Steering Repression

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The European Union approved new sanctions targeting Iranian officials alleged to be involved in the ongoing crackdown against anti-government protesters in the country – but stopped short of labeling Iran’s elite military branch as a “terrorist” organization, Al Jazeera reported Monday.

The new sanctions will hit an additional 37 officials and entities “driving the repression” in Iran.

These sanctions follow ones agreed last week by the European Parliament on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi over the government’s violent response to the mass protests that have swept the country since September.

The protests ignited following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was detained by Iran’s morality police in September for allegedly failing to abide by the country’s strict Islamic dress code – the hijab law.

Since then, thousands of Iranians have marched in the streets of cities across the country to protest the hijab law and the country’s ruling clerics.

The parliament’s resolution also called for labeling Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a “terrorist” organization, prompting criticism from Tehran.

But the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, explained that blacklisting the IRGC would not be possible without a court decision first.

Meanwhile, Iranian officials warned that blacklisting the IRGC was illegal under international law, noting that the branch significantly contributes to the security of Iran and the region.

They threatened that such a move would mean the death of stalled talks with world powers to restore the country’s 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran and Western nations have been trying to revive the deal following the United States’ exit in 2018. If it is reinstated, the agreement would relieve sanctions against Tehran while reintroducing severe limits on its nuclear program.

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