EU may still designate Iran's IRGC as a terrorist group, France says

Revolutionary Guard has been at the centre of the protest clampdown and Tehran's nuclear programme

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The EU has not ruled out designating Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organisation, the French Foreign Ministry has said.

It comes amid a continuing clampdown on pro-democracy protesters who have been demonstrating since mid-September and have been killed in their hundreds by security forces, mainly the IRGC — the backbone of Tehran's regime.

“Given the continuation of this repression, France is working with its European partners on new sanctions measures, without excluding any,” ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre told reporters on Tuesday.

The remarks came a day after Germany voiced support for a potential EU listing, saying more rounds of sanctions were insufficient.

“Listing the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organisation is politically important and makes sense,” said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, echoing similar statements made at the end of October.

Paris and Tehran have been at loggerheads following the recent publication of caricatures insulting supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Iran shut down a French cultural institute in Tehran as a response, and has publicly hit out at Paris over the “insulting cartoons”.

On Wednesday, the magazine referenced the fallout.

“Laughing at themselves has never been a strong point of tyrants,” said its editor, known as Riss.

Iranian women hold pictures of Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during an anti-France protest demonstration in front of the French embassy in Tehran, Iran, on January 8. EPA

Western states have looked to mount pressure on Iran as it steps up its repression of protesters, four of whom have now been executed for participating in the movement.

The four men were hanged after being convicted of allegedly murdering members of the Basij paramilitary force, which is part of the IRGC and has been at the heart of the crackdown.

Dozens of others have also been sentenced to death and thousands more detained in prisons and secret detention centres.

Sanctions handed out

Rounds of sanctions have been handed to Tehran over its response to the protests, as well as its drone supplies to Russia.

The IRGC is already designated a terrorist organisation by the US and other western allies. The UK is also expected to make a similar decision in the coming weeks.

Designating the IRGC as a terrorist group would mean that it would become a criminal offence to belong to the group, attend its meetings and carry its logo in public.

It was formed after Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979 and has become a major military economic force in the country, also controlling Tehran's nuclear and ballistics programme and funding operations elsewhere in the region.

Its influence has increased under the hardline rule of President Ebrahim Raisi, who took power in 2021.

Updated: January 11, 2023, 7:25 AM