A dispute has arisen between the local governments in the Iraqi provinces of Al-Muthanna and Dhi Qar due to their rivalry over border crossings with Saudi Arabia. Iraq is moving forward in strengthening relations with Saudi Arabia through the reopening of border crossings between the two countries.
According to The New Arab website, Dhi Qar provincial council, which has no border with Saudi Arabia, wants to have a corridor running through Al-Muthanna and linking it to Saudi territory. A local source in Dhi Qar has said that the local government in Al-Muthanna rejected the request and indicated that it will not agree to provide a passage which would benefit another province.
“Dhi Qar province will work on convincing Al-Muthanna in line with legal contexts,” explained the source. “All territories belong to Iraq, whether in Al-Muthanna or Al-Anbar or Dohuk, and no one can be in charge of Iraq and its territories.”
In response, Salam Hamza of Al-Muthanna province council rejected the idea of opening a border crossing linking Dhi Qar to Saudi Arabia through his provincial territory. He demanded that local officials in Dhi Qar should not escalate the dispute, and threatened to take the case to the courts to resolve the matter. “Dhi Qar province has no border crossing with Saudi Arabia,” he pointed out, “and we cannot but rely on the administrative border established between the two provinces and stop conflicts that exacerbate tensions.”
According to the deputy governor of Dhi Qar, Abu Dhar Al-Omar, a site for a border has been identified and a feasibility study has been carried out. The project will be submitted to the central government in Baghdad for ratification, he said. “A crossing on the border triangle between Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will have a significant and positive impact on the Iraqi economy and will facilitate the cross-border passage of goods.”
The province of Dhi Qar is 340 km away from Baghdad and has no borders with neighbouring countries. It is adjoined by the Iraqi provinces of Wasit, Al-Qadisiyah, Maysan and Basra, as well as Al-Muthanna.