The US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Iranian institutions for what it said was an attempt to interfere in the US presidential elections, and announced measures against the Iranian ambassador in Baghdad and two leaders of the Lebanese Hezbollah.
The ministry said in a statement issued on Thursday evening that Iran “targeted the electoral process with brazen attempts to sow discord among the voters by spreading misleading information.”
She explained that the sanctions target the Institute “Bayan Rasanieh Gostar” because of “its complicity in foreign interference in the 2020 US presidential elections.”
It added that it had also imposed sanctions on the Iranian Radio and Television Union and the International Virtual Media Federation over allegations that they were under the control of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which is already subject to US sanctions.
And the director of the US National Intelligence Agency, John Ratcliffe, announced on Wednesday that both Iran and Russia had engaged in activities to influence the US elections.
The announcement came after reports that voters in several states – including Pennsylvania, Florida and Arizona – had received emails threatening them if they did not elect President Donald Trump.
Yesterday, Thursday, the US Treasury announced the imposition of sanctions on the Iranian ambassador in Baghdad, Iraj Masjedi, for his attempt to “destabilize Iraq” as a general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
It said in a statement that Masjedi was a “close advisor” to the former commander of the Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Major General Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated by the United States in an air strike near Baghdad airport last January.
She added that Masjedi “supervised a program to train and support Iraqi militias, and led or supported groups responsible for attacks that killed and wounded members of the US and coalition forces in Iraq,” and accused him of using his position as ambassador “to conceal financial transfers for the Quds Force.”
“The Iranian regime threatens Iraq’s security and sovereignty by appointing officials from the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard as ambassadors in the region to administer its destabilizing foreign policy,” the statement quoted Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as saying.
The sanctions on my mosque come at a time when Washington has toughened its rhetoric against the missile attacks that have increasingly targeted its embassy in Baghdad and other interests in Iraq in recent months, and which the Americans accuse pro-Iranian Iraqi factions of being behind them.
In addition to my mosques, Washington also announced the imposition of sanctions on two senior Lebanese Hezbollah officials, the two members of the party’s Central Council, Nabil Qaouq and Hassan Baghdadi.
The Treasury Department indicated that the Central Council is responsible for identifying and electing Hezbollah’s highest decision-making body, the Shura Council.
She said that the imposition of these sanctions comes “with the approaching 37th anniversary of the Hezbollah attack” on the US Marines (Marines) in Beirut on October 23, 1983.
On that day, 241 Marines were killed in a huge bombing that destroyed their headquarters in the Lebanese capital. On the same day, 58 French paratroopers were killed in a similar bombing that targeted their building in Beirut.
For his part, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard continues to undermine Iraq’s security, sovereignty, and prosperity.
He added in a statement to his ministry that Washington is taking its sanctions against the Iranian ambassador to Baghdad, another step to protect the Iraqi people from the influence of the Quds Force, which he described as malicious.
Pompeo asserted that my mosque helped for years direct a range of operations carried out by the Quds Force in Iraq, including training and providing support to militias, and facilitating large-scale financial transactions.
With regard to the Lebanese Hezbollah, Pompeo said that the sanctions against the party are aimed at maintaining pressure and impeding its ability to move around the financial system.
Pompeo stressed that Hezbollah remains a “terrorist threat” to Washington and its allies and interests in the Middle East and the world, calling on countries to take appropriate steps to restrict its activities.