The European Parliament has called for the EU to list Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation, after the group received widespread international condemnation for crackdowns on protesters.
The IRGC is a branch of the Iranian armed forces which was founded in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
Since 2021, Iran has seen widespread civil unrest and on-and-off anti-government protests, with thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets in opposition to the country’s strict implementation of Islamic Sharia law. Some of the protesters’ objections include the government’s authoritarian control of the internet, as well as the lack of freedom of speech and free expression.
A more recent spate of protests began in September of last year, after a 22-year-old Kurdish woman named Jina “Mahsa” Amini was arrested by the country’s morality police for wearing her hijab (or woman’s Islamic headscarf) “improperly.”
Amini died three days after her arrest while in police custody, with her family and some local media claiming that she had been severely beaten by authorities.
It was in the wake of this news that a new surge of protests began.
The Iranian government has responded to the displays with a spate of swift executions of protesters, which the EU has denounced as “reprehensible” and “appalling.”
This week the overwhelming majority of MEPs in the European Parliament voted to condemn “the brutal crackdown by Iran, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), on the demonstrations after the death of Mahsa Amini, following her violent arrest, abuse and ill-treatment by Iran’s ‘morality police.’”
598 MEPs voted in favour of the amendment, 9 voted against, and 31 abstained.
The parliament also condemned the fact that the Iranian state has been supplying military drones to Russia to aid its war effort in Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials tally 16 of the Iranian UAVs Russia says it didn’t receive, and the IRI claims it didn’t really send, fired overnight. https://t.co/eDUKKcbdGn
— Ali Vaez (@AliVaez) December 30, 2022
The same text being voted on called for the EU and all of its member states to list the IRCG on a list of terrorist groups, “in the light of its terrorist activity, the repression of protesters and its supplying of drones to Russia.”
The development comes amid rising tensions between Iran and the West, as talks which aim to see Iran dismantle its nuclear program begin to stall.
The US is no closer to wrapping up negotiations on re-entering a 2015 nuclear accord with Iran after a week of trading responses to a EU proposal, dimming prospects the talks will end anytime soon https://t.co/d9K0iy44pg
— Bloomberg Middle East (@middleeast) September 2, 2022
Earlier this month French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was rocked by a massive cyber attack shortly after ridiculing the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
No group has, as of yet, taken credit for the hack. However, Iran’s Foreign Minister took to social media mere days beforehand to threaten the publication over the mocking cartoons, assuring a “decisive and effective response.”
Also earlier this month, anti-terrorist agents in Germany detained a 32-year-old Iranian man who was accused of planning an Islamist terrorist attack using biological and chemical weapons.
“The plans were well advanced, with security agents discovering that the main suspect had searched for ricin and cyanide on the internet and bought the substances, with the intention of building a bioweapon.” https://t.co/He1Vz1FkLr
— Amesh Adalja (@AmeshAA) January 10, 2023
However, authorities say he is not believed to have acted on behalf of the Iranian state, and instead is accused of being a sympathiser of the terrorist group Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIS).