If the Biden administration believes that the Houthis and the IRGC are not terrorist organizations, then why not also remove Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad from the blacklist?
By Khaled Abu Toameh, The Gatestone Institute
Unlike the Biden administration, many Arabs do not distinguish between one terrorist group and another.
That is why news about the possibility that the Biden administration is considering removing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the terrorism blacklist has been received by many Arabs with disbelief and shock.
The Arabs hold the mullahs and the IRGC responsible for various war crimes and atrocities against several countries and people around the world.
Just last week, the IRGC claimed credit for a missile attack on an alleged “Zionist base” in the city of Erbil in northern Iraq. Days later, the IRGC issued a threat to launch missiles at the Gulf states.
The Gulf states, in particular Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), are already under attack by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia in Yemen. The Biden administration removed the Houthis from the list of foreign terrorist organizations and has since refused to reclassify it as a terrorist organization, despite the missile and drone attacks on Washington’s Arab allies and friends as recently as this week.
After the recent drone and missile attacks by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia in Yemen, Saudi Arabia statement that said:
“The Kingdom stresses the importance of the international community realizing the gravity of Iran’s continued behavior of equipping the terrorist Houthi militia with the technology of the ballistic missiles and advanced UAVs with which they target the Kingdom’s production sites of oil, gas and refined products.”
When the Saudis and other Arabs in the Gulf talk about the international community, they are specifically referring to the U.S. administration, which continues to ignore their demand to redesignate the Houthi militia as a terrorist organization.
‘A real American absurdity’
Instead of listening to its Arab allies, the Biden administration is now reportedly studying the possibility of removing Iran’s IRGC — an even more dangerous organization — from the list of foreign terrorists.
The news has come as a shock to the Arabs, especially those in the Gulf who say that the appeasement policies of the Biden administration towards Iran pose a real threat to security and stability in the Middle East.
“Removing the Revolutionary Guard from the blacklist of foreign terrorist organizations would be tantamount to the shameful U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last year,” wrote Saudi journalist Tarik Al-Hamid, former editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
“We will remember two historical events that had — and will have — the biggest impact on destabilizing the security and stability of our region. First, when Ayatollah Khomeini boarded a plane and flew from France to Tehran Airport; second, when the Biden administration removes the Iranian Revolutionary Guard from the list of foreign terrorist organizations.”
Al-Hamid warned that if the Biden administration removes the IRGC from the terrorism list, “we will be faced with a real American absurdity, not less than the absurdity of the invasion of Iraq and the absurdity of the withdrawal from Afghanistan.”
“It is true that the United States wants to withdraw from the region, but Washington will then have given China, Russia and Iran unprecedented strength. If this is not a political absurdity, what can it be called? By removing the Revolutionary Guards from the list of terrorist organizations, Washington will grant Iran the freedom to move and act in the region in the context of a Russian-Chinese-Iranian alliance.”
The prominent Saudi journalist warned that the policies of the Biden administration would “strengthen the axis of resistance to the U.S. once again.”
“By lifting the sanctions against the Revolutionary Guards, the U.S. administration will fulfill the aspirations of former President Barack Obama when he spoke in his famous interview with The Atlantic magazine under the title ‘Obama Doctrine’ about sharing the region with Iran. At the time, Obama said: ‘The Saudis need to share the Middle East with their Iranian opponents.'”
Al-Hamid reminded the Biden administration that Saudi Arabia “is the exact opposite of Iran, as it does not want control, but rather the stability and independence of countries.”
“Therefore, removing the Iranian Revolutionary Guards from the sanctions list is nothing but a conspiracy against the region as a whole, especially after the Revolutionary Guard took credit for the recent firing of 12 ballistic missiles on Iraq. Lifting the sanctions while Hezbollah revels in Lebanon and Syria, and Iranian militias wreak havoc in Iraq amid Iran’s continued support for the Houthis in Yemen, is nothing but a crime against our region.”
Biden era or Obama’s America?
Abdullah bin Bejad Al-Otaibi, a Saudi political analyst and researcher of Islamic groups, wrote that the U.S. during the Biden era “is very similar to Obama’s America in terms of vision, policies, and directions.”
The Biden administration’s appeasement of Iran and its plans to remove the IRGC from the list of foreign terrorist organizations represents political absurdity, Al-Otaibi argued:
“The signing of the (2015) nuclear agreement with the Iranian regime took place during the Obama era without any consideration for the interests of the Gulf states and Arab countries, and it was just a postponement, not a cancellation, of Iran’s military nuclear project. The administration of President Biden has been eager to revive the ominous agreement.
“It has also been attacking the Arab countries not only with blatant statements, but also through its regional and international policies and positions. Arab and Gulf countries have not changed their stance toward America, but the opposite is what happened. America’s positions have become more extreme and less concerned about partnership and support for allies.
“The problem with this American change is that it came while Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are leading internal and regional efforts to bring stability and moderation. Bahrain and the UAE have normalized relations with Israel. The Saudi crown prince stated that Saudi Arabia does not view Israel as an enemy, but rather as a potential ally.”
