A majority in Parliament's foreign affairs committee wants the government to push the EU to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as terrorists.

But the government is committed to supporting sanctions against individuals responsible for abuses by the regime and the Guard.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobias Billström (M)
Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobias Billström (M)

The Social Democrats are among the parties that now want to put the very tough Revolutionary Guard on the EU's terror list and that Sweden should push this issue in the EU. In government, the Social Democrats did not pursue this line.

"We believe that this is an effective means of increasing the pressure", says Morgan Johansson, the party's foreign policy spokesperson, also Vice-Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

S turns

When the committee consulted with Foreign Minister Tobias Billström (M) on Iran last Thursday, the Social Democrats, the Swedish Democrats, the Green Party, the Left Party and the Center Party joined forces and reported a different position. It says that the government will work in the EU to list the Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.

The Guard is the regime's own military force, a very tough religiously and ideologically motivated force to secure power. The Guard has most recently cracked down on the protests that have occurred in Iran since last fall in response to the death of a 22-year-old woman after she was arrested by the moral police. The woman was taken in by the morality police because she was deemed not to have worn a headscarf properly. She was hospitalized but was still under the control of the moral police when she died.

Tobias Billström says he is not ruling anything out, but believes that the most important thing is to push through a sixth package of sanctions against specific individuals in Iran, more than ever before, at the ministerial meeting in Brussels on March 20th. According to the Foreign Minister, labeling terrorists or imposing sanctions on more individuals is a question of ends and means.

Wants the same

"In essence, the government and the opposition want exactly the same thing. Those responsible for the abuse of women and girls, who voluntarily and peacefully out on the street have expressed their desire for a democratic Iran, the persons will be held accountable and punished."

There is no EU country currently pushing for the Revolutionary Guard to be labeled as a terrorist group. Morgan Johansson believes that it can start to change. He points out that the European Parliament has called for it, a decision which, on the other hand, is not binding on the Union.

"It doesn't seem as if sanction lists on individuals help", says Johansson, claiming that it seems to take more screw when terrorist listing is discussed.

"You notice directly from the Iranian regime that it is something you react strongly to. It indicates that this is something that could actually have an effect", he says.

Need a clear link

The government has previously pointed out that there are problems with a terrorist listing. Not least, there is a need for a clear link to acts of terrorism or terrorist activity – and it is not so easy to do.

Assessors have also pointed out that the EU fears that it would be more difficult to keep contacts with Iran alive, not least in the negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, if the Revolutionary Guard were listed as a terrorist organization.

Facts: Revolutionary Guard

When the Islamic Revolutionary Guard was formed in Iran shortly after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, it was to protect the new religious state from any attempted coup, especially from the Iranian national army. It is also with the religious regime loyalty lies, not with the Iranian people.

The Revolutionary Guard consists of ground forces, air forces and marines, but also the infamous Basij military and Quds force, which is responsible for operations abroad. It also has its own intelligence agency.

In addition to that, the Revolutionary Guard Corps, or the IRGC, is internationally known as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a large part of Iran's economy through companies in, for example, Iran's important fossil fuel sector.