Iran, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Ground Force Commandos, soldier with AK47 (2)(Tasnim News Agency, CC4, 2017)

Canada Seeks “Terrorist” Designation for Iranian Revolutionary Guard

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps May Be Branded a “Terrorist” Organization By Canadian Government

“Today’s vote condemning the regime and declaration of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity was historic,” Erin O’Toole, a Conservative Party MP, said after the vote on Tuesday, June 12.

Garnett Genuis, a member of parliament and a supporter of the motion, said, “It is important for us to ensure that Canadian companies are not involved in commercial dealing with entities owned by IRGC, which has obviously a mission to widespread their revolutionary brand of theocracy and violence as far as they can.”

Motion Condemns Iran’s Call for Jewish Genocide

The motion introduced by Genuis also condemned Iran “for its ongoing sponsorship of terrorism around the world” and the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for “calling for genocide against the Jewish people.”

It also designated the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a “listed terrorist entity” under the Canadian Criminal Code.

The motion also demanded the immediate release of all Canadians and Canadian permanent residents held in Iranian jails, including Maryam Mombeini, the widow of professor Kavous Seyed-Emami, and Saeed Malekpour, who has been imprisoned since 2008.

Genuis added the resolution would signal the regime “their behavior is not acceptable. We are doing our part and we hope to see a change in regime’s behavior over the time in a way that reflects the will of Iranian people.”

The resolution is expected to be discussed at the Cabinet level, and it is not yet clear if legislators will take further steps to legally designate the Iranian organization as terrorists under Canadian law.

Iran Calls Move “Regrettable”

Iran Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif says an effort in Canada’s Parliament to brand Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) “terrorists” is regrettable.

“Although the government has changed in Canada and a new administration has stepped into the political fray with a new approach toward the world, the radicals are still active in the country, exerting their political pressure on the Trudeau government,” Zarif said.

The resolution, passed by the House of Commons on Tuesday, also called on the Canadian government to “cease … negotiations or discussions” to restore diplomatic relations with Iran.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) (Persian: سپاه پاسداران انقلاب اسلامی‎, translit. Sepâh-e Pâsdârân-e Enghelâb-e Eslâmi, lit. ‘Army of Guardians of the Islamic Revolution’ or Sepâh for short) is a branch of Iran’s Armed Forces founded after the 1979 Revolution on 22 April 1979  by order of Ayatollah Khomeini. The Revolutionary Guard is roled to protect the country’s Islamic system of government. The Revolutionary Guards have approx. 125,000 military personnel including ground, air and naval forces.

Iran, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Ground Force Commandos, Muslim soldier praying (Tasnim News Agency, CC4, 2017)

Iran, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Ground Force Commandos, Muslim soldier praying (Tasnim News Agency, CC4, 2017)

IRGC’s Quds Force Already Terrorist Designated

“Should such a legislation, including terrorist designation of the IRGC, pass the parliament, it would mark a remarkable deterioration in Tehran-Ottawa relations,” said Ali Alfoneh, an Iran analyst based in Washington.

“The IRGC controls a large part of Iran’s economy. Passing a terrorist designation prohibits Canadian companies from doing business with some of the most important economic actors in Iran,” Alfoneh said.

The IRGC is under economic sanctions by Canada, as well as the US and UK. It is not yet listed as a terrorist entity, although the IRGC’s Quds force has been listed.

Tehran reacted quickly to the news, urging Ottawa to reconsider the case. Speaking to reporters at the end of a three-day visit to South Africa, Zarif said the move is against the interests of Canada.

Analysts, however, believe the move will put more pressure on Iran to end its extremist policies.

“[The] Islamic regime is worried of a domino effect,” said Babak Taghvaei, a Malta-based military analyst. “Same pattern might be followed by others, particularly by EU countries bringing more constraint to IRGC, and paralyze the regime.”

Retaliation for Kavous Seyed-Emami Arrest Death?

Voice of America suggested that there may be a reason behind the Trudeau government’s surprising decision to back a Conservative Party motion in the House of Commons showing toughness with Iranian policy.

“Some Canadian experts are saying that the shift in Trudeau’s opinion is somehow related to the mistreatment and arrest of a Canadian-Iranian citizen,” Amir Noori, a Toronto-based Iranian-Canadian journalist, said.

“Iranian authorities prevented [Maryam] Mombeini from leaving Iran right after her husband died mysteriously in prison, and, I believe, this event had a great effect on Trudeau’s Cabinet,” Noori said.

Mombeini is an Iranian-Canadian and widow of an environmentalist and scholar, Kavous Seyed-Emami, who was arrested in January on suspicion of espionage. Iranian authorities announced his death in February stating that he had committed suicide in prison, a narrative doubted by many inside and outside Iran.

Sources: VoA; Radio Canada.

Image: Iran, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Ground Force Commandos, soldier with AK47 (Tasnim News Agency, CC4, 2017, edited).