Lord Carlile: Designation of IRGC is a welcome step, but Iran policy should focus on Tehran's human rights abuses

Posted On: 
17th October 2017

The nuclear deal should not mean Iran gets a free pass on human rights and its destabilising activities in the region.

Credit: 
PA Images

I welcome the decision by the U.S. Treasury last week to designate the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation pursuant to the global terrorism Executive Order (E.O.) 13224.

The UK, as well as the EU, should now join this effort and designate the IRGC in support of a coherent Western strategy to push back against the Iranian regime’s malign activities in the Middle East and domestic repression. This is particularly justified in light of a reported cyberattack by Iran on the UK Parliament that hit f MPs this summer.

This designation is an important step in denying financial and material support for the IRGC, a brutal paramilitary force tasked with crushing popular dissent at home and exporting terrorism and fundamentalism abroad.

For the last three decades, the IRGC has grown threateningly in the Iranian economy, controlling the lion’s share of vital sectors of the country’s economy to the detriment of the private sector.

My colleagues and I have always maintained that the decision to decouple Tehran’s egregious human rights record from the nuclear talks was a mistake.

It is encouraging that the new U.S. policy on Iran corrects this mistake and seizes this missed opportunity to consider the nuclear deal as a part of the many major threats posed by the regime in Tehran.

The UK, and the EU, should now work with the USA to implement a coherent policy on Iran that places human rights at centre stage and recognises the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people.

Such policy should begin by addressing one of the worst crimes in Iran’s modern history, the 1988 massacre of thousands of political prisoners, following the latest report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran transmitted to the General Assembly for further consideration, which documents the prison massacre of 1988 in detail.

Ultimately, any policy aimed at addressing the threats posed by the regime in Tehran will fail if it does not recognise and supports Iranian alternatives to the current ruling theocracy, of which the most prominent is the Iranian opposition coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

The NCRI offers a viable democratic platform for future Iran that calls for a non-nuclear Iran with separation of religion and state, gender equality and elimination of all religious and ethnic discrimination.

Lord Carlile of Berriew CBE QC, is a Non-affiliated member of the House of Lords and co-chairman of the British Committee for Iran Freedom (BCFIF), www.iran-freedom.org. He was the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation in the United Kingdom (2001-11).