SPECIAL BRIEFING DAY 196: 134 Parliamentarians call for IRGC proscription

By April 19 2024, 19:42 Latest News No Comments

Note to reader: We wanted to give you a trigger warning on what you may read below. We have chosen, as with every one of these briefings, to not share horrific images, however we want to alert you as sensitively as we can to the reports coming out of Israel and Gaza.

Letter to Prime Minister Sunak calling for IRGC proscription

134 Parliamentarians write to Prime Minister Sunak calling for the proscription of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

134 cross-party parliamentarians, including 54 Conservative MPs, have written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urging him to proscribe Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terror organisation.

The letter comes after Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israel last weekend, in which it launched over 300 drones and missiles towards the Jewish State.

The letter, also featured in The Times, warns that Iran’s direct attack on Israel is just the “latest chapter of destructive terror by the IRGC”, who have united its proxies in the Middle East “rapidly detiorat[ing]” regional security as a result.

Outlining the threat the IRGC poses to the UK, the letter highlights IRGC activity including “assassination plots uncovered and foiled by MI5, intelligence gathering on British Jews, the intimidation of journalists and the promotion of radicalisation”.

The signatories welcomed past efforts to combat “extremism and terrorism by proscribing Hamas and Hezbollah”, but argued “it is not enough”. “The IRGC is the primary source of ideological radicalisation, funding, equipment and training for these groups”, therefore “the Government must act against the root cause and proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist organisation”.

Signatories include CFI Parliamentary Chairmen Rt Hon Stephen Crabb MP (Commons) and Rt Hon The Lord Pickles (Lords), CFI Honorary President Lord Polak CBE, and CFI Officer and Chair of the Britain-Israel All Party Parliamentary Group Bob Blackman CBE MP.

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron visits Israel in show of solidarity

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron visited Israel this week “to show solidarity following Iran’s appalling attack”. He noted that “there’s more that we can do to show united front that Iran is behind so much of the malign activity in this region”.

Speaking to Sky News on his visit, the Foreign Secretary noted that if Israel retaliate, “they do so in a way that is smart, as well as tough, but it also does as little as possible to escalate this conflict”.

His visit, he declared, was “to focus back the eyes of the world onto the hostage situation”. “Hamas should release them now and there is a good deal for them on the table. The only reason that conflict continues in Gaza is because they won’t take that deal”, he added.

In a video released by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Lord Cameron underscored that “only by achieving an immediate pause in Gaza, getting aid in and hostages out, can we make progress towards that sustainable ceasefire we so badly need”.

In Israel he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as his Israeli counterpart Israel Katz.

The Foreign Secretary also met with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa “to reiterate UK support as his Government takes much needed steps on reform, and our shared commitment to a two-state solution”.

Prime Minister Sunak reiterates support to Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke to Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu on Tuesday reiterating “the UK’s steadfast support for Israel’s security and for wider regional stability”.

He noted that “Iran had badly miscalculated and was increasingly isolated on the global stage”.

The Prime Minister also expressed his “deep disappoint[ment] that Hamas blocked a deal at the weekend that would have saved Palestinian lives and secured the safe release of hostages”.

Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked the United Kingdom “for its rapid and robust support” in defence of Israel on Saturday night.

UK sanctions “leading Iranian military figures and entities”

The UK alongside the U.S. imposed new sanctions on “leading Iranian military figures and entities” yesterday.

In a press release, the UK revealed it has “sanctioned a further seven individuals and six entities who have enabled Iran to conduct destabilising regional activity, including its direct attack on Israel”. This is in addition to the sanctions, totalling over 400, already imposed on Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

These new sanctions have been imposed on: Armed Forces General Staff, the IRGC Navy, and the Khatemolanbia Central Headquarters (KCHQ), responsible for operational command and control of Iran’s armed forces.

Individuals sanctioned include Major General Gholamali Rashid- Commander of KCHQ, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani – Minister of Defence Armed Forces Logistics, and Seid Mir Ahmad Nooshin – Aerospace Industries Organisation Director.

In a statement, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak labelled Iran’s unprecedented attack against Israel as “a reckless act and a dangerous escalation”. “The ringleaders of the Iranian military and forces responsible for the weekend’s attack”, have been sanctioned.

“These sanctions – announced with the U.S. – show we unequivocally condemn this behaviour, and they will further limit Iran’s ability to destabilise the region”.

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron stated that “at a time of great tension in the Middle East, Iran’s decision to launch hundreds of drones and missiles towards Israel carried with it a serious risk of thousands of civilian casualties and wider escalation for the region”. “The sanctions announced today”, he added, “demonstrate our unequivocal condemnation of Iran’s attack on a sovereign state”. 

