| 23 April 2024, Tuesday |

DAVOS 2023: EU’s Von der Leyen backs listing Iran’s Guards as terrorist group

In response to the “trampling” of “basic human rights” in the nation, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated on Tuesday that she supported designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.

As efforts to restart nuclear talks have stalled in recent months, relations between EU member states and Tehran have deteriorated. Tehran has jailed a number of European citizens, and the EU has grown more critical of the government’s ongoing use of violence against protestors, including executions.

“The reaction of Iran regime is atrocious and horrible, and they are trampling over fundamental human rights,” she told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

The European Union is discussing a fourth round of sanctions against Tehran over the crackdown and Iran’s supply of weapons to Russia. Diplomatic sources have said members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) will be added to the sanctions list next week.

But some member states have called for the bloc to go further and classify the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. Britain is expected to make the decision in the coming weeks.

“We are looking indeed at a new round of sanctions, and I would support also listing the Revolutionary Guards. I have heard several ministers asking for that and I think they are right,” Von der Leyen said.

Widespread anti-government demonstrations erupted in Iran in September after the death of young Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, who had been detained by morality police for allegedly flouting the strict dress code imposed on women.

Iranian leaders vowed tough action against protesters they have described as rioters, accusing enemies including the United States of fomenting the unrest.

Designating the IRGC as a terrorist group would mean that it would become a criminal offence to belong to the group, attend its meetings, and carry its logo in public.

Set up after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution to protect the Shi’ite clerical ruling system, the Guards have great sway in Iran, controlling swathes of the economy and armed forces and put in charge of Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programmes.

Speaking in an interview with Reuters, Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said the “appalling” capital punishment, stalling of the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) and supply of drones and weapons from Iran to Russia needed a firm reaction.

“All these components: human rights, delivering arms to Russia and blocking the final agreement on JCPOA have been negative factors and I think the EU is more and more reacting. It’s important we react strongly,” he said, adding that there was still debate among EU members on sanctions and the listing of the IRGC.

  • Reuters