UK government split over listing Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as terrorists


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Tensions are rising between Suella Braverman, home secretary, and James Cleverly, foreign secretary, over whether to proscribe Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation, as concerns grow over the threat posed by the force to UK national security.

Braverman is increasingly concerned that Iranian agents are plotting to kill British citizens, including prominent Jewish figures, or others based in the UK. “It’s something that keeps the security people up at night,” one Home Office insider told the Financial Times.

But Cleverly and Foreign Office mandarins are resisting the proscribing of the force over fears the move would be counterproductive. The Revolutionary Guards were established after Iran’s 1979 revolution to protect the Islamic republic from domestic and foreign threats.

It would be highly unusual for the UK to proscribe the armed forces of another state and there are concerns it would lead to retaliation by Tehran against UK-Iranian dual nationals in the country, according to officials briefed on the internal discussions.

It would also complicate any future hopes of reviving diplomatic efforts to save the moribund 2015 nuclear accord that Iran signed with world powers, including the UK.

The US designated the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organisation in 2019, during the Trump administration. The UK announced a review at the start of the year into whether to follow Washington and the EU signalled it was also looking at the possibility.

Cleverly is said by government insiders to be frustrated at the increased public pressure being applied by Braverman on the issue.

The latest intervention came as sources close to Braverman told the Sunday Times “the Iranian threat is the one that worries us the most”, adding: “They are getting much more aggressive and their appetite is increasing.”

In February Tom Tugendhat, security minister, said the Iranian government had been behind 15 credible threats to kill or kidnap British citizens or UK-based people in just over a year.

Any decision to proscribe a body as a terrorist organisation lies with the Home Secretary, but resistance from the Foreign Office has so far put that option on ice.

“Each department makes its own recommendations but we clearly believe that proscribing is the right thing to do,” said one Home Office insider. Another confirmed that Braverman saw the Iranian threat as the biggest single danger to national security.

Foreign Office insiders admit to being frustrated at what one official called the “innuendo” that it was worried about upsetting another country or that it was somehow scared of Iran.

Last month Cleverly shied away from proscribing the Revolutionary Guards — a move that Labour supports — instead announcing a new sanctions regime that would give the UK greater powers to target Iran’s key decision makers.

A government spokesman said: “We will continue to take strong action against Iran while they threaten people in the UK and around the world. The UK has sanctioned more than 350 Iranian individuals and entities, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in its entirety.”

The Tony Blair Institute, a think-tank set up by the former Labour prime minister, said this year that the Revolutionary Guards should be proscribed.

It said the move would provide the “government, civil society groups and technology companies with a clear mandate to more effectively protect against homegrown [Revolutionary Guards] and Shia-Islamist extremism and radicalisation through outright bans on activities linked to the [Guards] in the UK”.

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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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