Iran’s leadership is increasingly worried about the prospects of European countries targeting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The concern can be seen in recent rhetoric in Iran’s media and also statements by members of the regime.
Iran’s concerns are clear because it now knows that the IRGC could be targeted for sanctions not only by the US but also in Europe, and this will make it more difficult for the IRGC to use front companies and seek to exploit loopholes abroad.
Iran’s export of drones to Russia and Russia’s use of those drones to terrorize people in Ukraine has helped tip the scales against Iran in Europe. Evidence has shown that drones include numerous parts manufactured in the West. These parts were exported to Iran via complex networks of Iranian front companies or other methods and the parts did not appear to have military uses until Iran repurposed them for use on the drones.
How has Iran responded to European nations targeting the IRGC?
According to Iran International, a media site critical of the regime, “the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and the parliament speaker threatened Europe on Saturday that listing the IRGC as a terror group will bring consequences.” Meanwhile, pro-Iran media Fars and Tasnim News had similar articles bashing the EU. Iran’s president has said that “the enemies' actions against the IRGC are doomed to failure.” He added: "No army and no armed forces have done more than the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to fight terrorism and reduce the evil of terrorists in the region.”
Iran knows that the West has sought to label the IRGC a terrorist group so they try to present this as ironic, noting that the IRGC has fought terrorism. From the Iran regime’s point of view, the IRGC has helped fight ISIS and thus has fought terrorism.
Meanwhile, the speaker of Iran’s parliament Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf slammed the European Parliament’s recent vote condemning the IRGC. The Iranian claimed the EU was now involved in a “pro-Zionism” trend. “First of all, I must clarify that after the extensive and long sanctions that the Western front, especially the United States, has imposed against the Iranian people, such actions will not have any serious legal effects, and the pro-Zionism trend is more about creating a media space to intimidate the Iranian people,” he said.
“I must clarify that after the extensive and long sanctions that the Western front, especially the United States, has imposed against the Iranian people, such actions will not have any serious legal effects, and the pro-Zionism trend is more about creating a media space to intimidate the Iranian people.”Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf
Qalibaf stated that any action against the IRGC, including sanctions or inclusion in imaginary lists such as “so-called terrorist groups,” is an insult to the entire Iranian nation. “We observe a dangerous trend in the group of Western countries, especially Europeans, towards terrorist behaviors and support for terrorism against the Iranian nation, which can lead to Iran deciding on a range of countermeasures.”
He then threatened that Iran would treat European countries and their forces in the Middle East as “terrorists” if the IRGC is sanctioned in Europe. This is the same threat that Iran made against US Central Command after the Trump administration sanctioned the IRGC. Iran has targeted US forces in Iraq and Syria.
The Iranian speaker of parliament said “we are ready to reciprocate. But we ask the Westerners to think carefully so that the window of opportunity for diplomacy is not closed. On the one hand, they cannot claim that the doors of negotiations are open, and on the other hand, they cannot officially confront a part of the political structure and identity belonging to the Iranian people.”
Iran’s officials are now being encouraged in this line of rhetoric. They are also being told to accuse Europe of being controlled by “Zionists.” Iran doesn’t realize that its supply of drones to Russia is what has caused the IRGC to be put in a new spotlight.
It remains to be seen how Iran may retaliate. It could try to target and kidnap more Europeans or dual citizens who travel to Iran. It could try to target European forces in the region.