For more than three hours on 29 June, Iraq’s Oil Minister Ihsan Ismaael was grilled by Iraq’s Energy and Integrity Parliamentary Commissions. Parliamentary questioning is a fearsome prospect for sitting Iraqi officials. Filmed and later broadcast on TV, it allows MPs to corner officials and bombard them with populist questions and accusations in a bid to boost their public status. This is especially the case now, with Iraq three months away from parliamentary elections.

Overall, Mr Ismaael fared well throughout and managed to diplomatically navigate his way through the encounter. But the session gave glimpses of the plethora of challenges the energy sector faces. More importantly, it underlines how Iraq’s legislative body is utilizing its constitutional capacity to generate even more hurdles for the energy sector by questioning the integrity of a range of tenders, contracts and projects. (CONTINUED - 4432 WORDS)