Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has taken credit for the relocation of Iran International studios from the UK to the US following terror threats, calling it a victory for the Islamic Republic.
IRGC Commander-In-Chief Major General Hossein Salami said Wednesday that the threats against the Persian channel’s journalists, which forced the channel to stop its broadcasting in London and move to Washington DC, "show how far the Islamic Revolution's realm of power, field of infiltration and radius of influence has extended."
Iran International was warned by authorities in November that its journalists were under threat from Iranian agents and the Metropolitan Police took measures to strengthen security around the network’s office in the area. On February 18, the network announced that following the advice of UK anti-terrorism officials it decided to temporarily move its studio operations to the US.
IRGC Commander-In-Chief Major General Hossein Salami
The decision solicited condemnations of Iran’s malign activities and worldwide reactions. “At its sharpest, this has involved police and MI5 working together to foil 15 plots since the start of 2022 to either kidnap or even kill British or UK-based individuals perceived as enemies of the regime,” said a senior official of UK counter terrorism police.
Despite the evident threats against Iran International’s journalists and UK’s acknowledgment of them, as well as several rallies by Iranian diaspora communities across Europe this month to push countries to list the IRGC as a terror outfit, European states are still hesitant.
Economic embargoes and sanctions were among other measures the enemies used along with their entire intelligence and legal systems as well as international institutions and media powers to defeat the Islamic Republic, but they failed, Salami said, implying that the global community did not manage to designate IRGC as a terrorist organization or curb its destabilizing activities in the region and beyond.
Western countries have strongly rebuked Tehran for its bloody crackdown on protests, its military support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and lack of compromise over its highly disputed nuclear program. The IRGC is the most important arm of the regime, doing the heavy lifting of cracking down on Iranians and circumventing global sanctions to sell oil and funnel money to keep the regime afloat.
Salami added that “the enemies” are disappointed by the failure of all their strategies and have reached out for help from opposition figures “who are not even worth mentioning.”
After a historic forum in Washington earlier this month by eight prominent dissident activists, they have been traveling to events around the world to make the voice of the Iranian opposition heard. Such events signal the emergence of a leadership council in the diaspora to campaign for international support in favor of Iran’s protest movement.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani
In an interview on Tuesday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani, however, dismissed Iran International’s relocation as a win for the regime, rather a coordinated effort by Western intelligence services.
Kanaani said that the Islamic Republic reserves the right to file a lawsuit against the US over the TV channel’s role in “inciting riots,” reiterating the regime’s propaganda line that blames foreign countries for over five months of antigovernment protests.
“The developments surrounding the Iran International terrorist media indicate that the channel is being supported and managed by the intelligence services of a number of certain countries, including the UK,” the spokesman said. “From our viewpoint, even if the channel is relocated from London to the US, the responsibility will still lie with the governments sponsoring and hosting such quasi-media, particularly the UK government, in relation to its (the channel’s) terrorist, separatist and anti-Iranian activities,” he added.
On Monday, UK’s Security Minister Tom Tugendhat at the British Parliament voiced full support for Iran International TV, saying “The Home Secretary and I absolutely condemn this outrageous violation of our sovereignty, and the attempted violation of the human rights of those journalists.”
“Its operatives and affiliates will be pursued by the Ministry of Intelligence,” Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib said in November. “And from now on, any kind of connection with this terrorist organization will be considered to be tantamount to entering into terrorism and a threat to the national security of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
On Monday, an estimated crowd of about 20 to 30 thousand people held a rally in Brussels outside the European Council to call on EU countries to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. Thousands of Iranians from all over Europe held a massive rally in Strasbourg in January for the same purpose.