After 30 years, border crossing between Iraq and Saudi Arabia reopens

Baghdad on Wednesday announced the official opening of the Arar border crossing that connects western Iraq with Saudi Arabia to facilitate trade between the two countries after three decades of the site's closure.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Baghdad on Wednesday announced the official opening of the Arar border crossing that connects western Iraq with Saudi Arabia to facilitate trade between the two countries after three decades of the site's closure.

The Arar border crossing was closed during the second Gulf War in 1990. It reopened again in 2013, partially and within a limited scope, but shortly afterward was closed again after the Islamic State took control of cities of a huge percentage of Anbar province, where the Iraqi half of the crossing is located.

Commercial activity has been suspended at Arar since the border's closure due to a complete breakdown in diplomatic relations following Baghdad's brazen invasion of Kuwait. Since then, it has been accessible only to those traveling on religious pilgrimages.

The resumption of formal relations between Saudi Arabia and Iraq dates back to 2015 when Riyadh reopened its embassy in Baghdad, which at the time had been shuttered for 25 years. The initial decision to again allow traffic through the crossing was made in March.

Read More: Iraq, Saudi Arabia to boost trade, reopen border crossing closed since 1990

This final decision to reopen the border follows the outcomes of the fourth round of meetings that were supervised by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.

The opening ceremony took place in the presence of Iraq's Minister of Interior Othman al-Ghanimi, Deputy Commander of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Abdul Amir al-Shammari, Head of the Chairman of the Border Crossing Authority Major General Omar Adnan al-Waeli, the governors of Anbar and Karbala provinces, and other police officials.

The Saudi side was represented by the Saudi ambassador to Iraq and several government officials.

According to government press releases, 15 buses loaded with medical aid that have been donated by Saudi Arabia to the Iraqi people were scheduled to cross the border on Wednesday.

Editing by John J. Catherine