AP: Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is using Iran’s Embassy in Baghdad to coordinate covert operations in Iraq, an Iranian opposition group has claimed. The Associated Press
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) – Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is using Iran’s Embassy in Baghdad to coordinate covert operations in Iraq, an Iranian opposition group has claimed.
Mohammad Mohadessin, a spokesman for the Paris-based National Council Resistance of Iran, or NCRI, also said the guard had taken over some of Iran’s most lucrative companies and was profiting from trade with the European Union.
“The Iranian regime is run by senior (Revolutionary Guard) officers and their role is growing,” Mohadessin said in a statement received Saturday.
On Thursday, the United States imposed sweeping new sanctions against the Revolutionary Guard Corps, a main unit of Iran’s Defense Ministry, because of Tehran’s alleged support for terrorism and nuclear weapons ambitions. The ban targeted three of Iran’s largest banks and eight people that Washington said were engaged in missile trade and backed extremist groups throughout the Middle East.
Maryam Rajavi, head of the NCRI, has welcomed Washington’s move, describing it as “indispensable to thwart the export of terrorism and fundamentalism to the Middle East region.”
Mohadessin claimed the Guard had transformed Iran’s embassy in Baghdad “into the most important center for coordinating its terrorist and intelligence activities against Coalition forces.”
He named four diplomats at the embassy who, he said, were senior Guard officers. They included the ambassador, Kazemi Qomi, Mohadessin said.
“They are directly responsible for supervising the transfer of shipments of weapons and ammunition … from Iran to (the Guard’s) proxy forces in Iraq.”
An official at the Iranian Embassy in Brussels declined to comment on Mohadessin’s allegations.
It was not possible to independently verify the NCRI claim, but the group has provided relatively accurate information on developments in Iran over the past several years, including details on the country’s secretive nuclear program.
The NCRI is the political wing of the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, an opposition group that advocates the overthrow of government in Tehran. The Mujahedeen have been designated a terrorist group by Iran, and by both the United States and the European Union.
“Over the years the (Guard) has created financial sources which do not fall under the control of the government,” Mohadessin said.
Because large chunks of Iran’s non-oil exports and imports are conducted by companies controlled by the Guard, “a major portion of the US$40 billion in EU trade is now done with (the Guard), its affiliates and its front companies.”
But Christiane Hohmann, spokeswoman for EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, noted that the 27-nation bloc had not slapped sanctions on Iran.
“There is no economic embargo against Iran in place and no economic sanctions, (but) there are export restrictions in place with regard to dual-use goods,” Hohmann said.