Saudi Arabia to re-open border with Iraq for the first time in almost three decades

Saudi Arabia and Iraq will reopen the Arar trade border today, which has remained shut since Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion

saudi iraq border

Photo: Reuters/Alaa Al-Marjani

Saudi Arabia and Iraq will reopen the Arar trade border today, which has remained shut since Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The move comes as part of a series of steps to rebuild ties since 2015, when Riyadh opened its embassy in Baghdad after 25 years.

Riyadh is seeking to directly engage with Baghdad through trade and diplomacy to develop an ally in its ongoing conflict with Iran. After the September 14 attacks on its oil facilities—allegedly sponsored by Iran—Saudi Arabia has been working towards improving its security and stability.

With Saudi Arabia to its southwest and Iran to its east, Iraq’s geographical location is critical to the conflict between its neighbours. Iran has been Iraq’s close trade partner and enjoys considerable influence in Baghdad due to its support of the Popular Mobilisation Forces paramilitary groups, where played an important role in the fight against ISIS.

On April 3, Saudi Arabia pledged $1 billion in development loans and $500 million to boost exports and gifted a sports stadium to Iraq. This investment offers a long-term approach for Saudi Arabia to balance out Iran’s influence in Iraq.

Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.