After much discussion and pressure applied, the EU has finally decided to ban the “military wing” of Hezbullah while leaving it’s supposedly more moderate “political wing” to continue collecting funds through its various European “charities” (excuse the cynical quotes)! Finally, too many real facts reared their inconvenient heads for even Brussels to ignore. The final straws were Bulgaria’s sensible conclusion on the Burgas bus bombing and the Cypriot trial of a confessed Hezbullah operative nabbed before he could do any explosive damage. In parallel with this compromise proscription of Hezbullah, the EU must now turn its guns on Hezbullah’s biggest material supporters, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRG) and similarly condemn them as a terrorist organisation.
Following the 1979 Islamic revolution the Ayatollahs refused to place all their trust in the Iranian Army, perceiving it as tainted by association with the deposed Shah. Accordingly they established the IRG, all of whose members swear allegiance to the revolution and are dedicated to protecting the Islamic regime above everything else. They are direct agents of the Grand Ayatollah in consolidating the extremist Shiite Islamic revolution internally and extending it (and therefore the influence of Shia Islam) far beyond Iran’s borders. It is this external aspect of IRG operations that places it firmly in the category of a terrorist organisation.
For us in the West, it is not always an easy matter to discern IRG influences behind specific terror attacks or operations, but a collation of intelligence reports made public throws up some uncomfortable reading.
The IRG is accused of supplying tens of tons of weaponry to the Taliban in Afghanistan, some of which was captured en route. They have also been accused of supplying sophisticated arms to Yemeni rebels. In 2012, an attempt on the life of the US ambassador to Azerbaijan was made by IRG operatives and the same year two members of the IRG were arrested (and have now been convicted) for terror-related offences in Kenya. Also in 2012, the Indian Government concluded that IRG members were behind a bomb attack in Delhi aimed at the Israeli ambassador and in 2011 the US Attorney General implicated the IRG in a failed assassination attempt on the Saudi ambassador in Washington.
The IRG has its finger in many many more terrorist pies around the world, but the group they are best known for supporting is, of course, Hezbullah. From the earliest active days of this Shia Islamist group in Lebanon they have had active support from Iran, brought by the IRG. A conveyor belt of arms operated for years from Iran through Syria to Lebanon, with the full support of the Assad regime. IRG officers have similarly been active in “advising” Hezbullah and even had forces stationed (alongside Syrian troops) in Lebanon itself, in the Beka’a Valley. Hezbullah is today only able to threaten much of Israel with advanced missiles through the generosity and help of the IRG, gladly exporting Iranian revolutionary ideology to Lebanon’s own Shia population.
What brings an urgency to the question of banning the IRG is its implication in actions against British and other European citizens. In 2007, five British citizens were kidnapped in Iraq and only one returned alive. The Guardian ran an investigation, which revealed that the kidnap was carried out by the IRG and that the hostages had been incarcerated in an IRG prison deep in Iran from no more than two days after their capture. Furthermore, former Mossad director Ephraim HaLevy revealed in his memoirs that IRG agents had been active in Paris and London, assassinating enemies of the Tehran regime.
Hamas is on the EU’s terror list, as shortly will be (part of) Hezbullah. Proscribing the IRG will magnify the negative effect on both the other organisations, since Iranian fund-raising efforts will be greatly curtailed and existing funds frozen. Conversely, not banning this evidently terrorist organisation will enable both the other two to continue to receive illicit support from Iran. There is cross-party and international political support for this move across Europe, bolstered by campaigns such as the current one by Britain’s Zionist Federation. The grass-roots ZF campaign encourages its supporters to lobby their MPs and MEPs and calls on the UK and the EU in Brussels to proscribe the IRG. Many of the IRGs terror targets have been Jewish, and Iranian antisemitism goes without saying!
If the EU wishes to increase its influence on the world stage and enhance its relationship with other Western powers, it should join the US and Canada in banning the IRG and help to present a louder and more concerted voice against international terrorism.