Spawning and spreading terror, ordering up assassinations in other sovereign states; taking British hostages; swanning around with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez in America’s backyard; cultivating business buddies in China, Russia and North Korea’s all-military all-the-time nuclear regime; threatening Israel; extolling mushroom clouds; taunting America from the UN stage in New York; and playing gunboat chicken last weekend with U.S. Navy ships. Anyone care to start an office pool on when Tehran actually tests that nuclear bomb?
Those U.S. Navy ships, even when threatened that those Iranian gunboats were about to “explode” them, did not open fire — not even a warning shot.
But let’s take what we can get. Hallelujah, at least Treasury today had the gumption to blacklist one Syrian “entity” and four individuals, one based in Syria and three based in Iran, for “fueling violence and destruction in Iraq.” These blacklisted individuals are not exactly free-lance mavericks. One of them, Ahmad Foruzandeh, is an Iranian brigadier general and commanding officer of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (widely believed to run those gunboats that threatened three U.S. Navy ships last weekend in the Strait of Hormuz, and last March took hostage 15 British sailors). The “entity” is no mere drop box; it’s a TV station based in Syria.
It’s not clear whether the run-in with Iranian gunboats threatening to “explode” the U.S. ships was what triggered this latest Treasury move. The timing, coming so soon after the incident, does have at least the beneficial effect of looking like some sort of U.S. response less grotesquely feeble than diplomatic flutterings.
But will Iran’s theocratic terrorist thugs be impressed? That’s also very unclear. Sanctions on oil rich terror-based states, or individuals therein, are tough to enforce. Iran’s business buddies, including Russia, China, and assorted high-ranking wheeler-dealers in the Middle East, have a rich history of ignoring such measures (remember the UN sanctions and the Oil-for-Food graft bonanza in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq).
The cold comfort may be that Treasury has at least done Americans the favor of spelling out the threat these designated individuals (and the TV station) pose, and highlighting the milieu in which they operate, and where the trails lead. Here’s U.S. Under-Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Stuart Levey, quoted in today’s Treasury press release about these new blacklistings:
“Iran trains, funds and provides weapons to violent Shia extremist groups, while Syria provides safe haven to Sunni insurgents and financiers.” Foruzandeh, of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, for example, “leads terrorist operations against Coalition Forces and Iraqi Security Forces, and directs assassination of Iraqi figures.”
Lest anyone think the Iranian campaign of carnage, assassinations and other terrorist endeavors is limited to Iraq, Treasury spelled out that the Revolutionary Guard Corps, or Quds Force, “is the regime’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists and Islamic militants to advance Iranian national interests. The Quds Force provides training, weapons, and financial support to surrogate groups and terrorist organizations including: Lebanese Hezbollah; Palestinian terrorists; Iraq Shia militant groups; the Taliban and Islamic militants in Afghanistan, the Balkans and elsewhere.”
Here’s a link to the Treasury press release.