© Reuters. Iraqi riot police confront protesters against the devaluation of the dinar near the central bank in Baghdad on Wednesday. Photo: Ahmed Saad – Reuters.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Hundreds demonstrated near the headquarters of the central bank in Baghdad on Wednesday to protest against the recent decline in the value of the Iraqi dinar against the dollar, which has led to a rise in the prices of imported consumer goods.
Hundreds of different regions of Iraq waved the country’s flags or held banners calling for government intervention to stop the dinar’s decline to around 1,620 dinars, down from 1,470 dinars to the dollar in November.
The dinar has been falling steadily against the dollar since the Federal Reserve Bank of New York imposed stricter controls on international dollar transactions by Iraqi commercial banks in November to stop the illegal transfer of dollars to neighboring Iran, which is under harsh US sanctions.
Under the restrictions, which came into effect this month, Iraqi banks must use an electronic platform to disclose transaction details. However, most private banks did not register on the platform and resorted to the informal black market in Baghdad to buy dollars.
Officials at the Central Bank of Iraq and dealers said that this created a deficit in the dollar, as demand exceeded supply and accelerated the decline in the value of the dinar against the dollar.--
“Our demands are clear: The government must intervene to stop the devaluation of the dinar because we are suffering from high prices in the local markets,” said Asaad Khudair, a laborer who came from the southern city of Najaf to take part in the protest.-
One of the banners called for an end to neighboring countries’ “theft” of dollars from Iraq, in reference to Iran.
Dozens of riot police were deployed around the Central Bank building and in the surrounding streets, but there were no reports of clashes or arrests.
Government sources told Reuters that Prime Minister Mohamed Shiaa al-Sudani decided to change the governor of the central bank on Monday because he had not taken effective steps to face the consequences of new regulations from the Federal Reserve and their impact on the dinar.
(Prepared by Muhammad Aysem for the Arabic Bulletin – Edited by Mahmoud Salama)