[Ed. – This is inevitable, given the nations’ long, shared border, similarities in economic strengths, and interests in common. Preventing Iraq from being a conduit for sanctioned Iranian trade will be a tough slog. I’ve (J.E.) never agreed with Trump’s argument about “seizing the oil,” or taken it seriously, but it’s just another instance of the Trump effect, for a situation to arise that might be held to justify such an off-the-wall action.]
Iranian officials traveled to Baghdad this week to push for expanded trade and energy ties as it tries to undercut U.S. efforts to weaken Iraq’s economic links to its neighbor.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is in Iraq this week with a delegation of more than 50 companies. The visit comes a week after Iranian energy officials traveled to Baghdad to discuss strengthening energy links and keeping Iranian natural gas flowing to Iraq, where it accounts for over 40% of the country’s electricity needs.
The visits from top Iranian officials highlight the tightrope that Iraq walks, as competition intensifies between Iran and the U.S. for influence in Iraqi politics and market share of its economy. …
In addition to buying Iranian natural gas, Iraq is one of Iran’s top non-oil export markets, with a trade volume of $9 billion, mostly in agricultural products, foodstuffs, fruit, poultry and construction materials.