On January 8, the United States imposed sanctions on the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) leader and former Iraqi National Security Advisor Falih al-Fayyadh.
In an official statement, the Department of the Treasury said that al-Fayyadh was designated due to his connections to serious human right abuses.
The department alleged that al-Fayyadh was a part of the PMU-led crisis cell that worked in October of 2019 to suppress protests in Iraq with the direct support of the Qods Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The PMU was also accused of waging an assassination campaign against political activists, who are calling for free and fair elections, respect for human rights and a transparent government.
“By directing and supervising the murder of peaceful Iraqi demonstrators, Iran-aligned militants and politicians such as Falih al-Fayyadh have been waging a violent campaign against Iraqi democracy and civil society,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The United States will continue to hold accountable human rights abusers in Iraq who aim to deny the Iraqi people in their efforts to peacefully protest, seek justice, and root out corruption in their country.”
Al-Fayyadh was designated under the he Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act that is supposed to target perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption.
While the US is accusing al-Fayyadh of human rights violations, the truth is that the Iraqi commander was likely sanctioned due to his close ties with Iran.
The designation of al-Fayyadh is meant to pressure Iran allies in Iraq, first and foremost PMU factions. The US believes that some of these factions are responsible for recent attacks on its troops and diplomatic mission in Iraq.
Under the Presidency of Donald Trump, the US launched the so-called ‘maximum pressure campaign’ against Iran and its allies in the Middle East. Dozens of officials and popular leaders in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon were sanctioned. These sanctions have changed nothing, thus far.
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