Washington has granted Iraq a shortened 45-day lifting of sanctions on Iranian gas imports, which expires days before US President Donald Trump’s term ends, an Iraqi official said on Saturday.
Baghdad is buying gas and electricity from its neighbor, Tehran, to supply about a third of its electricity sector, which has been worn down by years of conflict and poor maintenance.
The US blacklisted the Iranian energy industry in late 2018, but granted Baghdad a number of temporary exemptions in the hopes that Iraq would wean itself off Iranian energy through partnerships with US firms.
The length of the exemption has become a key tool in US policy towards Iraq and shows how satisfied or frustrated Baghdad is.
In May, Washington granted Iraq a four-month extension as a token of goodwill to Mustafa al-Kadhemi, who had just formed a US-friendly cabinet.
When the exemption was renewed in late September, the Trump administration gave Iraq just 60 days.
This time it was even shorter: 45 days, a top Iraqi official told AFP, about a week before Trump’s handover of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden.
“They (the Trump administration) wanted one last chance to have their say,” the official said.
The shorter waiver comes from concerns among Iraqi and Western officials that Trump might use his final days in office to attack Iran and its allies in Iraq.
The State Department is preparing plans for a possible closure of the American embassy in Baghdad, where dozens of rocket attacks were fired last year.
And two Iraqi officials have said they expect a “bucket list of sanctions” against Iranian interests in Iraq before the White House is handed over.
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)