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Kadhimi in Saudi Arabia: The Purpose and Message

Kadhimi in Saudi Arabia: The Purpose and Message

Saturday, 18 July, 2020 - 11:30

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is set to kick off, on Monday, his first official visit to Saudi Arabia since his apportionment. Choosing the Kingdom as his first stop in his tour has a clear indication and symbolism in regards to the importance of the strategic relationship between Baghdad and Riyadh and further consecrates the notion of returning to the Arab world's embrace.

Those who are following the recent developments can sense the warm welcome of and optimism towards Kadhimi’s important visit that expresses appreciation of Saudi Arabia’s role and its solidarity with Iraq, an affirmation that Iraq will hold onto its identity and Arabism, and that Riyadh and Baghdad refuse to be dragged into the politics of axes and are opposed to any foreign interventions in Arab affairs, evidenced by the fact that the two countries have always confronted any attempt to make gains for partisan, political or ideological reasons.

Based on the policies that Kadhimi is adopting and his public statements and positions, it could be said that he has, without a doubt, created a different atmosphere. This visit is considered an important addition and a motivation for the future of the Near East by building on previous understandings and arrangements with past leaderships such as Abadi and Abdul-Mahdi, where many economic agreements and cross-border trade deals will be signed, confirming that the Kingdom has no interests in Iraq other than its stability and achieving its people’s ambitions.

Saudi Arabia and Iraq share a 900-kilometer border and are aware that terrorism is a common enemy of theirs, which necessitates that they cooperate, coordinate and exchange information. There is also a need for constant cooperation and monitoring to prevent any criminal activity such as gangs and arms and drug smuggling networks. Cooperation between Riyadh and Baghdad, in my opinion, is, therefore, an inevitable demand, as the safety of both countries is interdependent and Iraq’s recovery has become strategically paramount for the stability of the region.

Kadhimi’s visit reflects an atmosphere of optimism and positivity and perhaps portents what is coming, where it will not be limited to the cooperation between the two but will perhaps push towards the possibility of the return of an Arab regional vertebral column capable of confronting projects that threaten our area.

Kadhimi will later visit Iran and the US as he has messages for both countries; the independence of the Iraqi decision-making process and respecting its sovereignty is the slogan of the coming phase, and the preliminary indications of Kadhimi’s rule unambiguously point towards that direction. Some anomalous voices that are still plotting say that he has messages from Tehran to Washington, despite Kadhimi being independent and concerned with Iraq’s interests and is not an Iranian delegate — more accurately, he is not al-Maliki.

It is no secret that Iraq has suffered since the US’s withdrawal. At the time, Washington had no vision of post-Saddam Iraq and some forces took advantage of the vacuum that was created. This opened the door for regional forces to intervene for the benefit of parties that they support, contributing to extracting Iraq from its Arab surroundings. There are four levels for Iranian intervention: It communicates with religious and secular leaderships, communicates with government officials and infiltrates government institutions, infiltrates the army and security services by creating intelligence networks, and lastly it provides aid to and establishes projects in, Shiite areas. This Iranian strategy has succeeded in keeping the main players in its constellation.

Condoleezza Rice had mentioned in her memoirs that she had told Nouri al-Maliki that Sunni Arabs are frustrated by being banned from joining the army and security institutions. Al-Maliki answered, “I neither like nor trust Arabs”.

This mentality reveals the truth of the defect in its structure. The issue here is not targeting an individual inasmuch as it is al-Maliki’s exploitation of his position at the time to damage Iraqi interests and thus straining its relationship with its surroundings.

All hopes are in Kadhimi’s government and in institutional action to prevent Iran from dominating the political decision and consecrating a secular political system, eliminating militias and establishing an army that is based on an inclusive national ideology. These are paramount for the future of a country that has all the capacities to become at the forefront. The current phase is of the utmost delicacy and requires that Iraqis put the interests of their own country over factional conflicts and that Iraq’s decision be independent and not dependent on anyone.

Saudi Arabia will make every effort to contribute positively and productively to improve Iraq’s security and stability. It understands all the complications in Iraq’s composition, but we nevertheless say that Baghdad has the right to have good relationships with any state; this is a sovereign and legitimate right. However, this should not be detrimental to its relationship with the Gulf states. Getting into the reasons behind the deterioration of the relationship between the two states in the past is not important, what is important is to know how to benefit from the visit of the Iraqi Prime Minister and to further the interests of the two countries and nations.

The visit is a step forward and a positive development at the level of relations to surpass the failures of the past, despite there being certain sides and individuals inside Iraq that do not favor close Saudi-Iraqi ties as they believe that would threaten Iranian interests in Iraq. However, the interests of Baghdad and Riyadh are more important and worthy as they enhance the security of the Arab world.

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