ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The local government in Halabja province is working with their Iranian Kurdish counterparts in the neighboring Kermanshah province to gain official status for two border crossings, a Kurdish official said on Monday.
Speaking to Kurdistan 24, Nukhsha Nasih, the mayor of Halabja, said a delegation from Halabja had recently visited Iran to discuss with local officials in Salas-e Babajani, Kermanshah province, a process to formalize the semi-official border crossings of Pshta and Shoshme.
During the meeting with Salas-e Babajani mayor, the two sides had also discussed “importing electricity” from Iran, Nasih said, adding that the Iranian side had welcomed the idea.
Mayor Nasih’s statement could mark a development in that regard. The trade could begin through the two border crossings after it gains officialdom.
The status would be achieved after the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs approves their Iraqi counterpart’s proposal, Nasih explained, adding that Baghdad had recently sent the offer.
In early January, an Iranian trade official proposed an idea to export electricity to the Kurdistan Region through Halabja, explaining that there is ample opportunity to “pilot” bilateral trade ties with the region through the neighboring Iranian Kurdish provinces.
We “would like to start gas exports to the Kurdistan region through Halabja,” Hassan Danayi-Far, the secretary general of Iran’s economic relations with Iraq and Syria, said.
Baghdad has reportedly been working with Tehran to increase cooperation in the area of electricity to address Iraq’s chronically-troubled power industry, especially in the southern provinces.
The recent developments come three months after the US imposed its second round of sanctions on Iran, targeting the financial and energy sectors.
The Trump administration has repeatedly called on countries around the world to respect the sanctions and warned against breaching them.
In late January, British Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt, visited Iraq and said that Baghdad should decrease its economic reliance on Tehran and become more self-sufficient regarding energy.
“To expect Iran to have no influence in Iraq is fanciful,” Burt told Reuters.
“What is important is that Iraq finds the opportunity to follow its own future in terms of foreign relations and that its economy is strong, and isn’t reliant on Iran.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Additional reporting by Avin Atta)