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Linking Europe and the Middle East.. Iraq announces the $17 billion “Development Road” railway project


In an interview with AFP, Ziyad Al-Hashimi, a consultant in the economics of international transport, asked about the feasibility of this project, which he considered to be lacking in “fluidity”.

During a conference that brought together officials from neighboring countries in Baghdad on Saturday, Iraq announced a land and railway project connecting the Gulf to the Turkish border, through which Iraq aspires to become a main line for transporting goods between the Middle East and Europe.

The project, which the Iraqi government has set at a cost of about $17 billion and a length of 1,200 kilometers inside Iraq, is still in its early stages.

Baghdad aspires to implement this project, which was called the “Development Road”, in cooperation with countries in the region, namely Qatar, the Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria, whose representatives were invited on Saturday to the Iraqi capital to participate in the conference dedicated to announcing the project.

joint investment

In a speech during the opening of the conference on Saturday, Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shayaa al-Sudani said: “We see in this sustainable project a pillar of a sustainable non-oil economy, a link that serves Iraq’s neighbors and the region, and a contribution to economic integration efforts.”

And a statement by the Transport and Economy Committee in the House of Representatives, reported by the Iraqi News Agency, stated that the project would be “an investment for the participating countries, and each country can complete part of the project.”

The statement indicated that “it is hoped that the project will be completed within 3 and 5 years,” adding that “the investment mechanism will be discussed after the conference is held with the participating countries.”

For his part, the Turkish ambassador to Iraq, who represented his country at the conference, said: Turkey is “a major partner in the path of development, which is a win-win for all.”

He added, without mentioning the size of his country’s contribution to the project, that “the path of development would increase interdependence between the countries of the region.”

In turn, the Iranian Deputy Minister of Transport, Effendi Zadeh, said, according to statements reported by the Iraqi News Agency, that “the role of railways is very important, and this new project in Iraq will have an excellent role in transporting goods.”

Oil-rich Iraq suffers from deteriorating infrastructure and roads as a result of decades of wars and widespread corruption. Some of the roads linking Baghdad to the north pass through areas where cells of the Islamic State organization are active sporadic.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani affirms that one of his government’s priorities is to rehabilitate the transportation infrastructure, roads and the dilapidated electricity sector as well.

This project allows Iraq to take advantage of its geographical location and turn into a transit point for goods and trade between the Gulf, Turkey, and then Europe.

The project also aims to build 15 train stations for goods and passengers along the line, starting from Basra in the south, passing through Baghdad, and reaching the border with Turkey.

lack of “fluidity”

There are currently ongoing works to rehabilitate the Al-Faw port in the far south of Iraq, adjacent to the Gulf countries, which will be a main station for receiving goods before transporting them by land.

The Gulf region is an important maritime transport area, especially in the field of transporting oil resources extracted by the countries of the region.

In an interview with France Press, Ziyad Al-Hashemi, a consultant in international transport economics, asked about the feasibility of this project, which he considered lacking in “flowability”.

He said, “Customers prefer to transport their goods directly from Asia to Europe without going through a loading and unloading process that affects the goods.”

There are other global projects that put at the center of their goals the transformation of an essential artery in global transportation, such as the “New Silk Road” announced in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

This project is officially called the “Belt and Road” project and includes 130 countries, and aims to develop land and sea infrastructure in order to achieve better connectivity between China (Asia), Europe and Africa.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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