Saudi-Iraqi relations have been in the deep freeze since Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. But the relationship, while still somewhat frosty, is improving and the last week has seen a flurry of high level bilateral visits. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih spoke in Baghdad on 21 October, before Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-‘Abadi led a delegation to Riyadh on 22 October.
The economic rationale for Iraq is clear. Its struggling economy has never recovered from the years of sanctions following 1990 and the instability that followed the 2003 US invasion. But Riyadh has rebuffed previous efforts. The recent visits indicate a recognition from Saudi Arabia’s leadership that this has backfired, pushing Iraq closer towards regional rival Iran, and that Riyadh is looking to reevaluate. Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s foreign policy pivot sees renewed ties as crucial to reducing Baghdad’s dependence on rival Iran. (CONTINUED - 786 WORDS)