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Iraqi Prime Minister Announces Sinjar Water Conservancy Project in Abu Dhabi, UAE

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Prime Minister of Iraq muhammad shiite sultani Visiting the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, Abu Dhabi announced $500,000 in funding for water infrastructure in Sinjar in western Iraq.

Sultani met with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed to discuss bilateral cooperation and international developments. According to the official Emirates News Agency, the two discussed in detail ways to strengthen economic, trade, investment and development cooperation.

The UAE also announced on Thursday that it had allocated $500,000 for water infrastructure in Sinjar in western Iraq. This is the second phase of a project coordinated with Nadia’s initiative, the agency reported. Nadia’s initiative is led by Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi activist who was captured by ISIS before fleeing in 2014. This initiative is dedicated to the development of Sinjar.

Back in December last year, the UAE President invited Sudanese to visit the UAE. The two also spoke on the phone earlier this month, Iraq’s official news agency reported.

Why it matters: For several years, Iraq has sought to improve relations with its Gulf neighbors, although it still has ties to Gulf foe Iran. Sudan’s predecessor, ex-Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi, also visited the UAE and Saudi Arabia in 2021.

Bilal Wahab, a Wagner fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Sultani’s visit to the UAE was aimed at strengthening ties with the Gulf amid continued Iranian influence in Iraq. “He needs regional support. He’s a prime minister with a pro-Iran big India on his back,” Wahab told Al-Monitor. “It is well known that the inner circle that makes up the government has close ties to Iran.”

Sudan’s government includes several pro-Iranian politicians, including Qais Hazali’s Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq militia, and former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Therefore, according to Wahab, the Sudanese need to “maintain a balance” in maintaining relations with the Gulf Arab states.

Khazali specifically congratulated the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen for their drone attack on Abu Dhabi last year, Al Jazeera reported at the time. According to Wahab, the UAE may be particularly concerned about Khazali’s role in the government.

“I’m sure Abu Dhabi needs guarantees and he has to give them,” he said during a visit to the UAE by Sultanni.

Sultani and Kadhimi’s trip to the Gulf is not the only sign of improving Iraq-Gulf relations. Gulf leaders flocked to Jordan in December for a conference on cooperation and partnerships in Baghdad. Sudan called for regional reconciliation at the summit.

Emirati companies are also showing increasing interest in Iraq. Last October, Abu Dhabi’s AD Ports Group signed an oil transportation agreement with Iraq’s Amaan Baghdad Company. Last February, Sharjah-based Gulftainer delivered a massive vacuum to an Emirati oil company operating at the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr.

Last month, Iraq hosted the Gulf Cup football tournament for the first time since 1979.

Saudi Arabia also plays an important role in Iraq’s Gulf policy. Earlier this month, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein said Iraq was seeking more economic cooperation with the country, AFP reported. Iraq also began connecting its grid to Saudi Arabia last year.

Writing for Al-Monitor last year, Muhammad Jawad Adib said Iran cuts power exports to Iraq Possibly tilting Iraq more towards the Gulf.

It is unclear how Iran will view Iraqi efforts to improve relations with the Gulf region. Iraq is facing a currency crisis This is partly due to efforts by the U.S. Federal Reserve to limit the transfer of dollars from Iraq to Iran. Wahab said the Islamic Republic, which is still dealing with its own economic problems related to U.S. sanctions, could allow Sudan’s “pro-Iranian government” to forge better economic relations with the Gulf region.

“Iran cannot afford the Iraqi economy to decline like Lebanon’s. If that requires some concessions, loosening of control over the Iraqi government … that’s something Iran can tolerate,” he said.

learn more: The UAE’s investment in Sinjar could alleviate some of the suffering there. Sinjar was ransacked by the Islamic State in 2014. The attack has been widely described as a genocide against the Yazidi community in the region.

Sinjar was liberated in 2015, but tens of thousands of Yazidis still live in camps for displaced people in Iraqi Kurdistan region. Many are reluctant to return to the city, partly because of the poor quality of service there.



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