Is the US tutelage imposed on the Iraqi economy?
Is the US tutelage imposed on the Iraqi economy?
Iraqis and observers are following with great interest the results of the visit of the Iraqi economic delegation to the United States a few days ago, because of its decisive effects on the economic and living conditions of the country, present and in the future, in light of the repercussions of the American-Iranian conflict on the Iraqi arena and the region.
In an attempt to persuade the American administration to ease restrictions on the movement of the dollar that it imposed on Iraq recently to limit massive transfers of Iraqi funds to Iran and some neighboring countries, the Baghdad government sent an economic delegation to Washington that included Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, the Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq, Ali Al-Alaq, senior economists and finance experts, and representatives Some ministries, where the visit raised divergent opinions between the Iraqi delegation’s claim of the success of its mission, and the indications of the failure of the visit and the US imposing its conditions on Iraq.
Many indicators confirmed the difficulty of the economic delegation’s task in persuading Washington to ease its restrictions imposed on the movement of the Iraqi dollar to limit its flow towards Iran and its allies, as part of the United States’ efforts to control the Iraqi economy by linking it to it and its allies and keeping it away from Iranian influence.
In what appears to be an acknowledgment by the Baghdad government that the US position cannot be changed, the Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia’ al-Sudani, described the attempt to impede the wheel of the economy and return to smuggling and violating the laws as a “losing bet.” Al-Sudani stressed that “the wheel of economic reform is moving forward” and that “whoever bets on going backwards, practicing smuggling, and violating laws and instructions, is a losing bet. ».
This statement coincided with a massive campaign launched by the security authorities against banking companies and banks that buy dollars from the market and smuggle them abroad, where it was announced that many of those involved in this matter were arrested, to limit Iraqi banking companies buying dollars from the market to smuggle it or manipulate its exchange rate. And this came in the wake of the US Federal Reserve’s recent decision to place restrictions on illegal transfers of billions of dollars from Iraq to other countries, which Washington considered a breach of the international sanctions imposed on Iran and its allies.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, who met in Washington with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, announced that the Iraqi delegation called on the Americans to implement the provisions of the strategic agreement signed by Iraq and the United States in 2011. The Iraqi delegation held numerous meetings with American financial decision makers and the World Bank, in order to convince them of the safety of The Iraqi government’s measures to curb currency smuggling, which is not an easy task in light of the Baghdad governments’ silence on the widespread smuggling of dollars to Iran since 2003. The meetings also discussed the economic situation in Iraq, the problem of banks, the exchange rate of the dollar, the production of gas, oil, electricity, and others.
In order to reassure the American side of the efforts of the Baghdad government to move away from dependence on Iranian oil and gas, Fuad Hussein affirmed, “We are working to achieve independence in the field of energy,” claiming that “Iraq cannot be an oil and gas state and does not have electricity,” stressing that the Iraqi government I recently decided to activate the agreements concluded with various companies to extract gas from the fields, and that agreements will also be concluded with other companies to invest in the field of gas associated with oil, as Iraq is the second country in the world in wasting gas.
US focus on Iraq’s economy
As for US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, he stressed in his speech during the press conference with the Iraqi Foreign Minister, “that his country is working to strengthen the Iraqi economy and reintegrate it into the region within the framework of the strategic relations that link the two countries,” explaining, “We are now focusing very intensively on the economic dimension of that agreement.”
In stressing Iraq’s distance from dependence on Iranian oil and gas, Blinken said: “There will be a special focus on energy and electricity in the strategic framework agreement,” stressing that Iraq “can and must be independent in the field of energy.” It is a reference to the American rejection of the Baghdad government’s dependence on Iranian oil and gas, in conjunction with the deliberate waste of Iraqi gas and the rejection of calls for its investment by local and international companies.
It was noted that Blinken did not address in his statements the main issue related to the movement of the dollar in Iraq, which indicates that the US administration did not change its restrictions and did not respond to the Iraqi demands. Informed sources confirmed that the American position was strict on the need for Iraq to reconsider its banking system, which has large loopholes that allow the smuggling of Iraqi funds to Iran and help it break the blockade and sanctions against it. Washington also revealed that it closely monitors money laundering and currency smuggling in Iraq, and therefore warned Baghdad of the need to control the movement of its dollar, otherwise the Iraqi dinar will be doomed to collapse, as happened with the Syrian and Lebanese pounds.
The joint statement of the two countries stated that they had decided to “accelerate efforts to exploit the burning gas, modernize the infrastructure for natural gas distribution, regional connectivity to the Iraqi electricity network, modernize the electricity infrastructure in Iraq, and explore renewable energy opportunities.” The American delegation praised “Iraq’s commitment to regional electrical interconnection projects with Jordan and Saudi Arabia» They also urged the use of solar energy. The two delegations affirmed “the convergence of views that pursuing an ambitious agenda for energy independence is necessary to achieve maximum economic prosperity for Iraq and protect its sovereignty.”
While the Governor of the Central Bank, Ali Al-Alaq, affirmed the bank’s intention to launch the second package of measures that would enhance the stability of the dollar exchange rate, stressing that “the new electronic platform to avoid the imposition of any penalties on the parties that carry out transfer operations, whether they are banks or others, as it is a protection for the banking sector and the bank.” The Central Bank and the banks from falling into any forms related to foreign financial transfers, and this serves all parties.
Iraqi economic analysts indicated that the US Federal Bank gave Iraq a short period of time to commit to monitoring the movement of its funds, in accordance with international standards, and to avoid money laundering and informal transfers.
Samir Obaid, an academic and expert in political and strategic affairs, revealed, in a series of tweets on his personal page on Twitter, “Washington imposed a number of conditions on Iraq in order to overcome the dollar crisis and smuggle it abroad, and that among the American conditions signed by the Iraqi delegation in Washington is the opening of a federal office in Amman.” His mission is to monitor the movement of Iraqi funds ». He revealed that “Al-Sudani broke the barrier of hesitation and courtesy with the framework leaders (Iran’s allies) and informed them of the strict American conditions signed by the Iraqi delegation in Washington, which have become binding,” he said, which he considered “the imposition of American tutelage on the Iraqi economy by signing them in Washington.”
Perhaps the most prominent indicator of the failure of the Iraqi delegation to change the American position is the angry reactions of the forces of the coordination framework allied to Iran, which expressed dissatisfaction with the results of the foreign minister’s move in Washington and pledged to send Prime Minister Muhammad al-Sudani to Washington for this purpose.
The forces of the framework directed various accusations against the United States, at times of seeking to control Iraq and its economy, with calls to get rid of the American financial hegemony over Iraq. In addition to calls for the Sudanese government to sell oil to India, China and other countries, in currencies other than the dollar, away from the US financial system that controls the world economy. While some framework sources stated that Washington took the oil export agreement to Jordan through the (Basra-Aqaba) pipeline as one of the conditions for resolving the dollar crisis, others claimed that the Russian-Chinese-French move towards Iraq recently prompted Washington to impose restrictions to put pressure on the Iraqi government economically.
Away from intentions and goals, observers see that the American measures are welcomed by most Iraqis, as they are beneficial to their country and limit the drain of Iraq’s funds by other countries. They also see that the decisions of the US Federal Bank are systematic and deliberate to direct the Iraqi economy and prevent its exploitation by Iran and its allies. As for the Baghdad government, which has fallen between the American rock and the Iranian anvil, it has no choice but to abide by the American restrictions, despite the pressure exerted on it by the Iraqi loyalist forces, which reflects Iran’s unwillingness to abandon the Iraqi milking cow, amid anticipation of the next Iranian steps to circumvent the American decisions.