On November 17, Iraq and Saudi Arabia opened the Arar border crossing for the first time in 30 years for trade to achieve development and stability, the Iraqi border ports commission said in a statement, accessed by the Associated Press. The development comes as the two nations aim to strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation to achieve national interests in the field of trade and commerce. The crossing has remained closed since 1991 following Iraq and Saudi Arabia’s deterioration of relations after Saddam's invasion of Kuwait.
In the 1990s Iraq closed down its border after Riyadh cut all ties following Kuwait’s invasion. The diplomatic ties between the two countries exacerbated despite successive governments taking over. However, following the high profile meetings in 2015, Riyadh reopened the embassy in Baghdad, and by 2017, a bilateral coordination council was established to further mend relations between the two nations. The latest reopening of the Arar crossing is a milestone in the Iraq-Saudi economic cooperation, as officials including Iraq's interior minister and the head of its border commission opened the borders in a historic move to let the line of cargo trucks pass through.
Located south of the Iraqi town of An-Nukhaib in western Anbar province, which predominantly houses the Sunni population of Anbar, the border reopening is expected to ease the economic crisis for Iraq due to the fluidity of the trade activity. Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and Saudi’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud signed several joint investment agreements covering energy and health sectors, and the Arar’s reopening is a major breakthrough in ties between Riyadh and Baghdad.
According to Iraq's state news agency, Saudi Ambassador to Iraq, Abdul Aziz Al Shammari, and his Iraqi counterpart, Qahtan Al Janabi, inspected the crossing located 70 kilometers from the Iraqi border earlier in October as they planned to resume commercial activities between the two nations. Farhan Al Dulaimi, a member of the Anbar provincial council in Iraq told the state press that Saudi Arabia completed 80 percent renovation work on the border, meanwhile, undersecretary of the Saudi Customs Authority, Majid Al Marzam informed that the crossing was equipped with advanced technology to further the movement of trade between Iraq and Saudi.