The Canadian government has listed the clandestine branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization and, at the same time, removed a controversial Iranian opposition organization, the People's Mujahedin, from the terror list.
The two moves together mark an effort to label, isolate and pressure Iran, with whom Canada broke off ties earlier this year.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews announced in a statement that the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard, a clandestine arm of the elite military unit that exerts powerful influence over Iran's government and economy, has been added to the list. It was added for providing arms and training to terror organizations including Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, he said.
"The listing of terrorist entities sends a strong message that Canada will not tolerate terrorist activities, including terrorist financing, or those who support such activities." That listing makes it illegal for Canadians to support or finance the organization, although that is likely to be a largely symbolic step in this case. Earlier this year, Ottawa declared Iran a state sponsor of terrorism and it recently imposed sanctions that limit doing business with the Revolutionary Guards.
But the Canadian government also took another step aimed at backing opponents of the Tehran regime, by removing the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), or People's Mujahedin, from the terror list.
The MEK, once one of the groups involved in Iran's 1979 revolution, has long been included on the terror list, but Western nations, considering it an opponent of the regime in Tehran, have started removing it from lists of terror organizations. The European Union stopped listing the MEK as a terror group in 2009, and the U.S. followed suit in September of this year.
But the MEK remains controversial, as human-rights groups have accused it of abuses at its camps in Iraq, and some dissidents within Iran dislike the West's recent willingness to accept the group's activities.