UK urged to deem Iran’s revolutionary guard ‘terrorist group’

The U.K. government should follow America’s lead and deem Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization, a cross-party group of MPs said.

A new report by the Commons foreign affairs committee calls on the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to toughen its approach over Iran’s detention of U.K. citizens.

Recommendations from the group include recognizing Tehran’s “arbitrary detainment” of U.K. citizens as “state hostage taking,” and designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organization. That would mirror a U.S. decision taken in August 2019.

“Proscribing the IRGC in its entirety is a natural next step in response to the IRGC’s bankrolling and bolstering of terrorism,” committee chairman and Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat said in a statement accompanying the report. “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.” 

The group of MPs is meanwhile urging the U.K. to use recently-passed Magnitsky sanctioning laws to target bad actors in the region.

When asked what sanctioning might achieve, Tugendhat told the BBC’s Today program the IRGC was “not just an enabler of terrorism, but [it] also runs businesses within Iran and in many neighboring countries.”

By targeting their finances, “we and our allies are able to influence the way in which they conduct their business,” he added. “It would change the way in which our allies would be able to work with them.”

There are currently four known captives in Iran with either U.K. citizenship or residency permits, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran.

Anoosheh Ashoori; Aras Amiri; and Morad Tahbaz are all in detainment, while Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been granted temporary release from prison because of overcrowded prisons during the COVID pandemic.

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