ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi Minister of Electricity is expected to visit Saudi Arabia to sign an energy agreement after negotiations with the Iranian government over power supplies failed.
Qasim Mohammed al-Fahdawi, the Iraqi Minister of Electricity, will visit Saudi Arabia this week to discuss an energy cooperation agreement with the Riyadh government, Iraqi and Arab media outlets reported on Monday.
The Ministry of Electricity on Friday revealed that Iran cut electricity supplies to Iraq due to unpaid bills. The Iranian move has exacerbated the country’s electricity crisis creating widespread anger and demonstrations across several provinces in southern Iraq.
The Ministry added that Fahdawi was in Tehran to discuss a new deal with Iranian officials regarding a resupply of power to Iraq.
According to a statement released on the Ministry’s website on Sunday, Fahdawi said the Ministry has set up an alternative plan to import power supplies.
Iraq was previously buying about 1,000 megawatts from Iran via two lines in Diyala, another in Basra, and a fourth in the southern city of Amara in Maysan Province.
According to the former Iraqi Parliament’s Energy Committee, the country has spent 40 billion USD on the electricity and power sector since 2003, yet the government has not been able to provide 24-hour electricity to its people.
“The Prime Minister of Iraq ordered [Fahdawi] to visit Riyadh to strike a joint deal after days of public unrest across southern cities in the country over poor services,” al-Arabiya news outlet reported.
A week ago, as part of their complaints, Iraqis from southern provinces began demonstrations, demanding jobs, an end to corruption, and electricity. Also included was an indictment of Iran’s influence in the country.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany