Noha Mahmoud - Dubai
Iraqi President Barham Salih and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, at the Islamic Summit in Makkah. Archives
The current volume of Saudi investments in Iraq exceeds five million dollars, but Riyadh's ambitions seem much higher than that in front of an Iraqi investment portfolio that includes more than six thousand projects, worth 100 billion dollars.
The previous figures were the focus of the talk of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council during its last meeting last October, but an Iraqi party objection to these investment projects appeared recently that may frustrate Riyadh's ambition.
Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih, who chairs the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council, had expected that the volume of Saudi investments would reach approximately $ 2.6 billion in various Iraqi sectors, especially in the fields of energy, industry, mineral wealth and agriculture.
He stressed that his country is ready to accelerate the financing of development projects in Iraq.
In the face of this Saudi enthusiasm, two statements from the Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq militia led by Qais Khazali, and the State of Law coalition led by former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, coincided with rejecting Riyadh's investments.
"Iraq is one of the most important countries in the region, and it has huge investment opportunities, and winning these investments represents a gain for any country just as it is a gain for Iraq, especially if these investments are on the basis of mutual benefits," said Rana Khaled, Executive Director and Researcher at the Policy-Making Forum in London. And fair investment that guarantees the rights of all parties. "
She added, "Saudi projects vary between industrial and agricultural, and will be witnessed by a number of Iraqi provinces, the most prominent of which are Anbar, Basra, Najaf and Muthanna." The leader of the Iraqi "Citizens" movement, Ghaith Al-Tamimi, told Al-Hurra that the projects that Al-Maliki and Khazali referred to are "agricultural reclamation in the governorates of Muthanna, Anbar and Dhi Qar."
"40 percent of the ethnic lands are desert, which has caused environmental problems and climate change affecting Iraq and the countries of the region," he added. In this context, the advisor at the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Salem Al-Yami, told Al-Hurra that Saudi Arabia and Iraq signed, in the last mutual visits between the two parties, 13 agreements, including agreements related to electricity and energy infrastructure. Al-Yami added, "In recent years, Iraq has witnessed a big problem in the electricity that Iran sells at very high prices, and in return the Kingdom and the Gulf countries provide this service as a form of cooperation."
Al-Yami commented on the statements of Khazali and al-Maliki by saying: "Iran's agents in Iraq are those who reject Saudi investments for the sake of continuing Iran's interests. There are parties that do not want Arab-Iraqi relations to develop, and for Baghdad's relations to be limited to Tehran only."
Al-Yami believes that Iraq is now trying to get rid of this Iranian control. In this context, Rana Khaled says that "Iraq, with all its sects and sects, is agreed that its future and wealth will not be subject to any external will, and that it is in its interest to be a safe and attractive land for investment, because this is the only way to get the country out of poverty and unemployment."
But "the militias and some Iraqi political parties express the Iranian point of view. Investment in Iraq is subject to the domination of forces loyal to Iran, regardless of Iraqi interests," she says. And she continued: "These forces are repeating inflammatory speeches to stir public opinion in Iraq, and they do not care about the interests of the people, but rather implement the role required of them, which is obstructing the regional parties that are struggling with Iran over hegemony and influence in the region."
"Saudi projects do not pose a threat to these militias, as they are not free entities, but rather tools that Iran uses," she said.
Regarding the simultaneous timing of the statements of the State of Law coalition and League of the Righteous, Rana Khaled said, "Iraq is within the periphery of Iranian control, and Tehran continues its messages that development and investment decisions in Iraq are not different from security and political decisions, both of which are subject to its interests and dominance." Al-Tamimi describes Khazali and al-Maliki as "the most dangerous Iranian tools" in Iraq,
What is after oil?
The chief researcher at the Policy Making Forum in London says that Saudi investments come within the framework of Iraq's search for solutions to its economic crisis, which she described as "stifling".
She added that these solutions must be "outside the equation of oil, which is no longer able to meet Iraq's economic needs and support the growing economic deficit." However, Iran does not want Iraq to deviate from the framework of its hegemony, while it is unable to provide valuable investment opportunities due to its difficult economic conditions. Therefore, it is trying to impede investment in Iraq through its agents and followers. "
The researcher on Iraqi affairs described this Iranian hegemony as "part of Iraq's economic crisis, in addition to the weakness of the Iraqi state and its institutions and its inability to balance regional pressures and its role in the economy and development in Iraq."
The decline in oil revenues represents a disaster for Iraq, as it depends on oil resources to finance more than 90 percent of the country's budget.
Iraq, the third largest oil exporter in the world, may face an economic collapse after the Corona pandemic led to a decline in global energy demand and thus prices fell.
Iraq depends on oil resources to finance more than 90 percent of the country's budget The situation in Iraq threatens "OPEC" .. Saudi Arabia may intervene Iraq's collapsed economy could turn into a threat to OPEC, which is struggling to maintain oil prices, as some Iraqis want the government to put them first by pumping more oil, a move that could dismantle the OPEC + agreement. Al-Tamimi believes that the main motivation behind the entry of "tens of thousands" of Iraqi youth to the parties and the Popular Mobilization militias is the lack of job opportunities in Iraq, adding, "serious projects will attract them."
Al-Tamimi says that the "giant" investments of Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries in Iraq will reveal the "illusion" of Iranian projects, referring to what he described as the "demolition" policy adopted by Iran in order to control Iraq. And the number of the leader of the Citizens Movement of the "Iranian alternative" that appeared in every crisis that Iraq is going through, which Iran is the cause of in the first place, such as destroying agricultural lands in Basra province so that importing Iranian crops is the alternative.
"The kingdom wants to rebuild the cities that were affected by the occupation of the Islamic State (ISIS), and is helping the Shiite center and south. Saudi Arabia is interested in the stability of Iraq," he added. He continued: "Saudi projects will put the Tehran system to the test. Arab countries can be a true partner for Iraq."
Do we deal with a country?
The Saudi advisor, Salem Al-Yami, denies any obstacles hindering Riyadh's planned projects in Iraq, saying: "The issue is clear and we have the ability to implement these projects." But he stressed the need for the Iraqi side to prove, especially to the Arabs, that they are dealing with a state. Al-Yami referred to the killing of a South Korean company director in Iraq last October.
A worker found the body of Park Chul, director of the South Korean "Daewoo Engineering and Electricity" company in Iraq, was suspended in the company's compound, several kilometers away from the site of the large Faw port, whose construction is supervised by his company. Initial investigations favor the hypothesis of murder over suicide in the case of the Korean whose dead body was found near the port of Faw in southern Iraq "Criminal suspicion" ... new details about the killing of the director of the executing company for the Faw port
The Iraqi lawyer, Adnan Al-Sarayfi, who works with the Korean company, whose director was recently found dead in southern Iraq, confirmed that there is a criminal suspicion in the incident.\
According to Al-Yami, "investigations showed that a tribal force and militia were behind the killing of the CEO of the company that is implementing the construction of the large port of Faw."
He continued, "Iraq has not yet been able to confront these forces, and there is a state within a state." What we know in international relations is that the receiving party must provide protection for those in charge of the investment projects. "
In the case of Iraq, we are talking about relations with an active party and not the state, which are gangs and militia organizations.
Al-Yami believes that what Iraq is witnessing now reveals "the state's ability to impose its true control," saying that the days will prove what was previously announced by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi regarding his desire to impose state control.
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