Assessments

Iraq's Electricity Sector Is Caught in the U.S.-Iran Power Struggle

Dec 11, 2018 | 09:00 GMT
This photo shows an Iraqi man checking a mass of wires connecting homes in Baghdad to electricity.

A man checks the wiring on electric cables that run to home on Saadoun Street in Baghdad on July 29, 2018. Chronic power shortages have forced residents to buy electricity from private entrepreneurs who run generators on street corners across the country.

(SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Iraq has an electricity problem. Blackouts and brownouts are common during the country's broiling summers. Its aging and inefficient generation and transmission systems suffered $7 billion in damage at the hands of the Islamic State, but even before the jihadist group's push through Mosul in 2014, Iraq's electricity sector was struggling to keep up with demand. To supplement its own production, the country imports electricity and natural gas from Iran, but even that incomplete solution to its power shortages could be coming to an end soon. As the United States continues its pressure campaign against Iran, Washington has demanded that Baghdad come up with a plan to wean itself off Iranian energy supplies, which constitute a significant chunk of Iraq's electricity needs. That presents new Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi with a formidable challenge. Annual demand for electricity in Iraq, which hit a peak of 24,000 megawatts (MW) in 2018, is climbing...

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