News / Middle East

Iraq Helping Iran Skirt Sanctions, Report Claims

Fern Robinson
A report in Sunday’s New York Times says Iraq has been using a network of financial institutions and oil smuggling operations to help Iran skirt economic sanctions imposed because of its nuclear program.

Last month, U.S. President Barack Obama barred a  Baghdad bank, the Elaf Islamic Bank, from any dealings with the American banking system. In a statement, Obama said the bank had “facilitated transactions worth millions of dollars on behalf of Iranian banks that are subject to sanctions for their links to Iran’s illicit proliferation activities.”
The newspaper says that despite Obama’s order, Elaf continues to participate in the Iraq Central Bank’s daily auction where commercial banks can sell Iraqi dinars and buy U.S. dollars.

According to current and former American and Iraqi government officials and experts on the Iraqi banking system, Elaf is just one of a number of institutions helping to funnel cash into Iran as sanctions choke its economy. The New York Times described the auctions as “a crucial pathway for Iranian access to the international financial system.”

Several U.S. and Iraqi banking and government officials say Iranian organizations have gained “effective control” of at least four Iraqi commercial banks through Iraqi intermediaries, according to the newspaper report. That control gives Iran direct access to the international financial system, a system Iran should not have access to because of the economic sanctions.

David Cohen, the U.S. Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, told the Times the U.S. is “actively pursuing efforts to prevent Iran from evading  U.S. or international financial sanctions, in Iraq or anywhere else.”

According to the New York Times, some current and former American and Iraqi officials, along with banking and oil experts, say Iraqi government officials have largely ignored the massive financial flows, smuggling and other trade with Iran.  The paper says some Iraqi government officials who have close ties to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki are directly profiting from the activities.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Bak |Shawn from: Iraq
August 19, 2012 2:11 PM
its not secret to anyone. Obama gave Iraq to Iran on a golden tray. ignoring all the lives of young Americans and billion of tax payers dollars, just for the sake to be reelected another term. its a shame. .

by: beachjuicetice from: Boston, MA
August 19, 2012 9:05 AM
Definition of proliferation in context: "a rapid and often excessive spread or increase: nuclear proliferation."
There isn't even a suspicion that Iran has been giving nuclear technology or expertise to foreign nations, so what part of their nuclear program can be considered 'proliferation'?
Simply investing in nuclear technology isn't against any international law, nor should it be when carbon based fuels do so much damage and will be in short supply.
Iran supported the Northern Alliance against the Taliban in Afghanistan anyhow; there's no reason to think they'd shoot themselves in the foot by giving terrorists WMD, especially because if ever a WMD goes off in the mid east, they know everyone will be looking to them, or Pakistan, as the culprits. Their long history in a violent region is reasonable cause for wanting at least 'breakout capability' to defend themselves.

Regardless, I don't know why the US wants to stay involved in the middle east. It has all the resources it needs in its own continent, and it's better off saving the lives of its men and women and investing the money at home. It wants to keep a military foothold in Asia but it's not been successful and there's plenty of ways to respond instantly with aircraft and missiles nowadays that don't require bases and boots on the ground everywhere. I think it doesn't want to loose a foothold militarily on the other hemisphere. But the cost isn't worth it for anyone, and the military-industrial complex is the only thing driving its continued interventionist foreign policy. Iran hasn't even ever attacked the US before.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs