Rishi Sunak is cowering in the face of Iran

If I were to tell you that there is a militant group that had tried to kill 15 British residents and citizens in a 13 month period, is a military arm of a totalitarian regime that regularly threatens to wipe another country off the map and aided the terrorist group in starting the war that is arguably the most consequential for geopolitics right now, you would assume that they had already been designated a terrorist group, right? And if you did, I wouldn’t fault you for presuming that.

Unfortunately, though, you would be wrong.

The group I’m referring to is the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – the Iranian regime’s militant arm.

Back in April, 125 British MPs signed a letter calling on the government to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist organization. Since the war began, both Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, and Tom Tugendhat, the Security Minister, have renewed their calls for it to be proscribed.

Rishi Sunak’s reluctance to proscribe the IRGC exposes part of the weakness of his leadership. It demonstrates an unwillingness stand up to terrorism, and in turn, due to the fact that the IRGC is a part of the Ayatollah’s regime of terror, to confront tyrannical rulers.

It’s been reported that Sunak’s unwillingness to proscribe the IRGC stems from a fear that proscribing the terrorist organization would ruin diplomatic relations between Britain and Iran.

But answering the dilemma of whether Sunak should risk cutting ties with Iran over proscribing the IRGC begs the question: is it even worth preserving diplomatic ties with such a draconian regime?

Iran is the main source of funding for multiple terror groups currently operating in the Middle East. In 2002, Canadian intelligence cited estimates that calculated that Iran was providing between $3 million and $18 million per year. According to US and Israeli officials, that funding has risen to between $70 million and $100 million per year. In 2018, US estimates showed that Iran was sending $700 million, annually, to Hezbollah.

Iran also continuously threatens to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, with the Iranian government releasing a step-by-step video, back in April, of how Iran would decimate Tel Aviv, should Israel try and damage Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility.

Although, Tehran’s maliciousness isn’t only confined to the Middle East; the IRGC is fully functional in Britain. Between January 2022 and February 2023, Iran was involved in 15 plots to kidnap or kill British citizens or UK residents, according to the Integrated Review. Many of these attempts were focused on journalists at Iran International, a Saudi backed news company that focused its coverage on Tehran. However, the threats became so severe that Iran International UK had to cease operations for several months.

In recent months, IRGC chiefs have also been caught trying to convince students at UK universities to join their “apocalyptic war” on Jews, and Iran has been tracking prominent British and other diaspora Jews who they would attempt to assassinate in the event of a direct confrontation with Israel.

Robin Simcox, the Home Office’s commissioner for countering extremism, criticized the government, in early October, for not designating the IRGC, in addition to the Director General of MI5 stating that, “Iran projects threat to the UK directly, through its aggressive intelligence service.”

Tehran also has no problems with targeting high profile figures in America, either, with the attempt on Salman Rushdie’s life in 2022 being the result of an ongoing Fatwa, originally issued by Ayatollah Khomeini.

Iran’s incessant threats, and targeting of Jewish civilian populations in Israel, Britain, America, and elsewhere around the globe makes one question the role that Iran has in the Middle East peace process; or rather, more accurately, the role that it has in holding up the Middle East peace process.

The current war in Israel and Palestine is the result of an Iranian backed militia, Hamas, penetrating Israel’s border and brutally torturing, raping, butchering and murdering 1,400 innocent Israelis. This war would not exist without Iran’s backing of Hamas, and came at a particularly convenient time, as the October 7th massacre came just when ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, two of Iran’s greatest opponents, were warming to historic levels.

That’s without even mentioning the threat that Hezbollah, who have been attacking Israel’s northern border, and the Houthis, who have been launching rockets at southern Israel and the Red Sea to cut off its shipping route to Israel, pose.

The option couldn’t be clearer for Sunak: designate the IRGC, take a hard stance against Iran or allow them to keep on acting as they please in Britain and around the world.

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About the Author
Gabrielle Apfel is a History student at the University of Cambridge. Gabrielle is also a member of the Jewish Labour Movement, and has previously interned at Labour Friends of Israel.
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