Could Saudi-Iraqi ties be Key to Defeating IS?

By Mustafa al-Kadhimi for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraqi-Saudi relations are the main key to the problems and solutions of the crises in the Middle East. The rupture and hostility between the two sides helped promote the positions of extremist groups, which are active in the region and are hostile to both countries. Today and despite the long delay, Iraqi-Saudi bilateral relations are taking a positive turn, as both parties seek to consolidate and strengthen them.

After 25 years of cold relations, which reached the point of a diplomatic rupture for a long period of time, the two sides announced the appointment of new ambassadors through a high-level representation. Iraqi Ambassador Rushdi al-Ani arrived in Riyadh Sept. 20, and the Saudi ambassador is expected to arrive in Baghdad within days. Ani hails from a Sunni family from the Anbar province, and he was a former Iraqi ambassador to Pakistan, which could help facilitate his new task in Saudi Arabia.

In April, Riyadh appointed Maj. Gen. Thamer al-Sabhan, former military attache at the Saudi Embassy in Lebanon, as its ambassador to Iraq. Sabhan took the oath of his new post on June 2. Saudi Arabia also announced that it will be opening a new embassy in Baghdad and a new consulate in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, after the Eid al-Adha holiday on Sept. 24. The embassy and the consulate have yet to open their doors, as of the time of this writing.

The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Jan. 5, 2014, that it had completed the necessary procedures for Saudi Arabia to open its embassy in Iraq. The new Saudi ambassador enjoyed good ties with the United States, and he was awarded medals of honor by the Pentagon for his role in Operation Desert Storm and the liberation of Kuwait.

The Saudi position coincided with a similar initiative by the emir of Qatar, to send the first ambassador of his country to Iraq, after the rupture that occurred following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. On Sept. 10, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani issued a decree appointing Zayed al-Khayareen as Qatar's “ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Iraq.”

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