He also called for the MSC Aries and its 25 crew members to be “released immediately”, after Iran seized the Portuguese-flagged ship in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday morning. The ship is perceived to have links with Israel.

UK abstains from UNSC vote to grant Palestine full membership

The UK along with Switzerland abstained from voting to grant Palestine full membership to the United Nations yesterday, and the United States voted against.

In an explanation of the vote, UK Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward, reiterated the United Kingdom’s “commitment to making progress towards a two-state solution, in which a safe and secure Israel lives alongside a sovereign, viable Palestinian state”.

Rather than unilateral recognition, the UK “believe[s] that such recognition of Palestinian statehood should not come at the start of a new process, but it doesn’t have to be at the very end of the process”.

The priority, Woodward argued, is “fixing the immediate crisis in Gaza”, adding that “Hamas is still in control of parts of Gaza and Israeli hostages remain in captivity”.

“Ensuring Hamas is no longer in charge of Gaza and removing Hamas’ capacity to launch attacks against Israel are essential and unavoidable steps on the road to lasting peace; as is working together to support the new Palestinian government as it takes much-needed steps on reform and resumes governance in Gaza as well as the West Bank”.

The UK abstained “because we must keep our focus on securing an immediate pause in order to get aid in and hostages out; then making progress towards a sustainable ceasefire without a return to destruction, fighting and loss of life”.

Leader of the House of Commons wishes those who celebrate a Happy Passover and hopes for Israeli hostages to be returned

Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt, expressed her “hope this will be the last Jewish holiday” where hostages held captive by Hamas in Gaza are unable to celebrate with their families.

In Business of the House of Commons on Thursday, the Leader of the House noted that “this year many [celebrating Passover] will be leaving an empty seat open at [their Seder] tables for those still held captive by Hamas in Gaza”.

She wished those who celebrate a “Chag Sameach”, and also thanked “all Honourable Members for their resolve and support with regard to Israel’s security”.

In the same session, former Home Office Minister Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, raised the plight of Niyak Ghorbanii who was arrested and de-arrested for a second time Wednesday, after holding up a placard stating “Hamas are terrorists”. Jenrick noted that “Hamas are terrorists, and we should all say so”, whilst calling for an end to “two-tier policing”.

Plight of hostages and the increase of humanitarian aid raised by Conservative Parliamentarians

The plight of the hostages still held captive by Hamas was raised by Conservative Parliamentarians in a House of Commons Urgent Question on the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

CFI Parliamentary Officer Bob Blackman CBE MP highlighted that Hamas “breached” the last ceasefire, “refus[ing] to accept a ceasefire on the terms that have been agreed”, asserting that “such a ceasefire would mean that the hostages could be coming back now, and the people of Gaza could be receiving aid”. He added that ““Hamas are clearly the obstacle to peace in the Middle East”.

Rt. Hon. Sir Oliver Heald KC MP underscored that “the position of the hostages is absolutely key”, urging Hamas’ interlocutors to put pressure on them to return the hostages “speedily”.

Former Attorney General Rt. Hon. Sir Michael Ellis KC MP emphasised the “significant improvements” of aid flow into Gaza as expressed by White House National Security Spokesman John Kirby. “Aid getting into Gaza has increased by a large amount in the past few days”, he stated, outlining that “more than 2,000 trucks have been able to get in, including about 100 trucks in the past 24 hours alone. Three bakeries have reopened in northern Gaza in the past week, producing some 3 million pita breads daily, and food aid convoys are now continuing via the newly opened northern crossing”.

Greg Smith MP also highlighted how Israel has been “stepping up the amount of aid getting into Gaza”, but noted that “once aid trucks are on the Gazan side of the border, Hamas have sought to hijack the trucks, and to cynically use the distribution of aid as a political weapon, as has been recognised by this Government”.

Peers note that key to peace is supporting “multilateral groupings” and the “proscription of the IRGC”

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron declared that “when you look at [the Middle East] region, who is funding Hamas? Who is funding the Houthis? Who is funding Hezbollah? In every case, the answer is Iran”, on Tuesday in oral questions on French security. His comments came after CFI Honorary President Lord Polak CBE asked the Foreign Secretary to discuss with his French counterpart “how we can increase the pressure on the regime in Tehran so that it might allow the region to live in peace?” after a “display of “French-British co-operation… on Saturday night”.

In a separate session a day prior, during a statement on Iran/Israel, CFI Honorary President recalled that he has on “countless” occasions, “called for the proscription of the IRGC”, asking “if not now, when”.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean labelled Iran an “evil regime, which… supported these vile groups that were responsible for 7 October and other attacks”. He noted that “with hindsight… we have perhaps been a little less determined to deal with [Iran’s nuclear capabilities] problem, through sanctions and other matters, than we could have been”.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar urged the Government to support “those bilateral alliances between Israel and Jordan and Israel and Egypt, and multilateral groupings such as the Abraham accords, because that is the way, in the long run, to bring peace to this region”.

