UK MPs urge terrorist designation for Iran's Revolutionary Guards

UK MPs urge terrorist designation for Iran's Revolutionary Guards
The UK should join the US in designating the IRGC as a terrorist organisation, the House of Commons' foreign affairs committee has said.
2 min read
16 December, 2020
The foreign affairs committee described the IRGC as a 'destabilising' force [Getty]
The UK should designate the Iranian Republican Guards' Corps, a foreign terrorist organisation, British MPs have urged.

The leading Iranian military branch has "undermined stability in the region" with its "destructive philosophy", said Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee.

"The group's destructive philosophy and violence within Iran and across the region make a compelling case for it to be singled out for sanction," Tugendhat was quoted as saying by The Independent.

The foreign affairs committee highlighted the Republican Guards Corps' (IRGC) "clear and enduring support for terrorists and non-state actors working to undermine stability in the region" as a motivator behind possible sanctions.

The UK should send a message that "Iran's destabilising activities are unacceptable because they adversely impact the region and its people, but that, when the time comes, the door is open for diplomacy", the foreign affairs committee said.

The IRGC is designated as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US and Gulf allies, the UAE and Bahrain.

The faction has an influential role in domestic politics, with control over various media outlets and businesses.

Its backing of militant groups and authoritarian regimes in the Middle East has also granted the IRGC the role of an influential player in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

It was the IRGC's role in Iraq and Syria that saw the US kill one of its top commanders, Qassem Solemani, in a January drone strike. Israel has also been accused of carrying out strikes targeting IRGC commanders and members of Tehran-backed militias.

The UK should also work with the United Nations to pursue a definition of "state hostage taking", the MPs added.

That definition would help to address cases such as that of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an Iranian-British aid worker who has been held by Iranian authorities since 2016.

Tehran accuses Zaghari-Ratcliffe of spying but rights groups have described the dual national as a bargaining chip in a wider dispute between the UK and Iran.

"The UK Government must call the arbitrary detention of foreign nationals what it is: hostage taking," Tugendhat said.

"The charges, trials and convictions of British citizens on Iranian soil are a parody of a justice system. Using young mothers and retirees as bargaining chips and leverage is an unacceptable form of diplomacy," he added.

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