Iran appoints ambassador to Iraq with alleged ties to IRGC

Mohammed Kazen Al-e Sadeq served as adviser to US-sanctioned former Iranian envoy to Baghdad

Iraj Masjedi, center, the  Iranian Ambassador to Iraq, speaks to reporters during the reopening of the Iranian consulate in Basra, 340 miles (550 km) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. Demonstrators stormed and burned the Iranian consulate during protests last Friday. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)
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Iran has appointed a new ambassador to Iraq with alleged ties to its Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the country’s foreign ministry said this week.

Mohammed Kazem Al-e Sadeq was the deputy and adviser to Iraj Masjedi, the incumbent ambassador to Iraq and former senior IRGC commander, who was placed under US sanctions in 2020.

“Mr Al-e Sadeq is the current ambassador-designate to Iraq and is expected to take office soon to start his diplomatic mission in Iraq,” foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in his weekly press briefing on Monday.

The new Iranian ambassador was born in the Iraqi southern holy city of Najaf, home to holy Muslim Shiites sites, and speaks Arabic fluently with an Iraqi accent. He is the younger brother of an Iraqi-Iranian poet and writer, Mohammed Reza Al-e Sadeq, according to Iran's semi-official Tasnim News Agency.

In October 2020, Washington imposed sanctions on Mr Masjedi and accused him of having direct ties with Iraqi militias.

“Masjedi has overseen a programme of training and support to Iraqi militia groups, and he has directed or supported groups that are responsible for attacks that have killed and wounded US and coalition forces in Iraq,” the US Treasury department said at the time.

It also accused him of enabling financial transfers on behalf of the IRGC from the time it was under the leadership of Qassem Suleimani, who was killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad in January 2020, until now.

The department said Gen Masjedi organised the transfers with the help of the Quds Force's finance manager Hushang Allahdad, under the direction of Suleimani and his successor, Esmail Ghaani.

It said Gen Masjedi provided direct assistance in obtaining tens of billions of dinars on behalf of the Revolutionary Guard in Iraq.

The killing of Suleimani sparked fears of a direct military confrontation between Washington and Tehran in Iraq.

Tehran, which wields considerable influence in Iraq, said it would avenge Suleimani’s death and, since his assassination, US troops stationed in the country have come under continuous missile attacks.

Western security, military and diplomatic sites across Iraq have been the targets of dozens of rockets and roadside bombs for the past two years.

For years the US has accused Iran of threatening Iraq’s security.

Baghdad lies on the fault line between the Shiite Muslim power Iran and the Sunni-ruled countries that are Tehran's regional rivals in the region.

Updated: April 12, 2022, 1:51 PM