European Parliament overwhelmingly backs terror blacklisting for Iran’s IRGC

18 Jan 2023

European Parliament overwhelmingly backs terror blacklisting for Iran’s IRGC

Vote urging Brussels to sanction unit draws praise from Jerusalem, as Europe’s position on Tehran hardens against backdrop of protest crackdown, drone transfers to Russia


January 18, 2023

STRASBOURG, France — The European Parliament voted on Wednesday to urge Brussels to list Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terror group, amid mounting pressure on Western powers to do so.

MEPs backed an amendment added to an annual foreign policy report calling 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 vote does not oblige the European Union to act, but it comes with foreign ministers already due to discuss tightening sanctions on Tehran at a meeting in Brussels next week.

Iran has launched a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests since the September 16 death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. Several detainees have been condemned to death.

Tehran has also been criticized for supplying its ally Russia with kamikaze drones, which Moscow has in turn used to bombard Ukrainian cities, often hitting civilian homes and infrastructure.

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen praised the vote on Wednesday, labeling it an “important step in the struggle against the Iranian regime!”

“Iran exports terror to the entire globe, and the Revolutionary Guard is the largest terror organization in the world. I’ve raised the issue in policy discussions with foreign ministers and leaders since entering this role,” he tweeted.

Some EU capitals have begun to move toward adding the IRGC to the terrorist blacklist, which would expose another important plank in the Islamic Republic’s government to sanctions.

In the past, some have resisted this call, fearing it would be based on shaky legal grounds and further poison already frostbitten ties between the West and Tehran.

Europe’s position is hardening, however, and the opening of this week’s parliamentary session in Strasbourg was marked by a rally of Iranian expatriates demanding the terror listing.

“I guarantee that all options allowing the EU to react to events in Iran remain on the table,” EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders told the parliament earlier this week.

The MEPs are expected to repeat their plea on Thursday in another vote to accept a non-legislative report on Europe’s response to protests and executions in Iran.

This amendment will go into more detail about which IRGC-linked groups will be targeted, and the crimes that they are alleged to have committed.

This would urge Brussels to blacklist the IRGC military force, the paramilitary Basij militia involved in protest crackdowns, and the covert Quds Force sent to spread Iran’s revolution abroad.

And it would hit “any economic and financial activity involving businesses and commercial activities related to, owned, wholly or in part, by, or fronting for, the IRGC or IRGC-affiliated individuals, regardless of their country of operation.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.