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UK Must Act: Reflecting on Argentina’s Move Against IRGC

CC BY 3.0 DEED Attribution 3.0 Unported - Iran and terrorism - by Chiya Qadri Jan 11, 2021

On the 23rd of April, Argentina took a bold step on the international stage, highlighting a stark lesson in accountability and justice. By requesting Interpol to arrest Iran’s Interior Minister, Ahmad Vahidi, for his alleged involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires—a tragedy that claimed 85 lives—Argentina not only reopened a chapter of profound grief but also cast a spotlight on the enduring threat posed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Ahmad Vahidi’s rise within Iran’s government, despite his notorious past as a senior member of the IRGC, exemplifies a troubling paradox where those implicated in orchestrating global terror evade retribution. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an intimidating paramilitary force within the Islamic Republic of Iran, is entrenched in a disturbing narrative of international terrorism and aggression, frequently targeting British interests and nationals. European authorities have notably intercepted several assassination plots masterminded by the IRGC against Iranian dissidents who have sought refuge across Europe, including the UK. These attempts not only endanger individual lives but also threaten the security of the host nations.

Additionally, the IRGC has been implicated in numerous sophisticated cyber-attacks aimed at infiltrating British and other Western digital infrastructures. Such incursions into government networks and critical national infrastructure represent a direct assault on national security. Furthermore, the IRGC’s provision of financial and logistical support to various terrorist organisations operating in the Middle East has perpetuated a complex security environment for British forces stationed in regions such as Iraq and Syria.

Compounding these concerns is the IRGC’s notorious practice of detaining British nationals in Iran, often under spurious charges of espionage. These detentions, typically leveraged for geopolitical gain, directly jeopardise the safety of British citizens.

Despite the clear and present danger posed by the IRGC to UK national security, the British government has yet to fully classify the IRGC as a terrorist organisation. This hesitance starkly contrasts with the United States’ approach, where the IRGC has been designated a foreign terrorist organisation in light of similar transgressions.

The UK’s reluctance in this matter is not merely a diplomatic oversight but a significant misstep in the choreography of international security. The recent Argentine initiative highlights the inherent risks of such inaction. It serves as a clarion call to the UK to recalibrate its stance and align with its allies by formally proscribing the IRGC as a terrorist entity. Such a move would not merely align with pragmatic counterterrorism measures but would also strengthen the UK’s moral standing on the international stage, reinforcing its commitment to upholding the principles of international law and justice.

Proscribing the IRGC would serve multiple strategic imperatives: it would send an unequivocal message of the UK’s intolerance towards terrorism, enhance its national security, and offer a measure of solace to the myriad victims of the IRGC’s global operations, affirming that a significant world power is committed to curtailing its malignant influence.

As the world, especially nations that have endured the brunt of IRGC-sponsored terrorism, watches and waits, the decision confronting the UK transcends mere policy-making; it is fundamentally a test of ethical consistency and moral resolve. One must question whether the UK will stand in solidarity with the champions of justice and the adversaries of terrorism, or whether it will falter, thus weakening the global resolve against such profound threats.

Recent aggressive acts by Tehran against Israel, alongside Iran’s proxies targeting critical maritime routes like the Red Sea, underscore the escalating dangers. These actions threaten not just vital international passages but directly challenge British interests. Indifference in this context is perilous—allowing such malignant forces to grow stronger and operate with impunity could lead to their deeper entrenchment within British society.

Moreover, the recent surge in antisemitism within the UK, with the re-emergence of ancient libels, places British Jews in an increasingly precarious position. The UK bears an intrinsic duty of care to protect and honour the safety of all its citizens. It is imperative for the UK to respond proactively to these threats by aligning its policies more closely with global counterterrorism efforts. This includes a critical reassessment of its stance towards the IRGC and contemplating the formal designation of the group as a terrorist organisation.

The time for decisive action is unmistakably upon us. By proscribing the IRGC, the UK can affirm its role as a leader in shaping a safer, more just world—a world where the spectres of terrorism are confronted with unyielding resolve. Let us hope that reason and morality guide this pivotal decision, underscoring a commitment to a more equitable global order. The UK must now act, not just for its own sake, but for the sake of global peace and the rule of law.

About the Author
Catherine Perez-Shakdam - Director Forward Strategy and Executive Director Forum of Foreign Relations (FFR) Catherine is a former Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society and consultant for the UNSC on Yemen, as well an expert on Iran, Terror and Islamic radicalisation. A prominent political analyst and commentator, she has spoken at length on the Islamic Republic of Iran, calling on the UK to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist organisation. Raised in a secular Jewish family in France, Catherine found herself at the very heart of the Islamic world following her marriage to a Muslim from Yemen. Her experience in the Middle East and subsequent work as a political analyst gave her a very particular, if not a rare viewpoint - especially in how one can lose one' sense of identity when confronted with systemic antisemitism. Determined to share her experience and perspective on those issues which unfortunately plague us -- Islamic radicalism, Terror and Antisemitism Catherine also will speak of a world, which often sits out of our reach for a lack of access.
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