supervision of the IRGC. The main duty of the Basij is to crack down any domestic rally, demonstration, and movement against the Islamic Regime. However, that does not mean that the Islamic Regime cannot use this organization as a military tool abroad. 2- The Quds Force: There are different estimations about the numerical strength of this unit too. As different reports indicate, this unit consists of 1,000 (Buchta, 2000, Cfr, 2011) to 5,000 (Iranprimer, 2013) well-trained elite soldiers. The main tasks of this unit are including exporting the revolution, assassination of opponents inside and outside the country, training and arming different Shiite groups around the globe (Buchta, 2000, Cfr, 2011, Iranprimer, 2013).  

 

One important issue to mention is; who appoints the head of the IRGC? According to Article 110 of the constitution, the supreme leader is the only eligible authority, who can appoint the chief commander of all the armed forces including the IRGC in Iran. All explained above, however, indicates the fact that the IRGC has seized enormous multidimensional power not only within the structure of the Islamic Regime but also in different arenas in Iran. Since Iran is a questionable and controversial member of the international community in different aspects, and considering the fact that the IRGC plays an important role for the Islamic Regime, an important question would trigger in the curious mind: what is the role and activity of the IRGC in the international arena? The next section shall analyze this issue (Buchta, 2000, Selvik & Bjorvatn, 2007, Rand, 2009, Cfr, 2011).

 

3. The Main Discussion:

3.1. What is the role of the IRGC in the international arena?

As mentioned in the introduction section, the Bush administration supposed to freeze all financial and business operations of the IRGC by enacting and implementing the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment in 2007. By ratifying the Amendment, the US wanted to prevent the unlawful activities of the IRGC in the Middle East (particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan), and at the same time put a pressure on Iran with regards to its nuclear ambition (WP, 2007).

Some people including Professor Trita Parsi were against this Amendment. Parsi (then and the current president of The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) in an analytical article titled “Terror Label for Guard Corp Entrenches US-Iran Enmity” expressed his argument against the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment. In this article, Parsi states:

 

The Guards have heavily penetrated Iran's economy, including some of its key industries. They are often accused of behaving like a state-sponsored mafia, with a corrupting influence on Iran's economy, police, media, industries, judiciary, and government. As such, many Iranians find the power and political influence of this paramilitary force highly problematic” (NIAC, 2007).  

 

This part of Parsi’s argument illustrates two important issues. Firstly, it illustrates that this entity is strongly involved not only in the economic sphere but also in other political, social, cultural spheres in Iran. Secondly, it indicates the fact that most of the Iranian people are not satisfied with overall involvement of the IRGC in different aspects of the Iranian society. Moreover, Parsi continues and uses an argument, which to some extent undermines his previous argument noted above. In the same article, Parsi argues:     

 

“The Bush administration's decision to label the Guards as a global terrorist organization has been presented as a step to ratchet up pressure on Iran and intensify efforts to financially isolate the country. Yet, it is unclear whether the designation is necessary to target the Guards economically” (NIAC, 2007).  

 

As noted above, Parsi first, admits that the IRGC is strongly involved in different arenas in Iran, but later he is also questioning the necessity of targeting the Guards economically by the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment. Furthermore, Parsi criticizes the Amendment and claims that the designation of the IRGC as a global terrorist organization would undermine the effort of the US to provide peace and stability in Iraq. Regarding this issue, Parsi states:  

 

The White House's decision to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization could deal a double blow to efforts to utilize diplomacy with Iran to stabilize Iraq. Not only does the designation risk undermining the important yet limited talks between the United States and Iran in Baghdad, but it may also negatively impact the next U.S. president's ability to seek diplomacy with Iran by further entrenching U.S.-Iran relations in a paradigm of enmity”

                                                                                                                 (NIAC, 2007).

 

As noted above, Parsi argues, the designation would deteriorate the diplomatic relationship between the US and Iran. Considering the main objective of the NIAC as a NGO, Parsi’s arguments would become more controversial and questionable. The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) identifies itself as:

 

The National Iranian American Council is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of the Iranian-American community. We accomplish our mission by supplying the resources, knowledge, and tools to enable greater civic participation by Iranian Americans and informed decision making by lawmakers (NIAC, 2013).  