‘Direct threat and danger to the whole world’
Al-Otaibi reminded the Biden administration that the IRGC and the mullahs are “the head of regional and international terrorism, from Al-Qaeda to ISIS, and from the Lebanese Hezbollah to the Shiite terror militias all over the world.”
Referring to the possibility that the IRGC may be removed from the list of terrorism, the Saudi analyst said:
“This would be a direct threat and danger not only to the Arab countries, but to the whole world, and unprecedented support for terrorism and its groups and organizations.
“The Arab countries and Israel will be the first victims. There is an American and Western policy that cannot be condoned, which is the insistence on making Saudi Arabia and the UAE militarily exposed to the attacks of the Iranian Houthi militia in Yemen, ballistic missiles and drones, and imposing illogical requirements on the export of arms to confront these serious threats.
“The hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan, which enabled the Taliban to seize control of the country, removing the Houthi militia from the terrorism list, seeking to remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guard from the list of terrorism, silence about Iranian bombing of Iraqi Kurdistan — these are very dangerous policies for the world and the Arab countries that support stability and peace.
“A new approach is knocking on the doors of the world with force and an unprecedented need to close ranks, strengthen alliances and build partnerships, and any neutral observer will find a blatant contradiction in the Biden administration’s policies towards Iran and Saudi Arabia, as it courts Iran in an unprecedented way and does not behave in the same way with Saudi Arabia.”
‘Have you seen bigger liars?’
Syrian writer Dr. Mahmoud Al-Shami expressed astonishment over the Biden administration’s weak and hypocritical attitude towards Iran and its terrorist proxies:
“America condemns the Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia and says they must stop, while it has since removed Houthis from the list of terrorism, and will also remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guard from the terrorism list as well. [The condemnation came] while America was claiming that Saudi Arabia is its ally and that it will defend it if it is subjected to any aggression. Have you seen bigger liars?”
Dr. Mohamed El-Sherif, an Egyptian, also took to social media to express disgust with the policies of the Biden administration towards the mullahs and their terrorist organizations.
“What did the Revolutionary Guard offer America as a price for the reward of being removed from the list of terrorist organizations and making billions of dollars available to it by lifting sanctions on Iran so that it could finance its terrorist activities at the expense of threatening the security of the Gulf and the stability of the Middle East?”
Kuwaiti university lecturer Professor Abdullah Al-Shayji noted that the U.S. was continuing to lose its credibility among the Arabs:
“Will Biden re-designate the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization after President Trump classified them as terrorists during his presidency?… Will Biden, in the nuclear negotiations with Iran, cancel the designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization in order to succeed with the nuclear deal?! We are witnessing a decline in trust in America.”
‘Among the unforgivable mistakes of Mr. Biden’
Saudi writer Abdul Hadi Al-Shehri warned the Biden administration that it would be making a grave mistake by removing the IRGC from the terrorism list:
“I think that when you remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guard from the list of terrorist organizations, you will make a big mistake, and this will lead to the spread of Iranian terrorism and this will affect the region and allies, and America and Europe will be vulnerable to direct Iranian terrorism.”
Bahraini journalist and political analyst Abdul Majed Jalal accused the Biden administration of “betraying” its Arab allies.
“The Biden administration is considering canceling the decision to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization as part of its efforts to revive the nuclear deal with Iran. The mere idea is a clear American betrayal of its allies in the Gulf! The Gulf no longer has much trust in America.”
Dr. Fahad bin Jumah, a former member of the Economy and Energy Committee in Saudi Arabia, commented:
“Supporting Iran, returning to the nuclear agreement, and trying to remove the Revolutionary Guard from the list of terrorism, as he did previously with the Houthis, are among the unforgivable mistakes of Mr. Biden.”
Masood A. R., an Iranian opponent of the mullahs, Addressing U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, wrote:
“Mr. Blinken, it will be a true holiday for Iranians when they get rid of the murderous [Iranian] regime to which you are making terrible concessions. Mr. Blinken, the Iranian people will not forgive the U.S. if the Revolutionary Guard, the largest terrorist organization backed by an official government, is removed from the list of terrorism.”
US credibility plummeting in Arab world
Iraqi social media user Kirar Al-Atiyya added his voice to that of an increasing number of Arabs who were shocked by the news concerning the IRGC:
“If this news is true about the Biden administration’s intention to remove the Revolutionary Guard militia from the list of terrorism, this would be the mother of all disasters. The Revolutionary Guard gangs have committed many crimes. They also contributed to the recruitment of children into the ranks of the terrorist Houthi militia.”
Judging from the severe consternation in the Arab countries over Biden’s mistaken and disastrous policies towards Iran and its terrorist proxies, it’s safe to assume that U.S. credibility has plummeted in the Arab world.
From the Arab point of view, it seems as though the U.S. has chosen to side with the world’s largest terrorist organization — the IRGC — a move that poses an imminent threat to Arab security and the stability of the entire region.
The question arises: If the Biden administration believes that the Houthi militia and the IRGC are not terrorist organizations, then why not also remove Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad from the blacklist?
Indeed, if the U.S. administration believes that it can do business with these terrorists and their sponsors in Tehran, then why not own up to its policies and straightforwardly declare all these terrorist groups as America’s newest allies?