By Ali Ghorban Bagheri
The recent oil-for-gas barter deal between Iran and Iraq marks a new milestone in the history of relations between the two neighbors and will further frustrate US plots to drive a wedge between them, says an Iraq-based commentator on regional affairs.
In an interview with the Press TV website, Hussein al-Kanane said Washington has miserably failed to damage Tehran-Baghdad relations, despite making all-out efforts to prevent any kind of commercial, industrial, political, and social interaction between them.
Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani announced on Tuesday that his country had reached an agreement with Iran to pay for Iranian natural gas supplies with crude oil.
The agreement came after Washington refused sanctions waivers that previously allowed Iraq to buy gas from Iran and pay in dollars, prompting Iran to cut its gas supply, which led to power outages in Iraq.
However, the new barter deal has reinforced optimism that the supply of much-needed Iranian gas would return to previous levels during the scorching summer.
“I believe this agreement will further infuriate the US government because it marks another achievement that was made thanks to Iran-Iraq relations,” al-Kanane told the Press TV website.
He said Washington has time and again pledged to support Iraq economically and politically, yet in practice, it has taken hold of Iraq’s assets and does not allow it to pay for gas imported from Iran on the pretext of sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
This is while, he hastened to add, US-affiliated media outlets try to blame Iran for being the cause of the power shortages in the energy-deficient Arab country.
The Iraqi analyst argued that in spite of Washington’s wishful thinking, there is no practical and quick alternative to Iran’s gas for Iraq, explaining that importing gas from Qatar and other Arab countries is neither economically viable nor achievable in the short run.
Elsewhere in his remarks, al-Kanane maintained that the US uses the dollar as a weapon against its rivals and countries that do not go along with its policies.
“US sanctions countries such as Iran, Russia and others that are politically and economically independent,” he asserted
Due to unilateral US sanctions that are designed to choke the Iranian economy, Iraq has been unable to settle its 11 billion euros ($12.1 billion) debt to Iran for imports of gas and electricity, leaving the money frozen in Iranian accounts in the state-owned Trade Bank of Iraq.
Earlier this month, Yahya Ale Eshaq, head of the Iran-Iraq Joint Chamber of Commerce, said that there are “no obstacles” in financial exchanges between Tehran and Baghdad, calling the current phase a “strategic opportunity” for the two countries.
He announced that $10 billion worth of Iranian funds blocked in Iraq will be deposited to the Trade Bank of Iraq and used to purchase goods that do not come under US sanctions.