ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq is “not part” of the recent iteration of sanctions the US has imposed on Iran and seeks balanced relations between both sides, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi affirmed on Tuesday.
“Iraq is not part of the sanctions” and Baghdad’s foremost concern is “to protect its national interest,” Abdul-Mahdi told the media during his weekly press conference. “Our country’s position is similar to that of Europe, Russia, China, and Japan,” alleged Abdul-Mahdi in response to a question on the sanctions, without providing further explanation.
The second set of US sanctions targeting Iran’s energy, financial, and shipping sectors took effect Monday, November 5.
Eight countries received sanctions waivers: China, India, Greece, Italy, Taiwan, Japan, Turkey, and South Korea. According to Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, Iraq was not among the countries receiving a waiver.
Following Pompeo’s announcement, reports emerged quoting Brian Hook, US Special Representative for Iran, suggesting Iraq was among the countries that had received a special waiver.
Amidst the confusion that emerged from the conflicting statements, a State Department official explained to Kurdistan 24 that “a waiver was granted” to Iraq that will allow it “to continue to pay for electricity imports from Iran.”
Iraqi officials have stated that the US decision is conditional on Iraq not using the dollar to pay for Iranian exports, adding that Baghdad has created a bank account to conduct the transactions using the Iraqi Dinar.
However, the understanding remains that Iraq will halt the import and export of crude oil. Analysts speculated that Washington was concerned that Iran would send its own oil to Iraq and ship it out from Iraqi ports, allowing Tehran to receive the revenue from its sale.
Nevertheless, the Iraqi premier, in late-October, said Baghdad would prioritize its interests and sovereignty when it comes to the sanctions, but the White House has repeatedly stressed that there would be severe consequences for any country failing to respect the sanctions.
During his Tuesday presser, Abdul-Mahdi stressed that Baghdad would “talk with all parties, try to balance [ties] with the different sides without harming anyone,” adding that his administration does not “want to become party to any conflict” in the region.
Editing by Nadia Riva