Researcher Shatha Khalil *
Iraq and Saudi Arabia are seeking to reopen common Arar border crossing between the two countries after being closed for 30 years. Arar is one of the important border crossings between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, whether economically, politically or even socially.
Iraq has a land border with Saudi Arabia of about 800 kilometers, extending from Anbar westward to Muthanna in the south.
The reopening of the Jadeedath Arar border outlet is of economic importance in increasing the trade exchange between the two countries, facilitating the movement of Iraqi pilgrims and Umrah, and strengthening the family and tribal ties between the two countries.
It is located at the Iraqi-Saudi border (97 km) southwest of Iraq’s Nukhayb district, 50 km north of Arar. The Arar border crossing is 600 km (70 miles) west of Baghdad.
Since 2003, it was not officially opened only during the pilgrimage season to promote the Iraqi pilgrims to Mecca, and has two tracks, the first passes through the province of Karbala, and the second within the province of Anbar.
Saudi Arabia and Iraq are linked by two crossings, they are Jadeedath Arar and Jumeema near Rafha but Arar outlet is the official and approved between the two countries for more than 50 years, until its closure in 1991, that is during the Second Gulf War, and its use has been limited during the past years to facilitate the entry of Iraqi pilgrims every year as we mentioned.
The economic, social and cultural importance of Jadeedath Arar crossing :
The importance of Arar border crossing between Iraq and Saudi Arabia can not be limited to economic or tourist importance, but it is characterized by political and security status for the benefit of various political parties, whether international or local.
Arar connects Iraq with the shortest way to reach many countries in the north of Saudi Arabia and the economic exchange in its various fields will be more effective and influential, which will have a positive impact on many aspects, including social, cultural rapprochement and even political ones.
Iraq is an Arab country with which Saudi Arabia has many ties , which are the closest in the region , especially in relation to the Kingdom with the longest land borders, and they share in terms of belief, history, geography and man.
Commercial communication is very important to contribute to the economic recovery of the Iraqi industry because it possesses skilled manpower, all of which opens up areas in the labor market for experts, and despite the current political situation, but the future is promising for Iraq, and will also need many of the goods that will contribute to support Iraq, Saudi Arabia has many goods of high quality and competitive value, which Iraq will be a good and profitable destination for the Saudi market, and this exchange will include the transport market and service market and perhaps even different industries.
Local residents in Anbar in general and Nukhayb in particular believe that the re-employment of the Jadeedath Arar border crossing contributes to the economic recovery of most of the cities surrounding the crossing , which has been economically damaged since its closure in 1990.
The importance of the crossing is to activate the movement of export and import of the two countries in near future where the opening of the crossing will revive the region economically and contribute to the revitalization of the export and import movement between the two countries, and the revival of cities and provinces located on the roads leading to the port. In the northern border region there are cement factories that will undoubtedly benefit from the opening of the port to export cement to Iraq after Saudi Arabia allowed the export of cement abroad after the suspension imposed on Iraq under the orders of Paul Bremer, the civil administrator of Iraq according to Paul Premier after 2003, and the opening of the port will serve pilgrims Iraqis, Turks and Eastern European countries.
The Jadeedath Arar port will revive the trade exchange movement and raise the level of the economic area of the region, and there will be great employment opportunities for young people through the opening of clearance offices of goods and the volume of economic exchange may be very high, given the need of the Iraqi market for Saudi and Gulf products which are characterized by high quality, but it is required to provide the security side to ensure the operation of trucks transporting goods to Iraq or through the provision of commercial gathering centers between the Saudi and Iraqi ports for the receipt and delivery of goods, because it is very difficult for trucks to go inside Iraq in the current period, due to the lack of security well , as I am one from the sons of the region, I see that the region will thrive commercially, and the passage of trucks from the Jadeedath Arar port is the best for the Saudi and Gulf trade because of the proximity, time reduction, and low cost instead of passing through other far outlets that they have high cost , time and distance.
