Tuesday, 23 July, 2019
Jordan king visits Iraq for first time in 10 years

Jordan king visits Iraq for first time in 10 years

Jordanian King Abdullah II has made his first trip to Baghdad in more than a decade, meeting Iraqi President Barham Saleh.

The Jordanian monarch’s last trip to Iraq was in 2008, when he became the first Arab leader to visit Baghdad after former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003.

The Iraqi leader traveled to Amman in November. The two states share a 179-kilometer (111-mile) border, and Jordan is a major importer of Iraqi crude oil.

Jordan had its best special ties with Iraq under former dictator Saddam Hussein who provided the kingdom with cheap oil in return for access to Aqaba which became a lifeline for Iraq's oil revenues as the war with Iran rendered shipping through the Persian Gulf impossible.

Relations between Iraq and Jordan deteriorated after Jordan had given sanctuary to Saddam’s eldest daughter, Raghad.

Raghad has been living in Jordan under the protection of King Abdullah II since leaving Iraq in 2003, when US and British forces invaded Iraq and ousted Saddam.

The Jordanian royal family has already rejected the Iraqi government's demand to extradite the 47-year-old Raghad.

Baghdad wants the former Iraqi dictator's daughter to be tried for financing terror movements and supporting militant groups fighting to topple the Iraqi government.

Raghad, who is also known as Little Saddam for her similarities to her father, has openly pledged her support for the Daesh terror group.

In 2010, international police body Interpol issued an arrest warrant for Raghad for funding terrorism in Iraq.

She reportedly has an extravagant lifestyle in Jordan and established a jewelry line, which she said is inspired by her father and her husband Hussein Kamel al-Majid who was murdered by Saddam.

The Iraqi government also accused veterans of Saddam’s Ba’athist party who live in Jordan of supporting terrorist groups and being involved in money laundering.

In 2018, Jordan approved a framework to revive a 1,700-kilometer pipeline linking Iraq's oil-rich Basra province to Jordan's Aqaba port that has been halted after Daesh began a terror campaign in Iraq in 2014, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks.

Amman, however, did not give a time-frame for the line's construction.

The two countries have also discussed plans for Iraq to import about 300 megawatts of electricity from Jordan to cope with widespread power shortages.

Iraq has been importing electricity from Iran for many years after its power infrastructure was destroyed by decades of war and blockade following the US invasion.

The country needs more than 23,000 megawatts of additional electricity to meet domestic demand.

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