By Padraig O’Hannelly.
Much has been written about the expected lifting of sanctions on Iraq’s powerful neighbour, Iran, opening Iranian markets to international commerce and allowing Iran to export more goods and services.
But the burning question on the streets of Baghdad, Basra and Erbil is what does all this mean for Iraq?
In a readers’ poll for Iraq Business News earlier this year, before the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was agreed, more than half of respondents said that Iran had too much influence on Iraq.
Political opinion, rather predictable, has tended to break down along sectarian lines, with many Shias supporting the Iran nuclear deal, and many Sunnis opposing it.
Commercially, however, opinions are less predictable. Iran has forged increasingly close business links with Iraq over recent years, and that is likely to accelerate in the absence of sanctions; but a torrent of Iranian crude oil hitting the international market would depress oil prices, putting further pressure on Iraqi budgets.
Like all changes to the status quo, a resurgent Iran would present opportunities to some and threats to others.
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(Iran-Iraq image via Shutterstock)