Iraq Granted Exemption from US Sanctions on Iran’s Energy Exports

Iraq will continue to have access to the energy it needs from Iran to generate and supply electricity, Brian Hook, the special representative for Iran at the US State Department, said.

“Iraq has been granted an exemption” to the energy sanctions the US has re-imposed on Iran, Hook said Monday on a media conference call without providing details.

Iraq is still importing natural gas and electricity from neighboring Iran and has set up a bank account to process payments in Iraqi dinars, according to two Iraqi government officials, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak to media, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

Iraq’s central bank officials said in August that the country’s economy is so closely linked to Iran that Baghdad would ask Washington for permission to ignore some US sanctions.

Iraq imports crucial supplies from its neighbor including gas for power stations.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

The United States has told Iraq that it will be allowed to keep importing crucial gas, energy supplies and food items from Iran after Washington reimposes sanctions on Tehran’s oil sector, three Iraqi officials said.

The waiver is conditional on Iraq not paying Iran for the imports in US dollars, said the officials, who included a member of Iraq’s ministerial committee that oversees energy activities, Reuters reported.

The US sanctions take effect on Nov. 4.

The ministerial committee official said Iraq’s finance ministry had set up an account with a state-run bank where Baghdad would deposit in Iraqi dinars the amounts owed to Iran for the imports.

Central bank officials said in August that Iraq’s economy is so closely linked to Iran that Baghdad would ask Washington for permission to ignore some US sanctions.

Iraq imports crucial supplies from its neighbor including gas for power stations.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

The United States has told Iraq that it will be allowed to keep importing crucial gas, energy supplies and food items from Iran after Washington reimposes sanctions on Tehran’s oil sector, three Iraqi officials said.

The waiver is conditional on Iraq not paying Iran for the imports in US dollars, said the officials, who included a member of Iraq’s ministerial committee that oversees energy activities, Reuters reported.

The US sanctions take effect on Nov. 4.

The ministerial committee official said Iraq’s finance ministry had set up an account with a state-run bank where Baghdad would deposit in Iraqi dinars the amounts owed to Iran for the imports.

Central bank officials said in August that Iraq’s economy is so closely linked to Iran that Baghdad would ask Washington for permission to ignore some US sanctions.

Iraq imports crucial supplies from its neighbor including gas for power stations.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By Sara al-Qaher for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

India, Iran or Turkey: Iraqi Students look Abroad for Post-Grad Studies

There are no easy options for Iraqi graduates who want to continue their education with post-graduate studies.

If they have good grades, they may try to obtain one of the few free spots at a public university in the country. If their grades are not good enough to take that path, they could try to find a private university in Iraq to attend or opt to study abroad, which could be cheaper.

Given this situation, a growing number of post-graduate students are choosing to leave Iraq, bound for neighboring countries or India, where numerous post-graduate programs are taught in English.

Click here to read the full story.

By Fazel Hawramy for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

IRGC masses troops on Iraq border amid rising tensions with Kurdish groups

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is launching increasingly daring operations to degrade the capabilities of armed Kurdish opposition groups.

In its latest move, it has deployed thousands of troops to difficult mountain ranges in the western part of the country used as safe havens by the groups for decades.

The IRGC’s operations have taken on an air of urgency since US President Donald Trump’s May 8 announcement that he was withdrawing the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, and re-imposing sanctions against Iran.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

Iran’s private banks have reportedly laid the groundwork for setting up a joint bank with their counterparts in Iraq.

Yahya Al-e Es’haq [Yahya Ale-Ishaq] (pictured), head of Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce, is quoted as saying that the bank would operate under the regulations of central banks of the two countries to facilitate money transfer.

(Source: Xinhua)

(Picture Credit: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By John Lee.

Turkey has announced that it will increase water supplies to Iraq to compensate for a drop in supply from Iran.

According to Abu Dhabi-based The National, Iran has said it will cut water supplies to Iraq to prioritise projects within Iran.

Turkey depends on water from the Tigris to fill a reservoir behind its new Ilısu dam.

This summer, Iraq’s agriculture ministry banned the growing of water-intensive crops due to shortages.

(Sources: The National, Sabah, Rudaw)

By Shaghayegh Rostampour for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

A mother covers her daughter’s mouth and nose with her headscarf as they rush through the heavy smog that blankets a crowded street. She stops to cough, but then continues to walk while covering her own mouth with her free hand. Maryam and her daughter Mina are not the only ones struggling with the air in this southwestern Iranian city.

For over two months, Ahvaz and its people have been choked by fires engulfing the Hawizeh Marshes that straddle the border with Iraq. Nearly two-thirds of the marshes are located in Iraq, with the rest not far from Ahvaz.

In mid-August, the governor of the town of Hawizeh, west of Ahvaz, said fumes and the smoke from flames originating on the Iraqi side of the marshes have sent over 250 people to the hospital. Things are not looking any better on the Iranian side of the border.

Click here to read the full story.

By Hamdi Malik for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The oil-rich port city of Basra is feeling the heat of the intensifying conflict between the United States and Iran. Pro-Iranian armed groups that threaten the United States from time to time are active in the city. The US-Iran tension is expected to affect the economic situation in Iraq in general, and in Basra in particular.

The US State Department announced Sept. 28 its intention to close its consulate in Basra and pull out its diplomats. This comes after three mortar shells targeted the US Consulate there.

On Sept. 29, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the Quds Force — a special force unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — and its commander Qasem Soleimani of being behind the threats. The United States “will respond promptly and appropriately to any such attacks,” he said.

Click here to read the full story.

(Picture credit: Ahmed Mahmoud)

By Laura Rozen for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Concerned that tensions between Iran and the United States could blow back onto Iraq, a senior Iraqi diplomat said today that Iraq would be willing to facilitate dialogue between the two nations.

“Iraq is capable and willing to facilitate and create communication between not only … the US and Iran, but with all the countries in the region,” Ahmed Mahjoub, spokesperson for the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told a small group of journalists and analysts at the Iraqi Embassy in Washington.

“During the recent two years, Iraq was able to solve a couple of problems between states,” Mahjoub said, adding that he could not discuss the details because the parties agreed not to disclose the Iraqi role in those mediations. “But I assure you that Iraq managed to solve problems between states during the last few years, and I believe that Iraq is willing to continue to this role.”

Click here to read the full story.