(MENAFN) Iran found an outlet from the heavy western sanctions on its economy through illegal trade activities with neighboring Iraq that are providing Tehran with a crucial flow of dollars, the New York Times reported.
The paper said that some Iraqi officials are turning a blind eye to trade with Iran, while other officials in Baghdad are directly profiting from the activities, with several of them having close ties to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.
This was acknowledged last month by US President Barack Obama when he barred a small Iraqi bank, the Elaf Islamic Bank, from any dealings with the American banking system, the newspaper said.
Recently, the US administration learned that the Iraqi government was aiding the Iranians by allowing them to use Iraqi airspace to ferry supplies to Syria, and called Maliki to complain, and Iranian planes then flew another route, the Times said.
The paper also said that Iranian organizations may have gained control over at least four Iraqi commercial banks through Iraqi intermediaries, which would gives Iran direct access to the international financial system, from which they are barred by the economic sanctions.
The problem with illegal Iraq-Iran trade has become well-enough known in Baghdad that it has roiled Iraqi politics, the newspaper said.