In the latest round of the sanctions slapped against the Islamic Republic of Iran, the EU has specifically targeted the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. This round of sanctions has nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear activities, nor does it have anything to do with Iran’s grave record in human rights violations. According to the official communiqué issued by all 27 member states of the EU, the sanctions are leveled at the Quds force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard for its direct involvement in helping the Syrian regime quell the popular uprising and suppress Syrian dissents. Therefore, not only has more pressure been ramped up against this formidable military institution of the Islamic Republic, but also new allegations, which carry heavier charges than all the previous allegations, have been made against this important security force of the Islamic Republic.
According to the recently released announcement, the EU has added to its sanction list 15 individuals and 5 entities, including Quds force, the Revolutionary Guard’s unit operating overseas in relation with Syria’s affairs. The reason for sanction was the direct involvement of the Quds force in providing equipment to and helping the Syria regime suppress protests in Syria. Among the targets of the latest round of the sanction are Mohammad Ali Jafari, the Revolutionary Guard’s Commander; Ghasem Soleimani, Commander of the Quds force; and Hossein Taeb, the Revolutionary Guard’s deputy commander for intelligence and head of the Basij militia during the disputed 2009 presidential election.
Although there has been speculation that the revolutionary guard supports Bashar Al-Assad to repress the civilian protests in Syria, the EU’s move to sanction the Quds force substantiates the rumors over the Revolutionary Guard’s role in Syria. The EU has simultaneously imposed sanctions on Syrian commanders who operate at the behest of Maher Assad, Bashar al-Assad’s little brother. The name of Hassan Torkamani, Bashar Al-Assad’s special envoy, can be noticed in the list as well.
The EU has also announced that suppression of protestors by the Assad’s regime bears significant similarities to what the Iranian regime did to repress the protests triggered in the wake of the disputed 2009 presidential election. In case sufficient documents are prepared, a team consisting of the EU legal experts is currently formed to probe the case and bring legal action against the perpetrators, and possibly indict them in international criminal court on the charge of crimes against humanity. Should the decision be made, it would be the first time in the Islamic Republic’s history that Islamic Republic officials are indicted by the international criminal court on the charges similar to those made against Pinochet and Omar Al-Bashir.
Reviewing Previous Sanctions on Iran
We all know that the Islamic Republic has so far experienced various sorts of sanctions. Undoubtedly, the UN resolutions (Specially 1737, 1747 and 1803 resolutions), which according to the chapter 7 of the UN charter (violating and threatening International peace and security) target Iran’s nuclear activities, are the most important sanctions imposed on Iran so far.
It seems that the EU sanctions imposed on 32 Iranian officials, and the US sanction imposed on 7 Iranian officials for human rights violations are to mark the beginning of new round of purposeful sanctions against Iran. These sanctions are imposed due to the role played by these individuals in suppressing Iranian protestors. However, the EU’s recent move to sanction Islamic Republic officials shows the Islamic Republic’s role in suppression of people of another country (Syria), which is indeed more scandalous for the Islamic Republic.
This time both the EU and the US have imposed sanctions on Iranian officials for the role they played in suppressing the Syrian protestors.
The US had previously put on its sanction list high ranking officials from the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and the law enforcement force. However, for the first time in June 2011, the American officials announced that they have tangible evidences showing that the Islamic Republic has dispatched trained personnel to Syria to assist the Syrian regime to quell the protest movements, and to provide the Syrian regime with advanced technologies which help it trails the Syrian dissents in social networking sites. Consequently and on May 18th, 2011, Washington imposed sanctions on the Revolutionary Guard’s two high ranking commanders known as Ghasem Soleimani and Mohsen Chizari.
The US Treasury Department has recently unveiled that some officials of Iran’s law enforcement force, including Ahmad Reza Radan, deputy police chief, have traveled to Syria to offer expertise to the Bashar Al-Assad’s regime and help him deal with the oppositions and protest movement. The US Treasury Department has subsequently slapped sanctions on Esmaeel Ahmadi Moghadam, Police chief, and his deputy, Ahmad Reza Radan, accusing them of helping the Syrian regime to orchestrate crackdown on Syrian dissidents.
A Sanction with Different Characteristic
The history of sanctions against the Islamic Republic is as old as history of the Islamic Republic itself. Yet, there are substantial differences between the sanctions imposed on the Quds force and those previously imposed by Canada, Australia, the EU and the US on investments in Iran’s oil industry, Iran’s banking system, sale of aircrafts to Iran, and the sanctions imposed on Iran due to human rights violations.
Iran has so far admitted all the sanctions under the pretext that it is defending its indispensible right for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Nonetheless the sanctions imposed on the Quds force due to its role in supplying equipment to the Syrian regime for suppression of the opposition and protestors is of different in nature altogether. Such allegations are likely to leave destructive impact on the position of the Islamic Republic before the world’s public opinion especially before the Arab states and Islamic societies. If such allegation, under which the US and EU have imposed sanctions against Iran, is to be proven, there remains no chance for the Islamic republic to shy away from its responsibility and justify the Basij, police and Revolutionary Guard’s brutal crackdown on Iranian protestors as necessary measure against what it called hooligans, and actions to restore law and order.
Recent accusations will definitely usher in the relegation of the Islamic republic to the likes of repressive regime of Stali n., and will disclose the regime’s irreligious and inhuman nature.
First Signs of Impact of the Sanctions on Iran
Although the UN has not yet joined the EU, and the US and has not yet independently imposed any sanctions against the Islamic Republic’s officials for their role in repressing the Syrian dissidents, there are contradictory reactions from the Islamic republic officials which show that the sanctions are biting the Islamic republic.
Although Ramin Mehman-Parast, Iran’s foreign ministry in suppression of protests in Syria, Iran foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, has made a belated and an unprecedented remark urging Bashar Al-Assad to meet the legitimate demands of his people. In an interview with ISNA news agency Salehi says “the governments have to be able to meet the legitimate demands of their people. Be it in Syria, Yemen or other countries. People of these countries have legitimate demands which need to be quickly responded by the governments.”
In another development, Ahmad Avaei, member of Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, criticized the Islamic Republic’s all-out support of Bashar Al- Assad’s regime and said, “Unfortunately, the Syrian leadership has realized too late the necessity of entering the reform process and should have done that much earlier to avoid the current crisis. The fact is that supporting the Syrian rulers at any cost was not right, as those who staged the protests were Muslims, and their protests were legitimate. That is despite the fact that the Americans and the west have been attempting to turn the events in Syria to their own advantage by sending arms to the Syrian rebels and protestors.”
Salehi and Avaei have made the remark at the same time when Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, has described the Syrian uprising as being mimicry of what was happening in other Arab states and called it deviatory.
As it can be seen Tehran has taken somehow inconsistent and contradictory position in relation with Syria. While the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic describes the Syria’s event as deviatory and concocted, the Islamic Republic’s foreign minister calls on Bashar Al-Assad to respond to the legitimate demands of his people.
Such conflicting statements in Islamic republic foreign policy might be possibly read as the first indication of the impact of sanctions imposed on the revolutionary guard especially if they are going to be more severe.
After years of massive investment by the Islamic Republic in Syria, which led to the growth of Syria’s economy, the Islamic Republic could never envisage its flag being set alight by the Syrian protestors.
On the other side, the event in Libya, which led to the fall of Gadhafi’s regime, has made the Islamic republic cognizant of the fact that Assad’s repressive policy against his people will have no fruit but early collapse of his regime, and he will sooner or later follow Gadhafi’s fate. The Islamic Republic has seemingly realized that it has to remain aloof from Syria affairs, at least in words if not actions, if it is willing to maintain its real position among Syrians and like Turkey play its real role in Syria’s affairs, and if it is willing to prevent further sanctions against its security and military institutions which to date hold sway over Iran’s economy, parliament, government and etc.