All tagged Iraq

Iran Seizes Small Oil Tanker Suspected of Smuggling Fuel

◢ Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized a foreign oil tanker in the Persian Gulf on July 31, compounding concerns about the safety of shipping in a region crucial to oil exports. The vessel—the third foreign ship seized by the guards in the Gulf since July 14—is suspected of smuggling a large volume of fuel, the Guards said on their Sepah News portal.

Iraq Sets Up 'Loophole' in US Sanctions to Buy Iranian Power

◢ Iraq is establishing a financial "loophole" to continue buying vital gas and electricity from Iran despite US sanctions, AFP has learned, mirroring a European mechanism that came into effect Friday. The "special purpose vehicle" (SPV) would allow Iraq to pay for imported Iranian energy in Iraqi dinars, which Iran could use to exclusively buy humanitarian goods, three senior Iraqi officials said.

US Grants Energy-Hungry Iraq New Iran Sanctions Waiver

◢ The United States has granted Iraq another 90-day waiver to continue with vital energy imports from neighboring Iran despite re-imposed sanctions, a government source said Saturday. The extension came after "long discussions" with Washington ahead of a looming deadline on a previous extension granted in December, the official, close to the negotiations, told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Iran Starts Regional Shuttle Diplomacy Amid U.S. Tensions

◢ Iran’s top diplomats are touring neighboring countries, including three Arab Gulf monarchies, to try to shore up support after the U.S. announced plans to increase troop deployments in the region and sell weapons to some of the Islamic Republic’s top rivals. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, late Saturday for meetings about the frictions, the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency reported.

Iraq Urges Iran to Respect Nuclear Accord

◢ Iraq's top diplomat Friday called on Iran to respect the landmark deal covering its nuclear program, which has been weakened by the US decision to withdraw from it and Tehran's backing away from certain commitments. "We think the JCPOA is a good agreement," said Iraq's Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim.

Iraq Caught in the Middle of US-Iran Face-Off

◢ Scarred by two decades of conflict, Iraq finds itself caught in the middle of a US-Iranian tug-of-war, fearing it could pay the price of any confrontation between its two main allies. Analysts say third parties may seek to exploit the latest spike in tensions between Tehran and Washington to spark a showdown that serves their own interests.

U.S. Pulls Iraq Embassy Staff as Tensions Climb Higher Over Iran

◢ The U.S. ordered its non-emergency government staff to leave Iraq amid increasing Middle East tensions that American officials are blaming on Iran, as fears rise that the region may be heading toward another conflict. Most employees at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and the consulate in Erbil, in the majority Kurdish region, will leave due to an “increased threat stream,” according to an embassy statement Wednesday.

Pompeo in Baghdad on Unannounced Visit

◢ US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in Baghdad late Tuesday on an unannounced visit, an Iraqi government source told AFP, cancelling a trip to Germany amid escalating US-Iran tensions. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the high security nature of the visit, said Pompeo was set to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi.

Cornered by Iran Sanctions, Turkey Is Said to Eye Iraqi Oil

◢ Turkey is seeking ways to buy more oil from Iraq, already a major supplier of crude to the Middle East’s biggest economy, as the U.S. looks to squeeze exports from Iran, according to two people familiar with the matter. Turkey could consider oil imports from Iraq’s southern port of Basra and may also try to secure more shipments via an existing twin pipeline that runs to the Turkish Mediterranean terminal of Ceyhan.

Iraq Says Tried to Stop US Blacklist of Iran Revolutionary Guard

◢ Baghdad tried to stop Washington from blacklisting Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a "terrorist organization," Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi said Tuesday, warning that the decision could further destabilize the region. The United States declared the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a "terrorist" group on Monday, prompting Tehran to quickly slap US troops with the same designation. 

Iran Leader Urges Iraq to Demand US Withdraw Troops

◢ Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called on Iraq to demand US troops leave "as soon as possible", warning that Washington is plotting to remove the Iraqi government. The remarks came during a visit to Tehran on Saturday by Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, whose country is under pressure from the United States to distance itself from Iran.

Iraq PM to Make First Official Iran Visit Saturday

◢ Iraqi premier Adel Abdel Mahdi will travel to Iran on Saturday, a member of his office said, in his first official visit to the country rivalling Washington for influence over Baghdad. The US reimposed tough sanctions on Tehran's energy and finance sectors last year but has granted Baghdad several exemptions to keep temporarily importing Iranian gas and electricity, crucial to Iraq's faltering power sector.

Iraq Needs Three Years on Iran Power: Parliament Speaker

◢ Iraq's parliament speaker voiced hope Friday that the United States will keep waiving sanctions on energy purchases from Iran, saying his country will need to import electricity from its neighbor for three years. President Donald Trump's administration has sought to cut off all exports from Iran but has twice granted three-month exemptions to Iraq, mindful of chronic blackouts that have reignited unrest in the war-torn country.

US Extends Iraq Waiver Over Iran Sanctions

◢ The United States is extending a waiver to let energy-hungry Iraq keep buying power from Iran, despite Washington's campaign of sanctions aimed at curbing Tehran, an official said. "While this waiver is intended to help Iraq mitigate energy shortages, we continue to discuss our Iran-related sanctions with our partners in Iraq," a State Department official said.

Iran's Rouhani Meets Iraq's Top Shiite Cleric

◢ Iran's Hassan Rouhani met Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Iraq's Najaf on Wednesday, an AFP photographer reported, in the first encounter between an Iranian president and the country's chief Shiite cleric. Sistani famously called Iraqis to arms against the Islamic State group in 2014, giving rise to the Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary alliance, which includes Iran-backed Shiite groups.

Iraq and Iran Build Economic Ties as a Sidelined U.S. Looks On

◢ In the contest for Iraq’s loyalty, geography is proving irresistible. Baghdad is being urged to take sides in the U.S.-Iran confrontation that’s escalated into one of the Middle East’s top flash-points. President Donald Trump is pushing Iraq to stop buying natural gas and electricity from its neighbor. President Hassan Rouhani wants it to purchase more to ease the pain imposed by American sanctions.

Iran's Rouhani Makes First Official Visit to Iraq

◢ Iran's President Hassan Rouhani arrived Monday in Iraq for his first official visit, as Baghdad comes under pressure from Washington to limit political and trade ties with its neighbor. Shiite-majority Iraq is walking a fine line to maintain good relations with its key partners Iran and the United States who themselves are arch-foes.

Iraq Likely Theater if US, Iran Tensions Worsen: Study

◢ Iraq could bear the brunt if conflict intensifies between Iran and the United States, a think-tank study said Wednesday. The International Crisis Group, which researches ways to prevent war, interviewed officials around the world including Iran for an extensive report on the state of the 2015 denuclearization accord between Tehran and major powers.

Iran Foreign Minister in Baghdad for Talks

◢ Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with his Iraqi counterpart in Baghdad on Sunday for wide-ranging talks, including on US sanctions against Tehran. The visit came just days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise stop on his regional tour to urge Iraq to stop relying on Iran for gas and electricity imports.