ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Shia militias and factions allied with Tehran on Saturday affirmed their resounding rejection of the recent US designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).
Washington announced its decision last week and is due to take effect Monday, when it will become a criminal offense to provide material support to the IRGC, an entity that is deeply entrenched in the economy of Iran with activities in numerous industries, including construction, and oil.
Iranian officials widely condemned the move, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei—who controls the IRGC—asserting it would only serve to increase the Guards’ popularity in the public eye in the country and the Middle East as a whole.
Leading Iraqi Shia groups stood by their allies and trainers, delivering a firm statement from the home of the Iranian Consul-General in the Shia holy city of Najaf, located about 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of the capital of Baghdad.
A spokesman for the Badr Organization expressed surprise at the decision, calling the United States “the number one sponsor of terrorism,” an echo of statements regularly made by Iranian political and military officials.
Badr is led by Hadi al-Amiri, who is also the head al-Fatih alliance, which includes armed factions, and has the second largest bloc in the Iraqi parliament. Rejecting the US labeling, a spokesman of Fatih referred to its cooperation with the Iranian forces as part of the fight against terror in Iraq.
In implicit threats of similar treatment from Washington should Iraqi groups continue dealing with the-now FTO IRGC—specifically its Quds force, which is led by Major General Qasim Soleimani— America’s top envoy in Iraq on Wednesday delivered a clear warning in Erbil to said entities.
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Joey Hood, chargé d'affaires at the US embassy in Baghdad, advised “those groups,” alluding to the militias, “to work for the interests of their country and put Iraq first and not the interests of another country, whether it's Iran or anyone else.”
“If they put the interests of the Revolutionary Guard before the interests of Iraq, they could be caught by these designations,” Hood warned.
Editing by Nadia Riva