(Photo Credit: Daily Sabah)
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian warned on 19 January that the European Union would “shoot itself in the foot” if it decides to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity.
Amir-Abdollahian stated that “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 comments came a day after the European Parliament voted on a non-binding proposal to classify the IRGC as a “terrorist” organization. The proposal was approved with 598 countries voting in favor, nine against, and 31 abstentions.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen welcomed the EU parliament’s vote, calling Iran a “terrorist state,” despite his own government’s previous support for the Nusra Front, a UN-designated terrorist group in Syria, as reported by Al-Monitor and the Wall Street Journal.
The European Parliament has no power to compel the EU to add the IRGC to its terror list. The non-binding EU Parliament vote therefore serves as a call for the EU to go further and classify the IRGC as a terrorist organization, as a supplement to existing sanctions on individual members of the group.
The EU designation of the IRGC as a terrorist group would make simply belonging to the IRGC a criminal offense, and any of its assets in the EU would be frozen. It would also prevent the IRGC from receiving funds from EU citizens or businesses.
The 18 January EU parliament vote comes days after the execution of high-ranking official Alireza Akbari, who was sentenced to death on charges of spying for British intelligence service MI6. A day after Akbari was hanged, the EU strongly condemned the execution in a statement.
The vote also followed EU approval of a new round of sanctions against numerous Iranian individuals and entities issued last November. EU officials claimed the new sanctions were in response to the death of Mahsa Amini on 16 September and the crackdown on the demonstrations that followed.
Iran has accused the US, Israel, and EU of exploiting Amini’s death to incite protests to destabilize Iran in the manner of previous Western-backed regime change efforts known variously as “Color Revolutions” and the “Arab Spring.”
The Islamic Republic responded to the November EU sanctions by imposing its own on 12 December on individuals and entities in the EU and the UK for their support of “terrorism and violation of the human rights of the Iranian people.”
The blacklist includes French politician and diplomat Bernard Kouchner, director of the British secret services MI5, Ken McCallum, as well as Radio Farda, the Persian section of the CIA-affiliated Radio Free Europe, Radio Zamaneh, an opposition media based in the Netherlands, and the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, based in Britain, all of which Iranian officials accuse of helping to incite protests in the wake of Amini’s death.