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo credit: Lord Cameron on X)

Strikes in Iran, after a week of preparation for Israeli retaliation

In the early hours of this morning, strikes in Iran, Baghdad and Syria were reported, thought to be a retaliation by Israel, after Iran’s unprecedented attack against them last weekend.

Reports of explosions were documented near the Cities of Isfahan and Natanz in Central Iran, where significant Iranian nuclear sites are located.

A military base in Isfahan was hit, containing multiple squadrons of F-14 Tomcats. The Base is believed be the launch site of the hundreds of drones used to attack Israel on 13-14 April.

Iranian news channels reported Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVS) in the region, yet officials have denied any direct hit, claiming Iran’s “air defence system was activated and destroyed these drones in the sky”.

No official statement has been made by Israel.

After Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israel last weekend, the regime made a series of manoeuvres in preparation for an Israeli response this week.

On Sunday, directly following its attack on Israel, “Iran closed the nuclear facilities that are under inspection for security reasons”, the Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi stated.The Head of Iran’s Nuclear Protection and Security Corps Ahmad Haghtalab, has since threatened that if Israel attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities, Israel would “make it possible to revise our nuclear doctrine and deviate from our previous considerations”. “If the Zionist regime wants to take action against our nuclear centers and facilities, it will definitely and surely face our reaction”, he added, declaring that “for the counterattack, the nuclear facilities of the regime will be targeted and operated upon with advanced weaponry”.

On the maritime front, “the Navy is carrying out a mission to escort Iranian commercial ships to the Red Sea and our Jamaran frigate is present in the Gulf of Aden in this view”, announced Tehran’s Naval Commander Shahram Irani to Tasnim news agency, on 17 April.

The move came a day after the European Union’s Red Sea Naval Mission proclaimed it required additional combat ships.

The Iran-backed Houthis have led attacks against ships travelling through the Red Sea, causing shipping costs to have increased by 300%, as some reports suggest. Iran has also directly targeted ships in the region, most recently 13 April, where the IRGC seized the the Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries (said to have links with Israel), near the Strait of Hormuz. 25 crew were on board.

The move is seen as a potential escalation, rather than a defensive position.

In Eastern Syria, Iran’s IRGC completed its evacuation of their headquarters and facilities in fear of attack.

Eighteen injured as Hezbollah targets community centre in Israeli village of Arab al-Aramshe

Eighteen Israelis were injured after Hezbollah targeted a community centre and vehicle in the Israeli village of Arab al-Aramshe, on Wednesday.

The attack has left one Israeli in critical condition, and four others seriously injured. 13 out of the 18 injured are said to be IDF reservists, two were members of the rapid response team, and three were civilians.

The drone used by Hezbollah to carry out the attack is thought to be the Iranian Ababil 2 drone. It has capabilities to be airborne for up to two hours, can reach a range of 120 – 150 kilometres, a maximum speed of 250 – 300 kilometres/hour, and can carry a 30-50 kilogram warhead.

In response, the IDF targeted the source of the launch, as well as Hezbollah military facilities in the areas of Naqoura and Yarine, southern Lebanon, and a Hezbollah air defence unit in Baalbek, northeast Lebanon.

Two top Hezbollah commanders, Ismail Yousef Baz and Muhammad Shahouri, were killed in separate airstrikes on Tuesday, as the terror group launched attack drones towards the northern Israeli town of Beit Hillel.

Baz, commander of the coastal region, was equivalent to a brigade commander, involved in “advancing and planning rocket and anti-tank missile launches towards the State of Israel”, according to the IDF.

Shahouri, a member of Hezbollah’s elite Radwan force, was the Commander of Radwan’s western district rocket unit. He was killed alongside Mahmoud Fadlallah, who was also a member of Hezbollah’s rocket unit.

In the past six months, over 30 Hezbollah commanders have been killed in targeted strikes by the IDF.

Jerusalem terror attack thwarted by Israeli Police

A stabbing attack was thwarted in Jerusalem on Wednesday by Israel Border Police when a 17-year-old aroused suspicion leading to his arrest.

The teen had taped a knife to his person before being apprehended by authorities.

He posted on social media: “The important thing is that I end my life in the satisfaction of will, because there is no satisfaction other than paradise”, before setting out to launch the attack.

During his interrogation, it was revealed that his intentions were motivated by his support for Hamas.

Jerusalem District Commander, Brigadier General Doron Turjeman called police efforts “no doubt… a life-saving operation”.

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