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Iran's Fading Economic Presence In Iraq Can Be Costly, Says MP

Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh , Head of Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission

The chairman of Iran’s national security and foreign policy commission has said that his country’s economic balance sheet in Iraq is “negative”, and Turkey and Saudi Arabia have assumed a larger economic role, IRNA reported on January 1.

Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh said that his commission met on December 30 to examine Iran’s economic record in Syria and Iraq and the following question emerged: Given Iran’s good military and political record in Iraq, why its economic role has regressed.

He added that, “Iran’s place is empty in Baghdad’s bazaars” and “in Najaf and Karbala an unfair competition is underway, which in practice is pushing Iranian companies out”.

Iraq is the second biggest market for Iranian exports and Iran’s ambassador in November had said that trade can reach $22 billion annually in the future.

Falahatpisheh has also voiced alarm at the expanding role and influence of Turkey and Saudi Arabia in Iraq, saying that “their forces are getting positions in the heart of government organizations”.

He added that if Iran loses its economic presence, “we will also lose whatever we have in the political and military fields, which we have gained with sacrifice”.

Iran still remains a major supplier of natural gas to Iraq, which have so far been exempted by Washington from U.S. economic sanctions.