The Iraqi government, which was formed by the coordination framework, put relations with Washington in a tailspin by signing the oil-for-electricity agreement, which will end the crisis of repeated outages, although experts considered the deal a loser, as Iraq will buy electricity from Iran at more than twice its global price.
Baghdad realizes that, with this agreement, it has put itself in a confrontation with Washington, which could consider the barter as a circumvention of sanctions against Tehran, but the coordination framework that leads the government seems forced to do so, because it faces fears of a popular escalation due to the electricity crisis, in addition to the escalation of the possibility of dismissing a minister. Electricity, against the backdrop of the recent energy crisis, to be the fifth electricity minister to be overthrown since 2006.
The coordination framework lives in an unenviable situation due to concerns about the expansion of protests against the decline in electricity supply hours, and angry demonstrations are increasing with the continued escalation of temperatures approaching 50 degrees Celsius, especially in the south.
The electricity crisis in the last 17 years has caused resignations, interrogation and issuance of judgments about 15 times against 10 ministers in 7 successive governments.
Only a year ago, about 3,000 officials in the Ministry of Electricity were summoned, including 12 ministers and undersecretaries.
The Ministry of Electricity says that it has not paid the debt bill for the Iranian gas used in the operation of power stations, which is contrary to what the minister mentioned two months ago.
According to the statements of the spokesperson for the Ministry of Electricity, Ahmed Musa, his ministry is not concerned with transferring money to Iran after it has paid it to the (TBI) bank.
He said, “The Iranian side informed us that the money has not yet reached it,” which led to a drop in gas from 45 million cubic meters to 20.
Last June, Electricity Minister Ziyad Fadel announced the transfer of all amounts owed by Iran regarding the gas supplied to Iraq.
Iranian Deputy Oil Minister for Gas Affairs Majid Chengi said a few days ago that the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity had paid Iran all gas-related debts, while the head of the Iranian-Iraqi Chamber of Commerce, Yahya Al-Ishaq, announced in early July that Iraq had paid Iranian dues amounting to $10 billion.
However, these words changed after the statement of the coordination framework in its first meeting on electricity at the beginning of this week, in which it accused the United States of obstructing the arrival of funds to Tehran, and warned against using the file “politically”.
The Iranian ambassador in Baghdad supported the statement of the coordination framework, stating that the electricity crisis in Iraq is political and America is the reason.
Ambassador Muhammad Kazem Al Sadiq wrote on Twitter: “The frequency of patriotic voices is increasing, demanding that the electricity card be removed from American political dealings and exploited to strike people with the increasing temperatures.”
He added, “The demands to achieve economic sovereignty for Iraq put the finger on the wound, and are considered an accurate diagnosis of the crisis that deserves thanks.” For the Shiite coalition’s exit from the crisis, which it fears will turn the street against it, one of the proposed solutions is to dismiss the Minister of Electricity.
Prime Minister Muhammad Shia’ al-Sudani called, during his meeting with the electricity cadres, to provide free fuel to private generators, and to try to import gas from Turkmenistan and Qatar.
But the head of the Center for Political Thinking, Ihsan al-Shammari, said that Iran will not allow Iraq to change the source of obtaining gas.
Turkmenistan is more than 20 thousand kilometers away from Iraq, which may make this alternative illogical, according to a map published by Mustafa Sanad, a deputy close to the framework.
On this basis, the option of dismissing Minister Ziyad Fadel remains the closest to reality until the end of the next 60 days, which are expected to be the hottest.
In this regard, Representative Mustafa Al-Karawi says that amid the difficult crisis, the Minister of Electricity has not been in the ministry for days, according to video clips published by deputies who went to meet him.
Parliament is supposed to submit oral questions to the Minister of Electricity, in the “minister’s presence,” about the energy file, along with the Minister of Oil. Al-Karawi, a member of the Finance Committee, confirms: “The questions and interrogations are supposed to precede hosting ministers in Parliament.”
Representatives had collected signatures to question the energy ministers, in addition to the ministers of agriculture and water resources, amid expectations of an upcoming cabinet change.
Al-Karawi adds, “We did not discuss these interrogations before the legislative recess, and things will become clear after a few days when the sessions return.”
During the previous ministries of electricity, Parliament called and questioned 5 ministers, most notably Qasim Al-Fahdawi in 2015.
In 2019, the Integrity Committee said that Muhammad al-Halbousi, the head of the council, had agreed to open an investigation with all electricity ministers since 2006.