By Kayhan Life Staff
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was established in May 1979 on the orders of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic.
Yet the Iranian armed forces celebrate the anniversary of its creation on April 22.
In a speech to mark the occasion this year, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, the Armed Forces Chief of Staff, said: “The IRGC is the main guardian of the revolution and the Islamic government.”
“The IRGC’s visible preparedness frightens the enemy,” he added.
Besides supporting terrorist operations, the IRGC is responsible for the severe repression of peaceful protesters in Iran, and for the practice of taking foreign nationals and Iranians with dual citizenship hostage.
Yet designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization is no longer a top priority for the European governments, given that the nationwide protests sparked by the September death in Tehran of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini while in the custody of the morality police have now subsided, both inside and outside Iran.
An informed source at the European Parliament told Kayhan Life: “As the protests quieted down in Iran and abroad, the leaders of the European Union, particularly Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, have abandoned any discussions on designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization.”
“Western countries have shipped more equipment to Ukraine recently,” the source noted. “Adding the IRGC to the list of terrorist organizations is no longer a time-sensitive issue, given that Russia’s capabilities have diminished since the start of the war, and the protests have quieted down.”
“Iran is also under less pressure after reaching a temporary agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),” the source said.
Explaining European countries’ reluctance to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization, the source said: “There needs to be proof of the IRGC committing at least one [terrorist act] on European soil in the past five years before a legal case can be made in a European court against the IRGC to declare it a terrorist organization. There are at least two cases of IRGC’s terrorist plots in Germany and Austria.”
“There are other cases, including of weapons shipments, but the problem is that some European countries do not wish to pursue such cases, because they argue privately that the current level of protests does not warrant Europe getting involved in the matter,” the source argued.
“Despite the ongoing pressure on Europe and Britain to add the IRGC to their list of terrorist groups, including recent letters to Mr. Borrell by British members of parliament and members of the U.S. Congress, it is ultimately the protests, especially those led inside Iran, that will force those countries to change their policies,” the source added.
On April 19, the U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned a “procurement network supporting Iran’s military program.”
“Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated one individual and six entities in a sanctions evasion network that has facilitated Iran’s procurement of electronic components for its destabilizing military programs, including those used in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs),” a statement by the U.S. Treasury Department said.
“Particularly, this action targets the head of U.S.-designated Iran’s Pardazan System Namad Arman (PASNA), and the entity’s Iran-, Malaysia-, Hong Kong-, and PRC-based front companies and suppliers that have enabled PASNA’s procurement of goods and technology,” the statement added.
A tweet by Kayhan London on March 29 said: “The Ukrainian army’s analysis of Iranian combat UAVs: ‘all spare parts can be ordered from China.’ In a video published by Radio Farda, a Ukrainian expert said ‘Shahed’ combat UAVs carry 20 kilograms of TNT explosives.”
Opposition forces have pressured Britain and Western superpowers to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization. The U.S. can be crucial in persuading its allies to adopt the measure.
Vahid Beheshti, a journalist and human rights activist, has been on a hunger strike outside the British Foreign Office in London since Feb. 23 to urge the British government to add the IRGC to its list of terrorist organizations.
On the 30th day of his hunger strike, Mr. Beheshti, an Iranian-British dual national who emigrated to the UK 24 years ago, sent an open letter to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Foreign Minister James Cleverly, Home Secretary Suella Braverman, and Minister of State for Security Tom Tugendhat, saying that he would not end his hunger strike until the UK government had designated the IRGC a terrorist organization.
A tweet by Kayhan London on April 15 said: “Vahid Beheshti has been on a hunger strike outside the British Foreign Office in London for the past 52 days, urging the British government to add the IRGC to its list of terrorist organizations.”
The tweet included footage of a large crowd joining Mr. Beheshti outside the British Foreign Ministry.
A U.S. State Department spokesperson told Kayhan Life: “The Biden Administration’s position on the IRGC is clear. It is subject to more U.S. sanctions than perhaps any other entity on the planet. We have also regularly sanctioned many IRGC leaders individually in connection with terrorism and human rights abuses.”
“We encourage our allies and partners to use any appropriate tools to pressure the IRGC. It is up to each country or bloc of countries to determine what designations are applicable under their available legal authorities and in their own best interests,” the spokesperson added. “As you may know, we applauded the recent sanctions against several IRGC officials by the UK and European Union.”
U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on April 20, tweeted: “We are firmly committed to disrupting Iran’s military procurement activities. We are designating entities from Iran and the People’s Republic of China involved in such destabilizing behavior.”
We are firmly committed to disrupting Iran’s military procurement activities. We are designating entities from Iran and the People’s Republic of China involved in such destabilizing behavior.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) April 20, 2023
Besides conducting operations against American military forces, some combat units of the IRGC’s Qods Force (IRGC-QF) deployed to Syria, including the Fatemiyoun Brigade (Afghan Shia militias) and the Zainabiyoon Brigade (Pakistani Shia militias), have also been used to crack down on protesters inside Iran.
Despite U.S. sanctions on the IRGC, the force conducted some 600 operations against American military bases and personnel in the region in 2022, a report by the U.S. Congress said.
A recent report by the German intelligence agency said that Iran had been trying to buy nuclear equipment from German companies.
The Islamic Republic intelligence agencies have reportedly intensified their monitoring of opposition forces inside Iran and abroad.
A tweet by Kayhan London on July 6, 2022, said: “The Fars news agency published a video a few hours ago, claiming that the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization had identified and arrested foreign diplomats on espionage charges. The diplomats were under surveillance by the IRGC drones while taking soil samples in the central Iranian desert.”
One of those arrested was the “British deputy chief of mission,” the tweet said.
Besides the opposition forces, senior officials in the European Parliament also believe that to curb IRGC’s threats against international peace and stability, its support of Russia in the Ukraine war, and the oppression of people inside Iran, the force must be designated a terrorist organization.
According to Western intelligence agencies, the Chinese government and companies are the leading suppliers of parts and equipment for UAVs made in Iran.
Russia reportedly uses “Shahed 136” and “Arash 2” drones in Ukraine.
China also reportedly supplies Iran with espionage and eavesdropping technology, surveillance cameras, satellite and communication jamming equipment, and anti-riot kits used by the Iranian security forces.