Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enters his 5th term after securing victory in the Israeli elections promising to establish a government quickly. Likud, United Torah Judaism, Shas, Yisrael Beiteinu, Right-wing Union and Kulanu- right-wing parties were elected into the Knesset; and Kahol Lavan, Hadash-Ta’al, Labor, Meretz and United Arab List-Balad- left wing parties were elected into the Knesset. Netanyahu has become the longest serving Prime Minister in the State’s history. Iran’s president criticized the election turn-out as meaningless.
Just before the Israeli election the Trump administration announced a long debated issue and the decision to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization. This hit the guards with immediate sanctions targeting a number of segments in the Iranian economy, illicit trafficking, and global operations. Iran responded in kind by designating CENTCOM, Central Command, a terrorist organization. In a statement that came as no surprise from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Iran’s long history of sponsoring terror has led to this decision and it has been in the works for years. This action also targets the leader of the IRGC, Qasem Soleimani personally for his involvement in multiple terrorist attacks on American troops in the Middle East. While many, including Iran’s regime claim this designation was in fact a gift to Israel in the wake of its elections, Secretary Pompeo stated that “it happened today because today was the day we were ready to make the announcement.” It is the first time the United States labeled another nation’s military this way.
A recent IRGC Naval drill involved drone strikes using technology back engineered from a captured UAV, the US’ RQ-170 Sentinel. Russian and Iranian propaganda news Sputnik and Mehr News reported on the drills boasting the largest operation of its kind. IRGC claims the drones can hit targets up to 1,000 kilometers. Sanctions on the IRGC will hit their global oil exports, oil production, and hamper their ability to provide assistance to foreign militia groups and terrorist organizations they are currently supporting in Yemen, Palestine, African and Latin American countries. Iran exploits Turkey to funnel terrorists into the EU through a 2016 agreement designed to relocate refugees in Turkey in exchange for open borders between Turkey and EU countries. The IRGC is one Hezbollah’s primary supporters. Hezbollah operates two bases out of Germany in which Chancellor Angela Merkel refuses to shut down. In Bremen, the Al-Mustafa Center raises funds for Hezbollah and another in the city of Münster in North Rhine-Westphalia. The German government announced at the end of this year it will pull public funding from the anti-Jewish organization, The Islamic Community of Shi’ite Communities of Germany, a a radical pro-Iranian-regime establishment.
Meanwhile Iran Supreme Leader Khamenei reports to be staying in the nuclear agreement “hoping to wait out US President Donald Trump and then achieve a better diplomatic and economic position if a new US president is elected” according to JPost sources. Sanctions on the IRGC will introduce new evidence and financial assets into terrorism litigation many of which have reached the Supreme Court level. However, Iran’s regime has taken to providing substantial funding to universities in the U.S. to conduct legal research to defend its banks and other long arms of its regime. At Harvard, first year law students are invited to participate in terrorism litigation research on behalf of programs sympathetic to the Islamic Regime where prominent children of Iran’s regime attend and gather intel. Internationally, universities have been used as propaganda centers and radicalization hotbeds to recruit students and use the influence of the university to push policy agendas. At Harvard, this has triggered social and political clashes between student groups and between students and pro-regime faculty pressuring students to conform to pro-regime ideology and socio-political efforts according to confidential sources. This means that universities have opened themselves up to potential sanctions in the future.