The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change published a report on Tuesday 4th February calling for the UK and other Western governments to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization.
The report, Beyond Borders: the Expansionist Ideology of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,
Points out that IRGC is mandated d by Iran’s constitution to pursue “an ideological mission of jihad in God’s way; that is extending sovereignty of God’s law throughout the world.” It details the IRGC’s links to a long list of “terrorist attacks, hostage-takings, maritime piracy, political assassinations, human rights violations and the crushing of domestic dissent across Iran”.
The report lays out the recruitment propaganda that IRGC deploys in pursuing Iran’s expansionist ambitions beyond its borders.
Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York, USA on the day the report was released, the former British prime minister, warned the UK and other western governments of threat that IRGC poses to regional and international security. “The IRGC uses the classic tactics of terrorist groups, including orchestrating suicide bombings and the targeting of civilians. And in the last few years there has been a surge of activity on European soil,” Blair said.
He highlighted the findings of his institute’s report saying: “my institute’s research into the IRGC’s own recruitment tools shows that it advocates just as destructive and violent a world view as groups that have already been designated as terrorist organisations. We should recognise the threat they pose formally.”
The report warns of the often-overlooked dangers of Shi’ite extremism with analyst and experts generally preoccupied by the threat of Sunni Islamic extremism, pointing out how Western policymakers have underestimated Iran’s commitment to upholding and exporting 1979’s revolutionary ideology.
The report explains how “material support for destabilising forces is just one weapon in Iran’s armoury” and that “it is the entrenchment of a dogma, levelled against perceived enemies of Islam, that has been Iran’s most potent resource.”
Highlighting the threat that Iran’s malign behaviour poses beyond its regional neighbourhood, the reports points out how “it has claimed lives not only in intractable conflicts in the region, such as in Syria, Yemen and Lebanon, where Hizbullah changed the face of the country, but also as far afield as Bulgaria and Argentina.”
The report concludes the following key findings:
- IRGC officers and members are trained in state-sanctioned Shia Islamist ideology, which is violent and extremist.
- The IRGC has clear expansionist ambitions.
- The IRGC shares the same enemies as Salafi-jihadi groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda.
- The IRGC lays out for recruits what it fights for not just what it fights against.
The report sets out policy recommendations and actions for governments and supranational organisations, Western countering violent extremism (CVE) strategies and civil society groups and technology companies. Most notably, it points out that “systematic rebuttals targeting Salafi-jihadism plays into the hands of Shia Islamist groups including the IRGC, leaving them with a moralistic monopoly as their perspectives are not countered.”