Baghdad (AP) —Iran has cut off significant power supplies to Iraq, fueling fears of protests on Tuesday amid instability following the resignation of Iraq’s power minister.
Iran, struggling to raise money, has pressured the Iraqi government to release payments of power after it has fallen into arrears. This development will still be accompanied by a scorching summer temperature of several months prior to the expected federal elections.
Power Minister Majed Mahdi Hantoosh submitted his resignation on Monday amid general and political pressure on repeated power outages across the country. The southern states of the country, which currently averages 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit), are reducing their working hours because of the extreme heat.
Calls for protests in the oil-rich Basra Vilayet were often in the stage of electricity-related demonstrations and were distributed throughout social media, giving the government to restore electricity until 6 pm on Tuesday.
“Otherwise we will escalate, block all streets in Basra and teach officials a lesson they will never forget,” he said.
Iraq’s reliance on Iran’s energy imports has geopolitical consequences and is a source of ongoing tensions with the United States. Washington has stipulated an exemption from ongoing sanctions by making Iraq less energy-dependent.
Power outages routinely cause intense protests, especially in the South, which poses a high risk to the Iraqi government. The federal election is scheduled for October 10, the first time since a major anti-government protest swept the country in 2019.
According to the Ministry of Power data seen by the Associated Press, output from the four cross-border power tie lines from Iran to Iraq was zero on Tuesday. Total cuts began this week, ministry officials said. Authorities demanded anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media. Supply has fluctuated in the last few weeks.
Gas and electricity imports from Iran often meet up to one-third of Iraq’s electricity demand.
“Iraq relies heavily on Iran’s energy imports, especially during peak summer months,” said Yesal al-Mareki, a Gulf analyst at the Middle East Economic Survey.
“Gas imports from Iran range from 1.5 to 1.8 billion cubic feet per day. Currently, electricity generation in the South is collapsing at less than 1 (gigawatt). This is because these lines are only offline. Not even the gas flow is down. “
Iran supplies Iraq through two pipelines used to power the power plants in Basrah, Samawah, Nasiriyah and Diyala. Production from these plants has also plummeted, suggesting that Iran’s supply of these plants is also low.
The impact was immediate.
In Basra, the state needs 4,000 MW, but currently receives 830 MW. “It’s a catastrophe,” said Almareki.
As temperatures rise, this reduction will cause Iraqis to lose the power to run hospitals, businesses and homes.
Many are afraid of repeated violent protests against Basra in 2018 in a call to show that their voices will grow louder. These were also consistent with Iran’s power outages for the issue of non-payment.
Iraq has borrowed $ 4 billion from Iran to import energy. The country’s economic crisis partially caused delays, but complex payment schemes designed to circumvent U.S. sanctions, even the money allocated to pay for imports, slowed the transfer. ..
Through this system, Iraq cannot pay Iran directly for imported goods, but it can pay for goods, medicines and other costs related to Tehran’s diplomatic mission and Iranian companies operating in Iraq. Recently, Iraq bought a vaccine for Tehran.
But Iran complains that money is flowing too slowly.
Meanwhile, states across Iraq have taken precautions to combat rising temperatures and reduced working hours. Basra, Najaf, Diwanie and Diyala have shortened their business days from 8 am to 12 pm.