 

A simple comparison between the main objective of the NIAC and Parsi’s statements noted above raises some serious questions as follows. If the IRGC is strongly involved in different economic, political, social and cultural activities in Iran, as Parsi also admits, then why the president of the NIAC is questioning the necessity of targeting the Guards economically by the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment? By this type of argument, would the president of NIAC defend the interest of those American soldiers, who die because of the direct or indirect activities of the IRGC in Iraq and Afghanistan? Would Parsi defend the interest of the Iranian people, which, according to his own statement, are fed up with overall involvement of the IRGC in different aspects of their lives? However, as mentioned earlier, the US did not enact the Amendment. In this respect, Parsi’s statement would also raise some more questions. Did the absence of the Amendment provide peace and stability in Iraq? Did this issue decrease the influence of the IRGC in Iraq or Afghanistan? Furthermore, did the absence of the Amendment improve the diplomatic relationship between the US and Iran? (NIAC, 2007).

It should be mentioned that by posing these questions, we do not mean that we support the invasion of the US in Iraq or Afghanistan, instead we try to illustrate different questionable and at the same time controversial parts of Parsi’s arguments with regards to the IRGC. However, in order to find reasonable answers for these questions noted above, it would be wise to explore some of the IRGC’s activities abroad. Although, analyzing all activities of this entity is out of the scope of this essay, but exploring some of them would help us to justify or refute Parsi’s argument as well as the decision made by the Bush administration, which did not designate the IRGC as a global terrorist organization. As a result, we would be able to evaluate, whether the IRGC poses any threat to the international peace and security or not. In doing so, we can use some part of Parsi’s statement as the starting point, when he argues that the designation “could deal a double blow to efforts to utilize diplomacy with Iran to stabilize Iraq(NIAC, 2007). This part of Parsi’s statement itself clearly confirms the fact that the IRGC is meddling and intervening profoundly in Iraq. Therefore, according to Parsi, the US should make a deal with this entity in a diplomatic manner, in order to have a peace and stability in Iraq. The next section shall explore this issue (NIAC, 2007).

 

3.2. Meddling and intervening in the Internal Affairs of Other countries:

The idea of exporting the Islamic Revolution and consequently meddling and intervening in the internal affairs of other countries can be considered as one of the inherent and illegitimate activities of the IRGC abroad (Sirani, 2012). Regarding the nature of such unlawful activity, then IRGC commander Major General Rahim Safavi in an interview states:

 

”The IRGC does not intervene in the cultural activities of other government organizations and bodies. However, based on the nature of the IRGC, which is interwined with belief and military activities, the organization’s orientation is to enhance the forces’ Islamic and ideological beliefs; and this part of the duties vested with the IRGC” (Rand, 2009. P. 44).

 

This statement indicates the fact that the ideological characteristic of Shiite Islam embedded in the essence and nature of the Islamic Regime forces the IRGC to intervene in the internal affairs of other states. There are different evidences, which clearly confirm Safavi’s statement noted above. Regarding this issue, Buchta (2000), Kepel (2002), Bruno & Bajoria (Cfr, 2011) claim that the entity has been operating in different countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Palestine, Bosnia, Syria and Sudan. Through these operations, the IRGC has been supporting different Shiite militia groups in these countries and in some cases, the entity has been assisting some Sunni militia groups such as Hamas and Taliban, as Buchta (2000) and Bruno & Bajoria (2011) claim. Another report, which confirms this part of our discussion, is that Iran and Hezbollah are building a network of militias in Syria. Regarding this issue, a senior official in Obama administration claims that Iran has been sending as many as 50,000 militiamen to Syria, in order to preserve Asad’s regime. These evidences, however, illustrate the fact that the entity has operated beyond its legitimate territory. In this respect, we can claim that the IRGC has violated the territorial sovereignty and national integrity of other countries. As a result, the IRGC has caused more tensions; it has weakened the peace and stability; and more generally, it has violated the international law. These evidences noted above, undermines the reliability of Parsi’s argument and show that the scope of the IRGC’s activities is not just limited to Iraq or Afghanistan. In fact, this entity is operating and intervening in different parts of the Middle East. However, this issue leads us to another unlawful activity of the IRGC, which is establishing and supporting the extremist groups, as Buchta (2000), Kepel (2002), Bruno & Bajoria (2011) also claim (Buchta, 2000, Kepel, 2002, Jackson & Sørensen, 2010, Cfr, 2011, Guardian, 2013).   

