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OPINION

Threats and Menaces as Iran Tries to Stop Blacklisting of Revolutionary Guards

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Vahid Salemi

In a show of solidarity last week in Strasbourg, 598 members of the European Parliament voted to proscribe the Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The huge majority supported an amendment from the European Conservatives & Reformists Group (ECR) calling for “the EU and its Member States to include the IRGC in the EU’s terrorist list in the light of its terrorist activity, the repression of protesters and its supplying of drones to Russia.”

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The vote followed a mass rally of 12,000 Iranian expatriates from all over Europe, who gathered outside the parliament in Strasbourg on January 16. The rally was addressed by Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, who said: “I’m here on behalf of the European Parliament and on behalf of 500 million European citizens to tell you that we are with you … That the women, men, students standing up in Iran have inspired the world. Your cry ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ has been heard in every corner of the globe. You are on the right side of history, and you will make history.”

She continued: “We will push the international community to respond forcefully to the terror that has been unleashed by the regime on the people on the streets of Iran. There must be a strong, global response.” 

Roberta Metsola’s forceful statement of support was echoed by the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who said she backed listing the IRGC as a terrorist organization, to respond to their “trampling” of “fundamental human rights” in Iran.

The rally and vote in Strasbourg ignited a furious response from Tehran, with foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian warning the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell that Europe would “shoot itself in the foot” by blacklisting the IRGC:

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“We have repeatedly said the Revolutionary Guards are a formal and sovereign organization whose role is central for guaranteeing Iran’s security. Steps taken by the European Parliament to list the organization as terrorist are in a way a shot in the foot of Europe itself. It is necessary to respect mutual security in the world of diplomacy and increase mutual trust instead of following the language of threats and unfriendly actions. In any case of a terrorist listing, Iran will take reciprocal measures.” 

The foreign minister’s threats were joined by an Iranian member of the Majlis (parliament) and former IRGC commander Mohammad-Esmail Kosari, who warned that listing the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group would be costly for the EU and would not go unanswered.

“Europeans should know that sanctioning the IRGC will cost them a lot and they will suffer a lot of losses in this regard.We would give the necessary response to their action; first through their embassies and in the next stage we will take actions against their interests,” he said, menacingly.

The IRGC, the regime’s Gestapo, was established following Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution with the purpose of protecting the theocratic regime. It controls over 70 percent of the Iranian economy, pays no taxes and is answerable only to the Supreme Leader – the elderly and unstable Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It is responsible for the country’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs and together with its extraterritorial Quds Force, seeks to spread Islamic fundamentalism across the Middle East and the wider world. The IRGC has been listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the Americans since 2019.

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James Cleverly, the UK foreign secretary, has said that Britain is also considering blacklisting the IRGC. He has condemned the Revolutionary Guards and the paramilitary Basij for their role in killing an estimated 750 people, including 77 children and teenagers, during the nationwide insurrection now nearing its fifth month. More than 30,000, mostly young protesters, have been arrested. Four young men have been tortured into making false confessions then hanged. Dozens more have been sentenced to death for the illusory offense of ‘moharebeh’ or waging war against God, which carries the mandatory death penalty under the theocratic regime’s medieval constitution. Annalena Baerbock, Germany’s foreign minister, has said: “We are also examining how we can list the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization.” 

Designating the IRGC as a terrorist group would make it illegal to belong to the group, participate in its meetings, or display its symbol in public. It would also make it difficult for EU companies to attempt to carry out any sort of commercial trade with the IRGC, even in areas like food and medicines not covered by sanctions. A European designation would have a far greater impact than the current sanctions on Iranian officials and the occasional summoning of the regime’s ambassadors, that have marked Europe’s response to human rights abuse and crimes against humanity in Iran so far. Indeed, the Iranian foreign minister’s complaint that the EU’s intention to blacklist the IRGC would show a lack of respect for “mutual security in the world of diplomacy” is somewhat ironic, while a senior Iranian diplomat is serving a 20-year jail sentence in Brussels for a terrorist offense. 

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Assadollah Assadi smuggled a professionally assembled bomb from Tehran to Vienna on a commercial airliner in 2018, in his diplomatic pouch. He was caught red-handed passing the bomb to three co-conspirators in Luxembourg, together with a large sum of money and instructions on how to detonate the device at a mass gathering of Iranian opposition supporters in Paris in June 2018. Assadi was a registered diplomat in the Iranian embassy in Vienna. His jailing followed the expulsion from Albania of the Iranian ambassador and the closure of their embassy, again on charges of aiding and abetting terrorist activities. The theocratic regime’s concept of the “world of diplomacy” is clearly to use their embassies as bomb factories and terror cells. 

After listing the IRGC as a terrorist organization, the EU, US and UK should recall their ambassadors from Tehran, then expel all of the clerical regime’s ambassadors and their diplomatic staff and agents. Such a move would send the strongest signal yet to the beleaguered Iranian people that we are truly on their side in their quest for freedom, justice and democracy.


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