European Parliament set to debate Iran as members push for IRGC designation

13 Jan 2023

European Parliament set to debate Iran as members push for IRGC designation

More than 100 EU Parliament members are calling on the European Commission and EU member states to add Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to their terror lists and increase sanctions on Tehran.

By Rina Bassist

January 13, 2023

https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2023/01/european-parliament-set-debate-iran-members-push-irgc-designation

 

The head of the European Parliament Press Service Neil Corlett said on Friday that the legislative body will convene next week to discuss sanctions against Iran, as more than 100 members push to designate Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.

The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday and EU Commissioner of Foreign Affairs Josep Borell will be in attendance, Corlett said.

"The EU is currently discussing a fourth round of sanctions, due to the regime’s crackdown and Iran’s military support for Russia. The vote on the resolution will also take place on Thursday," Corlett added.

European legislators called this week to designate Iran's powerful the IRGC as a terrorist organization and to impose other sanctions, following Iranian crackdown on nationwide protests that started in September. 

More than 100 members signed Wednesday a letter addressed to Borrell, calling for stronger measures against Tehran.

Among the measures proposed in the letter are the designation of the IRGC as terror group, expanding the EU sanctions list to include Iranian leaders and tightening EU sanctions on dual-use materials and equipment.

The vote on the resolution on Thursday would not be binding, but it would put political pressure on EU member states. Pressure has also been growing from national governments in Europe such as France, the Netherlands and Germany, with several parliamentary factions calling to blacklist the IRGC.  

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock tweeted this month that pressure is set to increase on Iran. “We continue to pressure Iran, and especially the IRGC. Since October, we imposed personal sanctions on dozens of their leaders — people responsible for murder, torture and dictatorship," she said.

The French Foreign Ministry said Tuesday it had not ruled out designating the IRGC as a terror organization. During the past few weeks, the French Foreign Ministry issued numerous condemnations on the executions in Iran and on the crackdown against Iranian demonstrators.

European foreign ministers are set to meet in Brussels on Jan. 23. Among other issues, they are expected to discuss Iranian human rights violations and a possible fourth round of sanctions against Tehran. Still, it does not appear that a decision will be taken next week to blacklist the whole IRGC.  Instead, Politico reported Thursday that the EU is looking into sanctioning 17 additional Iranian nationals personally, either by freezing their assets or banning them from traveling  to Europe. They include regional governors, a lawmaker, a minister and a top official at the Republic of Iran Broadcasting World Service.

The United States had already added the IRGC to its terror list. Reports say that the United Kingdom could do the same in the coming weeks. Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen raised the issue on Wednesday with British Minister for the Middle East Region Tariq Ahmad. According to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Cohen praised the UK for its intention to do so, calling it a “clear message to the Iranian terror regime.”

In parallel, reports have been coming out this week about an Irish-French national Bernard Phelan imprisoned in Iran’s second-largest city Mashad. Phelan is believed to be going on a hunger strike. Reports on Friday read that Dublin and Paris are mobilized to help 64-year-old tourism, jailed in Iran since October. He is charged with spreading anti-regime propaganda. The French Foreign Ministry declined Friday to comment on the issue.