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Iran-Backed Militia in Iraq Could Face US Sanctions

December 5, 2020
Ahmad Salloum
2 min read
Iran-Backed Militia in Iraq Could Face US Sanctions

United States Congress is preparing new legislation to bring sanctions against the Badr Organization, one of the largest Iranian proxy militias in Iraq.

The bill, a copy of which The Washington Free Beacon has had exclusive access to, claims that the organization was responsible for the deadly attacks that targeted Americans stationed in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

Calls for the new sanctions are being led by Republican Representative Joe Wilson, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives. According to the Beacon, the Badr Organization, an armed group based in Iraq, is funded by Iran, and has close links with the Revolutionary Guards. The militia was formerly led by the Revolutionary Guards Quds Force Commander Ghasem Soleimani, who was assassinated near Baghdad Airport in January.

The Badr Organization has been responsible for deadly attacks targeting US Embassy officials in Baghdad, including an attack last year that prompted US President Donald Trump's administration to target Soleimani.

"The Badr militia remains part of the Iraqi government and security services, which generates concerns that US taxpayer money destined for Iraq could be financing the terrorist organization,” the newspaper report said.

The Badr Organization continues to play a role in the Iraqi government as part of the country's Popular Mobilization Forces, a group of around 40 militias that work with the government on security matters.

"The Badr Organization is working directly with Lebanese Hezbollah, the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades, Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq, and many other classified terrorist organizations to push forward its terrorist campaign,” US Representative Wilson said. "Unfortunately, the Badr Organization is not classified as a foreign terrorist organization. If we are to exert maximum pressure on Iran, it is absolutely necessary that Badr is classified."

The report also stated that it is likely the legislation will receive widespread support from Republicans and Democrats who regard Iran's activity in Iraq as a direct threat to the United States and its diplomacy in the region.

Sanctions could complicate the landscape for the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden, which seeks to renew negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, despite Iranian leaders commenting that they will not sit down with the next administration until the US withdraws sanctions and Tehran is granted a monetary exemption from them.

Wilson hopes that the State Department will complete the re-classification of the Badr Organization ahead of the first anniversary of the 2019 attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad.

The legislation requires the US government to disclose whether US aid has "directly or indirectly benefited the Badr Organization," and will also require the amendment of reports on the Badr Organization's operations in Iraq, including its role in the attack on the US Embassy.

The group is currently led by Hadi Al-Amiri, an Iraqi fighter with close ties to both the Iranian and Iraqi governments. The State Department has identified Al-Amiri as one of the organizers of the embassy attack in 2019.



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