Israel to UK: Designate Iran's IRGC as a terror organization 

"Such a step would send an unequivocal message to the Iranian terrorist regime against the terrorist activities it leads in the Middle East and around the world."

 Members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) attend an IRGC ground forces military drill in the Aras area, East Azerbaijan province, Iran, October 17, 2022. (photo credit: IRGC/WANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) attend an IRGC ground forces military drill in the Aras area, East Azerbaijan province, Iran, October 17, 2022.
(photo credit: IRGC/WANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Israel called on the United Kingdom to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terror organization after Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met with the British Minister of State for the Middle East Lord Tariq Ahmad in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

“I expressed my hope that the UK would soon declare the IRGC as a terror organization,” he said.

Such a step would send an “unequivocal message to the Iranian terrorist regime against the terrorist activities it leads in the Middle East and around the world,” Cohen added.

Such a step would send an “unequivocal message to the Iranian terrorist regime against the terrorist activities it leads in the Middle East and around the world,

Cohen

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel have pushed for global recognition of the IRGC as a terror organization, but to date, only the United States, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have done so.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian speaks during a news conference in Tehran, Iran, November 23, 2022. (credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian speaks during a news conference in Tehran, Iran, November 23, 2022. (credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

The issue, however, has gained traction in Europe in response to the Islamic Republic’s execution of protesters against the regime.

Cohen has brought the issue up in all his conversations with international diplomats who have called to congratulate him since he took office last week.

Other countries considering proscribing IRGC

Those included calls with the Netherlands, Germany, Estonia and Austria, as well as with British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly – set to visit Israel soon.

France’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it had not ruled out the idea that the European Union would designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization, a day after Germany said the move would be politically important and make sense.

Given the continuation of this repression, France is working with its European partners on new sanctions measures, French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre told reporters in a daily briefing when asked whether Paris supported designating the IRGC.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Monday said that a new round of sanctions would not be enough.

“Listing the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization is politically important and makes sense,” she said on Twitter, adding that legal hurdles still needed to be cleared before it could be done.

Designating the IRGC as a terrorist group would mean that it would become a criminal offense to belong to the group, attend its meetings and carry its logo in public.

Set up after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution to protect the Shi’ite clerical ruling system, the Guards have great sway in Iran’s political system, controlling swathes of the economy and armed forces and being in charge of Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

IRGC criminal actions

The IRGC’s political influence in Iran’s complex power structure has increased since the election of President Ebrahim Raisi, whose government includes dozens of Revolutionary Guard commanders.

Its affiliate, the Basij, has been at the forefront of the state clampdown on the unrest sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of Iran’s “morality police” on September 16.

Speculation has been high that Great Britain, which is no longer part of the European Union, also plans to designate the IRGC as a terror group, but the British government and its officials have been largely silent on the matter.

A statement provided to The Jerusalem Post by the British embassy stated that the IRGC posed a persistent threat to Europe and that there have been at least ten “threats by Iran to kidnap or assassinate British or UK-based people this year.”

This is in addition to Iran’s transfer of armed drones to Russia for use in its war against Ukraine, the UK stated.

“The UK has sanctioned over 300 Iranian individuals and entities for their role in weapons proliferation, human rights abuses and terrorism, including the IRGC in its entirety. The foreign secretary raises this regularly with his European partner,” it said.

The UK clarified that it does not comment on whether an organization is under review for proscription to its terror list.

It added that it “maintains a range of sanctions that work to constrain the destabilizing activity of the IRGC.”

Ahmad, who is in Israel for a two-day visit, said, “I am pleased to be back in Israel and meet with members of the new government. Israel is a valued partner of the UK, and I am excited to continue strengthening our bilateral relations and trade partnership and taking it to new heights.

“With counterparts, I discussed the UK and Israel’s shared security threats, including Iran’s destabilizing actions in the region and Russia’s unprovoked, premeditated invasion of Ukraine,” he said.

Britain on Wednesday urged Iran to release Alireza Akbari, a dual-national who the Tasnim news agency reported that Iran had sentenced to death on charges of spying for Britain.

“Iran must halt the execution of British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari and immediately release him,” Cleverly tweeted, adding that “this is a politically motivated act by a barbaric regime that has total disregard for human life.”

Reuters contributed to this report.