 

3.3. Establishing and Supporting the Extremist Groups:

As different evidences claim, the IRGC has been involved in the establishment of some extremist group such as Hezbollah and supporting other militia groups in different levels abroad particularly in the Middle East. Regarding this issue, Bruno & Bajoria (2011) state:

 

Its (I.e. the IRGC) mandate was to conduct foreign policy missions--beginning with Iraq's Kurdish region--and forge relationships with Shiite and Kurdish groups. A Quds unit was deployed to Lebanon in 1982, where it helped in the genesis of Hezbollah. Another unit was sent to Bosnia to back Bosnian Muslims in their civil war in the early and mid-1990s. Some experts say the Quds Force has shipped weapons to Lebanon-based Hezbollah, Gaza-based Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and is also supplying munitions to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Shiite militias in Iraq. In the wake of anti-government protests throughout the Middle East in 2011, the United States and the European Union accused the Quds Force of providing equipment and support to help the Syrian regime suppress revolts in Syria” (Cfr, 2011).

 

There is another report, which clearly underpins the statement noted above. According to CNN, on January 30, 2013, the Yemenis authority seized a ship, which it came from Iran. The ship carried a large amount of weapons and explosive materials, which were supposed to be delivered to Shiite Muslim insurgents in Yemen. According to the official, the markings on those weapons and explosive materials showed that they were made in the IRGC’s facilities. These statements clearly illustrate the fact the IRGC has been involved in different illegitimate and unlawful activities around the Middle East, from the beginning of the Islamic revolution up until now without being designate as a global terrorist organization by the US or any other states. Contrary to Parsi’s statement, thus, these evidences show that ratifying or rejecting this type of Amendment has no effect on the nature and the activity of the IRGC. It means this entity is pursuing its goals with or without this type of designation. This argument is also applicable to other parts of Parsi’s claim with regards to the relationship between the US and Iran along with peace and stability in Iraq. From this, we can claim that Parsi’s argument about these issues is not a logical and reliable statement. However, all explained in this section indicates that the IRGC has violated the international law in different levels. Firstly, as mentioned in the previous section too, the entity has violated the international law, by overall intervening in the internal affairs of other countries. Secondly, the IRGC has been providing weapons and munitions to different extremist groups in various countries illegally. In this case, the entity has fuelled and prolonged the conflicts in other sovereign states. As a result, the IRGC has escalated the tensions and consequently, it has caused instability and insecurity in various parts of the Middle East. In this respect, we can also claim that against the international law, the IRGC has behaved as an illegal international arms trafficker. Through these types of lawless activities, however, many innocent people, Iranian, as well as foreigners have lost their lives in different parts of the world. This issue leads us to another unlawful activity of the IRGC, which is the terrorist activity of this entity abroad (Cfr, 2011, Williams, 2013, CNN, 2013).

 

3.4. The Terrorist activities:  

As mentioned earlier, assassination of opponents inside and outside Iran is/has been one of the main tasks of the Quds unit. Regarding this issue, as Afshari (2011) states, the Iranian agents (The members of the Quds unit and MOIS) have assassinated many members as well as leaders of the Iranian oppositions in exile. Afshari quoted from a report published by the UK Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights and claims that just until 1996, 150 cases of attempted individual and mass assassination of the opposition members have been recorded. Through, these inhuman and unlawful attempts, which most of them took place in the European countries, 350 innocent people have lost their lives, as Afshari states. However, this type of terrorist activity has not been limited to just the Iranian opposition (Afshari, 2011).

 

In 2011, the US authorities arrested an Iranian agent, who was supposed to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United State. The alleged man had also the plan to bomb the Israeli Embassy in the US and the Saudis and Israeli Embassies in Argentina. In addition, the IRGC and some of its proxies such as Hezbollah have been involved in hostage taking and bombing in the different countries. The American diplomats hostage crisis in Tehran (1980), the  bombing in Beirut (1983), the AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires (Argentine Israelite Mutual Association, 1994), the Khobar Towers bombing (Saudi Arabia, 1996), and the recent deadly suicide attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria (2012) are some of the inhuman, unlawful and horrific terrorist activities of the IRGC and its subdivisions abroad. These evidences undermine Parsi’s argument severely and clearly show that the IRGC has been involved in different terrorist activities not just in Iraq or Afghanistan, but also around the globe in the past 34 years. Thus, contrary to Parsi’s argument, the Bush administration should have designated the IRGC as a global terrorist organization. Such a move could be understood as a logical and justifiable response to terrorism. However, in this respect, we can claim that the IRGC has repeatedly violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and more generally the international law and order around the world. In addition to this type of lawless activity, there is a rumour about the IRGC’s involvement in illicit and black market activities (Kepel, 2002, Rand, 2009, NYtimes, 2012).         

