On October 23rd, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain announced that they had added Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as senior officers from its Quds Force to their terrorism lists. The reason given is the alleged financial and material support of the alleged Iranian terrorist activities, as reported by the SPA news agency.
SPA also cited a statement from the security services as saying Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, and the force’s Hamed Abdollahi and Abdul Reza Shahlai had been included on the terrorism list. The Quds Force is the IRGC’s branch that operates abroad.
In total Saudi authorities have added nine individuals and four organizations to their terrorist list. Bahrain has also added nine “Taliban-related” individuals and four others to their terrorist list, due to sponsorship of allegedly Iranian-backed terror activities.
The terrorist designation entails the freeze of all IRGC’s assets and properties and ban on any transactions with the organization and its representatives.
Qassem Soleimani was one of the individuals, who in July responded to US President Donald Trump’s remarks aimed at Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. He vowed that if the US were to start a war with Iran, the latter would be the first to end it.
Iran immediately responded to the designation. On the same day, Brigadier-General Esmail Kowsari, the Revolutionary Guards’ deputy security chief, commented that this is a strategy by Saudi Arabia to shift focus from its Khashoggi debacle.
“Saudi Arabia is in a quagmire it cannot easily come out of. Saudi rulers are trying to distract the world and the region from the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist, in their consulate in Turkey. They should know that this crime cannot be washed away easily or by these methods.”
Earlier on the same day, the US Treasury targeted Afghanistan’s Taliban by sanctioning eight individuals who were designated as global terrorists. Two of them were also allegedly linked to the Quds Force, named as Mohammad Ebrahim Owhadi and Esma’il Razavi. It should be noted that in 2017 the US already designated the IRGC as a terrorist group.
The Taliban sanctions were also imposed by the seven countries members of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC), a U.S.-Gulf initiative to stem finance to militant groups.
Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are members of the TFTC, which was co-founded by Riyadh and Washington back in 2017.
Bahrain supports the US-Saudi push to pressure Iran, due to the Saudi assistance in oppressing the opposition representing the Shia majority in the country. In the past, Saudi Arabia has even deployed military forces to crack down on Shia protests in Bahran. Iran, a primarily Shia state and a presumed defender of Muslims, is considered as a threat by the government of Bahrain.
Furthermore, the designation of the IRGC is another action of the US-led bloc aimed at pressuring Iran and undermining its security.