Saudi Arabian–Iraqi neutral zone

Coordinates: 28°58′59″N 45°32′51″E / 28.983034°N 45.547498°E / 28.983034; 45.547498

Aeronautical map
The former Neutral Zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia

The Saudi–Iraqi neutral zone was an area of 7,044 km2 (2,720 sq mi) on the border between Saudi Arabia and Iraq within which the border between the two countries had not been settled. The neutral zone came into existence following the Uqair Protocol of 1922 which defined the border between Iraq and the Sultanate of Nejd (Saudi Arabia's predecessor state). The neutral zone ended on 26 December 1981, when Iraq and Saudi Arabia agreed on the partition of the zone,[1] but this wasn't filed with the United Nations until June 1991.[2]


The Treaty of Muhammarah (Khorramshahr), 5 May 1922,[3] forestalled the imminent conflict between the United Kingdom, which held the mandate for Iraq, and the Kingdom of Nejd, which later became Saudi Arabia (when combined with the Kingdom of Hejaz). The treaty specifically avoided defining boundaries. Following further negotiations, the Protocol of Uqair (Uqayr), 2 December 1922, defined most of the borders between them and created the neutral zone.[3]

No military or permanent buildings were to be built in or near the neutral zone[1] and the nomads of both countries were to have unimpeded access to its pastures and wells.[1]

Administrative division of the zone was achieved in 1975,[4][2] and a border treaty[clarification needed] concluded in 1981.[1][2][5] For unknown reasons, the treaty was not filed with the United Nations[1] and nobody outside Iraq and Saudi Arabia was notified of the change or shown maps with details of the new boundary.[1] As the Persian Gulf War approached in early 1991, Iraq cancelled all international agreements with Saudi Arabia since 1968. Saudi Arabia responded by registering all previous boundary agreements negotiated with Iraq at the United Nations in June 1991.[2] That ended the legal existence of the Saudi Arabian–Iraqi neutral zone. Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003.

Most official maps no longer show the diamond-shaped neutral zone but rather draw the border line approximately through the centre of the territory. For example, the United States Office of the Geographer regarded the area as having only an approximate boundary rather than a precise one.[1]

The Saudi Arabian–Iraqi neutral zone formerly had the ISO 3166-1 codes NT and NTZ. The codes were discontinued in 1993.[6] The FIPS 10-4 code for the Saudi Arabian–Iraqi neutral zone was IY;[7] that code was deleted in 1992.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Adams, Cecil (1991-02-01). "What's up with the "neutral zones" near Saudi Arabia?". The Straight Dope. Archived from the original on 2007-01-27. Retrieved 2007-01-29.
  2. ^ a b c d Schofield, Richard. "Arabian Boundary disputes, Archive Editions". Archive Editions. Archived from the original on 2008-04-23. Retrieved 2007-01-29.
  3. ^ a b Office of the Geographer (1971-06-01). "International Boundary Study: Iraq – Saudi Arabia Boundary" (PDF). US Department of State. pp. 11–12. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-16. Retrieved 2007-01-29.
  4. ^ Directorate of Intelligence (1990). "The World Factbook 1990 - Iraq - Saudi Arabia Neutral Zone (mirror)". Archived from the original on 1998-05-22. Retrieved 2007-01-29.
  5. ^ Directorate of Intelligence (1991). "The World Factbook 1991 - Iraq - Saudi Arabia Neutral Zone (mirror)". Archived from the original on 1998-05-22. Retrieved 2007-01-29.
  6. ^ Law, Gwillim. "ISO 3166-1 Change History". Statoids. Archived from the original on 2007-02-06. Retrieved 2007-01-29.
  7. ^ a b Law, Gwillim. "FIPS PUB 10 Change History". Statoids. Archived from the original on 2007-02-09. Retrieved 2007-01-29.

External linksEdit