Iraq and Saudi Arabia are negotiating a new alliance that would give Riyadh a leading role in rebuilding Iraq’s war-torn towns and cities, while bolstering Baghdad’s credentials across the region.
Meetings between senior officials on both sides over the past six months have focused on shepherding Iraq away from its powerful neighbour and Saudi Arabia’s long-time rival, Iran, whose influence over Iraqi affairs has grown sharply since the 2003 ousting of Saddam Hussein.
Iraq and Saudi Arabia have long been considered opponents in the region, but a visit by the Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to Riyadh last week and a follow-up trip to the UAE further thawed relations which had already been much improved by high-profile visits between the two countries.
“This visit was an important step in ensuring that Iraq returns to the Arab fold and is supported in doing so by friendly partners,” said the former Saudi minister of state Saad al-Jabri. “This necessitates limiting Tehran’s continued attempts to dominate Iraq and spread sectarianism. Broader engagement between Riyadh and Baghdad will lead the way for enhanced regional support for Iraq, especially from the Gulf states. This is essential after the capture of Mosul from Isis and as Iraq looks towards national reconstruction.”
The House of Saud created ISIS, and now these arsonists want a piece of the action rebuilding after the conflagration.
A rapprochement between Sunni and Shia in Iraq is essential to the nation’s future as a unitary state.
Involving Riyadh in this process would be an unmitigated disaster.