US imposed sanctions on Iran’s ambassador to Iraq for his connection with IRGC
On Thursday, US administration imposed sanctions on Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi, for his close association with the Iranian militant group, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF). The US Treasury Department in its press release accused Masjedi of misusing his political power and access to “obfuscate financial transfers conducted for the benefit of the IRGC-QF.” Besides Masjedi, US also imposed sanctions of five Iranian institutions and two ofHezbollah leaders.
The US department said, “Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is designating Iraj Masjedi, a general in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and Iran’s Ambassador to Iraq, for acting for or on behalf of the IRGC-QF. A close adviser to former IRGC-QF Commander Qassem Soleimani, Masjedi played a formative role in the IRGC-QF’s Iraq policy.”
The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets and Control said that the Iranian diplomat was responsible for extending his support to the groups “that are responsible for attacks that have killed and wounded US and coalition forces in Iraq.” The US also accused him for facilitating financial transfers for the IRGC during the time the group was led by Iranian General Qassem Suleimani, who was killed by US drone strike in a Baghdad in January 2020. The US report added that Masjedi helped Quds Force’s finance manager Hushang Allahdad, to conduct transfers as per directions of Suleimani and his successor, Esmail Ghaani.
“The Iranian regime threatens Iraq’s security and sovereignty by appointing IRGC-QF officials as ambassadors in the region to carry out their destabilizing foreign agenda,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the press release. “The United States will continue to employ the tools and authorities at its disposal to target the Iranian regime and IRGC-QF officials that attempt to meddle in the affairs of sovereign nations, including any attempts to influence U.S. elections,” Mnuchin added.
Mnuchin gave the statement in addition to Wednesday night announcement from Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, accusing Russia and Iran of meddling in 2020 US presidential elections, implanting fake news and influencing public opinions through it.The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo supported the sanctions, saying, “for many years, the Iranian regime and its primary tool of regional destabilization, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), have exploited Iraq to advance their own interests at the expense of the Iraqi people.”
The US department also imposed sanctions against two leaders of Hezbollah, Lebanese militant group, which has a strong political presence in the country. Hezbollah, which is designated as a terrorist organization by US government, is backed by Iran. Mnuchin said that Hezbollah Central Council members Nabil Qaouk and Hassan al-Baghdadi “are responsible for creating and implementing the terrorist organization’s destabilizing and violent agenda against U.S. interests and those of our partners around the world.” The US Treasury Department added that Hezbollah leaders have frequently supported military attack against Israel.
The US department also imposed sanctions on “five Iranian entities for attempting to influence elections in the US”- the IRGC, the Quds Force, Bayan Rasaneh Gostar Institute, the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union and International Union of Virtual Media. “This administration is committed to ensuring the integrity of the US election system and will continue to counter efforts from any foreign actor that threatens our electoral processes,” Mnuchin said.