Rouhani Begins First Official Visit to Iraq to ‘Bypass’ U.S. Sanctions
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Baghdad for his first official visit to Iraq since taking office in 2013. According to a report by the Iranian state news agency IRNA, the three-day visit is aimed at “promoting bilateral relations in the political, economic and cultural fields” and the signing of a series of agreements in the realms of energy, transportation, agriculture, industry and health. A senior Iranian official was quoted by Reuters as saying Iraq could be a “channel” for Tehran to “bypass” U.S. sanctions reimposed by the Trump Administration after it withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear deal orchestrated by then-president Barack Obama between the Islamic Republic and six major powers. The agreement removed sanctions in return for Iran curbing its nuclear program, but Trump deemed it too generous and potentially ineffective. The re-imposition of U.S. sanctions is seen as being a major reason for a severe downturn in the Iranian economy.