To protect the border port by the Iraqi forces:
Iraq plays a balanced role among regional parties and is not aligned to one side without the other, which is confirmed with statements by Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi that his government rejects the policy of axes and adopt a trend based on cooperation with all neighboring countries, as well as the statements of Iraqi President Barham Salih during the Arab summit in Tunis , he confirmed that Iraq will be a balance between the regional parties, and that trend was confirmed in the summit of the heads of parliaments organized by Iraq during the month of April and brought together Saudi Arabia and Iran as an effort by Iraqi leaders to draw the image of Iraq as a friend among neighbors.
And that “the Iraqi government allocated large numbers of Iraqi army forces and border guards to protect the desert road leading to the port of Arar, and the allocation of devices to combat explosives, and the conduct of military aircraft, to detect terrorist operations.
An agreement has already signed to improve the Jadeedath Arar port where the Saudi Customs and the Border Crossings Authority in the Republic of Iraq recently signed an agreement on “the establishment and improvement of the Iraqi , Saudi Jadeedath Arar port ” in Riyadh, in the presence of the Governor of the General Customs Authority Ahmad Al-Qahbani and the Ambassador of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to Iraq Abd al-Azez al-Shammari, and the head of the Iraqi border crossings Kazem Mohammed al-Aqabi.
The aim of the agreement is to overcome any obstacles that may face the implementation of the project to establish and improve the Iraqi, Saudi Jadeedath Arar outlet, and the desire of both sides to identify the necessary commitments that would contribute to the implementation of the project in time.
The agreement also included the appointment of liaison officers for the project from the two sides in order to communicate and coordinate continuously, arrange the meetings of the project if necessary, and provide the necessary facilities for the project workers to ensure ease and smooth mobility, through coordination with the concerned parties in each port, and set a specific mechanism to ensure easy mobility to and from the work area daily and throughout the implementation period and the agreement also specified the beginning of the implementation of the project works from 17-9-1439H corresponding to 1-6-2018.
The Iraqi economic expert, Hammam al-Shamma, said that the restoration of relations between the two countries comes at a time when Iraq is in dire need of its Arab brothers, under the internal and external pressures facing the Iraqi economy, including the disruption of oil prices globally in light of the enormous financial needs of the reconstruction of the country after the devastation as a result of the occupation of Da’ashi, in addition to Iranian pressure, which is under US sanctions and trying to find an outlet in Iraq.
In a Saudi initiative to activate investment in Iraq, a grant of $ 1 billion was provided to build a sports city. The grant comes to revive the economic situation in Iraq and to stimulate the economy and create job opportunities for Iraqi citizens where the numbers of the unemployed have reached more than 25%.
The Saudi officials also stressed that the operation of the Jadeedath Arar port with Iraq is in accordance with the latest technologies in the world, and is equipped with international standards, and contributes to the development of the border area and provide facilities for passers-by. They stressed that “Customs prepared the project re-engineering procedures for exemptions and customs restrictions as they are one of the initiatives aim to shorten the procedures and legalize and update the lists of restricted goods with the concerned parties.”
The Iraqi side stressed that the trade relations between the two countries will witness a qualitative leap in the exchange level after the opening of Arar port. The opening of the port will make commercial movement between the two countries easier, especially since it is currently being done in a complex way either through Jordan or Kuwait, and there is no direct road.
Al-Shamaa said that one of the important projects is the Saudi- Iraqi oil pipeline project, which reaches to the Red Sea and helps Iraq to export additional quantities of oil as Iraq has a large productive capacity and a large oil reserve.
In the near future, we hope to enhance the bilateral relations between the two countries in all fields to new horizons, coordinate bilateral efforts to serve the interests of the two countries and ensure the protection of common interests and develop their strategic partnership. The Council also aims to encourage the exchange of technical expertise between the two countries, and transfer the technology and cooperation in the scientific research and in all fields.
Therefore, the Arab and Iraqi parties should develop channels of communication among themselves and realize that the return and re-establishment of relations will require a long-term process in order to build the influence that all Arab countries are seeking.
Economic Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies