When the US government imposed new sanctions against Iran in 2014, it targeted not only the country’s nuclear weapons program, but also its military forces, political activists and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
These new sanctions were designed to punish Iran for its support for Houthi rebels in Yemen and its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
The sanctions were intended to punish Tehran for its “hostile policies”, but also for the nuclear program, a key pillar of Iran’s foreign policy.
The aim was to deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons, but in doing so it put pressure on Iran’s allies in the region to follow suit.
The new sanctions also put pressure not just on the IRGC, but on the Iranian state itself, which had been seeking to counter the new US sanctions.
What do the sanctions say about the Iranian people?
The new US-Iranian sanctions are not without their critics.
The US State Department announced the sanctions at the height of the war in Syria and have been criticized for targeting the IRG and other “terrorist” groups in Syria.
Iranian officials have also expressed concern about the new sanctions.
“The sanctions are an unfortunate step toward a war of aggression against Iran,” the head of the IROC’s Revolutionary Guard Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Jafari told Al Jazeera, calling them “an invasion of our country”.
Iranian officials say the new Iranian sanctions are aimed at blocking Iran from accessing funds needed to fund its weapons program and are part of the regime’s “resistance” against the West.
“There are no legitimate reasons for the sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Rouhani said at the time.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have also denounced the sanctions as a “treacherous” and “unpatriotic” act.
Who are the IRGs?
The IRGC is the armed wing of the Iranian government.
It is the countrys most powerful military and political institution.
Its armed forces are tasked with defending the country from foreign invaders, defending the nation from internal threats, and providing Iran with economic and military support.
The IRGs role is to help the country achieve its goals, including its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program.
It has been accused of war crimes, including the bombing of a military base in Afghanistan in 2003, as well as war crimes in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
In 2010, Iran was accused of “extrajudicial executions”, including the execution of the head pastor of a Shia mosque, Mohammad Bagheri.
The countrys state media regularly refers to Iran’s “terrorism” as the “resurgent” wing of Islam, which it claims is responsible for the deaths of more than a million people.
“Iran is facing a real war against itself,” Khamenei told Iranian journalists in 2013.
“What we have seen is a war that the Americans are waging against us.
The Americans have been using our country to wage war against Islam, the Islamic world and the entire world.”
But the Islamic State (IS) group is also fighting Iran’s proxy militias in Syria, and Iran has repeatedly threatened to attack IS targets in Iraq.
What are the new Western sanctions against the IRQC?
In September 2016, the United States imposed new economic sanctions against Iranian banks and other financial institutions, targeting “a wide array of transactions and entities” that support the IRC.
These included the sale of crude oil and other commodities, a major source of Iranian revenue.
The Treasury Department said these sanctions were aimed at “supporting a broad range of legitimate transactions and activities”, but did not say which financial institutions would be targeted.
The following month, the Treasury Department also imposed new financial sanctions on a number of other IRGC-affiliated institutions.
These new restrictions targeted “a broad array of individuals and entities, including companies involved in the export of petroleum products to Iran”.
In July 2017, the US Treasury Department announced new financial restrictions on the assets of a number “significant IRGC entities and individuals”, including a company called Alabawis Holding, which is part of a bank called Al-Quds Bank.
The Iranian government also imposed additional sanctions on Iranian-owned companies in 2018.
Who has been targeted?
The sanctions targeting the Revolutionary Guards are the most serious and targeted so far.
But the US has also been targeting the Islamic Supreme Council for the Armed Forces, which the IRCC claims is a front for the US.
The group has been implicated in multiple attacks on Iranian military bases, and the US State and Treasury Department are targeting it as well.
The United States has also targeted Iranian diplomats, military commanders and the military and intelligence officers of the Revolutionary Guard.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards, which was formed in 1925, is the official armed wing in Iran.
The Revolutionary Guards has been fighting the Iranian regime since 1979, when it was formed.
The armed wing is currently led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is considered the supreme leader of Iran. Kham