The Saudi Chief of Staff, General Fayyadh Bin Hamid Al-Ruwaili, has visited Iraq for the first time and expressed his concerns about “Iranian missiles” hidden deep in the Iraqi desert, Arabic Post has reported.
The missiles, Al-Ruwaili told his host, Iraqi Minister of Defence Jumah Anad, will be used to target the Kingdom.
Al-Ruwaili headed a Saudi military delegation which met with a number of senior Iraqi military officers and his counterpart, Lieutenant General Abdul Amir Yarallah. Naturally, security issues were on the agenda, including ways to protect their common border.
According to security sources, the main reason for Al-Ruwaili’s visit to Iraq are the latest developments in the Anbar desert, around 200km from the Iraqi border with Saudi Arabia. “For the past two months,” said one source with links to militias loyal to Iran, “the armed factions have been moving in this area in cooperation with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and a number of Shahab missiles were deployed in underground bunkers.” Arabic Post understands that Tehran chose that specific area to hide the rockets.
In September 2019, when the oil infrastructure in Riyadh was targeted and Aramco facilities were attacked by drones operated by Yemen’s Houthis, several reports said that the attack was launched from Iraqi territory. At the time, the then Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi denied that his country was being used to attack its neighbour.
When the Yamamah Palace in Riyadh was attacked in late January, US security officials told foreign media that the aircraft used were launched from Iraq. An Iraqi militia claimed responsibility.
“Most of the recent attacks were claimed by new and small factions,” said an Iraqi military source, “but in the end, they are all supported by Iran and affiliated to larger factions. They will not make any moves without the guidance of the leaders of the major armed groups and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards.”
General Al-Ruwaili told the Iraqi officers of the Kingdom’s unease about the use of Iraqi territory to target Saudi Arabia. He proposed a security plan to secure the border and prevent similar attacks in the future.
“We understand Riyadh’s anger, and we tried to reassure General Al-Ruwaili,” explained the Iraqi source. “Security cooperation is an integral part of the political and commercial partnership between the two countries.”
Iraq has been trying to strengthen its relations with the Saudis recently. The Iraqi interior and foreign ministers visited Riyadh for meetings at the end of February, although not everyone is happy about such moves.
“Instead of confronting Saudi interference in Sunni areas in Iraq,” complained an Iraqi Shia politician from the Islamic Dawa Party, “[Prime Minister] Al-Kadhimi’s government seeks to enable Riyadh to exploit Iraq even more. Al-Kadhimi thinks Saudi Arabia will save him, but that will not happen.”