Baghdad heavily relies on Iranian electricity and natural gas imports to meet its energy needs. A forty-five-day sanctions waiver granted to Iraq by the Trump administration in early November is set to expire this week.
On November 11, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry attended a two-day conference in Iraq along with a trade delegation of over fifty US energy and security firms. During the visit, he urged Baghdad to wean itself off Tehran and pave the way for American investment in its energy sector. “The time has come for Iraq to break its dependence... on less reliable nations seeking domination and control,” Perry said.
Since the defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in late 2017, Baghdad has also been under US pressure to rein in, if not dismantle, Iran-backed armed Shia groups known as Paramilitary Mobilization Forces (PMF). Last year, then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at a joint news conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir that Tehran-backed militias and their Iranian advisors who helped expel ISIS from Iraq needed to “go home.”