After 30 years of closure due to the first Gulf War, the main border crossing between Iraq and Saudi Arabia has now reopened. While officials from the two countries hope the reopening will strengthen their trade partnership, groups close to Iran, with immense influence in Baghdad, have criticized the move. But as soon as the opening was announced, lines of trucks were waiting on both sides of the border.
It is one more step in the warming of Iraqi-Saudi relations. Until now, the Arar border post, bordered to the west by Jordan and to the south by Saudi Arabia, had only been opened to allow Iraqi pilgrims to pass. By announcing its reopening to trade, officials intend to write a new page in relations between the two countries.
Long enemies, Baghdad and Riyadh cut off their diplomatic relations in 1990, during the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein, and the consequent Gulf War. It was not until 2015 that the dialogue was reestablished.
Today, the Saudi kingdom intends to invest more in Iraq. And on the Baghdad side, the new government seems determined to accept this outstretched hand. Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kazimi is also a personal friend of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salman (MBS) and has made no secret of his desire to get closer to the kingdom.
At the risk of angering his great Iranian godfather, whose influence extends to all spheres of power in Iraq. Armed groups close to Tehran quickly criticized the reopening of the border post. But the Prime Minister wants to be final and even intends to sign other agreements with Saudi Arabia in the future.