German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock speaks to Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Defense Minister Boris Pistorius during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, October 25, 2023.

After Hamas Terror Attack, Germany Still Refuses To Ban IRGC

Sunday, 10/29/2023
Benjamin Weinthal

Benjamin Weinthal is a writing fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Among the questions that keep popping up in the Iran-backed Hamas’ war against Israel is this: Why hasn’t Germany sanctioned the IRGC?

German government administrations have claimed that Israel’s security is Germany's Staatsräson (raison d'etre). For many veteran observers of the German-Israel relationship, the litmus test for Berlin’s pledge to the security of the Jewish state is its policy toward the Iranian regime, which has been threatening to eliminate Israel for decades.

When Iran International recently asked the German interior ministry if it plans to outlaw Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for aiding Hamas in the massacre of 1,400 people on October 7, a spokeswoman declined to answer, but noted “The security authorities in Germany have Hamas in their sights. The Federal Chancellor and the Federal Minister of the Interior have decided that bans on any activity by Hamas and the Samidoun group in Germany will be issued. In doing so, the federal government is sending a clear signal that solidarity with and support for Hamas terror will be stopped.”

The spokeswoman added, “ The Federal Ministry of the Interior and the security authorities involved are intensively preparing these bans and will enforce them as soon as possible. Of course, no information can be given in advance on the timing and details of operational measures in order not to jeopardise these measures.”

There are 450 active Hamas operatives within the territory of Germany, according to the Federal Republic’s most recent intelligence report. The interior ministry spokeswoman declined to say if any Hamas operatives have been detained. Brigadier General (ret.) Amir Avivi, Founder and CEO of IDSF (Israel's Defense and Security Forum) told Iran International Germany should “arrest these people” and “take action against the extremist entity.”

Police officers stand guard as people attend a pro-Palestinian demonstration, in Berlin, Germany October 28, 2023.

Germany has banned the activities of Hamas and Hezbollah but continues to permit their members to operate, including 1,250 Hezbollah supporters.

There have been some voices calling again for Germany to push for a ban of the IRGC. The Free Democratic Party—a member of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s governing coalition—said after the October 7 terrorist attack “We therefore call for the sanctions against Iran to be expanded together with the EU and USA and for the EU to actively work towards classifying the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.”

Yet, the German government could unilaterally outlaw the IRGC and not hide behind the EU curtain, according to experts. The Christian Democratic Union MP Norbert Röttgen said the German public was being “deceived” by the Green Party foreign minister Annalena Baerabock who claims the authorities need legal cases to sanction the IRGC. In 2019, the US designated the IRGC a terrorist organization. Röttgen argues the pre-conditions have been met to proscribe the IRGC a terrorist organization.

German engineering companies and banks continue to engage in flourishing business deals with Iran, with at least $1.2 billon in export trade to the Islamic Republic in 2022. If Scholz sanctioned the Guard Corps, German companies would take finananical hits due to the IRGC’s vast control over Iran’s economy. Iran International exclusively revealed the presence of German and Austrian companies at the Iran Oil Show this year, in apparent violation of US sanctions.

Iran’s ally Hamas has been met with scarce resistance in some German cities. The mayor of Stuttgart, Frank Nopper, permits a pro-Hamas group to post its contact information on the municipal website. The city of Bremen, however, deleted a notice on its city website on October 23, for the reportedly pro-Hamas “Bremer Peace Forum” group.

In May, Israel’s government rebuked Germany’s ambassador Steffen Seibert, who participated in a memorial event for Palestinian terrorists and Arab and Jewish victims of terrorism.

Seibert’s participation in the ‘Alternative Day of Remembrance’ ceremony sparked a street protest by Israeli NGOs against him at his residence.

Germany’s embassy in Tel Aviv told Iran International that “Ambassador Seibert did not participate in any ‘memorial event for Hamas terrorists’ in the past and will, of course, not do so in the future.”

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