by lubyayi ntale muhammad

The European Council has extended sanctions against Iran, one of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s key backers, in response to serious human rights violations.

The measures hitting exports and targeting key leaders were signed off on the same day EU member states helped block a fast US/UK drive for new sanctions on the Assad regime and Russia, which are allied to Iran in the Syrian civil war.

It also comes as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, having secured backing for the US military action in Syria responding to a chemical weapons attack blamed on Assad

The extended EU measures hitting Iran include a travel ban and asset-freeze against people involved in the country’s theocratic regime – including senior figures in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, National Police Force and Basij religious paramilitary group

Iranian revolutionary guard

EU documents state they target persons complicit in “torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, or the indiscriminate, excessive and increasing application of the death penalty, including public executions, stoning, hangings or executions of juvenile offenders.”

They also hit people “responsible for directing or implementing grave human rights violations in the repression of peaceful demonstrators, journalists, human rights defenders, students or other persons who speak up in defence of their legitimate rights, including freedom of expression.”

There is then a ban on exports to Iran of equipment which might be used for internal repression and of spying equipment for monitoring telecommunications.