On Tuesday, the U.S. representative office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) hosted a press conference where they revealed the locations of terrorist training camps within Iran, which are being run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). This new information was obtained through the network of the PMOI/MEK within Iran.
One of the key pieces of information released was that every month, hundreds of forces from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen, where Iran is involved in frontline combat, are receiving military training and then being returned to their home countries. Smaller groups are being trained for terrorist acts and operations in cells that include two members. These cells do not know about each other. These teams are then dispatched throughout the globe to complete their missions.
The focus of Europe has been more about their economic ties with Iran, which MEPs from the European Parliament argue needs to change. These economic ties are creating closer ties with the IRGC, because that group is a pillar within the Iranian economy.
Iran’s Minister of Defense Hossein Dehghan announced in early January 2017 that the main plans of the government regarding its energy, telecommunication, water transfer and IT, among other things, are currently assigned to Khatam-al Anbiya, a major corporation affiliated with the IRGC. In January, Reuters reported that nearly 110 agreements worth at least $80 billion that have been struck since the [nuclear] deal and 90 of them have been reached with companies owned or controlled by Iranian state entities or affiliated with the IRGC. The destructive role of the IRGC in the region and its involvement in terrorism is “beyond reasonable doubt” under the highest standard of a court of law.
The IRGC has been involved in terrorism from its inception, including creating Hezbollah, whose members took Western hostages under the IRGC direction. Despite all the evidence that Iran and the IRGC are key to the instability throughout the Middle East, European countries seem to be so eager to get their hands on the Iranian market that they are prepared to ignore Tehran’s behavior and the consequences that has for the Western interests and the Iranian people.
Despite the IRGC’s role in Syria and its role in domestic oppression and human rights violations, it seems to be just business as usual for Europe. The ignorance was on display this week, when a Swedish delegation traveled to Iran headed by the country’s Prime Minister. The female members of the delegation agreed to cover their hair while they were in Iran. It was seen as surrendering to the demand of a fundamentalist regime that has been recognized as a state-sponsor of terrorism.
“It is also insulting to the true Muslims who are dismayed that their religion is being misrepresented by forcing other women to act against their conviction only to appease the mullahs of Tehran,” said Farzin Hashemi in a blog on the NCRI website. He then noted that Europe accepts this humiliation, while actively helping the IRGC, which is responsible for war crimes and terrorism.
It is time for Europe to end its deadly inaction regarding the IRGC and its policy with Iran. This involves looking beyond the short-term economic interests in Iran, because the negative consequences from helping the IRGC economically far outweigh any short-term economic benefits that might be achieved. Europe shouldn’t put all its eggs in one basket and should avoid giving away crucial leverage.
Two key ways that Europe can take a stand with Iran is by stopping all business activities with the IRGC and its affiliate companies, as well as making trade agreements with Tehran contingent upon the halt of executions and ending IRGC meddling in other countries through the region.
Additionally, Europe needs to call for the immediate removal of the IRGC and its affiliates from Syria or impose punitive sanctions if the Iranian regime refuses to do so. After all, the clerical regime needs relations with Europe and could be forced to make important sacrifices in pursuit to those relations. The Iranian government is very vulnerable at home and making these economic demands could put the regime on the ropes.