The Prime Minister’s visit to Israel is an important statement of solidarity in the wake of the horrendous terror attacks. It also recognises how much is at stake for Britain in this unfolding crisis. What is happening in the Middle East presents a growing threat to the safety of the British public, not least from the terror-sponsoring regime in Iran.
As the head of MI5 acknowledged this week at an unprecedented Five Eyes joint intelligence summit, Iranian activity inside Britain has been a concern for years, and it could now get even worse. Indeed, Iran has been posing an increasingly serious danger for some time. Since the start of 2022, the police and MI5 have prevented an astonishing 15 attempts by Iran to kidnap or murder British nationals or individuals based in Britain.
The head of the Commission for Countering Extremism will today warn that Iran’s influence inside the UK is also helping to spread extremist views that threaten social cohesion and that its sophisticated network in Britain helped to stir up the recent pro-Palestine protests which have been marred by antisemitism.
As well as posing an immediate risk on UK soil, the Iranian regime has constantly sought to exploit geopolitical tensions by its support for terrorist organisations like Hamas and through its eliminationist rhetoric toward Israel. While Iran has denied direct involvement in planning the attack, its fingerprints are all over the terrorists responsible. Iran has also moved to exploit the conflict, using its proxy Hezbollah to threaten to widen the fighting between Israel and Hamas into a regional war.
Iran’s actions remain a tragedy for its own people as well, who have been brutalised and oppressed for decades. The courage of the Iranian people in standing up to the Ayatollahs in recent years has been a moving and extraordinary sight and they too deserve more support.
Yet as all these outrageous violations of the global order have mounted, our politicians have been unwilling to take a strong enough stand against Iran, making the problem worse.
Back in July, a report for the Henry Jackson Society by Elizabeth Samson called on the UK government to proscribe the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation, referencing its continuous engagement in terrorist activities since its founding in 1979. IRGC proscription has widespread support across the House of Commons, including from the Labour front bench. This week, prominent Conservatives gave fresh calls from the back benches for the IRGC’s proscription.
While there are technical legal challenges to proscription of the IRGC, these are not insurmountable. The real obstacle to proscription is political will. In 2021, Hamas was successfully proscribed in its entirety in the UK, and Iran’s proxy Hezbollah was proscribed in 2019. The same could be done for the IRGC.
This is a matter of public safety. As Ms Samson’s report argued, concerns about the need to maintain diplomatic ties with Iran should not trump protecting the public at home.
The Home Secretary, who has the final say on proscription decisions, should now be demanding an urgent meeting of the Proscription Review Group to reappraise the case for IRGC proscription in the light of recent events.
The threat from the Islamic Republic needs to be confronted with determination, and in particular before it can succeed in its desire to possess nuclear weapons. This week, on 18 October, a critical deadline passed in the Iran nuclear deal, to which the UK is a signatory. Known as Transition Day, it brings about the “sunset” of certain UN sanctions against Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes, in return for its compliance with the deal.
After eight years of bad faith from Iran, the UK, France and Germany announced last month that they would mark Transition Day by continuing the UN sanctions under their domestic laws. On Wednesday, the government confirmed it had done so. This is better than nothing, and a brake on Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Yet under the terms of the nuclear deal, the UK has the unilateral power to threaten a snapback of UN sanctions on Iran. Yet again, in the face of Iranian violations, we seem to do as little as we can to rock the boat. The tattered remnants of this deal are not reason enough to look the other way in the face of the IRGC’s terrorist activities.
We need to take a strong stance against the Iranian regime – for the safety of UK citizens, peace in the Middle East and on behalf of the brave Iranians whose voices have been silenced by oppression. The first step would be to proscribe the IRGC. It is past time for the government to act.
Source » msn