BAGHDAD - Moving to repair a long-fractured diplomatic relationship, Saudi Arabia has named its first ambassador to Iraq in more than two decades, Iraq’s foreign minister announced yesterday.
The Saudis did not, however, say they were reopening an embassy in Baghdad. Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s foreign minister, said on Twitter that the Saudi ambassador to Jordan would serve as the new “nonresident’’ Iraqi envoy. He is Fahd al-Zaid.
Still, the Saudi move restores normal diplomatic relations between the neighbors for the first time since Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. It may also signal Saudi Arabia’s desire for a stronger presence in Iraq to buttress against the influence of Iran, a longtime nemesis of the Saudi kingdom.
Ties between Saudi Arabia and Iraq have been strained since the 2003 US invasion toppled Hussein’s Sunni-dominated regime and ushered in a Shi’ite-led government.