 

3.5. Illicit and Black Market Activities:

As mentioned earlier, Selvik & Bjorvatn (2007) claims that most of Iran’s illegal trade is under the supervision and control of the IRGC. According to Selvik & Bjorvatn (2007), the IRGC performs this type of unlawful economic activity through its own private piers on the Persian Gulf. It should be mentioned that Selvik & Bjorvatn (2007) do not mention anything about the trade of narcotics by the IRGC in their analysis. However, another report published by Rand Corporation touches this issue but in a professional and at the same time doubtful fashion. According to this report:

 

“The abundant availability of banned commodities in Iran, including alcoholic beverages and narcotics, has led to allegations of IRGC involvement in illegal smuggling activities. While there are no independent means of substantiating such allegations, the IRGC is the only organization, it is argued, that could engage in such large-scale trafficking, due to its vast networks and access to countless jetties unsupervised by the government”

                                                                                                           (Rand, 2009, P. 88-89).

 

Regarding this issue, CNN website has published an article, which confirms that some members of the Quds unit are involved in narcotics trafficking. According to this article, the US Treasury Department in a statement has claimed that Gen. Gholamreza Baghbani (the current head of the IRGC-Quds unit in Zahedan (a city in the East area in Iran, near the border with Afghanistan) has given free passage to Afghan narcotics traffickers through his zone of commands in exchange for money. Another article published in the Times (Middle East) underpins the IRGC’s involvement in narcotics trafficking with more clarity. According to this article, members of the IRGC are heavily involved in multibillion-pound drug trafficking trade. In this way, as the article claims, the IRGC tries to establish a network with global organized crime, in order to undermine the west. There might be some correlation between this news and the event that the Iranian agents supposed to assassinate the Saudis ambassador to Washington in 2011. According to an article published in the Washington post, the Iranian agents planned to employ Mexican drug traffickers to assassinate the Saudis ambassador, when he was eating at a restaurant. Another article published in the Analysisintelligence website strengthens this correlation and claims that there is relationship between Iran, Hezbollah, and the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas. The article identifies one of the financial supporters of Hezbollah, who is a Lebanese drug lord, which has close contact with the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas (The WP, 2011, The Times, 2011, CNN, 2012, Analysisintelligence, 2013).

 

In order to evaluate these so-called allegations (According to Rand’s report) with more accuracy, we should also bear in mind some other issues. Firstly, Iran has common border with Afghanistan, the largest producer of opium in the world. Secondly, Iran is one of the major transit passages of narcotics from Asia to the EU. Thirdly, according to a report, estimated 140 metric tons narcotics (Including Finished heroin, Morphine, and raw opium) enter in Iran from Afghanistan each year. The authorities in Iran just seize 23 percent of this amount and the rest goes to Turkey, and further to Balkan and finally arrives in the EU. Fourthly, as explained earlier, the IRGC is heavily involved in different military, intelligence, economic, political, social, and cultural issues within Iran. In other words, everything including the import and export of narcotics in the country should be under the surveillance and supervision of the IRGC; otherwise, it would be impossible to do such a huge business in Iran. Based on these reasons, thus, it is not too far fetched to say that there is high probability that the IRGC is involved in narcotics trafficking. In other words, we can argue that the IRGC funds its unlawful and illegitimate activities partly through the narcotics trafficking (Narconon, 2013).

Based on all explained in this section, we can claim that this part of Parsi’s statement, when he argues Yet, it is unclear whether the designation is necessary to target the Guards economically” (NIAC, 2007), is seriously controversial and at the same raises an important question. Why is Parsi worry about the targeting the IRGC economically? We leave this question unanswered. In Fact, based on all explained above (particularly in this section), this is the question that the US authority and those organizations or institutions, which are funding the NIAC, should find reasonable and logical answer for it. However, in order to have a better understanding about these unlawful activities of the IRGC, it would be worthwhile to have a theoretical knowledge about the two terms of organized crime as well as transnational organized crime explored by Phil Williams (NIAC, 2007, Williams, 2013).

