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Members of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) navy participate in an exercise in the south of Iran, in this picture obtained on January 17, 2023. Image Credit: REUTERS

STRASBOURG, France: The European Parliament voted on Wednesday to urge Brussels to list Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terror group, amid mounting pressure on Western powers to do so.

MEPs backed an amendment added to an annual foreign policy report calling for “the EU and its member states to include the IRGC on the EU’s terrorist list in the light of its terrorist activity, the repression of protesters and its supplying of drones to Russia.”

Iran condemned European parliament ‘s action as “inappropriate and incorrect”.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian “strongly criticised the emotional approach of the European parliament and labelled the move inappropriate and incorrect” in a telephone call with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, the ministry said.

“Unfortunately, we witnessed the issuance of a draft of an emotional, harsh and unprofessional resolution by the European parliament, which is in conflict with political rationality and civility,” the minister said.

The vote does not oblige the European Union to act, but it comes with foreign ministers already due to discuss tightening sanctions on Tehran at a meeting in Brussels next week.

Iran has launched a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests since the September 16 death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. Several detainees have been condemned to death.

Tehran has also been criticised for supplying its ally Russia with kamikaze drones, which Moscow has in turn used to bombard Ukrainian cities, often hitting civilian homes and infrastructure.

Some EU capitals have begun to move towards adding the IRGC to the terrorist blacklist, which would expose another important plank in the Islamic republic’s government to sanctions.

In the past, some have resisted this call, fearing it would be based on shaky legal grounds and further poison already dreadful ties with the West.

Hardening position

Europe’s position is hardening, however, and the opening of this week’s parliamentary session in Strasbourg was marked by a rally of Iranian expatriates demanding the terror listing.

“I guarantee that all options allowing the EU to react to events in Iran remain on the table,” EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders told the parliament earlier this week.

The MEPs are expected to repeat their plea on Thursday in another vote to accept a non-legislative report on Europe’s response to protests and executions in Iran.

This amendment will go into more detail about which IRGC-linked groups will be targeted, and the crimes that they are alleged to have committed.

This would urge Brussels to blacklist the IRGC military force, the paramilitary Basij militia involved in protest crackdowns and the covert Quds Force sent to spread Iran’s revolution abroad.

And it would hit “any economic and financial activity involving businesses and commercial activities related to, owned, wholly or in part, by, or fronting for, the IRGC or IRGC-affiliated individuals, regardless of their country of operation.”