Iraq's electricity deal with Iran fails as protests rage on
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity on Monday said they had failed to convince Iran to resume the sale of electric power during ongoing tumultuous protests which demand, among other things, an end to the shortage of the commodity.
Nearly 15 years after the fall of the former regime, the issue of electricity remains a problem in a country where temperatures reach up to 50 degrees Celsius in the summer.
A week ago, as part of their complaints, Iraqis from southern provinces began demonstrations on July 8, demanding jobs, an end to corruption, and electricity. Also included was an indictment of Iran’s influence in the country.
During Monday’s demonstrations, due to extremely high temperatures, the protesters decided to stop for four hours and resume afterward.
Iraq’s security forces continue to arrest organizers and regularly disperse protesters by firing into the air.
Casualties have entered the hundreds across Iraq, and an inside source told Kurdistan 24 that protest organizers are planning to hold a million-man march in the capital, though details of the time were undisclosed.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Electricity said in a statement that it had developed an “alternative plan” for the import of electric power from Iran after the Iranian side announced it was unable to resume operations at the four import lines.
The statement did not reveal the contents of the alternative plan.
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.
On the status of Basra, Minister of Electricity Qasim Mohammed al-Fahdawi said the current state of affairs with Iran had reduced the hours of available electricity in the province.
Fahdawi also noted the suspension of many projects awarded by the Basra Provincial Council to contractors to install power transmission lines.
The power scarcity has exacerbated the impact of rising temperatures on Iraqis, who have threatened to step up protests because of the lack of services.
Low power supply and cuts are common in Iraq despite the country being one of the world’s major oil producers.
There is a gap between actual demand and available supplies, with some demand reaching 21,000 megawatts, while the national grid provides 13,000 megawatts at best.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany