Baghdad on Saturday declared victory in its war to expel the terrorist group, three years after it proclaimed a cross-border “caliphate” stretching into Syria, endangering Iraq’s very existence.
“The end of the war in Iraq... (is) a grand victory on terrorism in the region,” the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said, citing a Foreign Ministry official.
The official voiced hope that “security, stability, prosperity, and progress will prevail in Iraq and for the Iraqi people.”
Backed by a US-led coalition, Iraqi forces gradually retook control of all territory lost to the terrorists over the last three years.
After former dictator Saddam Hussein’s August 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Riyadh severed relations with Baghdad and closed its border posts with its northern neighbor. But a flurry of visits between the two countries this year appears to indicate a thawing of ties.
Iraq is seeking economic benefits from closer ties with Riyadh.
Petrochemical giant Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) also recently announced the reopening of its office in Iraq.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih made the announcement following the inauguration of an oil and gas conference held in Basra. SABIC participated in the event as part of a wider public and private sector delegation from Saudi Arabia, under the aegis of the Saudi Export Development Authority (SEDA). SABIC also seeks to explore opportunities available in the important Iraqi market.
Al-Falih also witnessed the signing of 18 memorandums of understanding (MoU) between Saudi and Iraqi companies in the fields of energy, with his counterpart, Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar Al-Luaibi.
Economic analyst and former Shoura Council member Usamah Kurdi told Arab News that SABIC re-opening its office in Iraq is a major development in Saudi-Iraqi relations. “I am delighted to know that Saudi investments will be made in Iraq, which will yield lucrative benefits for the two parties,” he said.
“Taking Iraq into the fold of the Arab region will also help fortify unity of the Arab world and also protect it from the undue intervention of Iran. Iraq is part of the Arab world,” he stressed.
Musad Al-Zayani, a Dubai-based Saudi journalist, told Arab News that this move would boost the economy of Iraq, which needs a push. He said SABIC would be able to supply the needed raw materials to Iraq for its petrochemical industry.
The SEDA seeks to promote trade between Saudi Arabia and Iraq and encourages Saudi companies to explore new opportunities to boost the Kingdom’s non-oil exports.
In a statement to Arab News, Dr. Talaat Al-Dhafer, SABIC vice president, KSA, Middle East and Africa region, who led the SABIC delegation, expressed his happiness over the company’s participation.
He said that SABIC was committed to contributing to the Kingdom’s efforts to diversify its economy.