By RFE RL
By Hannah Kaviani
The Big Issue
(RFE/RL) — The European Parliament on January 19 voted for Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to be added to the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations in “light of its terrorist activity, the repression of protesters, and its supplying of drones to Russia.”
The vote was nonbinding, but it came amid calls by some European governments to blacklist the elite branch of Iran’s armed forces. The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said that would only happen if a court in an EU nation determined that the IRGC was guilty of terrorism.
Since the vote, the EU has imposed fresh sanctions against Tehran. Iran has expressed outrage at the possibility of the EU blacklisting the IRGC, which would lead to sanctions against the force. Tehran has warned of unspecified “consequences.”
Why It Matters
The EU’s potential blacklisting of the IRGC has exposed the bloc’s hardening position on Iran.
European powers have long pursued engagement with Iran, even as tensions between Tehran and the United States soared in recent years. But Europe’s approach has shifted due to the war in Ukraine and unrest in Iran.
Tehran has been accused of supplying combat drones to Russia, which has allegedly used them to target civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.
Iranian authorities have also waged a brutal crackdown on the monthslong anti-establishment protests inside the country, killing hundreds of civilians and detaining thousands more. As Iran’s ties with Europe dip, hopes of reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers have sunk.
Even as calls for the EU to blacklist the IRGC increase, the bloc is far from united on the issue. Two European diplomats who spoke to Radio Farda on the condition of anonymity said France was “not very keen” on the move.
While Germany’s foreign minister has supported it, the mood in Berlin appears to be uncertain. According to one diplomat, some Southern European countries such as Portugal and Malta are also opposed to the IRGC being designated.
A senior EU diplomat told reporters in Brussels on January 20 that blacklisting the IRGC “is not a good idea because it prevents you from going ahead on other issues,” including Iran’s nuclear program. Another diplomat who spoke to Radio Farda said the EU’s decision to blacklist the IRGC will “depend on how Iran will act over Russia.”