The US is pressuring Iraq to stop buying energy from its neighbor Iran, in what has become a major point of conflict between Washington and Baghdad.
Iraqi leaders are pushing back on the demand, which is rooted in US President Donald Trump’s sanctions against Iran, according to a report by the New York Times on Monday.
Tensions rose after Trump said Feb. 3 that he planned to have US troops who have returned to Iraq “watch Iran,” despite Baghdad’s need to maintain cordial ties with its fellow neighbor.
US officials are seeking to cut off Iraqi purchases of natural gas and electricity, even though the country relies on those for a good portion of its energy needs, the report added.
Iraq’s energy production and grid capabilities have lagged since the US-led invasion of 2003, and blackouts in cities are common, even with the current purchases. The energy shortfall is especially acute in the sweltering summers, which has led to large protests.
Iranian natural gas is the single most critical energy import in Iraq, but US officials say purchases must end now because gas falls under the US sanctions.
Iraqi officials said the US demand acknowledges neither Iraq’s energy needs nor the complex relations between Baghdad and Tehran.
(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)