In his first foreign tour since his appointment, and in his first steps in shaping his government's foreign policy, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia'a Al-Sudani visited the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on Tuesday, November 22, 2022, and met with His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein. During the meeting, they discussed a number of economic, security, and diplomatic files, in addition to issues of common interest.
Al-Sudani's visit to Amman shaped the foreign track of the new Iraqi government formed on October 27, 2022, as such visit came to emphasize the importance of common issues between the two countries. The visit also came to dispel doubts about the destiny of previous agreements, concluded between Iraq and Jordan in addition to Egypt, as such visit had a message indicating Iraq's adherence and commitment to the rules of Arab and regional good neighborliness.
The Press Office of the Iraqi Prime Minister indicated that the visit witnessed an extensive session of talks between the two sides, where various issues of common interest were discussed, such as bilateral coordination files at various levels and fields, as well as its role in enhancing work, in accordance with the memorandums of understanding signed between the two countries.
The visit comes after questions about the willingness of the newly formed Iraqi government to abide by the agreements concluded with the Jordanian side, in addition to regional integration projects, especially the "tripartite development partnership" with Jordan and Egypt. During the meeting, His Majesty stressed the importance of continuing bilateral and trilateral cooperation with Egypt as a model for regional integration.
The visit high protocol side and the accompanying delegation indicated that it came to dispel those doubts about the extent of al-Sudani's readiness to continue in the aforementioned signed agreements, as there are parties who gave or (or Iraqi parties in charge of confidence) gave confidence to Iraqi Government. It is worthy to mention that such parties had opposing views of the previous Government, its projects and agreements, especially the agreements related to Iraqi-Arab relations. The most recent criticism was by the State of Law Coalition MP, Alia Nassif, who criticized the electricity interconnection project between Jordan and Iraq in mid-October 2022.
Tthese doubts were deepen by that the Iraqi government has, since its formation, distanced itself from giving statements, hints, or expressing a position towards any of the foreign policy files, the matter opened the door wide for analysis and interpretation, in return for its preoccupation with internal files, especially those related to the provision of services, and the fight against corruption.
It seems that there is an Iraqi awareness of Arab fears of what may occur in Iraqi foreign policy regarding its relations with its Arab surroundings. Therefore, the visit carried a number of implicit messages of reassurance, the most important of which were:
1- The Iraqi Prime Minister accompanied with him the Governor of Anbar, in the visit and during the dialogues, as Anbar is the Iraqi province adjacent to Jordan, which represents a gateway to implement the economic and security agreements signed between the two parties.
2- The statement of the Iraqi Government Press Office indicated that the visit discussed strengthening the partnership and the memorandums of understanding, signed between the two countries.
3- This visit comes as the first foreign tour of al-Sudani. The subsequent Gulf visits would send many messages of the readiness of the new Iraqi Government to rapprochement with the Arab environment. This seems to be one of the important things that the Iraqi government seeks to achieve.
Indications of the Visit
That Jordan was the choice of the Iraqi Prime Minister to be his first foreign station carries many connotations, including:
First: Jordan represents an important partner and supporter for Iraq in several areas, including the security aspect. This cooperation is imposed by the common borders between the two parties. In addition, there is the economic cooperation, represented by the movement of goods between the two countries, as well as the joint investments, besides the presence of the large Iraqi community in Jordan, estimated at 131,000 Iraqis, according to the Higher Population Council.
Second: Jordan's expertise in combating terrorism, as Jordan is at the forefront of countries calling for the need to combat and confront terrorism, which is what Iraq needs today, as confirmed by His Majesty's continuous messages that Jordan stands by Iraq in this file, stressing on the need to preserve Iraq's security and stability.
Third: The importance of joint projects, such as the Iraqi petroleum pipeline project from Basra to Aqaba, the joint Industrial Zone, and the special Economic Zone between the two parties, projects that were already implemented in the previous Iraqi government. The current government needs to move forward with these projects in order to face the economic crisis in Iraq, which exacerbates the Iraqi public opinion's state of anger, at a time when the al-Sudani is seeking to gain popular confidence and prevent renewed protests.
Fourth: What increases the significance of the visit is that it tackled files that represent an extension of the domestic interest, centered on Iraqi-Jordanian cooperation, with regard to the file of those who are accused in corruption and security cases, in addition to the attempt to recover smuggled funds, which Jordan can help al-Sudani's implement through Jordan's extensive experience in the fields of security and financial intelligence, in addition to Jordan's extended relations with security and intelligence services in various countries of the world.
These files are important for the al-Sudani's government at the domestic level, especially with regard to combating corruption and enhancing the security aspect, as these two files, in addition to providing services, topped the government's concerns, given their importance in enhancing popular confidence in the government, after a number of events that accompanied its formation.
This was pointed out by many politicians close to the Iraqi prime minister, who stressed that al-Sudani is facing the challenge of combating corruption and recovering smuggled funds abroad, and that Jordan is one of the countries that support him in such regard. The said points justify the fact that the visit was limited to specific messages without clear statements. Based on the advanced data, the visit did not conclude with a press conference explaining its course and detailed axes.
In conclusion, Jordan and Iraq share a common border, stretching over a distance of about 181 km. It is important for Jordan to ensure the stability of the security situation in Iraq, because that would carry positive repercussions on the economic and security levels. It is also important to avoid the scenario of its northern and eastern borders, in which it faces a war on drugs and smugglers, where drug smuggling was a result security lawlessness on the other side.
On the other hand, Jordan is interested in the economic file with Iraq, an important gateway for investment and trade exchange, which enhances Jordan's economic stability and enhances opportunities for future partnerships between countries, at the level of the public and private sectors.
Therefore, the visit highlights the advanced Jordanian role at the regional level, in light of the transformations taking place in the Middle East and the world. This visit of the Iraqi Prime Minister to Jordan, as his first foreign stop, is an indication of Jordan's role.