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Source: The Independent

May 27, 2024

Labour expected to proscribe Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as 550 parliamentarians demand action

Ahead of the dissolution of Parliament 550 MPs and peers from across parties have demanded a dramatic change in foreign policy with Iran

By David Maddox - Political editor

A group of 550 parliamentarians have made a final bid before the election to get the next government to proscribe Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) as a terrorist group.

The move by MPs and peers on the British Committee for Iran Freedom has been consistantly resisted by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) even though the USA has led the way on the issue.

It is understood that shadow foreign secretary David Lammy have suggested that if he is in charge of the FCDO after 4 July there could be a change of policy.

A source close to Mr Lammy said: “Our longstanding position is that we supports proscribing the IRGC either through the existing process, or through creating a new process of proscription for hostile state actors.”

The move by UK parliamentarians comes on the same day as Catherine Perez-Shakdam, executive director of the UK thinktank the Forum for Foreign Relations and leading Middle East expert, warned at a hearing at the Knesset that Iranian backed terrorism is coming to the west.

She said: “I have been to the Islamic Republic of Iran, I have walked through the corridors of power. I have met with Ayatolah Khamenei and now deceased President Raisi. I know what they are doing.

“I would like to issue a warning to western capitals that if they do not back Israel now and realise what happened on 7 October then it will happen - it’s not a maybe - it will happen in capitals across the western world.”

Pressure has mounted because of the IRGC’s links to Hamas and the 7 October terrorist attack on Israel which provoked the current war in Gaza.

And the death of Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi - known as the Butcher of Tehran - earlier this month in a helicopter crash has been seized on as an opportunity for a major change in policy.

Added to that the Revolutionary guard, which is the personal army of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatolah Khamenei, has been linked to attacks in Britain and Europe including an attempt to assassinate a former Spanish MEP and vice president of the European Parliament.

Proscribing the group would deny them easy access to international funds and prevent many arms of the Iranian government from being able to function abroad.

The initiative is led by Tory MP Bob Blackman, a long-time supporter of the National Council for Resistance of Iran (NCRI), who has worked with the NCRI and the umbrella group The British Committee for Iran Freedom.

Prominent MPs include Tory MPs Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Tobias Ellwood, Vicky Ford, Liam Fox, Sir John Hayes, Caroline Nokes, and Desmond Swayne, and Labour’s former shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

Among the peers are Tory peer Lord Bellingham, Labour’s Lord Boateng, former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, Labour’s Lord Coaker, retired general Lord Dannatt, former attorney general Lord Goldsmith, Baroness Kennedy KC, former Labour leader Lord Kinnock, Lord Pannick KC, former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott, and Labour’s Lord Whitty.

In their statement, the parliamentarians have also called on the government to recognise and support the National Council for Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

Mr Blackman said: “We have tried the current policy of appeasement for 40 years, and it has only resulted in failure after failure, simply emboldening the regime in intensifying its nefarious conduct.

“The new policy, as suggested by more than 553 MPs and peers, puts the focus on siding with the Iranian people and their organised resistance to bring about change from within Iran by the people of Iran.

“It should be coupled with holding the regime accountable, including by designating the IRGC as a terrorist entity, a step long overdue. That would send a clear message to the ayatollahs that business as usual is over and would signal to the brave Iranians that the West has started to be on their side.

“It would have a huge impact on the regime’s schemes to skirt sanctions and finance its repressive forces at home and proxy groups all over the region.”

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