Baghdad says it tried to stop Washington from designating Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) as a "Foreign terrorist Organization", Iraqi Prime Minister said Tuesday, warning that the decision could further destabilize Iraq and the region.
The United States declared the IRGC a "terrorist" group on Monday, April 8, prompting Tehran to quickly reciprocate by designating U.S. troops in the region with the same label.
"We tried to stop the American decision. We reached out to all sides, to the U.S. and the Saudis," PM Adel Abdel Mahdi said during a weekly press conference.
He said he had warned Washington and its ally Riyadh that the move would have "negative repercussions in Iraq and in the region". But the Iraqi PM refrained from denouncing the U.S. move.
He also warned against further escalation, saying any escalation “will make us losers”.
Successive Iraqi governments have tried to have good ties with both Tehran and Washington, and the new sanctions have forced Baghdad to walk an even tighter rope.
The U.S. has also tried to accommodate Baghdad’s needs, considering it an ally in the region. Iraq was permitted to continue purchasing electricity from Iran, despite the stringent U.S. sanctions.
Iran and particularly the IRGC have significant influence in Iraq, where they played a major role in defeating the Islamic State group. IRGC’s Qods force has organized Iraqi Shiite militias, who can destabilize the country.
Officially, the IRGC has no presence in Iraq, and it remains unclear whether these sanctions impact Iraqi figures, institutions or military groups.
The Iraqi premier has also said he is planning trips soon to both Riyadh and Washington, Tehran's main foes.