On the eve of a significant vote at the European Parliament that might eventually lead to designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as terrorists, regime officials are issuing threats.
The European Parliament has been discussing a resolution to condemn the Islamic Republic’s human rights violations and its destabilizing activities, including the military support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, since Monday. Following the plenary session to debate the listing of the IRGC, the 700 members of the body will put to vote the resolution that would call for the designation of Iran’s Guards on Thursday.
However, the resolution seems to be bound for approval as an amendment that calls for the EU and its member states to include the IRGC on the EU’s terrorist list was approved with an overwhelming majority on Wednesday. Nearly 600 members out of the 638 who were attending the session voted to adopt a phrase that “calls for the EU and its Member States to include the IRGC on the EU's terrorist list in the light of its terrorist activity, the repression of protesters and its supplying of drones to Russia.” The amendment which was proposed by the European Conservatives and Reformists group (ECR Group) has become part of the European Parliament report on the implementation of the common foreign and security policy.
The European Parliament cannot decide to designate the IRGC because the terrorists list is not a list decided by the Parliament itself but by the EU Council, comprised of ministers of each EU country. If the resolution garners enough support, it is then upon the national governments of the EU member states to make the final decision. The listing of the IRGC must have a unanimous vote by all 27 EU members in the EU Council.
The fear of listing the IRGC as a terrorist organization – similar to that the United states id in 2019 and on the agenda in the United Kingdom, seems to be a big concern for the regime -- prompting officials to threaten European countries over the consequences of such a move.
Hardliner Iranian lawmaker Mohammad Esmail Kowsari, himself a former IRGC commander, said Wednesday that Euope might not be able to withstand the consequences of such a move. “EU officials know that this conspiracy was designed upon the instigation of the US and the Zionist regime (Israel) and has no logic,” he claimed.
“The European Union and European countries must prove their independence from America and oppose any action against the IRGC; If they want to return to the JCPOA and negotiate with Iran, they know that such actions can close the door to any dialogue and negotiation,” Kowsari added. He added the IRGC is one of the most powerful military institutions and organizations in the world, such a measure cannot limit it.
Hardliner Iranian lawmaker Mohammad Esmail Kowsari
European countries prioritized diplomacy with the Islamic Republic in the hope of concluding a nuclear deal. Talks in Vienna to revive the deal, officially known as the JCPOA came to an abrupt stop in March 2022, reportedly for Iran’s insistence that the IRGC be removed from the US list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO). Later talks elsewhere failed to bring about an agreement.
Also on Wednesday, Mahmoud Nabavian, a cleric and a hardliner politician representing a constituency near Tehran at the parliament, said the European Union wants to be in line with the United States, and impose additional sanctions against the IRGC. He added that “Nowhere in the world is it customary to sanction the military force of a country,” slamming former US President Donald Trump for creating such a precedent.
Didier Reynders, the European Commissioner for Justice, once again condemned the regime’s crackdown on dissent, including the execution of protesters as well as British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari. “The internal situation in Iran continues to be a source of great concern. The current uprisings reveal deep frustration. The key demands of the current protests are respect for fundamental human rights, dignity, and real change,” he said.
“Over the past three months, the Council added 60 individuals and 8 entities to the list of those subject to restrictive measures due to their role in the death of Mahsa Amini and the violent response to the ensuing demonstrations. And let me state clearly that this approach will continue as long as necessary, as outlined in the Council Conclusions adopted in December,” he added.
Expressing support for listing IRGC as a terrorist group, European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, “The actions of the Iranian regime are atrocious and horrible, and they are trampling fundamental human rights with their feet, so it is unbelievable what we are seeing, what is happening in Iran and that needs a very strong message and a very strong reaction. And therefore, we are looking indeed at a new round of sanctions, and I would support also listing the Revolutionary Guards. I have heard several ministers asking for that and I think they are right."
The European Union is discussing a fourth round of sanctions against Tehran over the crackdown and its supply of weapons to Russia. Diplomatic sources have told Reuters that more members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) will be added to the sanctions list next week.
On Monday, more than 12 thousands of Iranians from across Europe gathered outside the headquarters of the European Parliament in Strasbourg in northeastern France to urge the European Union to list the IRGC as a terrorist organization.
Designating the IRGC as a terrorist group would mean that it would become a criminal offence to belong to the group, attend its meetings, and carry its logo in public.
So far over 500 protesters have been killed by security forces, mainly consisting of the IRGC and its Basij militia. Four protesters have been executed so far by the state after hasty trials devoid of any regard for due process. Others are on death row.