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130 US lawmakers urge EU to designate Iran’s IRGC as a terrorist organization

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The IRGC was formed after Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979 and has become a major military economic force in the country, also controlling Tehran’s nuclear and ballistics programme and funding terrorist operations  and assassination plots elsewhere in the region and in the world. The lawmakers cite a study from the Combating Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, showing that in the past five years, the Revolutionary Guard Corps has instigated at least 33 plots against EU citizens, writes Yossi Lempkowicz.

A bipartisan group of 130 US lawmakers on Monday (10 April) sent a letter urging the European Union to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.

The letter, addressed to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, points out that the IRGC “has freely and openly carried out plots targeting citizens across the EU”.

The legislators were led by Reps. Kathy Manning (D-N.C.), Thomas Kean (R-N.J.) and Bill Keating (D-Mass.).

For years, Iran’s IRGC has supported & participated in human rights abuses and terrorist activities.

Today, I led a bipartisan group of 130+ Members, alongside @CongressmanKean & @USRepKeating, calling on the EU to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization. pic.twitter.com/D27FhwrmP9

Congresswoman Kathy Manning (@RepKManning) April 10, 2023

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Borrell said in January that the 27-member bloc cannot blacklist the IRGC as a terrorist group despite the European Parliament voting 598 to nine in favor of a measure urging the designation. Following the vote, the EU Foreign Affairs Council decided to not execute the parliament’s recommendation, citing legal hurdles.

“It is something that cannot be decided without a court, a court decision first. You cannot say I consider you a terrorist because I don’t like you,” Borrell said at the time.

The Foreign Affairs Council is composed of the ministers of foreign affairs, defense and/or development of the member states.

The lawmakers said: “We understand the legal complexities involved in designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization pursuant to EU law Common Position 931, and fully appreciate the need for this decision to be adjudicated by either a judicial or ‘equivalent competent authority.”

“But given the growing threat Iran poses to EU member states and their citizens, we urge you to treat this issue with the utmost urgency.”

The letter cites a study from the Combating Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, showing that in the past five years, the Revolutionary Guard Corps has instigated at least 33 plots against E.U. citizens.

“We believe that there is an abundance of evidence available to the E.U. to provide the necessary basis for a terror designation of the IRGC, particularly given the European Court of Justice’s ruling that investigations and prosecutions outside of the E.U. may be used as evidence to support additions to the terror list,” the letter states.

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.

The IRGC was formed after Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979 and has become a major military economic force in the country, also controlling Tehran’s nuclear and ballistics programme and funding terrorist operations  and assassination plots elsewhere in the region and in the world. It was formed primarily for two specific goals: defending the regime and exporting the Islamic revolution to neighboring countries through terrorism.

Its influence has increased under the rule of current President Ebrahim Raisi, who took power in 2021.

The IRGC continues to expand its influence in Iraq, Afghanisatn, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen through its external arm, the Al-Quds Force.

"Proscribing the IRGC as a terror organization by the European countries represents a robust political stance, serving multiple purposes: protecting human rights in Iran, preventing further terror attacks in Europe, and punishing the Revolutionary Guards for arming Russia and participation in war in Ukraine," wrote Farhad Rezaei, a research fellow at the Center for Iranian Studies (IRAM) in Ankara.

The United States listed the IRGC as a terrorist group under former President Donald Trump, who did so after withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and imposing punishing sanctions on the regime in Tehran. Bahrain and Saudi Arabia designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization in 2018.

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