The oil from Kirkuk province hasn’t been flowing to Iran for some time after Tehran helped Baghdad reclaim the territory from the Kurdish forces. It’s unclear how long the deal is going to be afloat since a political bloc led by Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr secured a large number of seats in the Iraqi parliament.
Iraq has resumed its exchange of oil with Iran, sending first trucks with black gold from Kirkuk province to Tehran’s refineries, the Iranian oil ministry’s news agency SHANA reported. Tehran will be sending the same amount of its oil to Iraq’s ports on the Persian Gulf. Reuters news agency points out that the swap deal might be Baghdad’s way of repaying for Tehran’s help in reclaiming the province from the Kurds.
The whole move could strengthen Iran’s positions in Iraq ahead of a looming re-imposition of the sanctions by the US. Reuters has suggested that the swap deal might also cause Riyadh dissatisfaction, which accuses Tehran of destabilizing the situation in the Middle East and is opposed to its strengthening in the region. It is unclear though how this deal will work after the victory of a Shi’ite block led by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in general elections, considering the fact that the latter has positioned himself as an opponent to Iran’s influence in Iraq.