Category: Saudi Arabia

First Saudi-Iraq Air Route in 27 years

By John Lee.

Saudi Arabian budget airline Flynas is reported to be planning to start services to several Iraqi cities in the coming weeks.

If the plan goes ahead, it would be the first service between the two countries since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990.

(Source: Middle East Eye)

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Iraqi Farmers fight against Imported Goods, Corruption

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

The Tureibil crossing, or more commonly known as the Karameh border crossing, between Jordan and Iraq reopened in early September in tandem with the opening of another border crossing with Saudi Arabia. This means that more foreign goods are likely to flow into the Iraqi market, which already lacks national products, especially food and agricultural goods.

The prospects for increased imports, which is not good news for the local production industry in Iraq, prompted parliament’s Agriculture, Water and Marshlands Committee on Aug. 14 to accuse the Ministry of Agriculture of mismanagement and confusion in supporting these foreign goods, which caused the local market to become flooded with imported products.

Mohammed Mansouri, an expert on local livestock, warns against “a catastrophe in the sector of livestock and agriculture in Iraq,” urging the government to work “on achieving food security.”

However, the failure of agricultural projects in Iraq is not only the result of poor planning and management, but also a “corrupt agenda seeking to keep this sector lagging so as to continue relying on imports,” said Ali al-Badiri, a member of the Agriculture, Water and Marshlands Committee, in a media statement Aug. 24. “Impeding the cultivation of wheat crops is a conspiracy, as this cultivation has become a threat to the investments of the corrupted,” he said.

In the same vein, Suhaila Abbas, the head of the Agriculture Committee of the Babil Governorate Council, told Al-Monitor, “Linking food security to importation is not due to technical problems such as drought or the rudimentary irrigation and land treatments techniques, as these can be addressed through development plans. This is, however, due to political reasons. Many of Iraq’s neighbors have an interest in keeping Iraq unable to become self-sufficient in terms of food, so it continues importing food products.”

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Saudi Arabia to reopen Iraq Border after 27 years

By John Lee.

Saudi Arabia is reportedly planning to re-open the Arar [Ar’ar] border crossing with Iraq for the first time since 1990.

Sohaib al-Rawi, the governor of Anbar province, is quoted as saying that the Iraqi government had deployed troops to protect the desert route leading to Arar and called its opening a “significant move” to boost ties.

The border was closed after the two countries cut ties following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

(Sources: Al Jazeera, Reuters, Rudaw)

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Saudi Prince “asked for Iraq’s Mediation for ties with Iran”

Iraqi Interior Minister Qasim al-Araji (pictured) has said that Saudi Prince Mohammad bin-Salman has “officially asked Iraq to act as a mediator between Tehran and Riyadh to reduce tensions.”

According to a news agency report, Al-Araji made the remarks at a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli in Tehran.

Referring to his recent visit to Saudi Arabia and meeting with the Saudi prince, Al-Araji said:

Mohammad bin-Salman requested me officially for Iraq’s mediation between Iran and Saudi Arabia to reduce tensions. Before, Malik Salman had made such a request too. I told them that they should treat Iranian pilgrims with respect and the best possible way and allow them to visit Al-Baqi’ cemetery.

“The Saudi party gave some promises with this regard, and now Iranian pilgrims can visit the cemetery. We believe that relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia can held establishing security in the region”.

(Source: GardaWorld)

(Picture credit: Mohsen Ahmed Alkhafaji)

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Call to Reopen Iraq-Saudi Pipeline

Reuters reports that a former Iraqi oil minister said it was necessary for Iraq to regain the Iraqi Pipeline in Saudi Arabia (IPSA), which has not carried Iraqi crude since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, and which was confiscated by Saudi Arabia in 2001 as compensation for debts owed by Baghdad.

Bahr Al Olum, who is currently a member of parliament, said he has discussed the issue with Saudi side expected that Riyadh would have a more “positive response” given an improved political environment between the two countries.

(Source: Reuters)

(Picture: Haider Al-Abadi meets King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, 19th June 2017)

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New UK Ambassador to Iraq

By John Lee.

Mr Jon Wilks CMG (pictured) has been appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq in succession to Mr Frank Baker OBE.

Mr Wilks, who currently serves as Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Muscat, will take up his appointment in November 2017.

He has previously served in diplomatic roles in Baghdad, in addition to Syria, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

(Source: UK FCO)

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Abadi: Qatari ‘Ransom’ Money with Us, not Armed Groups

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq’s prime minister has rejected Saudi and UAE media claims that a $500m ransom was paid by Qatar to Shia Muslim armed groups in Iraq to secure the release of 26 kidnapped Qatari hunters.

Haider al-Abadi said that money was received by the Iraqi government but the sum was still in the Iraqi central bank.

Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher reports:

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Iraq Reinforces its Border with Saudi Arabia

By John Lee.

AINA reports that a large convoy of Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) has been seen moving towards the Iraqi-Saudi border.

This comes following increasing tensions between Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the Iraqi government has expressed support for Qatar in its conflict with Saudi Arabia.

(Source: AINA)

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Saudi Arabia, Iraq discuss Economic Cooperation

Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi received the Saudi Arabian Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, Khalid bin Abdul Aziz al-Faleh, and his accompanying delegation in his office on Monday.

During the meeting, they discussed boosting cooperation in the oil sector, industry, petrochemicals, electricity, minerals, trade and banks, as well as reviewed cooperation to support OPEC oil prices.

His Excellency Prime minister Dr. Haider Al-Abadi stressed the importance of expanding bilateral steady cooperation for the benefit of the two countries which would lead the region to a comprehensive development beneficial for all.

The Minister of Energy Khalid Al-Falih conveyed the greetings of the Saudi King and the officials in the Kingdom , their blessing for the achievement of Iraq’s victories, pointing out that to the importance of Iraq’s role in the region and the strenuous steps taken in all fields.

The Minister of Energy Khalid Al-Falih expressed the readiness of the Saudi companies to cooperate and invest in Iraq and Saudi’s market desire to obtain Iraqi products.

(Source: Media office of the Prime Minister)

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Washington sees Iraq as front for Iran Pushback

By Omar Sattar for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

After the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun on April 4, followed by the US airstrike on a Syrian air base April 7, tension between Iraq and the United States escalated significantly.

The United States has made it very clear to Iraq that it wants its ally in fighting terrorism to distance itself from Iran. During Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s visit to the United States last month, Abadi and US President Donald Trump discussed Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), which indicates that the United States is seeking to bring Baghdad and Riyadh closer and to curb the Iranian role in the region. The visit sparked much controversy in Iraq among Shiite parties.

Moreover, Trump explicitly criticized the Iran nuclear deal in front of Abadi. A few days later, Trump sent his senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner to Iraq to discuss US support to Iraq in the fight against the Islamic State. The visit was read as a sign that the “Trump administration sees Iraq as a place to push back on the growing power of Iran across the region.”

Al-Monitor learned from a source close to the prime minister who asked to not be named that limiting Iran’s role in Iraq was at the top of the list of the issues discussed between the two parties.

The National Iraqi Alliance said it was not aware of the details and meeting schedule of Abadi with the American administration. Other Shiite political parties expressed discontent with the visit, especially following the statement of Hisham al-Hashimi, an Iraqi security and political expert, in Asharq al-Awsat newspaper. Hashimi said he received information from the Iraqi delegation to Washington that “the American discussed with Abadi the danger of ‘believers in the velayat-e faqih [a jab at Iranians] and the need to keep them out of the PMU.”

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