BLACKLIST IRGC - SPEECH PORTCULLIS HOUSE, WESTMINSTER, 7th MARCH 2017

CALL FOR IRAN’S ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS CORPS (IRGC) TO BE LISTED AS AN INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST ORGANISATION

While the spread of war and terrorism in the Middle East has posed an enormous threat to global peace and stability, drawing many world players into proxy wars, a critical and urgent question needs to be answered: what are the foundation and root causes of these conflicts and who is to blame for creating this catastrophic situation? The answer will lead to an appropriate solution for ending the warfare and supporting peace and stability in the world. That is why, together with my good friend Alejo Vidal Quadras, former Vice president of the European Parliament, we have prepared this report, which describes the genesis, objectives and scope of the meddling of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in regional affairs throughout the Middle East and further afield and why we are calling for it to be blacklisted.

The main vehicle for Iran’s aggressive expansionism has been the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the body responsible for extra-territorial operations, the Quds Force. The IRGC has for decades been carrying out terrorist attacks across the Middle East, including in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon. Our report shows that the IRGC’s raison d'être is exclusively summed up in domestic suppression and interference in the affairs of other countries with the aim of expanding the Iranian regime's malign influence.

Meddling in the internal affairs of other countries and particularly exporting terrorism and fundamentalism are not marginal or trivial policies for the clerical regime. Along with domestic suppression, it represents a strategic pillar for Tehran’s survival and endurance. The failure to understand this has led to misleading analyses with respect to the actual powers and capabilities of the Iranian regime.

Our study established the following observations:

  • In evaluating the IRGC's meddling in 14 Muslim countries in the region, our study established that there are no countries immune to the Iranian regime's expansionist agenda and terrorism carried out through the IRGC.
  • A broad overview of the extent of the IRGC's meddling in the region shows that it is directly involved in the hidden occupation of four countries in particular: Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. Clearly, this occupation is no longer hidden in respect of Syria. In the summer of 2016, there were close to 70,000 Iranian regime proxy forces present in that country.
  • The Iranian regime is directly meddling in the internal affairs of or plotting against the governments of at least 8 countries: Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan.
  • On the basis of available information, the IRGC has set up terrorist affiliates or networks in at least 12 regional countries. Its terrorist activities have hit 13 countries, while Oman has acted as a political intermediary with the regime while helping it to circumvent sanctions. The IRGC has also conducted spying and intelligence activities in 12 countries. Most of these countries have arrested or prosecuted the regime's spies.
  • The IRGC has sent a large and varied supply of weapons and bombs to 14 counties. Of course the activities of the IRGC are not limited to the Middle East.

The IRGC is behind most of the brutal Shi’ite militias rampaging through the predominantly Sunni provinces of Iraq, massacring families and leveling cities in the name of the war against Daesh (ISIS).

Actually the Iranian regime's violence and crimes in other countries in the region and in particular its suppression of Sunnis, carried out under the banner of Shi’ite Islam, has provoked a backlash, spawning the rise of groups like Daesh (ISIS) who seek to establish an “Islamic Caliphate” while spreading their violence and brutality to the four corners of the globe.

It is a great irony that Iran has also exploited the campaign against Daesh as an opportunity to carry out their genocidal crusade against the Sunnis, at the same time fooling the West into regarding the theocratic regime as an ally, even coaxing the US into providing vital air support.

Over the past six years the world has witnessed in horror how the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has massacred his own people, while enjoying unlimited financial and military support from Iran. It was the Iranian regime’s backing for Assad and for the former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, two corrupt dictators who repressed their own people and particularly their Sunni communities that resulted in the rise of Daesh in the region. Thanks to Tehran, ISIS grew and became a threat to the whole world, creating the largest refugee crisis in modern history.

The Iranian regime and its IRGC and Basij militias have also attacked America and its allies for many decades. The Iranian mullahs began targeting US interests less than a year after they came to power in 1979, by seizing 52 Americans in the US Embassy in Tehran and holding them hostage for 444 days. While it is common knowledge that Lebanese Hezbollah is funded by Tehran, it should also be remembered that in 1983 Iran and Hezbollah masterminded and carried out a truck bombing that killed 240 US Marines in Lebanon; an Islamic Jihadist car bomb attack destroyed the US Embassy in Beirut leaving 63 dead, 17 of which were Americans. The attack on the US Embassy in Kuwait City left 6 dead, 13 days before Christmas of that same year. In September 1984 Lebanese Hezbollah again staged a car bombing against the US Embassy in Beirut, this time killing 24 people.

In June 1996 the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia were the target of a massive truck bombing using 5,000 pounds (over 2,260 kg) of explosives. 19 US Airmen lost their lives and many more were injured. Former FBI director Louis Freeh has repeatedly stated that investigations show Iran was behind this attack. In June 1998 Lebanese Hezbollah again attacked the US Embassy in Beirut, this time firing rocket-propelled grenades. Fortunately no one was killed.

Iran’s campaign in Afghanistan and Iraq is well documented. Representative Ed Royce, Chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, in a recent hearing said Iran is responsible for the death of more than 500 Americans. US Vice President Mike Pence has stated that Iran is the main state sponsor of international terror.

For far too long Iran and the IRGC have taken advantage of the West’s appeasement policy, not only engulfing the entire Middle East in flames, but also oppressing the Iranian people through atrocious and repeated human rights violations.

Even Obama’s controversial deal that many boasted would tame Iran’s nuclear programme has brought no such change. Iran’s January 29th ballistic missile test was a flagrant violation of the deal, prompting the Trump administration to re-introduce a series of tough sanctions, signaling an immediate step-change with Obama’s appeasement policy.

Blacklisting the IRGC is long overdue and will be a first and necessary step in actually curbing Iranian atrocities. I am pleased to note that there are positive signals emerging from Washington that President Trump may be about to take this step. It is necessary that Britain should do likewise. Indeed we should not wait for a green light from Washington. We have more than enough evidence to justify taking this step ourselves and showing the Iranian regime that the days of appeasement are over and that we mean business.