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Politics

What Are Cameron’s Experiences With Iran?

November 14, 2023
Faramarz Davar
3 min read
David Cameron returned to front-line politics in the United Kingdom after seven years in the wilderness that kicked off with his resignation as prime minister in 2016
David Cameron returned to front-line politics in the United Kingdom after seven years in the wilderness that kicked off with his resignation as prime minister in 2016
On November 29, 2011, members of the Student Basij organization, who are followers of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, attacked the British embassy and the residence of diplomatic staff in Tehran, which resulted in extensive damage to the facilities
On November 29, 2011, members of the Student Basij organization, who are followers of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, attacked the British embassy and the residence of diplomatic staff in Tehran, which resulted in extensive damage to the facilities
Cameron assumes the role of foreign secretary amid many challenges to the country's relations with the Islamic Republic, including the nuclear issue, Tehran’s destabilizing role in the Middle East, and its growing military cooperation with Russia
Cameron assumes the role of foreign secretary amid many challenges to the country's relations with the Islamic Republic, including the nuclear issue, Tehran’s destabilizing role in the Middle East, and its growing military cooperation with Russia

David Cameron returned to front-line politics in the United Kingdom after seven years in the wilderness that kicked off with his resignation as prime minister in 2016.

What implications might his surprise comeback as foreign secretary hold for Iran, amid growing calls in the UK and elsewhere to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization?

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David Cameron, who served as prime minister from 2010 to 2016 and leader of the Conservative Party from 2005 to 2016, returned to political life seven years after leaving office to become the foreign secretary in the government led by Rishi Sunak.

Cameron, 57, resigned as prime minister after his “Remain” campaign lost the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.

After stepping down, he retained his seat at the House of Commons for about two months before withdrawing from politics. 

His return to the government is seen as part of a strategy to bolster the Conservative Party's position ahead of the next election.

As Cameron assumes the role of foreign secretary, a significant number of MPs are urging the government to designate the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization. 

This issue has been under discussion in UK political circles for almost a year. James Cleverly, Cameron’s predecessor as foreign secretary, initially supported this designation before backtracking. 

Both Cameron and Cleverly, who is now the home secretary, play a crucial role in decisions regarding the IRGC.

A diplomatic crisis emerged between Tehran and London during Cameron’s tenure as prime minister. 

On November 29, 2011, members of the Student Basij organization, who are followers of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, attacked the British embassy and the residence of diplomatic staff in Tehran, which resulted in extensive damage to the facilities. 

The United Nations Security Council issued a statement condemning the assault, while the UK government made the forceful decision to expel Iranian embassy staff from London. 

Tensions between Tehran and London persisted until August 23, 2015, when the embassies in Tehran and London reopened after nearly four years of hiatus. 

The attack on the British embassy came amid escalating tensions between the two nations, particularly over London’s decision to sanction the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

A week before the attack, the UK treasury secretary announced the government's intention to sanction the central bank over its involvement in banking operations related to Iran’s nuclear program.

During the negotiations that led to the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, as well as after the agreement was reached, London hoped for the start of a new phase in relations with Iran and sought to treat the Islamic Republic as a normal state. Although international cooperation progressed slowly, the arrest of Iranian-British citizens quickly reignited tensions.

The detention of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran during the final months of Cameron's premiership, and later of Anusha Ashouri, coincided with Iran's request that the UK government settle an historical debt dispute with Tehran.

The Islamic Republic has arrested several other Iranian dual nationals and executed an Iranian-British former assistant to Iran’s Ministry of Defense on espionage charges.

Cameron assumes the role of foreign secretary amid many challenges to the country's relations with the Islamic Republic, including the nuclear issue, Tehran’s destabilizing role in the Middle East, and its growing military cooperation with Russia.

Cleverly admitted that, during his 14-month tenure as foreign secretary, he had minimal success in addressing these issues with Iran.

With about one year left before general elections in the UK, it is anticipated that Cameron's primary task in the coming months will be to help the Tories win the vote, and an important part of this is somehow related to the Islamic Republic.

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