What drives to grow relations between the Gulf states and the Kurdistan region of Iraq?

Gulf interest in strengthening relations with Kurdistan region of Iraq is increasing, especially states of UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Translation Unit
Academic Board of the Center

Gulf interest in strengthening relations with Kurdistan region of Iraq is increasing, especially states of UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. A latest sign was meeting between (Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi) with (Nechirvan Barzani President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region) in the British capital, London on September 18, 2021, and their last meeting in June from this year. The Kurdistan region has been known to adopt a moderate policy in foreign relations based on common interests, to improve this is presence of international companies affiliated with many nationalities that Baghdad the capital of Iraq and other provinces, lack of having these enterprises. The Kurdsitan region consisting of three governorates in northern Iraq;It is Sulaymaniyah, Dohuk and Erbil, and the region achieving autonomy since the nineties of the last century.Follow the United Nations imposing the blockade on Iraq in 1991 and continuing until 2003, and withdrawal severing the Gulf states’ relations with Baghdad, the Kurdish region was expanding in strengthening its relations in the Gulf;to establish trust with the Gulf countries.

Development of the Kurdistan region

The region has witnessed an economic retrieval since 2003, as it began attracting local capital from rest of provinces that experienced repercussions of the invasion of the country and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime. Meanwhile, due to stability in the region by the security forces leads to attracting others to do their investments in the region.

But the region's dispute with the center, administrative corruption and internal political conflicts, have supported the emergence of an economic crisis whose effects still exist despite the fact that the politicians and parties of the Kurdish region participate in the Iraqi central government. The conflict between the regional government and the central government was over management of oil capital file.

The Gulf Diplomacy

The United Arab Emirates was one of the first Arab countries to support and invest in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, as it has been nearly a decade since the opening of the UAE Consulate General in the capital of the region.

In mid-May, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and the President of the Kurdistan Region discussed a number of issues; Including "strengthening bilateral relations and latest regional developments," according to a statement by the regional government.

Iranian presence

Without Iranian presence is not possible to talk about Gulf cooperation with Iraq, which has an influential role throughout Iraq by relying on Iraqi political parties and militias. Observers confirm that with the presence of militias who has loyality to Iran and holding power in various cities of Iraq, it is difficult to establish good relations between Baghdad and the Gulf states.

Iran fears that will lose his gains in Iraq, which he makes corridor for reaching other Arab countries such as Syria and Lebanon, therefore, he works to prevent any development in relations between the Gulf states and Kurdistan, and Iraq in particular.

In this regard, Al-Mizan Kitab says: "The lack of Iranian influence in Kurdistan is what gave this move to the Gulf countries to strengthen their relations (with Kurdistan)”, he further noting that Kurdistan has become "today somewhat isolated in field of Iranian and external interference, and this is one of the Reasons (for the Gulf states to strengthen their relations with the Kurdish region)."

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