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US Holds Iraq’s Economy Hostage, Threatens To Block Vital Bank Accounts If Its Troops are Expelled

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US Holds Iraq's Economy Hostage, Threatens To Block Vital Bank Accounts If Its Troops are Expelled

US’ Al Asad air base in Iraq. Click to see full-size image

The US threatened Iraq that it risks losing access to its government bank account if Baghdad expels the US troops deployed in the country, following a US strike that assassinated Iranian General Qassem Soleimani on its soil, according to unnamed Iraqi officials, cited by the WSJ.

The State Department warned that the U.S. could shut down Iraq’s access to the country’s central bank account held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Essentially, if the report is true, it means that the US carrying out economic blackmail in order to pursue its interests and is keeping Iraq’s economy hostage.

The account in question is crucial to the management of Iraq’s oil revenues and its overall financial stability.

According to the most recent financial statement from the Central Bank of Iraq, the bank held almost $3 billion in overnight deposits at the close of 2018.

The report came a day after Trump threatened to seize $35 billion of Iraqi money held in US banks if the country insists on having American forces withdrawn from Iraq.

Trump said he had told Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi that Iraq “should pay back the United States for its investments in the country over the past several years or the American military will stay there.

“I said, ‘If we leave, you got to pay us,'” Trump told Fox Newsin the White House. “If we leave … you have to pay us for the money we put in.”

Asked how he planned to collect money from Iraq, Trump said:

“Well, we have a lot of their money right now. We have a lot of their money. We have $35 billion of their money right now sitting in an account. And I think they’ll agree to pay. I think they’ll agree to pay. Otherwise, we’ll stay there,” he added.

On the matter of the blocking of the bank account, spokesmen for the Iraqi prime minister, its central bank and its embassy in Washington didn’t respond to requests for comment. The U.S. State and Treasury Departments and the Federal Reserve Board declined to comment.

This follows reports that, current Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi allegedly said that Trump threatened his life and that of his Minister of Defense and threatened him with protests. The protests appear to be taking place, as per Abdul-Mahdi’s claims and he specifically resigned from his PM post due to them and as a result of the alleged threats by Trump.

Abdul-Mehdi addressed the US hostile actions against the country. For example, the politician reportedly said that the US refused to complete the infrastructure and electricity grid projects unless it is promised 50% of oil revenues. The Prime Minister refused to make the concession.

Then, when the Prime Minister visited China and reached an important agreement to undertake construction of the projects instead of the US, President Donald Trump allegedly called him, telling him to rescind the agreement with China, otherwise there would be massive demonstrations against him, that would force him out of his seat.

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