As Iraq inches toward the formation of a new government, the risks are stacking up for OPEC’s second-biggest crude producer.
Beyond the country’s long-standing sectarian tensions, frayed relations with the Kurdish north, a bloated public wage bill and endemic corruption, new Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi now has to grapple with a collapse in oil revenue and the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Little wonder that the country is seeking financial aid from the U.S. and is said to have asked the International Monetary Fund for a deferral of payments on some $546 million in loans. Its Eurobond yields average 15.7%, easily the highest among Middle Eastern governments, according to Bloomberg Barclays indexes.
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