Iraqi PM Abdul Mahdi denies US claim on IRGC role in Baghdad economy
Iraq has rejected a US claim that Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has a role in Iraq’s economic affairs.
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Speaking at a weekly presser on Wednesday, Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi of Iraq rejected as mere “lies” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s allegations that “some 20 percent of the Iraqi economy is controlled by the IRGC.”
The Iraqi premier expressed surprise at the US top diplomat’s claim and asserted that the elite Iranian defense force was not engaged in any economic activity in Iraq.
The Americans speak of “20 percent, 10 percent, five percent or whatever other proportion…I don’t know how they have calculated these figures,” Abdul-Mahdi told reporters.
“We enjoy advanced economic ties and business transactions with Iran, but this is different from maintaining economic relations with the Corps,” he added.
Last week, the United States designated the IRGC as a “foreign terrorist organization.”
The move – the first of its kind in US history – sparked global criticism, with several states arguing that targeting another country’s military forces is against international regulations.
The designation drew strong criticism from Iraqi officials, personalities and military groups, which had received advisory assistance from the IRGC in the course of the Arab country’s anti-Daesh operations.
Also on Tuesday, a major Iraqi parliamentary bloc issued a statement, warning about the US recent attempts at stoking tensions in the region, including its blacklisting of the IRGC.
The statement was issued by the Reform and Construction Alliance parliamentary bloc, which is led by senior cleric Ammar al-Hakim and also features Hakim’s fellow prominent cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Alliance Towards Reform (Saairun) as well as former premier Haider al-Abadi’s Victory Alliance.
It demanded that Iraq’s president, premier, and parliament speaker as well as other political leaders hold an urgent meeting to address Washington’s push, and adopt decisions to protect the country against such measures.
The bloc also urged Baghdad to retain its policy of neutrality, and be mindful of protecting the country’s integrity.
At Baghdad’s request, the IRGC started providing military advisory support to Iraq’s Army and allied volunteer fighters in its battle against Daesh in 2014, when Daesh began its terror campaign.
Backed by the IRGC, Iraqi forces managed to reverse the Takfiri group’s territorial gains and eventually relinquish it some three years later.