US vows to strengthen Iraq’s ‘economic integration’ across West Asia
Many have criticized Iraq’s economic over-dependence on Washington, which the US has been accused of trying to capitalize on to the detriment of Baghdad
By News Desk - February 10 2023

(Photo credit: US State Department)

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken vowed to help strengthen Iraq’s “economic integration” across West Asia during a meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein in Washington on 9 February.

Blinken told Hussein – who headed an official delegation that arrived in the US on Thursday – that Iraq “can and should” achieve total energy independence.

“We have worked together for many years – too many years … But this is an important moment, an important meeting,” Blinken told Hussein upon his arrival at the State Department.

“We have a Strategic Framework Agreement with Iraq, but we are now focused very intensely on the economic dimension of that agreement and the work that we can do together, the United States and Iraq, to continue to strengthen Iraq’s economy, its integration, reintegration in the region, in ways that make a material difference in the lives of the Iraqi people and Iraqi citizens,” he added.

Hussein told Blinken that “Iraq is in need of [US] support in various fields, and … will continue cooperation.”

Recently, Iraq’s economic situation has been impacted by increased US sanctions against Iran. In an attempt to “curtail money laundering and the illegal siphoning of dollars” to the Islamic Republic, the New York Federal Reserve has enforced stricter rules on Iraqi commercial bank transactions, the Wall Street Journal reported in January.

This caused the blocking of over 80 percent of Iraq’s daily US dollar wire transfers. Before the implementation of these new rules, daily US dollar transfers could total over $250 million, signifying what some have referred to as Iraq’s over-dependence on US currency.

As a result, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said at the time that Washington’s actions were harming the poor and threatening the government’s budget.

The meeting between Hussein and Blinken also follows a recent increase in energy cooperation talks between Baghdad and Moscow. On 5 February, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Baghdad for discussions on how to enhance this cooperation, among other things.

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