Thursday, January 08, 2015

The Beginning of Wisdom

Now this is some normalization of relations I can get behind:

Saudi Arabia will reopen its embassy in Iraq for the first time in 25 years. Saudi officials will travel to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad this week to begin preparations so they can start building “at the earliest opportunity,” the Saudi Press Agency said Saturday. The move marks a major improvement in the once-rocky relations between the Arab neighbors, Reuters reported.

Saudi Arabia closed the doors of its Baghdad embassy in 1990, after Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

Saddam was overthrown in 2003, of course.

Since then, Sunni prejudice against Shias has made the Sunni Arab world leery of Iraq under Shia dominance because the Sunnis feared Iraqis would be more Shia than Arab, and so support Shia Iran rather than the largely Sunni Arab world.

That Iraqi Shias died in large numbers fighting Iran in the Iran-Iraq War (the First Gulf War) was not relevant, I guess.

Perhaps a bit of healthy fear that this incident represents prompted this belated diplomatic move:

A deadly confrontation on the Iraq-Saudi Arabia border Monday – between Saudi border guards and heavily armed men operating from Iraq’s Islamic State-controlled Anbar Province – presents a problematic US ally with the worrisome threat of rising challenges to internal security.

Saudi Arabia has long battled efforts by Al Qaeda to undermine the Western-backed Saudi royalty and its role as keeper of Islam’s holiest sites.

But now the Islamic State (IS) has joined the battle against the Saudi government, especially since IS forces swept into Iraq from Syria last year and Saudi Arabia signed on to the US-led coalition that aims to defeat IS.

So finally, Saudi Arabia realizes that driving Iraq into Iran's arms is a bad idea. Pity that realization couldn't have come a decade--or even 3 years--ago.