By John Lee.

Saudi Arabian budget airline Flynas is reported to be planning to start services to several Iraqi cities in the coming weeks.

If the plan goes ahead, it would be the first service between the two countries since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990.

(Source: Middle East Eye)

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Locals in Anbar celebrated when an important Iraqi-Jordanian border crossing was recently reopened. But the drivers who use it say many areas are still too dangerous to pass through.

When it was announced at the end of August that the Turaibil [Terbil] border crossing between Jordan and Iraq would reopen, there were celebrations. The border point, which facilitates trade between the two countries, was closed in late 2014 because the extremist group known as the Islamic State, or IS, had taken control of the areas in Anbar province leading toward the crossing.

“Opening the Turaibil crossing is urgently needed,” Faleh al-Issawi, the deputy head of Anbar’s provincial council, told NIQASH. “Other provinces are slowly becoming more stable and secure again and we too are working to restore our economy and our commercial facilities. The time has come for Anbar to go back to what it was before.”

Anbar sits between three countries – Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia – and between four Iraqi provinces. Traders must cross Anbar and locals know they could be exploiting that business. The re-opening of Turaibil has them hoping they will be able to.

On the Jordanian side of the border, everything was apparently ready for Turaibil to re-open. But the Iraqis haven’t been so fast. Most bridges and rest stops on the way there have been destroyed in recent fighting in the province and some areas that the road passes through are still dangerous.

Al-Issawi explains that they have a plan for this. Trucks will be escorted by security forces once they cross into Iraq, right up until they reach another completely secure area. The truck drivers won’t pass through the cities of Ramadi or Fallujah, both of which had been under control of the IS group, before heading to Baghdad or southern and northern provinces directly.

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

The Tureibil crossing, or more commonly known as the Karameh border crossing, between Jordan and Iraq reopened in early September in tandem with the opening of another border crossing with Saudi Arabia. This means that more foreign goods are likely to flow into the Iraqi market, which already lacks national products, especially food and agricultural goods.

The prospects for increased imports, which is not good news for the local production industry in Iraq, prompted parliament’s Agriculture, Water and Marshlands Committee on Aug. 14 to accuse the Ministry of Agriculture of mismanagement and confusion in supporting these foreign goods, which caused the local market to become flooded with imported products.

Mohammed Mansouri, an expert on local livestock, warns against “a catastrophe in the sector of livestock and agriculture in Iraq,” urging the government to work “on achieving food security.”

However, the failure of agricultural projects in Iraq is not only the result of poor planning and management, but also a “corrupt agenda seeking to keep this sector lagging so as to continue relying on imports,” said Ali al-Badiri, a member of the Agriculture, Water and Marshlands Committee, in a media statement Aug. 24. “Impeding the cultivation of wheat crops is a conspiracy, as this cultivation has become a threat to the investments of the corrupted,” he said.

In the same vein, Suhaila Abbas, the head of the Agriculture Committee of the Babil Governorate Council, told Al-Monitor, “Linking food security to importation is not due to technical problems such as drought or the rudimentary irrigation and land treatments techniques, as these can be addressed through development plans. This is, however, due to political reasons. Many of Iraq’s neighbors have an interest in keeping Iraq unable to become self-sufficient in terms of food, so it continues importing food products.”

By John Lee.

Saudi Arabia is reportedly planning to re-open the Arar [Ar’ar] border crossing with Iraq for the first time since 1990.

Sohaib al-Rawi, the governor of Anbar province, is quoted as saying that the Iraqi government had deployed troops to protect the desert route leading to Arar and called its opening a “significant move” to boost ties.

The border was closed after the two countries cut ties following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

(Sources: Al Jazeera, Reuters, Rudaw)

Iraqi Interior Minister Qasim al-Araji (pictured) has said that Saudi Prince Mohammad bin-Salman has “officially asked Iraq to act as a mediator between Tehran and Riyadh to reduce tensions.”

According to a news agency report, Al-Araji made the remarks at a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli in Tehran.

Referring to his recent visit to Saudi Arabia and meeting with the Saudi prince, Al-Araji said:

Mohammad bin-Salman requested me officially for Iraq’s mediation between Iran and Saudi Arabia to reduce tensions. Before, Malik Salman had made such a request too. I told them that they should treat Iranian pilgrims with respect and the best possible way and allow them to visit Al-Baqi’ cemetery.

“The Saudi party gave some promises with this regard, and now Iranian pilgrims can visit the cemetery. We believe that relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia can held establishing security in the region”.

(Source: GardaWorld)

(Picture credit: Mohsen Ahmed Alkhafaji)

Reuters reports that a former Iraqi oil minister said it was necessary for Iraq to regain the Iraqi Pipeline in Saudi Arabia (IPSA), which has not carried Iraqi crude since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, and which was confiscated by Saudi Arabia in 2001 as compensation for debts owed by Baghdad.

Bahr Al Olum, who is currently a member of parliament, said he has discussed the issue with Saudi side expected that Riyadh would have a more “positive response” given an improved political environment between the two countries.

(Source: Reuters)

(Picture: Haider Al-Abadi meets King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, 19th June 2017)

By John Lee.

Mr Jon Wilks CMG (pictured) has been appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq in succession to Mr Frank Baker OBE.

Mr Wilks, who currently serves as Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Muscat, will take up his appointment in November 2017.

He has previously served in diplomatic roles in Baghdad, in addition to Syria, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

(Source: UK FCO)

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq’s prime minister has rejected Saudi and UAE media claims that a $500m ransom was paid by Qatar to Shia Muslim armed groups in Iraq to secure the release of 26 kidnapped Qatari hunters.

Haider al-Abadi said that money was received by the Iraqi government but the sum was still in the Iraqi central bank.

Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher reports:

By John Lee.

AINA reports that a large convoy of Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) has been seen moving towards the Iraqi-Saudi border.

This comes following increasing tensions between Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the Iraqi government has expressed support for Qatar in its conflict with Saudi Arabia.

(Source: AINA)

Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi received the Saudi Arabian Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, Khalid bin Abdul Aziz al-Faleh, and his accompanying delegation in his office on Monday.

During the meeting, they discussed boosting cooperation in the oil sector, industry, petrochemicals, electricity, minerals, trade and banks, as well as reviewed cooperation to support OPEC oil prices.

His Excellency Prime minister Dr. Haider Al-Abadi stressed the importance of expanding bilateral steady cooperation for the benefit of the two countries which would lead the region to a comprehensive development beneficial for all.

The Minister of Energy Khalid Al-Falih conveyed the greetings of the Saudi King and the officials in the Kingdom , their blessing for the achievement of Iraq’s victories, pointing out that to the importance of Iraq’s role in the region and the strenuous steps taken in all fields.

The Minister of Energy Khalid Al-Falih expressed the readiness of the Saudi companies to cooperate and invest in Iraq and Saudi’s market desire to obtain Iraqi products.

(Source: Media office of the Prime Minister)