PM says some parties don’t want Iraq to reach energy self-sufficiency

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi pays a visit to a gas station in south of Baghdad, July 10, 2021. (Iraqi PM office)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said on Saturday there are parties that do not want Iraq to reach energy self-sufficiency.

Kadhimi visited the ministry of electricity on Saturday to discuss the issue of power outage and targets of transmission towers.

“There are forces that are working to ensure that Iraq does not reach self-sufficiency in energy and gas,” Kadhimi said during the meeting.

“[They] are trying to impede these efforts by every means,” he added, referring to the government’s efforts to improve the energy sector.

Kadhimi vowed that his government would not stop from working to develop the energy sector and that it was working on a strategic plan to provide electricity to its citizens.

“Our solutions in the power sector are based on diversifying energy sources and achieving sufficiency in gases or other fuels for power stations,” he said.

Dozens of transmission towers have been targeted by militant groups across Iraq in the past weeks.

Iraqi authorities accuse Islamic State (ISIS) militants of targeting the country’s towers in several provinces.

The explosion of towers comes as Iraq is struggling with electricity outage in several provinces in central and south of the country.

The electricity ministry said the blackouts, which started in the south before spreading to the rest of the country, were caused by unexplained attacks on power lines.

“Someone is trying to destabilize the country and sow chaos,” ministry spokesman Ahmad Moussa said on television, without giving further details.

Power from Iraq’s main grid suffers year-round from hours-long cuts each day, but the shortages worsen during the hot summer months when temperatures regularly reach 50 degrees and households rely on air conditioning.

Iraqis blame a government which relies on energy imports from Iran and which they say has failed to develop Iraq’s own grid to serve its population. Iraq’s electricity minister resigned last week under pressure over the power crisis, local media reported.

Kadhimi further said during the meeting that the previous governments had spent nearly $80 billion on electricity sector since 2003.

“Corruption was a strong obstacle to providing energy to people in a stable manner,” he added.

“Whoever abused the energy sector through corruption, negligence or political bargaining over the years has no difference from what terrorism is doing today by targeting transmission lines.”

Iraq is perceived as the 21st most corrupt country in the world, according to Transparency International, with some $450 billion in public funds vanishing into the pockets of shady politicians and businessmen since 2004.

Iraqi President Barham Salih said in April that $150 billion from oil had been smuggled out of the country since former Baath president Saddam Hussein was ousted in 2003.

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