While the world’s attention remains fixated on the Israel-Hamas conflict, China and Russia are making significant strides to solidify their influence in Iraq, with a strong focus on the oil and gas sector. This shift is driven by several strategic reasons, including Iraq’s potential to become a major crude oil producer, its strategic geographic location, and its role in the Shia Crescent alongside Iran.
Recent developments underscore the seriousness of these plans. Iraq has decided to boost crude oil exports to China by 50%, with the potential to further expand its production. Additionally, Iraq is looking to fully implement the ‘Iraq-China Framework Agreement,’ which grants China priority access to Iraqi oil, gas, and petrochemical projects. The agreement also allows China to build factories and essential infrastructure across the country, facilitating its Belt and Road Initiative.
Russia is also advancing its long-term plans to exert control in Iraq, particularly in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. Discussions between Iraqi officials and Russian counterparts have taken place, covering various aspects of oil and gas projects and exports, including the role of Rosneft in Kurdistan’s oil sector.
As the world’s attention remains on the Israel-Hamas conflict, it’s essential to recognize how China and Russia are significantly bolstering their influence in Iraq, with oil and gas playing a central role in their strategic agenda.