On 12 June, the Department of the Treasury sanctioned an Iraqi company after it ran weapons for Iran and its Middle East proxies.
According to a press release from Treasury, the firm in question known as South Wealth Resources Company (SWRC), “trafficked hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of weapons” to Iranian-backed Iraqi militias. SWRC and its two Iraqi associates (who were also designated by the department) have been covertly facilitating Iranian proxies to evade sanctions and access the Iraqi financial system. As the Treasury statement makes clear, all of these organizations were created as fronts for the sole purpose of running weapons for Iran.
Officials also expressed their disappointment with the Iraqis in being on top of these types of schemes. Apparently one of the main players in the network, one Qasem Soleimani, was a known operator of smuggling networks and had previously participated in several bombing plots in the region. “The Iraqi financial sector and the broader international financial system must harden their defenses against the continued deceptive tactics emanating from Tehran in order to avoid complicity in the IRGC’s ongoing sanctions evasion schemes and other malign activities,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.
The Trump administration has long been on the hunt for firms and networks assisting Iran in accessing international markets. The first on the chopping block were institutions and individuals in Iran itself. But gradually, other countries in the region began to enter the focus. Given Iran’s considerable influence in Iraq, the U.S. has long been concerned that Tehran was using Iraqi banks and companies as channels to evade the ever-toughening American sanctions.
The elaborate nature of Iran’s attempts to avoid the U.S. crackdown is uncovered more and more by the day.