Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Perspective: An Iraq-Iran trade boom

Above: The Peugot factory in Iran. Left: An Iranian-manufactured Peugot.

NAJAF, Iraq: While the Bush administration works to stop Iran from meddling in Iraq, Iranian air conditioners fill Iraqi appliance stores, Iranian tomatoes ripen on the window sills of kitchens here and white Iranian-made Peugeots sit in Iraqi driveways.

Some Iraqi cities, including the oil- producing enclave of Basra, buy electricity from Iran. The Iraqi government is relying on Iranian companies to bring gasoline from Turkmenistan to alleviate a severe shortage. Iraqi officials are reviewing an application by Iran to open a branch of an Iranian national bank in Baghdad, and Iran has offered Iraq $1 billion in soft loans.

The economies of Iraq and Iran, the largest Shiite countries in the world, are becoming closely intertwined, with Iranian goods flooding Iraqi markets and Iraqi cities looking to Iran for basic services.

Read the rest at the International Herald Tribune