Researcher Shatha Khalil *
Translated by : mudhaffar al-kusairi
Successive crises facing the Iraqi economy, especially after 2003, and Iraq’s dependence almost entirely on the rentier oil economy, but the most important in this article is to highlight the Iranian role in the acquisition and control by all means and methods on the Iraqi economy, and will be presented in detail.
More than 14.8 million unemployed Iraqi citizens:
According to the Independent Arabia that the Iraqi citizen suffers from many economic crises, although Iraq has huge oil reserves, these crises were the spread of poverty on a large scale, increasing unemployment, high inflation, and corruption rampant in all parts of the state, in addition to the lack of The ability of the Iraqi government to confront Iranian militias, which have turned Iraq into a battleground that should have been on Iranian territory rather than Iraqi territory.
According to the latest census conducted by the Central Statistical Organization in Baghdad in August, the unemployment rate among young people in Iraq was 22.6%. The Iraqi organization “Al-Nama” estimated the percentage of unemployed women by more than 80%.
The International Monetary Fund announced in May 2018 that the youth unemployment rate in Iraq was more than 40% of the population out of 37 million, according to the latest statistics announced by the Ministry of Planning and Development Cooperation of Iraq at the end of December First, this means 14.8 million Iraqis are standing for the unemployed queuing .
Iraqis suffer from unemployment… and the Iranian labor is working on its territory!
At the expense of the living conditions of the poor Iraqi citizen, the high unemployment and the deterioration of social and health conditions, we note the high number of Iranian workers in Iraq noticeably after the “deterioration of economic conditions inside Iran, because of the collapse of the Iranian currency against the US dollar, as a result of Washington sanctions, which led them to come to Iraq for working with a monthly salary which is about US $ 200.
The recent influx of Iranian labor is further exacerbating the labor crisis in Iraq greater than before, as well as the country’s high unemployment rate.
This is because Iranians compete with Iraqis for jobs because they accept very low wages, which has led them to be preferred over the sons of the country by the owners of factories, companies and shops.
Naseer al-Saadi, director of a factory for plastic industries in the Waziriya region in central Baghdad said: “Iraq is living in difficult economic conditions no less than that of Iran under the embargo.
The reason is due to rampant corruption in state institutions, and the absence of planning that led to the deterioration of the private sector, which significantly affected the working class in Iraq, and most of the owners of factories, companies and shops suffer from lack of cash liquidity and lack of sales, because of the control of imported goods on the Iraqi market, what It led them to favor foreign labor over Iraqi labor.
Saadi stressed that the reason for this preference is due to the difference in daily wages, which amount to less than half compared to local workers, with the provision of large services beyond what the Iraqi worker can provide, pointing out that he laid off 12 workers from the sons of the country and replaced them with Iranians.
“I am married with five children,” said Hussein al-Aboudi. “I was discharged from the factory where I was working just like hundreds of Iraqis to be replaced by Iranian workers. Who is protecting our rights on our land?”
If the Iranian expatriate to Iraq has been suffering and difficult living conditions in his country, the Iraqis have much more difficult circumstances, and the suffering of the working class in the southern areas of the country is continuous for years because of foreign labor, but the recent entry of large numbers of Iranians has made matters worse .. Where is the censorship and where is the country? Do they prefer the Iranian over the son of the country?!
“Why is the Iraqi citizen subjected to insults and assaults that amount to death when he goes to Iran, while the Iranian citizen in Iraq receives so much attention to have preference over local citizens?” Who is responsible for this preference and who is responsible for the dignity of the Iraqi abroad?
Adnan al-Anbaki, a worker at the al-Rabeea Food Products Company, added: “The expatriate Iranians are competing with Iraqis for their livelihoods because of the low wages they receive.”
Some oners of companies confirmed that they had laid off a number of Iraqi and foreign workers from other countries to be replaced by workers from Iran.
Iran is making efforts to consolidate its influence in all directions and in all ways to penetrate and control Iraq’s economic, political and even social joints and definitely it has achieved some success in this direction.
The negative role played by Iran on the socio-economic side is illustrated in the following points:
– Acquisition of markets and economic investments in Iraq.
– Control of investment and service projects, especially in areas where military operations against ISIS have taken place. The large-scale destruction of these cities has provided millions of dollars to Iranian companies, and armed militias belonging to the Popular Crowd have taken control of the area, whose main task is to entrust reconstruction in these cities to the Iranian companies in future, as Iranian companies will seek through it to acquire the high rate of reconstruction contracts and deals.
– Rehabilitate and involve businessmen loyal to it, in order to enhance Iran’s economic influence in the Iraqi economy.
