Iraq’s security advisor calls on U.S. to reconsider decision to blacklist Falih al-Fayyadh

File – Iraqi National Security Advisor Qasim al-Araji speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Baghdad. (AP)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi National Security Advisor Qasim al-Araji called on the United States to reconsider its decision to blacklist militia leader Falih al-Fayyadh, connecting him to human rights abuses during protests in 2019.

The U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement on Friday that it was blacklisting Falih al-Fayyadh, chairman of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Committee (PMC), accusing him of being part of a crisis cell formed in the late 2019 to suppress protests with the support of Iran’s revolutionary guards Quds force.

“We call on the U.S. Treasury Department to correct its mistake by deciding to impose sanctions on an Iraqi government figure,” Araji said in a tweet early on Saturday.

“it is not correct that it be on the sanctions list,” he added.

The United States said Fayyadh was the head of the PMC when forces under its command fired live ammunition at peaceful protesters in 2019, resulting in hundreds of deaths.

Iraq’s biggest anti-government protests in decades broke out in October 2019 and continued for several months, with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis demanding jobs, services and the removal of the ruling elite, which they said was corrupt.

Nearly 500 people were killed. The protests caused the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.

“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,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.

“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.”

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