Michael Jacobson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (who previously served as a senior adviser in the Treasury Department's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence) observes that The Post's Aug. 15 account reported that the IRGC would be hit with sanctions under Executive Order 13224 (E.O. 13224) — issued on Sept. 23, 2001, by President Bush. Almost 500 people and entities are on this list. But according to the Times, the IRGC would be listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), joining approximately 40 other groups on that list. In a paper co-authored with Washington Institute scholar Patrick Clawson, Mr. Jacobson writes that the FTO listing would apply only to accounts at financial institutions but not to other types of property. But the E.O. 13224 designation would mean that "all assets of the designated entity within U.S. jurisdiction are frozen, including not only bank accounts but all other property as well."
So the argument, obviously, is that it won't go far enough to actually put the type pressure on the IRGC to have the desired effect unless we can also get others to go along with it.
The United States has attempted to achieve this through the United Nations, but Security Council resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran have left the IRGC free to conduct its business activities, and progress on a new resolution has been stalled due to Russian and Chinese willingness to run interference for Tehran. The critical challenge for U.S. policy-makers right now is to find a way to persuade the Europeans and the Japanese to join us in circumventing the Security Council.
I'm not sure that's completely true. Yes it would be helpful if the US could get the Europeans and the Japanese to join in this effort, however it may not be necessary to success in the effort.
As I pointed out in a recent post, there's been another Executive Order signed which targets those companies and organizations who are found to be "supporting" terrorism. And of course a company or organization would certainly be found to be supporting terrorism if they were doing business with a designated terrorist organization. Specifically:
(ii)to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such an act or acts of violence or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or
(iii) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.
What that EO does is allow "derivative designations" which tie up the assets and property of companies doing business with the designated FTO, in this case the IRGC.
So while having Europe and Japan on board would be the best of all worlds, through the "deriviative designation" made possible by the most recent EO, companies and businesses now engaged in commerce at any level with IRGC commercial enterprises are susceptible to having their assets frozen within the US, etc. They now have to make a choice whether or not Europe or Japan go along or not.
If the FTO designation is made against the IRGC, US financial institutions, both inside and out of the US, are then asked to freeze, without warning, whatever assets can be assigned to that group or organization. Past history has shown that when this is done by the US, other financial institutions tend to go along with it as well.
That's a powerful tool. So I'm not sure I agree with the current assessment I see showing up in various media outlets now:
The listing would allow the US to freeze or block bank accounts and business involved with the Guards, although the immediate impact would be limited as the US already has an almost complete trade embargo on Iran. But the designation could be more than symbolic if US diplomats can encourage European states and companies to follow suit by persuading them that trade with Iran is effectively trade with the Guards.
If we can get other financial institutions to go along with the US asset freezes, and we apply the latest EO to the companies and organizations engaged in business with the IRGC, the designation will end up being much more than symbolic. And it is a way, short of military action, which we can ill afford right now because of Iraq, to ratchet up the pressure on a fairly shaky Iranian government.
Last but not least, one more tool to be used against organizations and companies found to be supporting an FTO:
Mr. Comras also points out that a number of recent federal court rulings give the United States yet another potential weapon to use against "allies" who look the other way as their companies invest in Iran: The courts have ruled that foreign companies doing business with terrorist organizations may be held liable in U.S. courts by victims of terrorism.
That would also remove a lot of the incentive for those companies and organizations to continue their relationship with the IRGC, again, whether Europe or Japan go along or not.