Canada’s IRGC Terror Designation Marks Critical Western Policy Shift

Six years after a similar decision by the United States, the Canadian government has formally designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. For over 40 years, the clerical regime has used the IRGC to terrorize millions within Iran, while wreaking havoc across the Middle East.

Since October 7, 2023, Iran’s terrorist machinery is said to have executed over 700 people. This alarming increase in executions is part of an ongoing suppression campaign designed to stifle opposition and enable the regime’s recovery from the nationwide protests that began in September 2022 following the gruesome murder of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

Canadian IRGC Terror Designation, escalating iran executions demand global response.
Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni being prepared for execution by hanging, in Iran, July 19, 2005

IRGC Terror Designation Disrupts Recovery

Despite the regime’s violent efforts to stifle dissent, ongoing resistance, the recent death of President Ebrahim Raisi in an apparent helicopter accident, followed by Canada’s recent terror designation are poised to disrupt the ayatollahs’ calculated recovery plans.

In the winter of 2017, a wave of protests swept through Iran and by January of the following year, the U.S. became the first major power to impose significant sanctions on the IRGC.

With it, America offered crucial support and much deserved credibility to the plight of brave pro-democracy protesters fighting to overthrow a regime that had oppressed them for four decades.

Islamist Mafia v Innocent Civilians

A bloody, unfair, and decades-long confrontation between innocent civilians and a warmongering Islamist mafia. In 1988 alone, the IRGC was part of the platform the regime used to execute thousands of political prisoners, the majority of whom were members or sympathizers of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

The massacre was one among many atrocities which the free world mostly remained ambivalent about. That is until 2018, when things began to shift.

As protests calling for regime change continued, the U.S. government introduced the Maximum Pressure Campaign on Iran’s regime. This policy posture weakened the regime while validating people’s grievances, and enabled their resistance efforts.

Demonstrations calling for a democratic republic endured throughout 2018 and into 2019, motivating the U.S. to formally designate Iran’s IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in April, 2019. Shortly thereafter, the protests in Iran grew in both size and intensity.

Culminating in November 2019, the uprising seriously threatened the regime’s survival and subsided only after a bloody crackdown and the onset of COVID-19 in Iran that winter.

The chronology of events testify to the positive potential of well orchestrated Western policy decisions which limit the regime’s resources. The positive impact is most noticeable in the regime’s natural enemies — the people of Iran.

With easing of pressure on the regime over the past three years, Tehran now executes more people per capita than any other country in the world. According to a 2023 report by Amnesty International, Iran alone accounts for 74% of all global executions – the highest raw number of any nation on earth by a wide margin.

Iran’s surge in executions drove the highest global count in nearly a decade. This data foretells of a violent struggle between Iranian people and a brutal religious tyranny, compounded by the IRGC’s ominous influence on international terror networks and bloodbaths outside of Iran notwithstanding.

Yet, why did it take six years for another major country to blacklist this murderous mafia arm?

The problem and the inertia to conscionable Western action is endemic. To that end, it bears noting that many European nations as well as American and Canadian adversaries continue to knowingly conduct business with the IRGC today.

Canada has had a long history of highlighting human rights abuses in Iran, making the aforementioned delay in its designation of the IRGC intriguing. The reason can be traced to the broader Western policy which has thus far preferred to change mullahs’ behavior rather than accepting or supporting the people’s desire for change in the regime itself.

This dichotomy is irreconcilable with security demands and persists despite Western nation’s stated human rights prerogatives. The Canadian decision hopefully foreshadows a welcomed shift in Western government policy disposition and a troubling trend for the clerics in Tehran.

Years ago, the Iranian people made the courageous decision to topple Iran’s single-party rulers. Their rejection of single-party theocracy today, follows decades of resistance which led to the fall of Shah’s dictatorship in 1979.

To achieve this again, they must continue to confront the IRGC head-on. The ongoing carnage in Iran suggests that this confrontation is real and their lofty goal demands sacrifice. Success requires organization, the reinstitution of maximum pressure, and an end to Western diplomatic dance with Iran’s killers.

If the free world heeds the repeated demands of the U.S. Congress, and acknowledges the capable and organized opposition of the Iranian people, the regime’s end will be achieved sooner and with much less bloodshed.

Majid Sadeghpour
Dr. Majid Sadeghpour is a highly respected Iranian-American human rights activist and the Political Director of the Organization of Iranian American Communities (OIAC), a non-profit based in Washington D.C. with 40 chapters across the United States. Dr. Sadeghpour fled Iran after witnessing his family's persecution, tragically culminating in his brother's execution during the 1979 revolution. Since then, he has steadfastly opposed the Islamist government in Iran and has dedicated his life to advocating for the rights, welfare, and justice of the Iranian people.Through his organization, he is passionately committed to raising awareness and garnering U.S. support for legislative initiatives to foster a brighter future for the people of Iran. As an Iranian-born human rights activist, his insights have positioned him as a highly sought-after commentator on television programs and publications at local, national, and international levels. Dr. Sadeghpour's profound understanding of Middle Eastern affairs and his extensive writings on Iran have solidified his reputation as a distinguished expert in Iran relations and policy.In addition to his activism, Dr. Sadeghpour plays a vital role in the healthcare sector in Fairfax County, VA. His influence extends far beyond his medical practice, as he continues to impact U.S. policy and public opinion on Iran significantly.