– Oil: Control of oil export operations, especially in wells spread along the Iraqi-Iranian border, where the oil reserves reach more than 100 billion barrels, especially in light that the Iraqi governments have ignored them after 2003, where Iraq has about 12 oil wells active and shared with Iran , noting that the Iranian export rate of these fields reaches more than 400 thousand barrels per day before the entry of the third package of U.S. sanctions on Iran, under which the Iranian energy supplies were zeroed in May 2019, and most of the common oil fields are under absolute Iranian control. Why this happened by those who are responsible for the country’s wealth management?
– Many economists point out that the total depletion of Iraqi oil fields shared with Iran up to 35 billion dollars a year, note that previous reports have shown that Iran is depleting up to 17 billion dollars.
– Make most of the Iraqi banks linked in one way or another to the Iranian banks scattered in several Iraqi cities, in order to impose economic control over the stock market, and take advantage of surplus hard currency and smuggling to Iran.
– On the level of oil exports, Iran was able after the systematic destruction of oil refineries in the Iraqi city of Salah al-Din, during its liberation operations from ISIS and in cooperation with its armed groups, to increase oil exports to Iraq from 30% to 50% at the beginning of 2018.
– The Iranian dream, Iran seeks to achieve its economic dream on the shoulders of Iraqis, by linking its military movements taking place on the ground with its economic objectives, through its project to reach the Mediterranean Sea, by extending a pipeline to export Iranian gas to Europe through Iraqi territory and through Syrian areas that are falling under its control, and from Tartus to Europe.
– The endeavor for the expulsion of all foreign capital deployed on the Iraqi arena, through threats and extortion by armed militias deployed there.
Iranian circumvention on international sanctions through the Iraqi economic gate :
Iran seeks to use most of the Iraqi government legislation on the laws of import and export, through a certificate of origin, without taking samples of imported goods and examined in the centers of measurement and quality control, and this led to a large accumulation of Iranian goods on the border with Iraq, so Iran flooded the Iraqi market with all of its products, the dominance of Iranian goods was not limited to the areas of Baghdad and southern Iraq, but also to the northern regions, which were witnessing a significant Turkish economic presence in the period before the emergence of ISIS.
At the level of services sector, the rate of Iraq’s import of electric power from Iran to $ 6 billion annually, while the transport and communications sector, shows the dominance of Iran in terms of land and air flights, where the Iranian land transport companies dominate the overall land transport operations between the two countries while air transport shows clear control of Iran air ways with the average daily flights between Iraq and Iran reaches up to 120 daily flights , and Iraq receives only 30% of transport revenue, while the rest goes to the Iranian Treasury.
Religious Tourism in Iraq:
Iranian-owned tourism companies invested heavily in managing the ceremonies of the visit to Karbala and Najaf, to ensure that Iranian visitors spent less than any other visitor, and investment from the Iranian private sector was encouraged in the two holy cities, such as building hotels, thus active actors in the two cities have become Iranian controlling the whole hotel sector in terms of management and labor force in the cities of Karbala and Najaf . Iran has sought to push many of its businessmen to dominate large-scale projects in the cities of Karbala and Najaf to form later a pressure card for any compromise on its influence in Iraq , in 2016, nearly half a million Iranians entered Iraq during the Ashura ceremony in Karbala without visas. This situation was repeated in the years that followed, as well as the introduction of many smuggled goods, in order to undermine the growth process in these two cities.
In addition to transportation to and from Iraq, the Iranian visitor to Iraq is keen not to leak its local Iranian currency in Iraq, especially as Iranian consulates located in the holy places, play a key role in the implementation of these programs.
Water Crisis in Iraq:
Iran changed the course of the Karun River opposite the Iraqi side, which is loaded with a lot of oil and waste from the drainage projects and others, which led to the death of millions of palm trees, and after Iraq was producing three quarters of the total date crop in the world, now comes after Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia in the order of producing countries, due to the severe decline in the production of dates, due to Iranian policies, in addition to the loss of Iraq to much of its fisheries, and Iran’s hand to impose on these sectors as well.
Iran imposes its economic hegemony on Iraq, in order to strengthen its economic influence, and Iran from time to time through its supporters in Iraq, to call for a boycott of Arab and foreign goods in the Iraqi market, although they are scarce, in addition to the liquidation of many wholesalers who do not deal With Iranian companies, or at least do not import Iranian goods, in order to create a trading class that deals only with the Iranian market and companies.
This leads to the conclusion that the Iranian economy swallowed the Iraqi economy, through the entry of Iranian companies and investors to Iraq, and the words “Sakhet Iran”, means “Made in Iran” is the most common and famous among the products in the Iraqi market, a phrase that Iran seeks to make the only brand dominant and controlling the Iraqi market.
Economic Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies