Open for business: Saudi-Iraqi border crossing at Arar restored after 30 years

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Iraqi security forces stand guard at the Iraqi side of the Arar border crossing in Anbar, Iraq, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. (AP)
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A handout picture released by the Iraqi Border Crossing Commission on November 18, 2020 shows the Arar border crossing between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. (AFP)
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Saudi officials attend the inugartion ceremony of the Arar border crossing. (Saudi customs)
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Saudi officials attend the inugartion ceremony of the Arar border crossing. (Saudi customs)
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Updated 19 November 2020

Open for business: Saudi-Iraqi border crossing at Arar restored after 30 years

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.”

BACKGROUND

Arar had been closed since 1990, when the Kingdom severed ties with Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

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.”


Saudi Energy Ministry: Jeddah facility operating normally despite Houthi attack

Updated 13 min 23 sec ago

Saudi Energy Ministry: Jeddah facility operating normally despite Houthi attack

  • The incident did not result in any losses in petroleum products, a ministry source said

RIYADH: Operations at a fuel distribution station near Jeddah are continuing as normal after a missile attack by Yemen’s Houthi militia, the Saudi energy ministry said on Tuesday.
The incident did not result in any losses in petroleum products, a ministry official told Al Arabiya television.
A fire broke out on Monday at a fuel tank at the petroleum products distribution station, north of Jeddah, as a result of a “terrorist projectile” launched from Yemen.
The Iran-backed Houthi militants said they struck the facility in the Red Sea city on Monday with a Quds-2 missile. 

The latest strike comes just over a year after previous aerial assaults on two other Aramco facilities in Saudi Arabia. 

On Tuesday, Aramco granted foreign media access to the Jeddah distribution facility where damage to the storage tank. 

The roof of the tank suffered "major damage", with a hole measuring two square metres, said Abdullah al-Ghamdi, manager of the North Jeddah Bulk Plant.
"It was a big fire; it was a big explosion," Ghamdi said, adding the blaze was extinguished within 40 minutes and no casualties were reported.
The manager said distribution from the plant, which provides refined products including jet fuel to the country's west, was restored within three hours even though the damaged tank -- one of 13 -- remained out of action.

Saudi Arabia has been targeted with dozens of ballistic missile and drone attacks since the start of last year.
Ghamdi likened Monday's incident to the September 2019 assault on the Abqaiq processing plant and Khurais oil field in the kingdom's east, which caused turmoil on global energy markets as it temporarily halved the kingdom's crude output.
Washington and Riyadh held Iran responsible for that attack.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday that global oil markets remained well supplied after the attack on the Saudi oil facilities on Monday.

(with AFP)