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Iraq, Saudi Arabia reopen border crossing after 30 years 

November 19, 2020 at 5:00 am

An Iraqi woman stands at passport control as she waits to have her passport stamped at the Arar southern Iraqi border crossing with Saudi Arabia on 11 November 2009. [MOHAMMED SAWAF/AFP via Getty Images]

Iraq and Saudi Arabia have reopened the Arar border crossing for trade exchanges on Wednesday, which has been closed for 30 years.

“The Arar border crossing with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been officially reopened for trade movement between the two neighbouring countries,” confirmed the Iraqi Border Crossing Authority in a statement, of which Anadolu Agency obtained a copy.

The statement added: “The Interior Minister Othman Al-Ghanmi attended the reopening ceremony on behalf of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, accompanied by the Saudi ambassador to Iraq, Abdulaziz Al-Shammari, and a number of government officials from both countries.”

The Arar crossing, which is the only land port linking Iraq and Saudi Arabia, over the past few years has been solely designated for the transportation of pilgrims, while prohibiting the passage of goods and passengers.

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Iraq and Saudi Arabia agreed in July 2019 on the customs mechanisms to be adopted at the Arar border crossing for the inauguration of trade movement between the two countries.

Saudi Arabia resumed diplomatic relations with Iraq in December 2015, after being severed for 25 years following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Following decades of tension, relations improved after the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir visited Baghdad on 25 February, 2017.

It was the first visit of a senior Saudi official to the Iraqi capital since 1990, paving the way for future mutual visits.

Observers believe that Iraq represents one of the battlegrounds of the competition over regional influence between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which has close relations with most of the Shia political forces in Baghdad.