Saudi Arabia’s $ 100-bln Iraq plan: the project of distancing Baghdad from Tehran - COMMENT

Saudi Arabia’s $ 100-bln Iraq plan: the project of distancing Baghdad from Tehran - COMMENT
Tehran plays a role in the designation of this country’s governors

Baku. 22 August. REPORT.AZ/ The states located in the Middle East and a thousand kilometers away from there are preparing for the “post-ISIS era”. Some of them play with the opposition in the region, some caress it, others hold negotiations with the partial heads of state, some try to use separatist terrorists against the states with the ancient history.

Others try to approach the issue with national honor.

Saudi Arabia is one of the most active countries in the region. First of all, we would like to highlight that the Kingdom has been one of the main allies to the U.S. and other Western countries in the region for many years. Therefore, this factor should be taken into consideration while assessing the steps taken by Saudi Arabia.

The administrations of Saudi Arabia and Iraq have launched works aimed at the development of relations.

Thus, the two countries have reached an agreement over the reopening of the Arar border that has been shut down for 27 years. This border was closed in 1990 after former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein occupied Kuwait. Now, it is planned to reopen the border with the aim to expand trade cooperation.

Commander of the “Quds” branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, general Gasim Suleiman

Governor of Iraq’s Anbar province Suhaib al-Rawi noted that this was a great beginning in terms of future cooperation.

The busses carrying over a thousand Iraqi pilgrims, willing to visit the Holy Mecca, have already departed for Saudi Arabia. Saudi Prince Faisal bin Khalid has welcomed the pilgrims with copies of the “Quran”.

It should be noted that the diplomatic relations between the two countries were restored in 2016. Saudi Arabia has opened an embassy in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

Last week, it was reported that high-level negotiations were being held to strengthen cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Thus, the Kingdom is going to adopt the 100-billion-USD financial plan on the restoration of Iraq. It can also be assessed as if Saudi Arabia is taking Iraq away from Iran.

The situation in Iraq seems better in comparison with Syria. After Saddam Hussein was toppled, Iran’s influence over Iraq has increased. There is also a possibility that Tehran plays a role in the appointment of governors in this country.

There are multiple reports claiming that Iranian soldiers take part in the operations aimed at clearing the Iraqi territories from ISIS terrorists. It is also claimed that commander of the “Quds” branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, general Gasim Suleiman spends more time in Iraq.

Various sources claim that there are more than 40, 000 Iranian servicemen in Iraq. Official Tehran has increased the number of soldiers in Iraq based on Ayatollah Seid Ali Sistani’s fatwa.

It is reported that the “Hashd al-Shaabi” militant group in Iraq, backed by Iran, has 80, 000 fighters. Its leader is Jamal Jafar aka Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis. Two months ago, he threatened Saudi Arabia: “We control the Iraqi-Syrian border. We will move towards Saudi Arabia’s Ar-Riyadh and Jeddah cities; our Houthi brothers will also be with us.”

By the way, Jamal Jafar, born in 1954 in Basra, joined the Davat Party supporting the Iranian ideology in 1977. He emigrated to Iran’s Ahwaz city after this organization was shut down by Saddam Hussein. He came back to Iraq after Saddam Hussein was overthrown. Jamal Jafar is considered the “right hand” and top advisor of general Gasim Suleiman. He is also known as the person who controls the arms sales between Iran and Iraq.

Furthermore, a number of economic projects are implemented between the two states. In general, over the last 10-13 years, Iran has ensured its presence in all fields of Iraq.

The relations between Saudi Arabia and Iraq were at a high level during the Saddam Hussein regime, as the animosity towards Iran united them. Even though Saudi Arabia did not openly support Iraq in the war with Iran, it granted Baghdad the loan in the amount of 25 bln. USD with a low interest rate.

Nevertheless, Saddam Hussein’s attack on Kuwait resulted in the worsening of the relations between the parties.

The desire to normalize relations in the context of the chaotic situation in the Middle East can be considered a breakthrough. Nonetheless, an ulterior motive is not excluded.

There is a doubt that Iraq will be able to maintain its presence within the current borders. In other words, the future of this country is on the table of negotiations. Everyone wants to take a piece of it for themselves.

Saudi Arabia is much closer to Iraq in terms of ethnicity. The recent events once again show that the factor of ethnicity does not always play a role in processes.

If we take into account the alliance between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States, we can predict that the White House will support the spending of 100 bln. USD on Iraq. We can also come to the conclusion that official Washington wants to distance Iraq from Iran with the help of Saudi Arabia.

The activity of Ar-Riyadh in the struggle for Iraq may seem natural in the context of the current relations with Tehran. The length of the borders between the two countries is 814 kilometers. There relations also mean the security of the Kingdom. It is also proven on the example of Jamal Jafar, who is pro-Iranian and threatens Saudi Arabia. Notably, once, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei said during the war with Iraq that “they would liberate Mecca from foes”.

The Iranian side claims that Ar-Riyadh wants the mediation of Baghdad to restore relations with Tehran. In case the relations with Iran are restored, the Kingdom’s mission in the region may expand. In other words, its chances to impact events in the region will grow.

Saudi Arabia has undertaken the commitment not to disrupt the peace treaty signed between Israel and Egypt. Saudi Arabia will not deploy military forces in the Red Sea, the Tiran Gulf and on the Tiran and Sanafir islands.

It can also be viewed as the improvement of relations between Ar-Riyadh and Tel-Aviv. The Kingdom’s attempts to normalize relations with the Israeli state may also be made to distance Iraq from Iran.

Thus, we can also predict that Saudi Arabia’s 100-billion-USD plan to restore Iraq may result in the isolation of the Iranian government from the Arab world. The implementation of a similar project in Syria is not excluded either. The failure of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen has also played a significant role in undermining its impact in Iraq and Syria. 

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