Formed in the wake of Iran’s 1979 revolution, the deeply ideological IRGC was designated by Washington as a specially designated global terrorist (SDGT) and sanctioned under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) in 2017.
Iran has been listed as a state sponsor of terror by the U.S. since 1984, and in 2007 its foreign operations wing, the Quds Force, was labeled an SDGT.
Many experts agree that the FTO label won’t significantly deepen the impact that previous designations have already had. Inflation and unemployment in Iran are skyrocketing, with the sanctions compounding an economy long made stagnant by decades of mismanagement and corruption.
Oil exports, central to Iran’s revenue, have dropped from around 2.5 million barrels a day before Trump’s sanctions to just over 1 million per day now.
“The symbolism, however, is very important here,” Vakil said. “The Trump administration is upping the ante in their maximum pressure campaign, because their policy as it stands today has yet to see any change in Iranian behavior.”
In the past few years, Iranian-backed proxy activity in the Middle East — including support for Houthi rebels in Yemen and for Bashar Assad’s forces in Syria — has only continued or increased.