A German paper reported on Monday that a classified EU document states that IRGC can be sanctioned as a terrorist organization in Europe, despite assertions to the contrary by some politicians.
German lawmaker Norbert Röttgen has accused his country’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, of lying to the international community that the IRGC cannot be outlawed in Europe.
In a significant escalation of the sparring between Röttgen and the Green party controlled foreign ministry, the Christian Democratic party MP took to X on Monday to announce: “Baerbock has been deceiving the public for almost a year and is deliberately telling a untruth in the Bundestag regarding the expert opinion report on the terrorist listing of the Revolutionary Guards. This in no way says that listing is currently not possible.”
Baerbock, who claims to have a “feminist foreign policy,” has mirrored the comments of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell for nearly a year that “as of now, we don’t have legal grounds in the EU to list the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization.”
Baerbock, whose Green party has faced criticism over the years for embracing an appeasement policy toward the clerical regime in Tehran, argued that an expert opinion of the European Council lawyers prevented the IRGC from being sanctioned.
Röttgen linked in X post to an article in the left-wing German paper Die Tageszeitung (known in Germany as taz) that reported it obtained a classified EU expert opinion that established Baerbock lied to the international community.
According to die taz, the EU expert opinion states the legal service of the European Council determined that legal decisions outside the EU determining that the IRGC engaged in acts of terror could be used as a basis for banning it. “If the Council relies on a decision of a third country, it must ensure that this decision was taken in compliance with the rights of the defense and the right to effective legal protection,” the opinion reads.
Borrell appeared to have also misled the international community in January, when he claimed that an EU legal decision is necessary to designate the IRGC as a terrorist entity. Röttgen and counter-terrorism experts such as Matthew Levitt have mounted significant evidence to show that Borell and Baerbock are not on solid ground with their arguments against a ban of the IRGC.
The German paper asked a number of legal experts for their assessment of the classified EU expert opinion. “The positions of the legal service do not provide a convincing justification against the terrorist listing. The impression is that the federal government is hiding behind weak legal arguments,” said Matthias Herdegen from the University of Bonn.
The EU’s classified legal opinion presented legal verdicts from the US in 2020 and 2018 that showed the IRGC was responsible for blowing up the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996. However, the EU said the cases from Khobar are not current enough to form the basis for a ban of the IRGC.
Christian Marxsen, Professor of Public Law and International Law at the Humboldt University in Berlin, told die taz, “The report discusses the legal requirements for listing as a terrorist organization…there is no statement in the report as to whether there are other points of reference – for example further court or administrative decisions from other countries – for such a listing.”
Iran International reported in late November that a German court convicted a Pakistani man in 2017 who was paid by the IRGC to engage in an assassination attempt of pro-Israel advocates.
The Quds Force—a part of the IRGC—paid Pakistani Syed Mustaf at least 2,052 euros from July 2015 to 2016 to spy on Jewish and Israeli institutions and carry out the assassination plot. The case of Mustaf could be used by the EU to outlaw the IRGC, according to experts.
The taz reported that “There are numerous voices in and around the Foreign Office who reject the Revolutionary Guard’s terrorist listing.” One voice is Guido Steinberg who is a Senior Associate at the Middle East and Africa Research Division of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP).
Steinberg told the German magazine Stern in July that he is against the listing of the IRGC as a terrorist organization because the IRGC is a normal military force. This is an argument that Tehran often uses despite the fact that the IRGC has a large intelligence organization engaged in domestic repression and also has its own espionage network abroad.
The US government classified the IRGC a terrorist entity in 2019.
The German Institute for International and Security advises the German foreign ministry and has been embroiled in pro-Hamas and antisemitism scandals this year. In July, Israel’s embassy in Berlin slammed the institute’s researcher Muriel Asseburg for suggesting in an interview with a hardcore anti-Israel activist that terrorism attacks against Israelis can be dismissed as not significant and there should be support for Palestinians’ right to “violent resistance” against the “Israeli occupation.”
The German Institute for International and Security has been plagued by its efforts to promote a partnership with Iran’s regime. In 2008, a Wall Street Journal opinion article stated Volker Perthes, the former director of the controversial institute has “been lobbying for more than two years for a ‘strategic partnership’ with a Holocaust-denying regime that sponsors international terror and suppresses its own people.”
Press queries sent to Baerbock’s spokesman Sebastian Fischer and spokeswoman, Tittel, as well as to German interior minister spokesman Björn Bowinkelmann ,were not returned. Iran International phone calls to both ministries were not answered.