When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

How Europe Can Help Iranian Protesters, Right Now — Blacklist The Revolutionary Guards

The European Union has been hesitant to classify Iran's national security force as a terrorist organization because of fears of a reprisal.

How Europe Can Help Iranian Protesters, Right Now — Blacklist The Revolutionary Guards

At a ceremony marking the third anniversary of the death of the late Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Jan 3., 2023



Three years after a U.S. airstrike on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards general Qasem Soleimani, the European Union is considering whether or not to list the Revolutionary Guards, the force responsible for Iran's national security, as international terrorists. Soleimani and several collaborators were killed in a drone strike outside Baghdad, ordered by the administration of President Donald J. Trump.

The Trump administration asked the Europeans to list the Guards as terrorists as it had done, but was met by the opposition of the then-German chancellor, Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Britain's former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Now, three years on, the Europeans have reached the same point as the Trump administration.

On Jan. 2, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported on the United Kingdom's intention to list the Guards as terrorists within weeks, in reaction to the Islamic Republic's suspected attempts in past months to kill or kidnap individuals on UK soil. Germany has in turn restricted ties with the Iranian regime and recently advised dual nationals or Iranian residents in Germany not to travel back to Iran, lest they be impeded from leaving.

Elements in the Iranian regime have singled out Germany and the United States as two states fomenting months of anti-regime protests, which the Islamic Republic insists are a plot rather than indicating mass discontent against it.

The late Soleimani's successor as head of the Revolutionary guards Quds Force — Iran's regional task force — Ismail Qaani, warned in late November that anyone who had "done so much as a day's work in the media against the Islamic Republic have had their names registered, and their turn will come." One day "you'll wake up," he said, and "see you have nothing left."

Regime warnings

The conservative Tehran paper Kayhan (no link with Kayhan-London) also wrote in an editorial published on Jan. 2 that Qaani had "filled Soleimani's place for the resistance front," which it said had not declined but grown "exponentially." The daily was referring to proxy militias, regional allies and collaborators, said to constitute a "front of resistance" to Western powers and Israel. It boasted that in the past three years, Qaani was behind the deaths of 25 Israelis and no less than 420 injuries caused in Israel just in 2022. If nothing else, citing such figures incriminates the Revolutionary guards and proves terrorist activities!

The situation has changed enough after almost four months of protests in Iran to change European minds.

Iranian politicians have meanwhile repeatedly warned the West against blacklisting the Guards. The corps' former chief, Muhammad'ali Ja'fari, said in 2017 that U.S. bases could become targets of Iranian projectiles if the Guards were classified as terrorists.

Other voices abroad, such as the Atlantic Council or the NIAC (the National Iranian American Council), an NGO many Iranians suspect has acted as a regime lobbyist in the United States, have been working to dampen enthusiasm for the idea. For years, such "moderating influences" have exaggerated the regime's military power, and warned that blacklisting the Guards could spark a war in the Middle East.

A member of the Revolutionary Guard stands in front of Shahab-3 missile in Tehran

Sobhan Farajvan/Pacific Press/ZUMA

Longer the wait, higher the cost

Just a year ago, EU officials like its foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, his deputy Enrique Mora and former EU negotiators like Javier Solana, were pressuring the Biden administration to remove the Guards from the U.S. terror list, to help revive the 2015 nuclear pact, which the United States ditched, also under the Trump administration. The West hopes the pact will keep strict checks on Iran's unnerving nuclear program. Inside the United States, certain senators in the Democrats, and the NIAC were pushing for the Guards' delisting.

But the situation has changed enough after almost four months of protests in Iran to change the minds of the European powers. Even the NIAC has changed tack, and seems to be backing regime change in Iran. It wrote on its Twitter account that it backed Iranians when they wanted reforms, and now backs them in their demands to end the Islamic regime. The volte-face of lobbyists must be a sign of the gravity of the regime's situation, suggesting they have despaired of its chances of reasserting itself.

Three years ago, observers fearfully warned that striking at the Revolutionary Guards could cause war in the Middle East. Today, Europeans must not be cowed by similar threats and understand that listing the Guards as terrorists will aid the people's protests against the regime.

The more they hesitate and the longer they wait, the higher the cost being imposed on a people fighting to live in freedom.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The Russian Orthodox Church Has A Kremlin Spy Network — And Now It's Spreading Abroad

The Russian Orthodox Church has long supported Russia’s ongoing war effort in Ukraine. Now, clergy members in other countries are suspected of collaborating with and recruiting for Russian security forces.

Photo of Russian soldiers during mass at an Orthodox church in Moscow.

Russian soldiers during mass at an Orthodox church in Moscow.

Wiktoria Bielaszyn

WARSAW — Several countries have accused members of the Russian Orthodox clergy of collaborating with Russian security services, pushing Kremlin policy inside the church and even recruiting spies from within.

On Sept. 21, Bulgaria deported Russian Archimandrite Vassian, guardian of the Orthodox parish in Sofia, along with two Belarusian priests. In a press release, the Bulgarian national security agency says that clergy were deported because they posed a threat to national security. "The measures were taken due to their actions against the security and interests of the Republic of Bulgaria," Bulgarian authorities wrote in a statement, according to Radio Svoboda.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

These reports were also confirmed by Russia's ambassador to Bulgaria, Eleonora Mitrofanova, who told Russian state news agency TASS that the priests must leave Bulgaria within 24 hours. “After being declared persona non grata, Wassian and the other two clerics were taken home under police supervision to pack up their belongings. Then they will be taken to the border with Serbia" she said.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest