Saudi-Iraqi rapprochement: Abadi invited to visit Riyadh

Saudi-Iraqi rapprochement: Abadi invited to visit Riyadh
2 min read
23 March, 2015
Analysis: The Iraqi prime minister must straddle the fault-lines of tectonic diplomatic relations as he tries to align regional forces in the fight against the Islamic State group.
President Abadi has been at the centre of a diplomatic whirlwind as alliances shift [Anadolu]
During a phone conversation on Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi received an invitation from Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz to visit Riyadh, according to a statement from Abadi's office on Monday.

No further details were given about whether Abadi accepted the invitation.

"Abadi discussed in a phone conversation with the king of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdul Aziz, the strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries and the war against the terrorist group, the Islamic State. Salman also invited Abadi to visit Riyadh," read a statement from the Iraqi prime minister's office.

The phone call between the two men is considered a notable development in the bilateral relationship, following years of tension. Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki irked several of the Gulf nations with what was seen as his politicised entrenchment of sectarian divisions in the country.

In addition to Salman's call, the Iraqi prime minister is also understood to have spoken with Jordan's King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

According to Abadi's office, the discussions focused on issues of mutual interest and the war on IS.

Abadi, in one statement, stressed that all segments of the Iraqi people were fighting the IS group, and said the government's strategy was to hand over the territories recovered from IS to local police forces.

Abadi also stressed the war against IS was being led by the Iraqis themselves, saying there were no non-Iraqi fighters on the ground - only "advisers", from a number of countries.

Abadi has previously sought to downplay the role of the Iranian armed forces in Iraq's many battles.

Recent and successive contacts with the four leaders have raised expectations regarding the possibility of a "new plan" rumoured to be in the process of implementation in Iraq.

"These contacts are not taking place in a vacuum," said Iraqi political analyst Mohammad Munif.

"There is a new plan that cannot be isolated from the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran, as Saudi Arabia senses the coming Iranian threat."

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.