The US granted Iraq a 90-day waiver from sanction to buy energy from Iran. This renewal exempts if from US sanctions on Iran, thereby allowing Iraq to import Iranian gas, which is critical for its power production. Despite being OPEC’s second largest producer of oil, the war-ravaged country has lacked investment and resources, leaving it entirely dependent on Iranian natural gas plants for almost 45% of its electricity requirements. America seeks to roll back Iranian influence within Iraq to destabilize Iran’s influence over politics and trade in the Middle East.
The earlier waiver, which was issued last year in December, expired on March 19. This extension will enable Iraq to continue buying electricity from its neighbor even in the midst of America’s pledge to increase the pressure against Tehran in the form of sanctions against it. This has basically been done to help Iraq mitigate its energy shortages.
Officials reported that the waiver is intended to help Iraq deal with energy shortages. After withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Trump administration reinstated sanctions on Iran last year. This lifted the economic restriction on Iran in return for a commitment to curb its nuclear program. A maximum pressure campaign is being carried out against Iran in an effort to crush, what is deems to be a destabilizing activity.
Here, Iraq is a special case because the administration cannot put an unreasonable amount of pressure on Iran that in turn leads to a destabilizing effect on Iraq. Even though Iraq imports around 28 million cubic meters of Iranian natural gas daily that provides power to almost 1 million Iraqi homes, the country continues to face severe power shortages due to its out-dated power infrastructure and its frequent failures to pay its bills.
If these exemptions are discontinued, Iraq could end up losing more than a third of its power overnight. Pockets of ISIS activity, poor public service provision, and failing infrastructure have aggravated this situation for Iraq. The condition is such that last summer, Iraq failed to pay its electricity bill to Iran, which prompted Tehran to cut off the power.
But the US government has been pushing for self-reliance and independence in the field of energy to diminish Iran. This, the US considers a sustainable way of curbing Iran’s dominance on Iraq. But experts are of the opinion that achieving energy self-sufficiency for Iraq can take several years, which means that continued sanctions waivers may be the only way forward.