Foreign Policy Blogs

Flying the Friendlier Skies: Saudi Flight Lands in Iraq after 20 Years

Although the news is yet to hit the Iraqi Ministry of Transportation’s state-of-the-art  website, Ayad Katheer Raheem, director-general of the Iraq’s aviation department, said Tuesday that Saudi Arabian Airlines tapped privately-owned Al-Wafeer Airlines to run daily flights between the two Arab nations.


Birds Eye of Beautiful Basra Airport

Bird's Eye of Beautiful Basra Airport


Saleh A. Bogary, Alwafeer Air’s marketing director , confirmed the news, noting the airline will start with a weekly flight from Jeddah to Baghdad and two flights a week from Jeddah to the southern city of Basra. Although things were supposed to kick-off with a packed flight to Baghdad to officially reopen air transit between the two countries, the first flight touched down today in Basra. The Saudi civil airliner was the first such flight between the neighboring countries since Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. On its return, 450 Iraqis will head to Mecca and Medina to make the lesser holy pilgrimage, known as ‘Umrah, that can be performed at any time during the year.


For decades Iraqi pilgrims have had to make the long overland bus journey to the Muslim holy places or pick up a flight to Jeddah in a neighbouring country, so news of the airlines was greeted with considerable excitement.


Saudi Arabia halted flight between the two countries after the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, which led to the first Gulf War. Even after Saddam ouster in 2003, tensions between the two countries were sufficient to keep flights suspended up until now.


Bogary also said that the airline will operate a regular flight to the governate of Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan region, for any and all looking for a little r&r, away from the country intractable political deadlock.



Reid Smith

Reid Smith has worked as a research associate specializing on U.S. policy in the Middle East and as a political speechwriter. He is currently a doctoral student and graduate associate with the University of Delaware's Department of Political Science and International Relations. He blogs and writes for The American Spectator.