Iraqi, Egyptian and Jordanian leaders to meet for talks amid economic pressure

Baghdad began efforts to rebuild ties with Arab states under former prime minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi

(L-R, center) Iraq's Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and Jordan's King Abdullah II walk to attend the Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership at the Dead Sea, Jordan, 20 December 2022. EPA
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The leaders of Iraq, Egypt and Jordan will hold a summit soon, Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Al Khasawneh said on Monday amid economic pressures in the three countries.

The meeting in Egypt could help reactivate a loose alliance between Baghdad, Amman and Cairo, which has focused on improving commercial ties.

“We are coming to a three-way summit,” Mr Al Khasawneh said after meeting his Egyptian counterpart, Mostafa Madbouly, in Amman, without giving a date for the meeting.

The two men discussed “three-way mechanisms” between the Cairo, Amman and Baghdad governments, Mr Madbouly told reporters.

These will be the first top-level talks between the three countries since a brief meeting between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, Jordan's King Abdullah and Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamad Al Sudani at an international conference to discuss Iraq, hosted on Jordan's Dead Sea shore in December.

Mr Al Sudani's predecessor, Mustafa Al Kadhimi, made it a priority to improve ties with Arab countries when he took office in May 2020, with relations having deteriorated under overtly pro-Iranian administrations.

Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia responded to Mr Al Kadhimi's suggestion that Iraq should fully rebuild relations with its Arab neighbours despite strong misgivings by Iran-backed parties in Baghdad, some of whom were openly hostile to the Gulf states. Mr Al Kadhimi also took a number of steps to rein in Iran-backed militias, who later tried to assassinate him in November 2021.

The three countries, all close allies of the US, reactivated a number of economic agreements with Iraq and increased senior-level discussions with Baghdad. In November 2020 Saudi Arabia reopened its main border crossing with Iraq after three decades of closure.

Mr Al Kadhimi, King Abdullah and Mr El Sisi met several times to co-ordinate on business and economic issues, although no breakthroughs were reported.

Upon succeeding Mr Al Kadhimi last year, Mr Al Sudani made Jordan the destination of his first foreign trip.

However, he is seen in Amman and other Arab capitals as being more influenced by Iran than his predecessor, a former intelligence chief who is well connected in Washington.

Despite Mr Al Kadhimi's efforts, business ties with Jordan continued to hit snags, with several interruptions to Iraq's 10,000 barrel-per-day crude oil exports to the country.

Iraqi oil accounts for 7 per cent of Jordan's needs.

The Jordanian economy has been stagnant for over a decade. The World Bank places the country's unemployment at around 23 per cent, with similarly stubborn levels in Iraq.

However, the Jordanian dinar has been stable for decades, in contrast with the Egyptian pound and Iraqi dinar, which have undergone sharp devaluations in the last several years.

Updated: August 07, 2023, 5:12 PM