By John Lee.

The Trump administration has reportedly granted Iraq a further 90-day extension to the waiver exempting it from US sanctions on Iran.

CNBC quotes a senior State Department official as saying on condition of anonymity:

“While this waiver is intended to help Iraq mitigate energy shortages, we continue to discuss our Iran-related sanctions with our partners in Iraq.”

According to some energy analysts, without continued sanctions exemptions, Iraq could lose more than a third of its power overnight.

More here.

(Source: CNBC)

By Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Baghdad on March 11 amid his government’s efforts to expand ties with Iraq to reduce the impact of US sanction on Iran’s economy.

Prior to departing Tehran, Rouhani remarked, “[Iran’s ties with Iraq] cannot be compared to Iraq’s relations with an occupying country like America, which is hated in the region.” The visit is Rouhani’s first one to Baghdad since taking office in 2013.

The Iranian leader’s three days in Iraq will include his signing a series of agreements on energy, transport, agriculture, industry and health as well as meetings with Iraqi officials. In preparation, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in Baghdad the day before Rouhani.

Iran aims to boost annual trade with its neighbor from $12 billion to $20 billion to help offset US sanctions, which are strangling its economy.

Click here to read the full story.

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

How will US sanctions affect Iran-Iraq economic relations?

The Trump administration is giving Iraq a few more months to continue buying oil and electricity from neighbouring Iran before the United States enforces sanctions against Tehran.

After years of conflict, Baghdad now relies heavily on Iran for goods and services.

And Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is visiting Iraq to solidify ties between the neighbours, trying to convince them to defy the US president.

Al Jazeera‘s Natasha Ghoneim reports from Baghdad:

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

Iran questions Iraq’s promise to import oil despite sanctions

Iran and Iraq have quite different views of their relationship status, with Tehran claiming it’s been jilted and Baghdad declaring it’s being faithful.

Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh (pictured) surprised Iraqi officials Feb. 7 when he very publicly expressed dissatisfaction with Iraq “reversing some oil agreements, and refusing to invest in the border oil fields and to pay Iran its [$2 billion in] debts.”

He indicated that “Baghdad’s commitment to the US sanctions has prompted [Iraq] to revoke minor agreements, such as the Kirkuk deal, under which we traded 11,000 barrels of oil a day.”

Iraq ended that deal in November under US pressure. The United States has imposed sanctions on Tehran and countries that defy those sanctions by continuing to do business with Iran.

Zangeneh’s remarks contradict the outcome of his meeting in Baghdad with Iraqi Oil Minister Thamir Ghadhban last month, when they agreed that Iraq would import gas from Iran and develop some border fields.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has reportedly suspended oil exports to Iran.

According to Anadolu Agency, the KRG’s Ministry of Finance and Economy did not specify a reason for the move, and “it remains unclear whether the suspension is linked to U.S. sanctions on Iran.

(Source: Anadolu Agency)

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

From The Economist.

America is trying to get more out of its relationship with Iraq

US President Donald Trump thinks America is being ripped off. “We have spent $7trn—trillion with a T—$7trn in the Middle East,” he told a crowd last year, exaggerating slightly. “You know what we have for it? Nothing. Nothing.”

To right this perceived wrong, Mr Trump has long favoured seizing Iraq’s oil. But after he hinted at the idea with the Iraqi prime minister (who demurred), his aides admonished him. “We can’t do this and you shouldn’t talk about it,” said H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser at the time, according to reports. Still, Mr Trump may be getting what he wants from Iraq in other ways.

When America reimposed sanctions on Iran last year it gave some countries extra time to stop buying Iranian oil before they would lose access to the American market. Most were given 90-day exemptions. In November Iraq, which shares a long border with Iran, was given half that time to cut off electricity and gas imports.

As it negotiated for extensions, American companies made a push for Iraqi contracts. In December, Rick Perry, the energy secretary, led America’s largest trade delegation to Iraq in over a decade. “It was a quid pro quo,” says an oilman. “You give us priority and we’ll give you an exemption.”

Read the full article here (subscription needed).

By John Lee.

Iraq’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Ali Alhakim [Mohammed Ali al-Hakim] (pictured) has been quoted as saying that Iraq is not obliged to abide by US sanctions against Iran.

According to Rudaw, he told journalists on Wednesday:

“These sanctions, the siege, or what is called the embargo, these are unilateral, not international. We are not obliged [to follow] them.”

Some “possibilities” have been proposed that would keep trade routes open with Iran, “including dealing in Iraqi dinars in bilateral trade,” he added.

More here.

(Source: Rudaw)

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

There is a fight over energy in Iraq between the US and Iran. Iraq relies on Iranian gas for nearly half of its energy – gas that is now subject to US sanctions on Iran.

The Iraqi government originally obtained a 45-day sanctions waiver from the US, but that waiver is set to expire next week.

Iraq is particularly sensitive to the issue after protests against electricity cuts rocked Basra earlier in the year and Iraq’s new government is treading a thin line trying to keep both the US and Iran happy, and its people satisfied.

Al Jazeera’s Charlotte Bellis reports:

By John Lee.

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry spent the last two days trying to convince the Iraqi government that it’s in its best interest to cut energy ties with Iran.

But according to a report from Washington Examiner, his efforts have had limited success.

Perry tweeted:

“In bilateral meetings with Iraqi President @BarhamSalih, Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi, and Speaker Mohammed Al-Halbousi I reaffirmed that the U.S. stands ready to assist the Iraqi people in transitioning from Iranian energy dependence to using their full domestic energy potential.”

Iran is Iraq’s neighbor and an important supplier of the natural gas that fuels the nation’s electric grid, which is crucial to Iraq’s economy and oil industry.

More here.

(Source: Washington Examiner)

Iraq’s new Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim highlighted the importance of bilateral relations with Iran and said the Arab country cannot cut off its trade ties with the Islamic Republic due to the US sanctions.

Alhakim pointed to Washington’s economic sanctions against Tehran and said, the value of annual trade between Iran and Iraq amount to $12 billion, the Arabic-language Al-Manar TV reported.

“We are not in a situation that we would be able to stop our trade exchanges with Iran,” the Iraqi top diplomat noted.

Earlier, Luqman al-Fili, the official spokesman for Iraqi President Barham Salih, had said that the US sanctions against Iran are part of regional tensions.

It is necessary that the citizens of the region are not affected by the embargoes, Fili said, adding that Baghdad is ready to cooperate to decrease the tensions.

The second batch of US sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran took effect on November 5.

Iran and Iraq enjoy cordial political, security and cultural ties but due to some internal and regional problems including Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL) terrorism in Iraq, they have not been able to increase their trade volume.

Iran’s main exports to the neighboring country include agro products, foodstuff and fruits such as watermelon, tomato and cucumber, which account for 37% of the total exports.

Other Iranian exports to Iraq include canned food, tomato paste, chicken, egg, meat, construction materials (mainly rebar, tiles and ceramics), steel and evaporative cooler.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)