Iran Rebukes Canadian Move to Label Revolutionary Guard ‘Terrorists’

Iran Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif says an effort in Canada’s Parliament to brand Iran’s Islamist 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.

Historic vote

“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.

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.”

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.

Deterioration in relations

“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 U.S. and U.K. 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.

Tehran sees the motion as nonbinding, politically charged and symbolic. Some analysts, however, believe it could put more pressure on Tehran.

“[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.”

Attitude change

According to some experts, there is a reason behind the Trudeau government’s surprising decision to back a Conservative Party motion in the House of Commons showing toughness with Iran 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.

Source: Voice of America

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