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Why is EU parliament’s call to list the IRGC as a terror organization not addressed yet ?

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The EU’s foreign policy chief reiterated the EU’s refusal to label the IRGC as a terrorist entity, sparking further criticism by MEPs during the plenary debate. Borrell argued that the legal grounds for the listing of IRGC have not been met yet. In response to Borrell’s argument that the legal grounds for the listing of IRGC have not been met, Charlie Weimers, a Swedish MEP, called him “a liar.”

Last week, the European Parliament adopted a resolution urging the EU to hand more sanctions to Teheran and designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organisation. This resolution, passed by 357 votes in favour, 20 against and 58 abstentions, was in response to Iran’s recent attack against Israel.

On April 13, Iran launched its first ever direct offensive against Israeli territory with more than 350 drones and cruise and ballistic missiles, 99% of which were intercepted by Israel and a US-led coalition, according to the Israeli army.

During the session, the European Parliament strongly condemned Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israeli territory, vowing full support for the security of Israel and its citizens against the threats of the Iranian government and its proxies.

The resolution reiterates the Parliament’s long-standing call to include Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the EU list of terrorist organisations, stressing that such a decision is long overdue due to malign Iranian activities. It similarly calls on the Council and EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell to add Hezbollah in its entirety to the same list.,” the resolution says.

Hezbollah in Lebanon is Iran’s largest and wealthiest proxy and is currently waging war on Israel’s northern front. Since October 7 when Iran-backed Hamas in Gaza invaded Israel, over 3,200 projectiles have been fired into Israeli territory from Lebanon. For this reason, 70,000 Israelis have been evacuated from the border communities and are not able to return to their homes since October.

The adoption of the latest resolution came a day after heated arguments during the debate on Iran in the parliament where EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell was severely taken to task by MEPs for his failure to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organisation. Arguing that the bloc has already listed Tehran’s paramilitary force under the “Iran Weapons of Mass Destruction” sanctions’ regime, Borrell said that “listing this organisation as a ‘terrorist organisation’ would have no practical effect.”

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By the way, during the debate, Borrell alluded to the Israeli attack on the Iranian consulate building in Damascus that preceded the attack on Israel. ‘’We also condemned when this happened,’’ he said, while ignoring the fact that this consulate was in fact a headquarter for IRGC commanders in the Syrian capital.

Here is what Borrell also said: ‘’We have a sanctions’ regime against Iran for providing drones to Russia. Well, the sanctions’ regime can now be used to sanction the production and potential transfers of missiles from Iran to Russia. I am saying the potential transfer, but also the production itself, and also to target Iranian deliveries of such weapons in the Middle East and the Red Sea region.’’

He added that ‘’sanctions are an important tool, and we have used them to send a clear message to Iran about their dangerous proliferation activities aiming at the destabilisation of the region. However, I think that we have to understand that sanctions alone are not a policy. Sanctions are tools to a policy. Sanctions alone cannot deter Iran. This should be evident after years and years of international sanctions. Iran is, together with North Korea, the most sanctioned country in the world. Sanctions alone cannot solve the risk of escalation, and a place has to be given to diplomacy. Diplomatic action has to be equally important.’’

Borrell only addressed the most important issue, which is listing the IRGC as a terrorist organisation, during his closing remarks in the debate.

The EU’s foreign policy chief reiterated the EU’s refusal to label the IRGC as a terrorist entity, sparking further criticism by MEPs during the plenary debate. Borrell argued that the legal grounds for the listing of IRGC have not been met yet.

‘’The addition of entities or individuals to the so-called “EU terrorist list” (Common position 931 sanctions’ regime) is subject to a decision by the Council by unanimity and a national decision by a national competent authority, such as a Court decision or a prescription order by an administrative authority is a prerequisite for any additional listings. A national decision must be taken for acts that follow under the definition of terrorists acts under the sanction’s regime in question,’’ Borrell said.

‘’Mr Borrell explained number of times the issue of listing the IRGC as a terrorist group. This can be done only after a relevant decision by a national authority in a member state has been taken. This is not the case so far,’’ EU foreign affairs spokesperson Peter Stano told a journalist during the European Commission midday briefing last Friday.

Contrary to Borrell, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has backed the idea of an EU designation of the IRGC.

In response to Borrell’s argument that the legal grounds for the listing of IRGC have not been met, Charlie Weimers, a Swedish MEP from the European Conservatives and Reformists group, called him “a liar.”

“That is nonsense. Here, I have the Council’s secret legal opinion. Nowhere in this document does it say that it has to be an authority in the EU… You know that. You knew the truth. You shamelessly lied to protect the IRGC. We won’t miss you, Mr. Borrell, but I’m sure the mullahs will,” Weimers said.

Last July, two MEPs stated that the IRGC could be listed without any legal obstacles under Article 1(4) of the “Common Position 2001/931/CFSP.”

German MEP Hannah Neumann, who has long argued for the designation of the IRGC, said: “What more does this regime have to do until you finally wake up to the harsh realities? The IRGC is a terror organisation …The drones and missiles attacking Israel and attacking our ships in the Red Sea are manufactured in Iran, and we should have sanctioned all those involved months ago.”

“And last but not least, the regime is not legitimately representing the people of Iran, and you should stop pretending it would,” she added, directly addressing Borell.

According to Kasra Aarabi, an expert on Iran, ”putting IRGC on the EU terror list is an important step to protect the national security, to protect our communities, particularly the Iranian diaspora and the Jewish community because there is a genuine terror threat and because they are not only targeting and conducting terror plots but theyr are also nurturing homegrown Shia islamist radicalisation, using the Isis and Al Qaeda methods.”

“However, because IRGC is not proscribed (as a terror group), these activities are not outlawed. The current sanctions regime doesn’t prohibit the IRGC’s ability to disseminate jihadist propaganda. Proscribing IRGC would help on that front but it is not going to change IRGC’s calculus. The only thing that will change the IRGC’s calculus at this point is targeted strikes against IRGC’s military intelligence assets in the region and inside of Iran,” Aarabi, a director of IRGC research at United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) in London, told European Jewish Press.

The IRGC was established as a custodian of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution’s ideological principles. Over time it has transformed into a significant force, encompassing military, political and economic aspects of the country. It has actively engaged in terror plots in Europe and beyond, including assassinations, abductions and surveillance plots.

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