Saudi Arabia, Iraq to re-open border after 27 years

Saudi Arabia and Iraq to re-open border crossing after 27 years
2 min read
15 August, 2017
Saudi Arabia and Iraq plan to re-open a border crossing between the two countries for the first time since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990.
Saudi Arabia and Iraq cut ties following Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait [Getty]
Saudi Arabia and Iraq plan to re-open the Arar border crossing for trade for the first time since 1990, when it was closed after the countries cut ties following Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, Saudi local media reported on Tuesday.

Saudi and Iraqi officials toured the site on Monday and spoke with religious pilgrims travelling to Mecca for Hajj season.

For the past 27 years, Iraqi Hajj piligrims only had access to the crossing once annually, the Mecca newspaper reported.

Iraqi troops were deployed troops to protect the desert route leading to Arar and called its opening a "significant move" to boost ties, Sohaib al-Rawi, Anbar's governor said.

"This is a great start for further future cooperation between Iraq and Saudia Arabia."

The announcement follows a decision by the Saudi cabinet on Monday to establish a joint trade commission with Iraq.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have both attempted to woo their northern neighbour in a bid to halt the growing regional influence of arch-foe Iran.

The Sunni-led Arab Gulf countries have hosted influential Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr for talks with their crown princes in recent weeks - rare visits after years of troubled relations.

Sadr's office said his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman resulted in an agreement for Saudi Arabia to donate $10 million in aid to the Iraqi government.

It also opens up this possibility of Gulf investments in Shia regions of southern Iraq.

The opening of border crossings for trade was also on a list of goals for the talks published by Sadr's office.

Sadr commands a large following among the urban poor of Baghdad and southern Iraq, and is one of few Iraqi Shia leaders to keep some distance from Tehran.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir visited Baghdad in February, and the two countries announced in June they would set up a coordination council to upgrade ties.