Iranian president holds energy development talks with Iraqi officials

Iranian president holds energy development talks with Iraqi officials

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is scheduled to visit Baghdad today to begin three days of discussions with top Iraqi officials.

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Photo: Reuters

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is scheduled to visit Baghdad today to begin three days of discussions with top Iraqi officials.

Sharing a 1,450-kilometre border, Iran and Iraq have an important geopolitical relationship. Iraq relies heavily on Iranian natural gas to feed its power stations, importing almost 1.5 billion standard cubic feet per day.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the United States has put considerable pressure on the Iraqis to lessen their reliance on Iranian energy imports. The Trump administration has intensified this effort following its decision to reapply sanctions on Tehran, informing Iraqi leaders that they have until late March to end electricity purchases from Iran amounting to about 1.2 gigawatts per day.

The Iraqi government claims that cutting Iraq’s energy dependency on Iran will be impossible without significant development of the country’s energy infrastructure. However, Baghdad faces a dilemma. If it refuses to divest, this risks jeopardizing its relationship with Washington, which may lead to future sanctions from the latter. If it does choose to divest, Iraq will face a significant uphill battle to rebuild its largely decrepit energy infrastructure and would harm its relatively mellowed present rapport with Iran.

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