خالد الزعتر
كاتب ومحلل سياسي

Saudi Arabia and Iraq … turning pages of the past

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The Saudi-Iraqi relations went through two phases, which had a role in shaping the relationship between the two countries, the 1990 phase  which witnessed the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the 2003 phase which witnessed the Iranian penetration of Iraq. Thus, these two phases continued to govern the relationship between the two countries, which made the relationship stagnate in its place of apathy and tension until 2015, which began to constitute a change in Saudi and Iraqi politics towards breaking the political rupture in the relations between Riyadh and Baghdad.

Saudi-Iraqi relations are witnessing a good state of variables that contribute to turning pages of the past in which Iraq used to adopt a policy more biased towards the Iranian axis. The “password” here is the personality of Mustafa Al-Kazemi, who is considered a political figure more independent in his political thinking, unlike his predecessors who had loyal-to-Iran political ideas. Therefore, Mustafa Al-Kazemi’s liberation from the control of the pro-Iranian political ideology gave him the opportunity to move to build a foreign policy for Iraq, based on restoring Iraq’s strategic position, and thus adopting a more independent foreign policy based on balancing Iraq’s foreign relations.

Development and renaissance achievement governs a large part of the political thinking of the Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi, and this is what made him reconsider the relationship with Riyadh, as it is the future for countries aspiring to achieve an economic renaissance, an active and influential country in the global economy, and has an ambitious economic vision, which opened the way for international rising economic powers such as China and Russia to invest in it. Thus Al-Kazemi realizes the importance of the Kingdom economically, especially that Iraq, which lives in the post-ISIS period, needs to open economically at the regional and international levels, to achieve economic advancement, as Riyadh is considered an investor that can be trusted to achieve the aspirations of Iraqis .

Consequently, Al-Kazemi’s repeated visits to Riyadh seek to break all barriers, especially with regard to Riyadh’s view of the relationship of Iraq with Iran, and reflects the importance that Saudi Arabia enjoys in the phase in which Iraq is currently living, an evidence of the real desire of the Iraqi political decision maker to promote the relationship with Riyadh to high levels, especially in the economic field. Perhaps the package of decisions taken by Riyadh and Baghdad in agreement to establish a joint fund estimated at $ 3 billion in capital, to complete the electrical interconnection project between the two countries, and also to enhance investment opportunities for Saudi companies in Iraq, reflects an advanced state of development in relation to the process of reforming relations between the two countries.

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