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US Top Envoy to Iraq Warns Militias Against Collaborating With IRGC

People can have relations with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps or with the US and “its financial system,” not both, top US envoy in Baghdad said.

Joey Hood, the US charge d'affaires in Iraq, warned Iraqi militia groups Wednesday against receiving support and otherwise collaborating with Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, which the US recently designated as foreign terrorist organization, Kurdistan 24 reported.

"This designation makes it clearer and clearer that people can have a relationship with the problematic parts of the Iranian government, like the IRGC, or they can have a relationship with the United States and our financial system, but they cannot do both at the same time," Joey Hood said in an interview.

He underscored that the US has no issue with Iraqis having "normal relationship with the Iranian government and the Iranian people."

"But it is not normal for a Revolutionary Guard to be coming into another country and doing things without coordination with that government and trying to destabilize it, and weaken the sovereignty of that government," the envoy said.

US army soldiers stand next a military vehicle in the town of Bartella, east of Mosul, Iraq. File photo - Sputnik International
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He urged Iraqi groups — alluding to militias, according to Kurdistan 24 — to put "Iraq first and not interests of another country."

"If they put the interests of the Revolutionary Guard before the interests of Iraq, they could be caught by these designations," Hood warned, referring to White House's recent designation of IRGC as terrorist.

Hood also noted that US presence in Iraq is based on Iraq's invitation.

"We are here at the invitation of the Iraqi government. And if the Iraqi government requests us to leave we will leave. We are partners; we're not occupiers," he said.

Pardis petrochemical complex facilities in Assalouyeh on the northern coast of the Persian Gulf, Iran, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday his country will continue exporting crude oil despite U.S. efforts to stop it through sanctions - Sputnik International
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He warned, however, that, should the US leave Iraq entirely, this will have economic repercussions for Baghdad.

"Investor confidence would plummet," Hood claimed. "We don't want to see those things happen. And I don't think most Iraqi politicians want to see that happen either."

Following Ambassador Douglas A. Silliman's departure on 31 January, charge d'affaires Joey Hood has become the top diplomat in US Embassy in Baghdad. On Monday, Washington declared the IRGC a terrorist organization, issuing such designation on a foreign nation's military body for the first time in US history. In retaliation, Iran designated US Military's Central Command as a terrorist organization as well.

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