Why the UK is hesitant to designate IRGC as a terrorist entity


The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran has become a significant concern for UK national security, with British Home Secretary Suella Braverman highlighting new evidence of the group’s influence within the country. Intelligence reports suggest that Iranian agents are attempting to recruit members of organized crime syndicates to target opponents of the regime. This increased activity by the IRGC has raised concerns, especially given that Tehran was responsible for several plots last year involving planned murders and kidnappings, a number that has risen to 15 by this year.

Despite facing credible threats to the lives of UK residents in the past two years, the UK authorities have so far declined to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization. This decision has raised questions, particularly considering the IRGC’s well-known involvement in sectarian conflicts across the Middle East, collaboration with banned terrorist groups, and the oversight of criminal networks, including narcotics rings used to finance political violence.

The IRGC, functioning as a distinct entity within the Iranian state framework, operates both as a religious police force and an international terrorist organization. It employs repressive tactics against domestic Iranian protesters while engaging in sectarian warfare abroad.

The group’s foreign operations division, the Quds Force, gained significant notoriety under the leadership of Qassem Soleimani. Soleimani orchestrated the establishment of sectarian militias in several countries, embroiling the group in the internal conflicts of these nations. Despite Soleimani’s death, the IRGC’s acts of terrorism have continued under less conspicuous leadership.

The IRGC has been linked to assassinations of political opponents and protesters and has entered a new phase by plotting the assassination of Iranian dissidents and other perceived enemies of the regime in Europe and the Americas. There have been warnings to critics of the regime, including former National Security Advisor John Bolton, about potential assassination plots.

It is essential to acknowledge such activities as acts of terrorism, and it’s perplexing that the UK has not designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization despite the significant threats it poses. Proscribing the IRGC could lead to sanctions that target a key pillar of the regime in Tehran, potentially affecting its control of natural resources and mineral wealth.

Proscription would also enable the UK to use anti-terror legislation to freeze assets and facilitate surveillance of suspected attackers, which could deter attacks within the country. Moreover, it could encourage other nations to follow suit and hinder the international movement of IRGC agents.

Considering the continued acts of terrorism perpetrated by the IRGC in various nations, it is reasonable for countries like the UK to reassess their stance on the group, given its unconventional military behavior and illegitimate operations. Proscription may be crucial in helping the people of Iran break free from the IRGC’s oppression and reconfigure the international order that this group seeks to influence through criminal networks and acts of terrorism.


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