 

4. Definitions of Organized Crime & Transnational Organized Crime: 

As Phil Williams (2013) states, there are different types of definition and explanation about the term organized crime. Some scholars assess organized crime in terms of criminal firms or criminal organizations, while some others analyze organized crime in terms of criminal and illegal activities. When it comes to the structure of organized crime, some might have hierarchical structure, while some others might be part of criminal networks, which have horizontal relationships with each other. According to Williams, these analyses and assessments are correct, but none of them alone is sufficient to describe a comprehensive definition about the concept of organized crime. According to Williams:

 

“Organized crime can be understood in terms of entities (criminal organizations or criminal enterprises) as well as in terms of the illicit activities that are characteristically used by these organizations but that can also be appropriate by other kinds of actor. Yet organized crime can also be seen as a methodology or set of activities used by different entities-ethnic factions, organizations engaged in terrorism, insurgent groups, and even some governments--- as a way of obtaining funds. For these groups, the ultimate ends are political, but criminal activities are instrumental in funding the political agendas” (Williams, 2013, P. 507).

 

Based on this definition, thus, transnational organized crime can be understood as criminal groups or activities, which pass their national borders and consequently interfere in the territories and laws of at least two states. From these definitions developed by Williams (2013), we can deduce that the IRGC is not just a simple global terrorist organization; in fact, this entity has been functioning as a transnational criminal organization in the international arena; a transnational criminal organization, which has been supported by the Islamic Regime.  As illustrated in this essay, there is a close, reciprocal, and inseparable association or as Phil Williams (2013) states, a “symbiotic relationship” between the Islamic Regime and the IRGC (Williams, 2013).

 

The Islamic Regime is enacting laws and regulations in the favour of the IRGC. In this way, the Regime is providing unlimited opportunities for the entity in different economic, political, military, social, and cultural sectors inside and outside of Iran. In return, firstly, the IRGC is providing, protecting, and maintaining the overall security of the Islamic Regime against its domestic as well as its foreign threats. Secondly, the entity is implementing and performing the overall Islamic Regime’s illegitimate policies in the domestic as well as in the international arena by using its enormous undercover economic, political, social and cultural facilities. Contrary to Parsi’s statement, thus, we can conclude that the IRGC, as a state sponsored transnational criminal organization, is posing serious threats to the international peace, security, and stability (Williams, 2013).                     

 

Conclusion:

In conclusion, I have to imply that the IRGC is not just a regular national army in Iran. As described in this essay, the IRGC is heavily involved in different economic, political, military, social, and cultural sectors within Iran. This entity has penetrated in different aspects of the Iranian society and has built a strong and inseparable symbiotic relationship with the Islamic Regime. As different evidences showed, this entity is also involved in various unlawful, illegitimate and criminal activities such as intervening in the internal affairs of other countries, performing terror, bombing, overall supporting the Muslim extremist groups, arms, and probably narcotics trafficking in different parts of the world. In this respect, we can identify the IRGC as a transnational criminal organization, which has been posing serious threats to the international community in different aspects. From this, undoubtedly, we can also claim that all the international financial contribution to the Islamic Regime, whether is in the form of carbon credit or fight against drug trafficking or what so ever, goes directly in the hand of the IRGC. Based on all explained in this essay, moreover, we can claim that this entity is also involved in the international money laundering business, because almost all the activities of this entity abroad are unlawful and illegitimate. In fact, part of the reason that the overall economic and political sanctions imposed by the international community have not been able to stop the nuclear activities of Iran, lies in these types of unlawful and criminal activities of this entity. Furthermore as mentioned earlier, the IRGC is also involved in Iran’s nuclear activities. This is also another important issue, which the international community should be concerned about it. The international community should be aware of the possibility of passing the knowledge and some nuclear materials to the different Muslim extremist groups around the globe by the IRGC. Should this happen, these fundamentalist groups would easily be able to produce a dirty bomb. Based on all these reasons, therefore, it would be worthwhile that the US, the EU, and some other democratic states around the globe, designate the IRGC and its subset organization such as Hezbollah as the transnational criminal organizations. In this way, these states would be able to minimize the unlawful activities of this entity and consequently its financial resources in the large parts of the world. As a result, these states would maximize the security of their states as well as their citizens around the world. This move would also be helpful for the Iranian people, because it facilitates a better possibility for the Iranian people in their daily struggle for freedom, secularism, democracy, and equal opportunity against the Islamic Regime.

 

 

M. Sirani                                                                          01.05.2013            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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