Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi announced the groundwork for launching Saudi investments in Iraq, however the announcement was met with widespread rejection among Iran-backed Shia political circles and armed factions who expressed serious doubts about Saudi Arabia’s intention.
According to government sources who spoke to Arabic Post: “The Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman are determined to move forward in paving the way for Saudi investment in Iraq.”
“A Saudi delegation will visit Baghdad in the coming weeks to discuss what the Iraqi government has achieved regarding facilitating Saudi investments in Iraq,” the sources added.
Al-Kadhimi has proposed discussing an understanding with the sides who reject Saudi investment in Iraq, in order to reach a solution that satisfies all parties, this includes Saudi investors paying “the political and armed groups as a settlement to allow their investments, but the Saudi side has not commented on the matter to date.”
Sources have also highlighted Saudi’s security concerns regarding its investments and projects, adding that Al-Kadhimi has pledged to overcome all obstacles, announcing his full approval of the investment project.
Saudi intends to farm one million hectares in the desert areas of four Iraqi governorates, namely the Muthanna, Anbar, Najaf and Karbala provinces. Shia political parties vehemently reject Saudi investment in Iraq in particular because they focus on Shia areas of the country.
A prominent leader in Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq, also known as the Khazali Network, told Arabic Post: “We have doubts and security concerns about Saudi Arabia’s desire to invest in the Shia provinces, given the fact that our history with the kingdom is full of issues that had previously harmed the Iraqi people.”
However those in favour of the Saudi investment believe the Shia politicians’ concerns emanate from their desire to preserve Iranian investments in the country, which present Tehran’s main source of foreign currency, after the imposition of the US sanctions against it.