Iran steps in to help Iraqi electricity providers

McClatchy NewspapersJune 23, 2011 

BAGHDAD — Iran has agreed to provide diesel fuel to Iraq's neighborhood electricity generators under an accord reached late Wednesday with Iraq's Ministry of Electricity.

Under the deal, Iran will supply 400,000 gallons of diesel daily to power neighborhood generators, which have been the principal source of power for nearly all Iraqis since the country's power grid failed after U.S.-led troops invaded in 2003.

Iran had been supplying the fuel without the agreement for two weeks "in order to help the Iraqi people get over the electricity crisis," a statement from the Electricity Ministry said.

Last summer, Iraqis rioted when electricity generators raised prices in the face of a shortage of diesel. This year, the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki promised to provide privately operated neighborhood generators with free fuel for four months if they agreed to supply at least 12 hours of electricity daily at a low price.

Lack of electricity is one of Iraq's biggest problems and it was the top issue that Maliki had promised he'd deal with during the first 100 days of his new government.

The deal came after armed assailants attacked the Iranian delegation's motorcade as is traveled between Iraq's Ministries of Oil and Electricity on Wednesday afternoon.

None of the delegation, which was headed by Deputy Oil Minister Ali Reza Zeighami, was injured when gunmen in a speeding car opened fire, but two security guards riding in the third and final car of the motorcade were wounded, police said.

(Issa is a McClatchy special correspondent.)

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