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Senior Conservatives Urge Government To Proscribe Iran's IRGC As Terrorists


4 min read

The Government is under growing pressure from its own MPs to proscribe the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation following the recent terror attack in Israel.

Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, has denied any involvement in the terrorist attack launched by Hamas on Israel. It is estimated that 1,400 Israelis have died and 2,700 are injured. At least 1,400 Palestinians have been killed in retaliatory attacks by Israel, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Iran has historically remained close with Palestinian territories in the region, and the Wall Street Journal reported that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps helped in the plotting of the attack over several weeks.

Iran has since 2022 also made 15 “credible” threats to kill or kidnap British citizens, according to the Government.

Former cabinet minister David Jones, MP for Clwyd West, told PoliticsHome he believed there have been “credible reports” Hamas had coordinated its attacks on Israel with Iran.

“The IRGC is not a proscribed organisation. Hamas is a proscribed organisation. But Hamas is effectively a proxy for the IRGC,” he said.

“The IRGC is basically coordinating the efforts of Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, the various terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria. It should be proscribed,” he added.

The ex-secretary of state claimed the Government might be hesitant to proscribe the IRGC as it could further impeded the Iranian nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. However, he claimed the deal was beyond recovery.

“The IRGC effectively controls Iran; it is a major part not only of the military now, but also of infrastructure development. We've got IRGC controlled factories producing drones that are used by the Russians in Ukraine,” he said.

Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, and Tom Tugendhat, the Security Minister, are believed to have previously called for the IRGC to be proscribed. The Times has reported both ministers have renewed their efforts for it to be designated as a terrorist group.

The IRGC was introduced in 1979 after the Iranian Revolution as an opposition to Iran's military. Many experts and Conservative MPs have claimed it has morphed into a economic and political power, and has strong ties with Iran's Supreme leader. 

Former cabinet minister Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet, who is the vice chair of Conservative Friends of Israel, told PoliticsHome she has called for the IRGC to be proscribed for years and claimed it poses a threat domestically and internationally.

“It is an evil terrorist association and the government has publicly acknowledged that it is a threat both at home and abroad,” she said.

"We have proscribed its proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah, and it’s time to ban the IRGC too,” she added.

Richard Drax, Conservative MP for South Dorset, and member of the Defence Committee, told PoliticsHome he believed Hamas was “promoting terrorism” and should be “called out” for what it is.

“I think if we call Hamas terrorists, and we call others terrorists, I would have thought anyone who is associated with or supports Hamas or Hezbollah should be called the same.

“They (IRGC) are promoting terrorism. These organisations should be called out for what they are,” he added

“I think there is a growing realism that we are facing, and I think everyone's always known, these organisations if not terrorists linked to terrorism,” Drax said.

The Government in January was deliberating on whether to officially declare the IRGC as a terrorist threat, according to reports in the Telegraph. The Labour Government adopted this as its official position. Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary, reaffirmed Labour’s stance in July.

There has also been mounting parliamentary pressure to consider the IRGC as a terrorist threat. In April 125 MPs – including more than 90 Tories – called for the organisation to be proscribed.

Robert Courts, a member of the Defence Select Committee, who signed the letter in January, told PoliticsHome he believed the IRGC should be described as a terrorist organisation.

“The IRGC is the primary funder, trainer and driving force behind Hamas and Hezbollah. Proscribing this dangerous, destabilising force ought to be an urgent priority for the Government.”

Henry Smith, Conservative MP for Crawley, and member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, told PoliticsHome “The Abraham Accords are a growing threat to the malign influence of Tehran through its Middle East proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah, I suspect this was the motivation and money that was behind the attack from Gaza of Israel last week."

A Government spokesperson said: “The UK government, law enforcement and our international partners continue to work together to identify, deter and respond to threats from Iran."

“We will 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,” they said. 

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