When explaining that “France is working with its European partners on new sanctions measures, without excluding any,” Ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre cited worsening repression of the country’s four-month anti-government uprising.
The comments came a day after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock issued separate condemnations of two executions carried out on Saturday against Iranian protesters convicted of the ambiguous political charge of “spreading corruption on Earth.
” While Scholz simply promised to increase pressure on the Iranian regime with the assistance of international partners, Baerbock stated explicitly that “listing the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization is politically important and makes sense” in light of recent developments.
Wir erhöhen den Druck auf #Iran weiter – gerade auf die #IRGC. Seit Oktober haben wir Dutzende von deren Anführern – Verantwortliche für Mord, Folter & Willkür – mit individuellen Sanktionen belegt. Ihr Geld eingefroren, ihre Geschäfte erschwert & die Bewegungsfreiheit beschränkt
— Außenministerin Annalena Baerbock (@ABaerbock) January 9, 2023
These developments include not only the spread of domestic unrest and accompanying state repression within the Islamic Republic, but also an escalation in Iran’s behavior toward foreign adversaries and support for foreign allies.
Although it is unclear whether Scholz’ and Baerbock’s remarks were influenced in any way by it, German counterterrorism police arrested two Iranian brothers on Monday and foiled an Islamic extremist plot involving two chemical agents: cyanide and ricin. According to the reports, no connection to Iranian state entities was established, but the lack of immediate evidence does not exonerate the regime or the IRGC.
At the very least, the German raid reinforces Western concerns about Iranian terrorism, which have become increasingly visible in recent years, particularly since the foiling of a bomb plot near Paris at a gathering attended by tens of thousands of Iranian expatriates and hundreds of policymakers from around the world.
However, the IRGC faces far more immediate international threats that are more likely to justify its designation as a terrorist organization in the near future. These are primarily concerned with Iran’s growing relationship with Russia, specifically its provision of military drones for Russian attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard set to be proscribed as terror group @FratellidItalia @LucioMalan @MarcoScurria @GaetanoNastri @DomenicoMatera @GiovanniSatta @FrancescaTubetti@rod_gian @DowlatNowrouzi @GlobalCRL:THE #EU MUST PROSCRIBE THE #IRGC NOW! https://t.co/8EFxdhlIZd
— Giulio Terzi (@GiulioTerzi) January 8, 2023
The European Union confirmed on Tuesday that it would impose new sanctions on Iran for its support for Russia’s war in Ukraine, though the issue of the IRGC being designated as a terrorist organization remained unresolved. The EU is under increasing pressure to take additional action.
On Tuesday, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported that Russian and Iranian representatives to international bodies in Vienna had met to discuss “issues of mutual interest.” In the same report, IRNA boasted that Iran, Russia, and China formed a “new triangular diplomatic group,” presumably one whose primary function is to challenge and undermine Western powers’ foreign interests.
Best explanation on the continuity of #IRGC's external terrorism linked to internal repression going back to #1988Massacre . @BobBlackman best describes why IRGC should be proscribed by the UK. In fact, a step to be taken by all #EU member states. pic.twitter.com/fVjoON3VQt
— Aladdin Touran (@AladdinTouran) January 12, 2023
Also on Tuesday, the US Navy reported the seizure of over 2,000 assault rifles en route to Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen. The weapons in question appear to be Russian and Chinese in origin, emphasizing the dangers of expanding cooperation among the three anti-Western states.