EU Sanctions Exclude Revolutionary Guards

Germany and the United Kingdom have had their demands to blacklist the Revolutionary Guards in the European Union ignored.

The Iranian Government’s Crackdown on Protests

The Iranian government’s crackdown on protests that have flooded the streets of Tehran since the death of Mahsa Amini has sparked a new wave of sanctions against Iranian officials and entities. This is the fourth set of sanctions adopted by the Foreign Ministers, meeting this time in Brussels. Up to 37 Iranian officials and entities have been added to a list of asset freezes and visa bans in coordinated action with the UK and US, which have stepped up action against the regime of the ayatollahs.

However, one of the calls made by the UK itself and Germany to list the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist group was unsuccessful. According to EU High Representative Josep Borrell, the IRGC cannot be added to the list of terrorist organizations without a prior judicial decision. “There are a lot of interesting opinions on this, but it’s something that can’t be decided without a prior court ruling,” Borrell said upon arriving at the EU’s Council of Foreign Ministers.

“You need a court in a member state to issue a legal statement, a specific conviction, and then we work at European level, but first there has to be a court decision,” explained the former Spanish Foreign Minister. Thus, Germany and the Netherlands had their request rejected, following statements in which Borrell himself said that “you cannot say that I consider you a terrorist because I do not like you” . German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has called on the EU to “clarify” the legal issues surrounding the designation of the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group.

The new sanctions mainly target Iranian government and parliament officials, as well as political and media figures. Although they cannot directly target the IRGC, sanctions have been applied against its high-ranking members, such as Brigadier Generals Ahmad Kadem, Mohammad Nazar Azimi and Mohammad Karami, who are accused of be responsible for the brutality of the repression, as well as the murder of several demonstrators. Sports and Youth Minister Hamid Sajjadi is also among those affected by the sanctions package.

These new measures are in addition to those already imposed on more than 60 Iranian officials and entities, including the vice police – whose dismantling has been announced by the government of Tehran – the commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the state media. British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly believes that “those sanctioned today, from judicial figures who use the death penalty for political purposes to thugs who beat up protesters in the streets, are at the heart of the regime’s brutal repression against the Iranian people”.

The situation in Iran is becoming more complex with each passing day. The protests against the dictatorship that has subjugated the population for more than four decades came at a time when relations with the West were at a delicate point. The stalemate in talks over a new nuclear deal was straining ties with Tehran, which has continued to enrich uranium since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) broke down following the unilateral US exit in 2018 Thus, the sanctions against Iran are just another sign that positions with the country presided over by Ebrahim Raisi could not be further apart today.

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