With the risk of Iraq becoming a theatre of war following American assassination of Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, Saudi Arabia has said that it is doing everything in its power to spare the country from the dangers of another war.
The Baghdad government has been left somewhat paralysed by the recent escalation of violence triggered by last weeks killing of Soleimani. Tehran reacted by striking US military bases located in Iraq, fuelling concerns that the Iraqis who had suffered over a decade of war and terror following American-led invasion in 2003 could get dragged into another war.
Soleimani’s assassination and Iran’s reaction to it is viewed by some analysts to be a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and a breech of international law. Both operations were carried out without the consent of the government in Baghdad. The slain general in fact is believed to have been in Iraq at the invitation of Iraq to discuss de-escalating tensions in the region.
Saudi Arabia, whose intention to boost influence in Baghdad and counter Iran is no secret, strongly empathised with the Iraq’s predicament and promised to do all it can to protect the country. “The Kingdom and its leadership always stand with brotherly Iraq and will do everything in its power to spare it the danger of war and conflict between external parties, and for its generous people to live in prosperity after what they have endured in the past,” tweeted Prince Khalid Bin Salman.
Coming to the aid of Iraq in this moment of uncertainty could bode well for the kingdom. Riyadh watched in horror as the American installed a sectarian Shia-led government in Baghdad and handed the country, once an ally of Saudi, to the Iranians on a platter.
With Iran’s influence extending further into the Middle, Saudi leaders have been looking for ways to curb its rise by using its economic muscle to deepen ties with Iraq. Iraqi ministers have been receptive to Riyadh’s advance by offering hundreds of investment opportunities.