Iraq intends to open a new border crossing with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the province of Najaf, to increase trade exchange and facilitate the movement of pilgrims between the two countries.
Observers believe that this step would add momentum to the growing economic relations between the two neighbors, and contribute to the revitalization of cities and governorates located on the roads leading to the port.
Recently, Luay Al-Yasiri, the governor of Najaf, said that since the beginning of December, the implementation stages of the land road linking the governorate and the Saudi border have started, with the aim of opening a new crossing that will contribute to reviving the tourist and archaeological areas, increasing trade exchange, and facilitating the movement of pilgrims between Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
“We hope to transform the border control between Iraq and Saudi Arabia into a border crossing that includes areas for trade exchange along the lines of the Arar and Al-Jumayma border crossings between the two countries,” he added.
The Iraqi official emphasized that “the financial crisis and the war against ISIS in 2014 caused delays in the completion of this project, which the companies of the Iraqi Ministry of Construction and Housing are implementing.”
Al-Yasiri revealed that “Iraq agreed with Saudi Arabia to open border crossings between them, and it is hoped that this road will be one of these border outlets for trade exchange and the movement of pilgrims, as it constitutes a major economic, agricultural, industrial and urban shift for the province.”
According to Haider Hamid, head of the Roads and Bridges Division in Najaf province, the Iraqi Ministry of Construction and Housing is working on implementing the 239 km road linking Iraq and Saudi Arabia in stages with a total cost of 168 billion Iraqi dinars (about $ 116 million.(
On the 18th of last November, Saudi Arabia and Iraq opened the Arar border crossing, after a closure of nearly 3 decades, and the flow of commercial trucks entered between the two countries began.
The reopening of the “Jdeideh – Arar” border crossing was of importance in increasing the movement of trade and economic exchange in various fields between the two countries effectively and facilitating the movement of Iraqi pilgrims and Umrah pilgrims, which would have a reflection on many political, social and cultural aspects.
Noteworthy, Iraqi authorities announced earlier the closure of the unofficial border crossings controlled by the pro-Iranian militias, which constitute a major drain on the Iraqi state.
The unofficial outlets are the most prominent sources of supplying Iraqi militias with weapons and logistical equipment, as they are the main passage for smuggling hard currency from Iraq to Iranian territory.
Iraq has nine land border ports with neighboring countries, with the exception of the ports in the Kurdish region, which are Zurbatiyah; Al-Shalamjah; Al-Mandhariyah; Al-Shayeb and Mandali with Iran; Safwan with Kuwait; Trebil with Jordan; and Al-Walid and Rabia with Syria. It also has four unofficial land crossings in the Kurdish region, which are three with Iran and one with Syria, and sea ports in the Basra governorate in the south, in addition to an expected opening of the Arar crossing with Saudi Arabia.
Observers point to the existence of a number of other unofficial border crossings in the country.
Last July, the Iraqi army announced that it would manage all the land and sea ports of the country, with the exception of the ports in the northern Kurdistan region, with the aim of preventing smuggling and corruption.