TEHRAN: Iran condemned on Thursday a European Parliament call to blacklist the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group, which would pave the way for sanctions against the powerful military force.

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

Amir-Abdollahian called the resolution from Wednesday “harsh and unprofessional” and warned the EU must “think about the negative consequences of this emotional behaviour”.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces, Iran’s most senior military body which oversees both the Guards and regular army, warned the move “will affect regional and global security, tranquility and peace, and the European Parliament should be careful about its consequences”.

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi also weighed in, calling the European Parliament’s move an act of “desperation”. The parliament had urged “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.” The vote is non-binding but comes with EU foreign ministers already due to discuss tightening sanctions on Tehran at a meeting in Brussels next week.

The Guards oversee the volunteer Basij paramilitary force, which has been deployed against protests since mid-September triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, after her arrest for allegedly violating Iran’s dress code for women.The Guards, formed shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution, answer to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and boast their own ground, naval and air forces.

The United States has already placed both the IRGC and its Quds Force, in charge of activities abroad, on its list of “foreign terrorist organisations”.

Then-US president Donald Trump ordered a January 2020 drone strike in Iraq that killed Quds Force commander General Qasem Soleimani.

Iran’s top diplomat stressed in the phone call with Borrell that the IRGC is a “sovereign institution that plays an important and vital role in providing Iran’s national security and the security of the region”.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2023

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