The Treasury Department lasers in on Iran’s Basij

By Tom Rogan

Source: The Washington Times

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Announcing new sanctions on an element of the hardliner-base of the Iranian regime on Tuesday, the Trump administration has leveled another blow against Iran’s revolutionary aggression.

And this time around, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has done a better job in outlining what the sanctions actually entail and what they actually mean. This is important not for reasons of public education per se, but rather as a crystallizing tool by which the U.S. can draw the international community’s attention towards Iranian malevolence.

Nations like Germany continue to pretend that the Iranian hardliners aren’t actually that bad. But actions like this one help demonstrate how the Iranian revolution does its work. As the Treasury notes, the Basij – the militia force which is targeted in these sanctions – uses a complex array of front companies and banking institutions to steal the Iranian peoples’ wealth, to spread corruption and cronyism, and to fund violence against innocent people.

Yet while the sanctions identify the Basij’s use of child soldiers as a particular motivation for U.S. action, the broader nature of the Basij organization justifies its being targeted. That’s because the Basij specializes in galvanizing young men into marauding gangs which beat, torture, and sometimes kill Iran’s own people. The effective popular militia of the revolution, the Basij is defined by its distinct loyalty to Ayatollah Khomeini’s project to dominate the Middle East. But in its core essence, the Basij is an organized mob against any who seek greater freedom and economic opportunity. A gathering of those who don’t quite make the cut for the revolutionary guards more specialized organizations; such as the Quds force, the Basij provides in quantity and broad brutality what the Quds force provides in skill.

True, these sanctions won’t end the Basij’s ability to do its work. But they will make it harder for European companies to support the Basij’s bank accounts. And for that reason if nothing else, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin deserves praise for his action.