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‘It is very urgent for the European Union to proscribe Iran’s IRGC’

Jonathan Spyer is the founder and director, the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis. Picture: Briefing at Centro Sefarad Israel in Madrid 27 February 2023. Image courtesy of EJP.

Jonathan Spyer, a Mideast affairs expert, explains that the IRGC is “specifically and most importantly a gathering people whose specific tasks are the raising of proxy and franchise militaries in other countries so they can serve the interests the regime in Tehran.” YossiLempkowicz writes that despite a resolution by the European Parliament urging it, the European Union has not yet listed Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, (IRGC), as a terrorist organization.

The EU Foreign Affairs Council, made up of 27 EU Foreign Mininisters and the EU Foreign Ministers, decided in January to approve a new set of sanctions against Iran. This was in response to the suppression of protesters and the use of Iranian drones during Russia’s war against Ukraine. High-ranking Iranian security forces personnel, including the IRGC, were targeted by the sanctions.

The European Parliament voted 598-9 to request that the E.U. be included in its list. The IRGC is now a terror entity. The resolution condemns the “brutal crackdown by Iran, including Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on demonstrations following Mahsa’s death, which followed her brutal arrest, abuse, and ill-treatment in Iran’s morality police’.


Josep Borrell was the EU’s chief of foreign policy. He stated that IRGC could not be classified as a terrorist organization ”without a court order.

Jonathan Spyer is a Mideast Affairs analyst and one the most respected experts on Iran. He believes that Borrell’s explanation is not serious.

Spyer stated that ”I believe this happened because of an influence of the professional elite in a few European countries, I refer to the foreign services of many European countries who don’t believe that the door has been shut on the prospect of returningtot he Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action 2015 nuclear deal between the world powers and Iran), Spyer said at a briefing in Madrid organised by the Europe Israel Press Association.


“They don’t believe this door has been closed conclusively and therefore they don’t want to upset or annoy the Iranian regime, which they fear could then close that door that is still open. This is not a surprise. This is exactly the mindset that has dominated European countries’ views on Iran over the past decades,” he said.

Spyer, founder and director of Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis, stated that there is still potential for diplomacy and that it is important to not close the door on the regime.

“You also heard: What difference does it make? We have laws in every European country, including anti-terror laws. So if an organisation is supporting terrorism, there are laws in all the countries to deal with that. Why do we need additional laws? What does it change ?.”?

“” This is incorrect. Many of the activities of IRGC on European soil do not involve violence. Many activities can involve someone speaking up. Europe has not learned from the past twenty years. It can be dangerous for a guy to stand and bullshit in front of others. Through propaganda and miseducation by Sunni Jihadi organizations under the radars of European governments. Al Muhajirun was a terrorist organization that the British gvt banned in 2010. I remember mentioning to the authorities about this dangerous group. …. They told me that this group was a bunch fo fools and idiots. They talk. And they don’t listen. The IRGC is doing exactly the same thing: poisoning minds on European soil. To deal with this, you must declare them a terrorist organization. They will claim that they aren’t doing any wrong and just talk to a few people. Jonathan Spyer said that this matter is urgent.

After 1979’s Islamic Revolution, the IRGC was established. It has grown to be a significant military force in Iran. The IRGC also controls Tehran’s nuclear programme and ballistics program. They also fund terrorist operations and plots in other parts of the region and the world. It was created primarily to defend the regime and spread the Islamic revolution to neighbouring countries via terrorism.

Under the current President Ebrahim Raisi’s rule, which he took to power in 2021, its influence has grown.

“This is a special type of organization. IRGC isn’t a traditional military group, but it can do conventional military tasks. Although it is not an intelligence organisation, it can perform intelligence tasks. Spyer explained that although it is not a paramilitary organization, it can still perform such functions.

“But, it is primarily and most importantly a group of people whose specific tasks are to raise up proxy and franchise military organisations in other countries so they can serve Iran’s interests. This is an unusual type of organization. Many countries around the globe don’t have one. However, the IRGC failed to get far when it tried to organize and create such groups in well-organized states. Bahrein has a Shia majority population, so it attempted to organize it there. However, Bahrein quickly reacted against them. It also tried to organize it in Saudi Arabia, which has a large Shia minority, but that didn’t work out. It tried to organize terror attacks in Europe. In Paris, for example, it attempted to attack an Iranian opposition group. In 2015 and 2017, it also assassinated two Iranian leaders. In Denmark, it attempted to assassinate an Arab member. However, it was revealed that IRGC had large quantities of ammonium nitrate inside a house.

Iran was able to create proxy forces in Syria, Lebanon, Irak Yemen, and among the Palestinians thanks to IRGC.

“In 2012 and 2013, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad’s regime was in danger of being overthrown by rebels. Because the regime was based upon a narrow support base, Assad is from a Sect of Alaouites, he could not find a solution. Split in Shia Islam. They make up 12% of Syria’s population. Sunni Arabs, who make up about 60% of Syria’s population, led the insurgency against Assad. This was the reason he seemed certain to lose. His army of 400,000 Sunni military personnel could not be relied upon. Bashar Assad was fortunate to have this regime aligned with Iran. This meant that his aides could travel to Tehran to ask for help when he was in this situation in 2012/2013. Lucky for him, he was able to find the IRGC and Major General Qassem Solimani, who were the heads of the Quds force’s external force. He said to Assad, “We understand your problem and have the solution.” We can create a new arm for you: a parallel army. We can recruit, train, arm, and deploy it ,….. They did exactly this. They began to recruit Alaouites and Kurds, Druze, Christians, and Shias. They began to recruit Alaouites, Kurds, Druze, Christians and Shias. This army filled in for Bashar Assad’s gap and allowed his regime to remain in the field for the crucial two years. In September 2015, the Russian air force entered Syria.

“This is a concrete illustration of how the IRGC’s method works. It achieves a very important goal and wins for Bashar Assad, but more importantly for Iran. This is the Iranian way.

What are their goals?

“They have two goals. One is to reach the Mediterranean. This is something that the Persian empires have been trying since antiquity. They also have an ideological compenent. They are committed to the destruction of Israel. Ali Khamenei called it a “cancerous tumor” in the region. They seek to hegemony within the region in geo-strategic terms. “West towards the Mediterranean, south to the Gulf states,” Spyer concluded.

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