JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia and Iraq opened the Arar border crossing for trade on Wednesday for the first time in three decades.
Arar had been closed since 1990, when the Kingdom severed ties with Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. Rapprochement began in 2015, when Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad. In July, the countries signed investment agreements on energy and sports.
“Saudi-Iraq relations had been cut … but now we celebrate an accomplishment,” Saudi Ambassador Abdul Aziz Al-Shammari said.
“We welcome all Iraqi products to be exported to Saudi Arabia, and through this border, there will be an exchange of visits between the two countries.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has a close personal relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The prime minister was to travel to Saudi Arabia in May, but the visit was canceled when Saudi King Salman was admitted to hospital. Other Iraqi ministers have visited Riyadh and a top-level Saudi delegation traveled to Baghdad last week.
Saudi Arabia is keen to help Iraq overcome its economic problems, the Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar, Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, told Arab News. “Economy can salvage what politics has destroyed,” he said.
“Economic cooperation will hopefully lead to more fruitful and diverse collaborations in the future, in security and other fields. Our brothers in Iraq know that the Kingdom is not like other countries. It holds its hand out to build, not destroy.”