Iraqi proxy militias threaten Saudi investment in Iraq
What follows is a research conducted by our Iraqi-based analyst. It was conducted in November and compiled on November 25, 200.
Time: 08:30 pm (Local time, Baghdad)
Place: Baghdad, Iraq
On November 8, 2020, the Iraqi-Saudi Committee met in Baghdad to initiate a new opening door to Arab Gulf countries after years of fractured relations. Iraqi-Saudi efforts are currently accelerating to translate initial agreements reached two years ago on a number of vital projects that Baghdad wants to benefit from in the context of reconstruction plans, into an active diplomatic movement. The two sides agreed to accelerate the pace of implementation of cooperation in the fields of economy and investment.
The delegations included high-ranking Saudi ministers - the ministers of industry and agriculture - and the governor of the Central Bank to the Iraqi capital. Also, the governor of the General Authority for Foreign Trade and the head of the Public Transport Authority were present, as well as representatives of a number of Saudi ministries and companies in various sectors.
The Saudi delegation was headed by Environment Minister Abdul Rahman Al-Fadhli, and included Minister of Industry Bandar bin Ibrahim Al-Khorayef and Transport Minister Saleh Al-Jasser as well as Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (the Central Bank) Ahmed Al-Khulaifi and Governor of the Foreign Trade Authority Abdulrahman Al-Harbi.
According to delegation and persons present in the meeting for both sides, the proposed Saudi investment targets the following sectors:
· Natural Resources( Water & Oil)
The development of Iraqi-Saudi relations has produced a mixed response among Iraqis, as may be seen here:
Ahmad Al-Kinani, Iraqi Parliament member (Sadiqoon), Fatah Alliance – associated with the pro-Iran Asaib Ahl al Haq militia.
There is no Emirati investment in Iraqi, but Saudi investment has taken place. There was Saudi investment in the agricultural sector, but it has been rejected by Iraqi communities. The proposed Saudi investment would have negatively impacted on Iraqi groundwater supplies, therefore, Saudi Arabia withdraw from this agreement. The aborted investment concerned a plant (Al-Barsim) Clover that was to have been an investment on Iraqi land for Saudi pastures. According to (geographic and water) experts the plant would have impacted on saved groundwater. As a result, the agreement was rejected by a majority of Iraqi people, and abandoned. Also, the Ministry of Agriculture said "we didn't initiate any investment, but it was a request from Saudi Arabia." But, after massive rejection Saudi's investors withdrew from the agreement.
Even the tribe in the area that was specified for Saudi investment rejected the project. Today, we are trying to save natural resources such as oil and steel, and it's everyone's responsibility to keep and protect groundwater for the future water crisis that may happen. Groundwater can be used for many different matters.
Arar border crossing (a border crossing between Iraq and Saudi Arabia now due to be reopened) is a good initiative and we hope we can open doors to the whole neighborhood. This will serve Iraq. We need to activate all border crossings.
We have a very painful past with these countries (Arab Gulf countries) toward both the Iraqi people and its land. From 2003, until now it was really shameful from them. Saudi Islamic institutions had an aggressive attitude against Iraqi people, declaring ‘takfir’ (excommunication from Islam) against them and killing them. Honestly, they have to apologize for what they did regarding these killings, and more than 5000 suicide bombers that they sent to Iraq. There must be good-will initiatives by Arab Gulf countries toward Iraq, so there will be possibilities to open a new door and start a new relationship in the economic and other sectors.
It's really a dark history that they have toward Iraq, Gulf political policies harmed Iraq and cost a lot of lives and money. It's not easy to forget all of that just for a simple slogan and for investment. There are massive numbers of orphans, widows and others, and all of that came from the crime and the policy of atoning Iraqi people.
The solution is acknowledgment and apology to the Iraqi people. They have to take steps forward with that. Their regime was at all times against Iraqi people and political movements in Iraq.
Proof of their intervention in Iraq is: Where did these 5000 suicide bombers come from? Did they fall from the sky? The al-Qaida ideology - where did it come from? Saudi Islamic institutions were responsible for declaring Takfir against Iraqi people. There is no need to give any evidence, it's all clear.
The majority of the Iraqi population and political movements in Iraq are against the agreement (with Saudi Arabia). But, if the agreement goes ahead, we will use another language at that time.
Muhsen Aasoofer Al-Shemary, 50yr, Consultant engineer adviser, former Ministry of Water Resources official.
