July 25, 2023

A golden opportunity: How Iraq can benefit from regional calm

For decades, Iraq has been caught in the crossfire of tensions between neighbouring Iran and Saudi Arabia. But following the recent thaw in relations between Tehran and Riyadh – which Baghdad helped to facilitate – it now stands to be a key beneficiary of regional calm. After a decade of intense polarisation, key regional players are now more focused on economic prosperity than gaining the geopolitical upper hand, which could bring direct and much needed benefits to Iraq. Against this backdrop, Iraq’s prime minister, Mohammed al-Sudani is strengthening ties with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). European countries should actively support these developments, after years of trying to stabilise Iraq following the 2003 invasion.

Leaders are concerned with the economic wellbeing of their citizens in a transforming, and less oil reliant, world.

Arab Gulf states have shown hostility towards Iraq for years, considering Iraq’s Shia politicians, including its premiers, as Iranian proxies. Much to the frustration of Iraqi politicians, many countries – GCC members included – have long viewed their foreign policy towards Iraq as an extension of their Iran file. When Sudani first assumed power in October 2022, GCC capitals considered him as strongly allied to former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and, by extension, Iran.

Read the full article and more from The European Council on Foreign Relations.

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