As published in the Sunday Telegraph
Nearly 70 MPs and peers from across the political divide have written to Rishi Sunak urging him to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as terrorists.
In a letter signed by Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, as well as Tory grandees Sir Iain Duncan Smith, David Davis and Liam Fox and ex-head of the Army Lord Dannatt, the parliamentarians insist there is a “compelling and indisputable” case for proscribing the group to keep the UK and its citizens safe.
In a statement they said that Iran has made at least 15 attempts since the start of 2022 to kidnap or even kill British or UK-based “enemies”, according to Scotland Yard.
Ken McCallum, the director general of MI5, has also warned Tehran “projects threat to the UK directly through its aggressive intelligence services”.
The statement argues the move would be in the interest of national security at home, as well as “peace, stability and justice” in the Middle East.
The IRGC was founded as an ideological custodian of Iran’s 1979 revolution, but has since morphed into a major military, political and economic force in the country.
In their statement, the parliamentarians argue that the group’s role in providing terrorists with weapons, training and financial support, as well as “fomenting violence and conflict” in the region, is “undeniable”.
“Their actions have exacerbated conflicts and hindered the path to peace,” they said.
“We strongly believe that the proscription of the IRGC is not only a global necessity, but also in the interests of our own national security.”
A push to proscribe the group, first revealed by The Telegraph in January, has been held up by a battle in Whitehall – with Home Secretary Suella Braverman thought to be supportive of the move.
Meanwhile Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has expressed concerns that pressing ahead with the measure could harm British interests.
Mr Sunak came under fresh pressure to take action last month when the US urged Britain to designate the IRGC in the wake of Tehran’s “complicity” in Hamas’s massacre of 1,400 people in Israel.
A Whitehall source said some senior American officials had been privately encouraging their UK counterparts to proscribe the body, which has been banned in the US since 2019.
Senior members of Hamas told the Wall Street Journal that IRGC officers had worked with the group since August to devise the Oct 7 attack.
Robin Simcox, the Government’s counter-extremism tsar, has also said it is “unsustainable” for IRGC membership and support to remain legal.
The parliamentarians’ statement concluded: “We call upon our Government to recognise the urgency of proscribing the IRGC as a terrorist organisation and proceed to do so. Such a decision would constitute a significant step towards peace, stability, and justice in the Middle East and beyond.”
A Government spokesman said: “We continue to take strong action against Iran while they threaten people in the UK and around the world. The UK has sanctioned more than 350 Iranian individuals and entities, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in its entirety.
“Whilst the Government keeps the list of proscribed organisations under review, we do not comment on whether a specific organisation is or is not being considered for proscription.”