Former US national security adviser John Bolton said on Thursday that, when Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dies (he is 84 years old), the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) would be vulnerable and a democratic transition more plausible.
Speaking at a Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JPCA) webinar on “Supporting Iran’s Quest for Democracy and the Urgency of Europe Proscribing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps,” Bolton noted that Khamenei has been sick many times, and that the Islamic Republic has no real clear path for the transition of power.
This meant, said Bolton, that pressure on the IRGC leading to that moment and in that moment could strike it at its weakest time.
Conversely, he warned that if the IRGC was not under pressure, it could also become an even more powerful and decisive force in Iran at that transition moment.
How do Israel, US push for UK, EU to sanction IRGC?
This means that pressure on the IRGC, both leading up to and at that moment, would leave it vulnerable for a strike against it at its weakest time. At the same time, however, Bolton warned that if the IRGC were pressured, it could alternatively become even more powerful.
Pressure has been building for the UK and EU to already now sanction the entire IRGC – a big element in the webinar discussion, which included senior Iranian opposition figures and diplomats. In May, the EU designated five senior IRGC officials and two entities for human rights sanctions in its eighth package of such Iran-related sanctions, but both the EU and the UK have resisted sanctioning the entire apparatus.
Top EU officials opposing a blanket sanctions regime on the IRGC have taken the position that it is a state military and state militaries cannot or should not be sanctioned, or that such a blanket sanctioning could only occur after a court ruling.
Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel also spoke at the webinar, saying, “We urge our friends in the UK and EU to take a stand for moral clarity and to outlaw” all of the IRGC. She said they must “immediately proscribe the IRGC as an arm of terrorism which holds the Iranian people hostage to terrorism and torture,” and keep Iranians from “freedom and democracy for the Iran of tomorrow. Proscribe today, but prepare for tomorrow,” because bringing Iran to democratic rule “is doable.”
“We urge our friends in the UK and EU to take a stand for moral clarity and to outlaw [the IRGC]."Intelligence Minister IRGC
The intelligence minister stated that the regime “oppresses 88 million people and exports terrorism, subversion, and assassination across the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America.”
More specifically, she recalled that the IRGC has attempted 15 assassinations since 2022 and targeted the UK and Italian governments to lead the way to “go beyond tough sanctions to proscribe the IRGC in its entirety.”
Bolton advised that, even during the Trump administration in the US, there were strenuous objections within the US government against declaring the entire IRGC a terrorist group for sanctions purposes.
The JCPA said that “growing numbers of Western nations are joining calls to ban Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which trains its terrorist proxies and carries out attacks around the world. Iran’s providing kamikaze drones to Russia to use against Ukraine has boosted recent efforts to proscribe the group, something Israel has long pushed the world community to do,” it said.
“This month alone, legislators in Ukraine, Canada and Italy called to declare the IRGC a terrorist group, and earlier this year, Lithuania and the European Parliament did the same.”