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Washington is pressing for the disengagement of Iraq from Iran .. And an Iraqi official: We are walking on the edge of the knife DinarDailyUpdates?bg=330099&fg=FFFFFF&anim=1

Washington is pressing for the disengagement of Iraq from Iran .. And an Iraqi official: We are walking on the edge of the knife

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Washington is pressing for the disengagement of Iraq from Iran .. And an Iraqi official: We are walking on the edge of the knife Empty Washington is pressing for the disengagement of Iraq from Iran .. And an Iraqi official: We are walking on the edge of the knife

Post by claud39 Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:47 pm

[size=32][rtl]Washington is pressing for the disengagement of Iraq from Iran .. And an Iraqi official: We are walking on the edge of the knife[/rtl][/size]

February 15, 2020

Washington is pressing for the disengagement of Iraq from Iran .. And an Iraqi official: We are walking on the edge of the knife Unknown-1

(AFP) - The United States started pressuring Iraq from the gateway to its fragile economy with the aim of ending its rapprochement with Iran, by reducing the period of exclusion from the sanctions associated with dealing with the Islamic Republic and delaying the release of vital cash payments.
The United States decided at the last minute this week to allow Iraq to continue importing gas and electricity from Iran. But it seems that the patience of the United States is finally running out, as the waiver period has decreased from ninety and 120 days, to only 45.
"This is the beginning of death with a thousand stab wounds," said Ahmed Tabaqli, a researcher at the Institute for Regional and International Studies in northern Iraq. "The shorter the exception, the less we will be able to tolerate the consequences of any mistake we make," he added.
Iraq stands at a crossroads. His Prime Minister-designate Muhammad Allawi faces difficulties in forming a new government, while anti-power demonstrations continue in several cities, amid an American-Iranian conflict that turned into a bloody confrontation on Iraqi soil last month.
Iran has significant political and military influence in Iraq, but the United States holds the card.
The Central Bank of Iraq transfers monthly between one billion and two billion dollars in cash from its account in the Federal Reserve in New York, where its revenues flow from oil, to pay for official and commercial transactions.
But the payment that was supposed to arrive in mid-January last, was delayed by two weeks, according to an Iraqi official and an oil sector source, noting "political reasons" behind the White House decision to delay the exit of funds.
"We are walking on the edge of the knife," the Iraqi official said.
"The nuclear option" -
This was the first indication that Washington might implement a threat it issued in January to prevent Iraqis from accessing their money if Baghdad expelled US forces stationed in Iraq, numbering about 5,200 soldiers.
This came after the Iraqi parliament voted to end the presence of foreign forces due to discontent over an American raid that killed the commander of the Iranian Quds Force, General Qassem Soleimani, and the head of the Popular Mobilization Committee, which includes Iraqi Shiite factions Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, near Baghdad Airport.
And Washington has discussed for months the issue of prohibiting funds to put pressure on Iraq, according to an American diplomat who described this step last year as a "nuclear option."
As the February payment arrived on time, Iraqi officials expect the United States to begin determining how much money Iraq can withdraw.
And depriving Iraq of money may lead to severe consequences, especially as its economy depends almost entirely on oil exports paid in dollars.
In the event that the period of exemption from the sanctions related to dealing with Iran without its renewal ends, this means that Iraq will have to stop importing gas and electricity from Tehran, or continue to deal with Tehran and face the possibility of US sanctions.
Iraq suffers from a shortage of electricity, which leads to its interruption at varying periods of up to 20 hours in some areas.
Washington has linked the pressures to other issues, including about 20 missile attacks against the US embassy in Baghdad and bases that include American forces in Iraq since last October.
An Iraqi official said that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “shouted” at resigned Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi during a phone call last month. "He told him to forget the issue of renewing the exception if the attacks continue," the official said.
In an additional indication of the decline in relations between Washington and Baghdad, Pompeo did not meet Iraqi Foreign Minister Muhammad al-Hakim on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference Friday and Saturday, but in return he met the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan region, Mansour Barzani, who also met with the US Energy and Defense Ministers.
- "booby-trapping" exceptions -
The United States is also upset about the Iraqi slowdown in signing contracts with major American companies specialized in the energy sector, with the aim of accelerating the disengagement from Iran in this field.
And weeks before the end of the last exception, a US official said that the Iraqis "have consistently rejected agreements with General Electric and Exxon."
And he considered that Iraqi officials "choose to rely on the Iranians, giving Tehran an influential position in their economy and infrastructure."
Iran, which has long worked to limit the influence of the United States in the region, is the second largest exporter to Iraq. However, the United States surpasses it in terms of direct investment, especially in the vital oil sector and infrastructure.
Sources in Baghdad and Washington talk of a split in American policy, as the White House appears to support the strategy of increasing pressure on Iraq, while others prefer to adopt flexibility.
The sources stated that the hawks in the American administration have become "dominant" positions, while an Iraqi official said that these people are now using financial transactions to "bully" in their relationship with the Iraqis.
The Iraqi Minister of Electricity in the resigned government, Louay al-Khatib, said in an interview with AFP that Washington should not "corner Iraq".
But at the same time, he expressed confidence that the United States would not “booby-trapped” the exemption from sanctions “with the aim of undermining public services.”
Al-Khatib mentioned that there is progress in the search for other sources, noting the signing of agreements with Jordan and Gulf countries to support the electricity grid, and the possibility of buying gas from companies operating in the autonomous region of Kurdistan.
The Iraqi government granted the green light to sign six contracts to develop Iraqi gas fields three weeks before the end of the last exception period.
According to Tabaqali, "The announcement came in response to American pressure. It is clear that the Iraqi government was terrified.
However, the United States may find itself unable to brand more than "economic threats," says Ramzi Mardini, a researcher at the Peace Institute in the United States.
"This approach may help protect American interests in the short term, but the bilateral relationship as a whole will remain subject to mistrust and hostility," he said.

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