It seems that Iranian influence in Iraq is winning the game over the United States in its attempts to approach positions with the government of Muhammad Shia al-Sudani. The Iraqis look positively at maintaining their relations with China, Russia and Iran, and according to observers, Baghdad is already very far ahead in future agreements with these countries. Al-Sudani has also already shown his intention to increase Iraq’s participation in OPEC, which is currently in a complex context due to production cuts.
From Iraq, they are clear that following in the footsteps of their Iranian partner is the best option for their economy. And it is that the Iraqi situation is not the best because they are now in the process of reconstruction and are specifically hoping to get the help of their Iranian partners. The defect – which does not seem to be the case with regard to Iraq – in this cooperation with Tehran is the lack of compatibility with the link proposed by Washington, although the work of the Baghdad government does not seem to pass through the White House.
However, in the United States they hope, or rather they hope, to force the Iraqis to change their minds by offering them cooperation agreements in various matters. The United States Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, confirmed that his country “Stands ready to work with the government and people of Iraq to perpetuate respect for human rights, increase economic opportunities, promote the independence of the energy sector in Iraq, and address the climate crisis.” However, observers believe that these words from Blinken had no impact on the plans of Iraq, which continues to maintain its idea of closer relations with its eastern partners.
Indeed, China has worked hard to stay close to Baghdad, as evidenced by the signing of oil deals in 2019, making Beijing one of the largest beneficiaries of Iraqi oil. In fact, Iraq currently imports 44% of the 800,000 barrels of crude oil that Iraq exports daily. In addition, the Iraqi Oil Exploration Company and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation have begun joint seismic surveys as part of the first phase of large-scale oil and gas exploration.
How could it be otherwise, the influence gained by the country led by Xi Jinping was not for nothing. And as usual in this region for a few years, the Belt and Road Initiative is behind it. Up to $10.5 billion has been allocated to finance infrastructure-related projects, including the construction of a power plant and an airport.
To this we must add the recent contract signed between China and Iraq worth $386 million to build a train oil processing facility. In the Qurainat area for production development in the south of Rumaila, the largest oil field in Iraq. Each train is expected to have a capacity of approximately 120,000 barrels of oil. All this, according to observers, made Iraq not think of abandoning its Chinese partner in order to get closer to the United States, whose efforts to ally with the Iraqis seem to fall on deaf ears.
Americas Coordinator: Jose Antonio Sierra.