Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani is able to freely enter and exit Iraq despite being under an international travel ban, a member of Iraq’s parliamentary foreign affairs committee alleged on Tuesday.
In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, MP Mithal Al-Alusi said: “Qassem Suleimani does not need permission from anyone to enter or exit Iraq,” adding that the controversial Iranian official even has a house in Baghdad’s Green Zone.
Alusi’s comments come after UN sanctions monitors issued a seven page report this week investigating photographs taken inside Iraq, which appear to confirm that Suleimani is violating the travel ban.
UN member states, including Iraq, are obliged to deny entry to individuals subject to such a ban.
“One photograph reportedly shows him near the city of Amerli in northern Iraq after forces re-took the city from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS),” the report by the UN Panel of Experts on Iran said.
The Quds Force commander has been subject to an international travel ban and asset freeze by the UN Security Council since 2007. The Quds Force is a sub-branch of Iran’s IRGC which reportedly specializes in operations abroad. The group, and the wider IRGC, are viewed with suspicion outside Iran, and have been accused of involvement in terrorism. A number if entities affiliated with the IRGC, including some high ranking officers in the organization, have been sanctioned by the US and the EU.
In addition to claiming that Suleimani has been able to ignore the UN-mandated sanctions on his movement, Alusi also alleged that his ability to do hinges on tacit US acceptance of his activities in Iraq.
“He [Suleimani] feels safe to violate this travel ban due to the presence of US-Iranian consensus on a number of important regional issues. The US has taken the hand of Iran in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, in return for the [resolution of] the Iranian nuclear file,” the Iraqi parliamentarian claimed.
“The Iraqi government cannot restrict Suleiamani’s movement so long as this is taking place . . . within the framework of a deal between Washington and Tehran,” he added.
Tehran has previously confirmed that Suleimani is able to travel despite the international travel ban. An Iranian general in September said that the Quds Force commander was in Iraq and playing a “critical role” in the fight against ISIS.