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Brigadier General Hossein Salami, deputy commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

Trump administration officials expect to announce on Monday that the State Department will designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). The Wall Street Journal first reported this expected move — the latest in Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign against the Iranian regime.

Why this matters, per the Journal: "The decision ... would mark the first time that an element of a foreign state has been officially designated a terrorist entity." (The IRGC is an important element within Iran's armed forces.)

  • "The IRGC has a ground force of 100,000 for national defense and runs Tehran’s ballistic missile programs, according to a study by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service."
  • "The IRGC's Quds Force, a specialized division, has arranged weapons deliveries and advised pro-Iranian militias in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East."

Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran expert and hawk from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, gave me his take on the Trump administration's anticipated action:

  • "Designating the IRGC as an FTO is both politically and economically impactful, as it deters business and builds on the existing sanctions structure against the group. The IRGC is already subject to secondary sanctions. An FTO designation will tighten the noose.

"Placing the IRGC on the U.S. FTO list is consistent with the Trump administration’s maximum pressure strategy on Iran for three reasons:

  1. "It ratchets up on the economic pressure on those who perpetuate malign activities at home and abroad."
  2. "It adds to the political stigma surrounding Iran's terrorist apparatus."
  3. "By embracing actions other administrations have not, the current administration is signaling their resolve against Iran."

The other side, per the Journal: "Opponents of the move say it may not be decisive in weakening Iran due to the IRGC's persistent efforts to camouflage its ownership of other entities. Designating a major element of Iran’s military forces as a terrorist organization, the opponents add, also would set a precedent that ... Washington's adversaries may now draw on by applying the label to elements of U.S. armed forces."

  • Taleblu, who supports the move, counters: "In the low-probability, high-impact chance Iran does resort to a terror or harassment attack, they would be relying on the IRGC to carry it out, thus highlighting the group's true terrorist nature."

Go deeper

3 hours ago - World

UN Security Council meeting on Israel-Gaza as fighting enters 7th day

Smoke billows from a fire following Israeli airstrikes on multiple targets in Gaza on May 16. Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images

The United Nations Security Council was preparing to meet Sunday, as the aerial bombardment between Israel and Hamas between entered a seventh day.

The latest: Four Palestinians died in airstrikes early Sunday, as Israeli forces bombed the home of Gaza's Hamas chief, Yehya al-Sinwar, per Reuters.

8 hours ago - World

In photos: Protests in U.S., across the world over Israeli–Palestinian conflict

A protest march in support of Palestinians near the Washington monument in Washington, D.C. on May 15. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of people rallied across the U.S. and the world Saturday following days of violence in Gaza and Israel that's killed at least 145 Palestinians, including 41 children, and eight Israelis, per AP.

The big picture: Most demonstrations were in support of Palestinians. There were tense scenes between pro-Israeli government protesters and pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Winnipeg, Canada, and Leipzig, Germany, but no arrests were made, CBS News and DW.com report.

Updated 15 hours ago - World

Biden in call with Netanyahu raises concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza

Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

President Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday and raised concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza and the bombing of the building that housed AP and other media offices, according to Israeli officials.

The big picture: At least 140 Palestinians, including dozens of children, have been killed in Gaza since fighting between Israel and Hamas began Monday, according to Palestinian health officials. Nine people, including two children, have been killed by Hamas rockets in Israel.