U.S. squeezes Iraq with cash delays, short waivers

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Baghdad: Due to Iraq’s close ties with neighboring Iran, Washington has begun to address the threat of the fragile economy of Baghdad, to postpone the delivery of major cash payments and to reduce the threat of sanctions.

Despite US sanctions against Tehran this week, the US allowed Iraq to import Iranian gas at the last minute for use on its paralyzed electricity grid.

But Washington’s patience seems to have run out: the last exemption has been reduced from the usual 90 or 120 days to just 45 days.

“This is the start of a thousand deaths,” warned Ahmed Tabaqchali, a financial analyst at the Institute of Regional and International Studies in Iraq.

“The shorter you specify, the more mistakes we cannot afford at that time.”

Iraq is at a critical intersection. The new prime minister is working on forming a cabinet, massive anti-government protests are flooding the streets and tensions between his two main allies, Tehran and Washington, have increased enormously and blood has shed its territory.

Despite Iran’s immense political and military control in Iraq, the United States still has the most important asset: the economy.

The Central Bank of Iraq raises $ 100 billion to $ 2 billion in cash each month at the Federal Reserve in New York to retain all its oil revenues for official and commercial transactions.

However, senior Iraqi officials and oil industry sources said the ship’s schedule was more than a week late in mid-January, stating “political reasons” for the White House decision.

“We are on the edge of the knife,” Iraqi officials said.

Pompeii yells at the Iraqi prime minister

This is the first sign that Washington can introduce a threat in January to prevent Iraq from obtaining its funds, as Baghdad will fire about 5,200 US troops into Iraq.

That was the reaction of the Iraqi parliament to a strike by the United States on his country, in which a senior Iranian commander and an Iraqi paramilitary chief were killed.

A senior US diplomat in Baghdad said Washington had been considering blocking pressure on Iraq for months and calling it a “nuclear option” last year.

Although the dollar arrived on time in February, Iraqi officials said they hope Washington will limit the amount of cash that Baghdad can bring in.

Losing access to finance would have disastrous consequences for Iraq, whose economy is almost entirely dependent on oil exports paid in US dollars.

In addition, if the exemption from sanctions expires, Iraq will have to stop buying Iranian gas and face a huge power outage, or continue to import and risk American sanctions themselves.

Power outages can last up to 20 hours a day.

Washington has linked sanctions to other issues, including nearly 20 missile attacks on the US embassy in Baghdad and Iraqi bases stationed with US troops since October.

Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of Iraq yelled on the phone by departing Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi.

The official told AFP: “If the attack continues, he tells him that he forgot to renew the negotiations on exemptions.”

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