The Arar border crossing between Saudi Arabia and Iraq has finally Opened for trade for the first time in 30 years. The border has been closed since 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, sparking the Gulf War. The initial move towards reconciliation began five years ago when Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.
This move is reasonable when thinking about the Saudi–Iranian struggle. The issues facing the Middle East today are complex and extensive, from diplomacy, aid, and trade to proxy wars. Since Saudi Arabia and Iran are rivals competing for leadership and dominance in the Middle East, by strengthening ties with Iraq, Saudi Arabia has become one step closer to achieving its statecraft goals.
Meanwhile, Iraq has been struggling for stability ever since the US-led toppling of Hussein in 2003. Thus, in order to gain and maintain stability, Iraq has adopted a democratic political system, allowing its citizens to participate in free elections for the first time, but sectarian violence and graft have become significant problems.
However, thanks to Saudi Arabia’s heavy investments and exports to Iraq in 2019, which were worth approximately $677.93 million, Iraq has enjoyed an economic boost in recent years.
Thus, the opening of the Arar border can only be beneficial for both sides. Since it is already difficult to do business in a country like Iraq, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the fewer restrictions there are, the better. Unfortunately, there may still likely be acts of sectarian violence and proxy wars, but the more countries work together, the more inclined they will be to eschew these dirty tactics while creating trade deals that can benefit everyone.
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