As the temperature rises all over the Middle East, Iraqi officials are fighting attacks on power lines in the country. On July 5, Iraq’s Joint Operations Command has announced the formation of a joint force between the Iraqi army, police and the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) to protect the country’s power lines from repeated attacks.
Such attacks are carried out on a regular basis. Recently, terrorist attacks have reportedly targeted sixty-one power lines, killing seven employees of energy supply companies, and injuring eleven. Sabotage is usually blamed on the Islamic State that earns money by dealing with some energy companies in exchange to their security.
On July 4, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were used to destroy several power transmission poles in Nineveh governorate, leaving the eastern Mosul with no energy. According to local sources, three more IEDs were found unexploded on other poles.
Turkey also contributes to blackouts in Irak. In early July, the Turkish Air Force carried out a series of strikes in Iraqi Kurdistan leaving several villages de-energized.
Sabotages on the power transmission lines are reasons of major blackouts all over the country.
Amid terrorist attacks, on July 1st, Iran reportedly suspended the supply of gas and electricity to Iraq. According to AP, Iraq owes $4 billion for energy imports, and Iran is pushing to have the debt paid.
Baghdad explains the inability to pay with US sanctions on money transfers to Iran and a deep financial crisis worsened by COVID pandemic.
As the mercury soared to 52ºC this week in Iraq, four southern provinces have been without electricity since Tuesday, including Basra — home to Iraq’s main port.
The power outages, which started in the south before spreading to the rest of the country have, sparked protests and clashes with police in the southern provinces of Missan and Wasit, leaving 12 people wounded, seven of them policemen.
Amid the growing social anger, Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhim ordered the dismissal of the Director General of the General Company for Electricity Transmission in the Middle Euphrates region for “neglecting to perform his duties”, which he said was responsible for the failure of the 400kV line that caused a power cut in the capital Tehran.
The move followed the resignation of Iraq’s Minister of Electricity, Majed Mahdi Hantoosh on July 1.
There is nothing new in major blackouts in Iraq. Such energy crises have hit the country each year for more than a decade. The last month, reports on a new nuclear power plant planed by Iraqi officials were spread online, but any steps to improve the situation are yet to be made.
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