April 20, 2010 | Jerusalem Post
Revolutionary Guards – Terrorists
A broad swath of prominent European intellectuals and politicians, crisscrossing Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom, are slated to announce on Wednesday that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) should be put on the European Union terror list, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The European “Stop the Bomb” coalition, which advocates aggressive European-based sanctions against the Iranian government, organized the petition.
The petition, signed by the likes of Elfriede Jelinek, the Austrian winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2004, reads: “As Iran’s most important trading partner, the EU is in a unique position to effect change. Therefore, the EU has the responsibility to impose severe sanctions to thwart Teheran’s drive towards nuclear weapons, and to firmly act towards the protection of human rights in Iran.”
Those who support designating the IRGC a terrorist entity encompass a wide range of the left and conservative political spectrum. Gisela Stuart, Labor MP in the UK and Italy’s Gianni Vernetti, a MP from the liberal Alliance for Italy and former secretary of state for foreign affairs, were two of a number of parliamentarians who advocate isolating the IRGC.
Former Spanish minister of defense and Socialist party member Julian García Vargas also signed the anti-IRGC petition, as did Mats G. Nilsson, a Swedish MP from the Moderate Party, and Claude Goasguen, a French MP from the center-right Union for a Popular Movement.
“By targeting the Revolutionary Guards, Europe can lead the way with ‘smart’ sanctions that cripple the Iranian energy sector – the lifeblood of the men who rule Iran – and, in doing so, support the Iranian reformers against a brutal and illegitimate regime,” according to Mark Dubowitz, executive director the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a leading expert on the Revolutionary Guards and energy sanctions, who spoke to the Post on Tuesday.
“Banning trade with the Guards’ leaders and front companies, which are such dominant players in Iran’s energy sector, would weaken the Guard and undermine its primary source of wealth and influence,” he added.
“It also would send a shot across the bow to Iran’s European energy partners, which are literally fueling the armored vehicles and motorcycles used to brutally repress those standing for freedom on the streets of Teheran.”
Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister and point man on the nuclear crisis in Iran, resisted robust sanctions on the IRGC during the non-nuclear proliferation conference in Teheran.
He told the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung that “in view of the role that the IRGC plays in Iran’s society and economic sphere… we do not believe in comprehensive sanctions.”
Iran’s Commerce Minister Mehdi Ghazanfari confirmed that “problems will certainly surface” because of pending sanctions and alluded indirectly to difficulties in refining oil because Iran is dependent on foreign gas supplies.
The United States designated the IRGC as a global terrorist entity in 2007 because of its involvement in arms trade and sponsorship of Islamic-based terror groups such as Hizbullah.
According to economic and security experts, the IRGC controls as much as 75% of Iran’s economic activity, including military work on its nuclear program; a crackdown on the IRGC could cause a massive financial and economic meltdown in Iran.
Meanwhile, members of the Free Democrat Party (FDP) in Berlin drafted a groundbreaking resolution urging their party’s delegates to the party congress in Cologne this coming weekend to sponsor a bill to place the IRGC on the EU’s terror list.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle is the head of the FDP, but his party’s top-level leadership has remained averse to tough sanctions against Iran, largely because of the party’s pro-business base.
Yet Nils Augustin, a FDP member and attorney in Berlin, crafted the resolution along with Saba Farzan, a German-Iranian FDP member and Iran expert.
According to the resolution, it would “correspond to the liberal spirit” of the party’s tradition.
The resolution cites the role of the Guards in terrorizing the civilian population in Iran as well as Teheran’s jingoistic foreign policy.
The FDP paper cites the Dutch Parliament resolution as a precedent. The Netherlands is the only European country at this time pushing for the EU to designate the IRGC as a terror organization.