U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently participated in the inaugural meeting of the Saudi Arabia-Iraq Coordination Council. The relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iraq "is vital to bolstering our collective security and prosperity, and we take great interest in it," said Mr. Tillerson.
The reopening of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iraq is extremely important to Iraq as it looks to develop a secure, stable economy, with the capacity to meet the needs of all its citizens. In particular, said Secretary Tillerson, "[Iraq] want[s] to develop the governmental capacities to resist any outside influence, that they are a country that now is able to stand on their own."
During meetings with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Secretary Tillerson discussed the United States' new policy "to counter Iran’s malign behaviors in the region. Both of our countries," said Mr. Tillerson, "believe that those who conduct business with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard . . . really do so at great risk. And we are hoping that European companies – countries and others around the world will join the U.S. as we put in place a sanctions structure to prohibit certain activities of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that foment instability in the region," including in Yemen and Syria.
The U.S. is encouraged to see that Saudi Arabia and Iraq have made strides in their bilateral relationship as evidenced by the recent opening of the Arar border crossing in August and the resumption of flights between Riyadh and Baghdad. "Both represent the beginning of what we hope will be a series of even more tangible actions to improve relations," said Mr. Tillerson.
As major military operations against ISIS near conclusion, Iraq’s financial needs for stabilization and reconstruction are evident. The Coordination Council will not only lead to closer cooperation in the fight against ISIS, but it will help support the rehabilitation of facilities and infrastructures in the areas liberated. The council will also contribute to reforms that will grow and diversify Iraq’s private sector. Such reforms will encourage foreign investment that is vital to Iraq’s reconstruction efforts, said Mr. Tillerson.
The United States supports the continued cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Iraq through the work of the Coordination Council.