There are definite political conflicts regarding this agreement. Political conflicts covered by religion. The ‘Wilayat al-Faqih’ (Governance of the Jurisprudent – the system of government in Iran) through pro-Iranian political movements in Iraq. Muslim Brotherhood, with its alliance and ‘Dawa’ activities and Islamic parties working with Qatar,Turkey and the UK in Iraq. Wahhabism and Salafism are cover for the USA, UAE and Saudi in Iraq. I would say Saudi investment is primarily intended against the other two components - Wilayat al-Faqih and Muslim Brotherhood.
The solution - we have to convince all these sides to create a neutral area like Switzerland with join investment for all
Turkey and Iran use Islamic political cover to advance specific goals, and they consider Iraq under their influence. So, Saudi can seek to come and move in their area of influence.
The chosen area for investment has nothing to do with geography or religion – it is a political matter 100%.
The solution - we have to convince all these sides to create a neutral area like Switzerland with join investment for all, so we can turn from weapons to rebuilding and construction.
There is a reality of Iranian presence through its militias, but at the same time there is also influence of Turkey and Arab Gulf countries in Iraq. But Iran or Turkey are in control on the ground.
Iranian weapons face American weapons, and American weapons get used and move based on Saudi and Qatar agenda. Iraq became in the center of conflict between Iran and the Turkey/ Muslim Brotherhood trend supported by the UK, and Saudi Wahhabism and Salafism supported by America.
There won't be any military conflict between these sides, everyone defends on their national security on Iraq’s land and outside of Iraq. Only Iraqis will be the victims of this conflict.
Finally, I would say to all - let's make an Iraqi project that will guarantee the interest of Iraq and others. As we can't not face them and they are deeply influential in Iraq. We don't have any other option, only this.
We don't have any influential neutral personnel to lead Iraq. All political leaders and personnel are biased to one side or another.
Iraq will remain an arena of attrition.
So Iraq has political issues not economy, security or religion. Iraq has huge resources and wealth, but the issue is political. A political solution is the key for all issues.
Dr. Hameed Al-Nief, 72 yr. spokesperson of Ministry of Agriculture
In the last year, there was a memorandum of understanding concluded between Iraq with Saudi Arabia through coordinating committees. We at the Ministry of Agriculture have prepared a map and a plan for investment with the ministry of water resources, and we have presented it to the General Investment Authority, and they are responsible for this.
The negotiation began after the Saudi visit to Iraq. Indeed, there is a great hope with this visit, we as a ministry need that investment. Saudi Arabia is a rich country and they have huge and advanced capacity in technology and capabilities to help in that field. Therefore, we allocated a million acres to Saudi to invest in Iraq between Najaf and Mouthana.
The Saudis are asking for a 50 years investment contract. As a result, the investment has been paused. As is well known, ground water is a strategic resource, therefore, the ministry of water have considered their opinion. There is concern that groundwater will not be sufficient for Saudi demand, it contradicts Saudi demand. We are as a ministry surprised by the Saudi demand, therefore, we thought to give land in Nasariya and Ramadi. The negotiations are still ongoing, and we hope we can find a solution for investment needs.
We will continue with Saudi Arabia to invest in different fields such as grain laboratories, manufacturing industries and thread companies.
We are a state and we act based on that. if there is anyone who doesn’t agree with the agreement it's doesn't matter - as long the government is dealing with it. The government is committed to listening to individuals or groups that disagree with the agreement. But the government is ongoing in its mission, and we send a message of good-will to all those willing to invest in Iraq.
Unfortunately, these comments and threats will not serve Iraq, and it will not benefit any other side as well. The government should and must open the door of negotiation to the world. Investment with countries is much better than with private companies which is less guaranteed. Investment with states gives more opportunities and guarantees because it brings in a state with all its capacities.
My message to all Arab brothers whoever can invest, you are welcome
The opposition is not only to UAE and KSA. It happened also when there was an agreement with China for Basra port. I believe these concerns do not make sense.
Today, we want to open the door to investment to all the world, we want everyone to come to invest in Iraq as long it helps and serves the Iraqi people.
Actually, we expect and are willing to invest with Gulf countries even more than with other countries as we have languages, tribes, and social ties and relationships in common, so it's better than with foreigners. Gulf countries are close to us and it's easy to communicate with them. They have complete infrastructures in all aspects. We as Iraq have everything to export to Gulf countries, but unfortunately, there is misadministration for all things in Iraq.
My message to all Arab brothers whoever can invest, you are welcome, and we do encourage you to come through the Iraqi government. Because you will going to have a contract with Iraqi government – and they will be taking all responsibilities, it will be a state guarantee. I hope everyone considers that when they are coming to Iraq for investment.