December 8, 2022 – Brussels – Today, 220 lawmakers from Europe, the United States, and Canada urged Western democracies to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its proxies, such as Hezbollah, as terrorist organizations. The legislators’ call for action against the regime’s state terrorism comes only days before EU foreign ministers are set to deliberate further measures against Tehran on Monday.
Spearheaded by the AJC-backed Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI), the interparliamentary statement was released amid the regime’s deadly crackdown on protesters, its escalating regional and global aggression, and a spike in acts of state terrorism, including the recent kidnapping and assassination attempts on U.S. soil against British-American author Salman Rushdie and Iranian-American journalist and women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad.
Additionally, the legislators expressed grave concern over Tehran‘s nuclear violations and material support for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. “Iran’s growing alliance with Russia and its supply of advanced drones for Moscow's brutal war against Ukraine further underline the danger the Islamic Republic poses not just to Middle Eastern, but also to Western security,” reads the statement.
Unlike regular armies designed to defend a country’s borders, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini founded the IRGC shortly after the Islamic Revolution in 1979 to defend the regime and spread its ideology. As such, they have become the mullahs’ shock troops overseeing Tehran’s global terror network and internal oppression.
The U.S. Co-Chairs of TFI, Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), led the initiative in Congress with the support of 27 bipartisan and bicameral members.
The European Parliament leadership of TFI, including TFI President Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou, Vice President David Lega, and Chair Lukas Mandl, sent the statement today to the European Commission, the European External Action Service, the European Council, and the governments of all 27 EU member states.
Among the signatories are former Prime Minister Kiril Petkov (Bulgaria), former Foreign Affairs Ministers Anna Fotyga (Poland), Radek Sikorski (Poland), Daniel Mitov (Bulgaria) and Ekaterina Zaharieva (Bulgaria), as well as former Defence Ministers Matej Tonin (Slovenia) and Alexandr Vondra (Czech Republic). Other signatories include Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, Chair of the Bundestag's Defence Committee; Dame Diana Johnson, Chair, UK House of Commons' Home Affairs Committee, Hristo Gadzhev, Chair of the Bulgarian National Assembly's Defence Committee; Žygimantas Pavilionis, Chair of the Lithuanian Parliament's Foreign Affairs committee; Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Antisemitism; the Rt Hon Stephen Crabb, Chair of the UK House of Commons' Conservative Friends of Israel; Anthony Housefather MP, Chair of the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group; Marty Morantz MP, Vice Chair of the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group; James Bezan MP, Shadow Minister for National Defence; Sari Essayah, President of the Christian Democrats (Finland); Gatis Eglītis, President of the Conservatives (Latvia); Marek Vyborny, Chair of the KDU-ČSL Parliamentary Group (Czech Republic); Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Co-President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (Bulgaria); Frédérique Ries (Belgium) and Katalin Cseh (Hungary), both Vice-Chairs of the Renew Europe Group in the European Parliament.
Highlighting the need for strong transatlantic cooperation, the lawmakers point to inconsistencies between U.S., Canadian, UK, and EU designations of terrorist organizations. While all have designated Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an IRGC proxy, and the EU sanctioned last month the IRGC Aerospace Force for its supplies of drones to Russia, only the U.S. has designated the entire IRGC as a terror organization. The U.S., Canadian and UK terror listings of Hezbollah cover the entirety of the organization, while the EU considers only the so-called “military wing” as a terror group. The interparliamentary statement underscores the need for the U.S., Canada, and European partners to act decisively and consistently to curb the Iranian regime’s aggression by designating the IRGC and its proxies as terrorists.
Rep. Brad Schneider, U.S. Co-Chair of the Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI): “Iran’s escalating nefarious activities—including nuclear pursuits, ballistic missile development, and its support for regional and global terrorism—pose a serious threat to the stability of the Middle East and to security around the world. Particularly, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has served as the regime’s principal force in spreading internal and external terror, creating and funding terror networks. I stand firm with my colleagues in the Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI) Inter-Parliamentary Group in advocating for sanctions against the IRGC and its designation as a terrorist organization. A strong, collaborative transatlantic partnership is urgently necessary to counter IRGC and stop its malign activities.”
Rep. Andrew Garbarino, U.S. Co-Chair of the Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI): “Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has long been a chief sponsor of terrorism, financing and supporting malign activities against the U.S. and its allies throughout the region. The broad spectrum of international leadership on this issue shows the urgency with which the global community should act to address the terrorist threats posed by Iran. I am proud to stand with my U.S., Canada, and European partners in declaring support for the designation of the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and for commensurate sanctions against the IRGC and its terror proxies for as long as Iran remains complicit in the violence and terror that has spread throughout the region.”
MEP Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou, President of the Transatlantic Friends of Israel in the European Parliament: “It's time for the heavy duty sanctions to come out. We did it for Putin, we should be able to do it for Iran. The EU and the rest of the Western world must designate the IRGC as the terrorists they are.”
MEP Lukas Mandl, Chair of the Transatlantic Friends of Israel in the European Parliament: “The Iranian regime is a threat to its own people, its neighbors and, as we see now in the alignment with Putin-Russia, also to Europe. It is high time for the EU to follow in the footsteps of the United States and put the IRGC on its terror list.”
MEP David Lega, Vice President of the Transatlantic Friends of Israel in the European Parliament: “The Iranian people deserve to live in a free, stable and democratic country. But words are not enough. The EU must implement targeted sanctions and list the IRGC as a terrorist entity, following the example of the U.S.”
MEP Dietmar Köster, Vice Chair of the Transatlantic Friends of Israel in the European Parliament: “The EU must support Iranians who risk their freedom or even their lives for democracy and human rights. In the interest of justice as well as peace and security, the West must finally designate the IRGC as a terror group.”
MEP Petras Auštrevičius, Vice Chair of the Transatlantic Friends of Israel in the European Parliament: “The Iranian drones allow Russia to intensify its atrocious war of aggression against Ukraine, targeting particularly civilians and critical infrastructure. The West must act decisively and put the IRGC on the EU terror list.”
MP Martin Engelberg, Chair of the Transatlantic Friends of Israel in the Austrian Parliament: “Two criminal regimes, Russia and Iran, have joined forces. There can be no neutrality towards terrorism and war crimes. The IRGC has to be held accountable and listed as what it is, namely terrorists.”
Daniel Schwammenthal, Secretary General of the Transatlantic Friends of Israel, Director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute: “Foreign policy is often the difficult choice between morality and interests. No such dilemma exists in the case of Iran. Weakening the regime by designating the IRGC will not only make Ukraine and Europe safer but the wider Middle East and, above all, the long-suffering people of Iran. The EU took an important first step by designating key Iranian entities last month. Europe should finish the job and declare the IRGC itself as a terror group.”
The Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI) was founded in July 2019 in the European Parliament by the AJC EU office in Brussels, the AJC Transatlantic Institute. TFI is the first cross-party, interparliamentary group of its kind that connects lawmakers from the U.S. Congress, the Knesset, the Parliament of Canada, and legislatures across Europe. With over 180 legislators from 27 countries, TFI fosters the transatlantic bond with Israel by engaging legislators to create synergies across the Atlantic, to advance mutual interests, and to address common threats.