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Shafaq News/ The announcement of the initial launch of the strategic "Development Path" project during the Baghdad conference yesterday, Saturday, sparked many analyzes and estimates that, despite their optimism about the importance of the project, which costs 17 billion dollars, were cautious about the possibility of its realization and success, pointing to a number of obstacles and obstacles, including The dispute from the Kurdistan Regional Government.
According to a report broadcast by the French channel "France 24" and translated by Shafaq News Agency, the "development road" announced by the Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia' al-Sudani, to transport ministers and representatives of 10 regional countries, which includes highways and railways, will allow Iraq to benefit from its geographical location. , with the aim of making the country a hub for the transportation of goods and people moving between the Gulf, Turkey and Europe.
And after the French report indicated that work had already begun to increase production capacity in the port of Faw, where goods would be unloaded before being transported via new roads and railways, he pointed out that the project also includes the construction of about 15 train stations along the way, including in cities. Major in Basra, Baghdad, Mosul, and even the Turkish border.
The report quoted the Iraqi expert in international transport, Ziyad Al-Hashemi, as skeptical about the plan to turn Iraq into a major transport hub, saying that it lacks the necessary "liquidity", explaining also that "customers prefer to transport their goods directly from Asia to Europe without going through the loading and unloading process." , Transportation of containers between ships, roads and railways.
However, the French report indicated that transportation is one of the main sectors in the global economy, and that Iraq's declaration of a "development path" is the latest in the framework of the huge international projects planned, including the Chinese "Belt and Road Initiative" announced by its President Xi Jinping in the year 2013, an initiative that includes connecting 130 countries across Asia, Europe and Africa through land and sea infrastructure, providing greater capacity for the Chinese economy to reach these regions.
For its part, Reuters reported that the Iraqi project, which directly links Al-Faw with the Turkish border in the north and shortens travel time between Asia and Europe, aims to introduce a transformation in the Iraqi economy after decades of war, which also constitutes competition for the Egyptian Suez Canal.
The report quoted the general manager of the General Company for Iraqi Ports, Farhan al-Fartousi, as saying that "the development road is not just a way to transport goods or passengers," adding that this road "opens the door to the development of vast areas of Iraq."
Reuters indicated in a report published in English, translated by Shafaq News Agency, that the project will be a large-scale Iraqi exit from the existing old transportation network, explaining that the train service currently includes a few lines, including slow shipping of oil, and a single train to transport Passengers at night from Baghdad to Basra, on a journey that takes between 10 to 12 hours for a distance of 500 kilometers.
The report quoted Al-Fartousi as saying that the large port of Al-Faw, which was designed more than a decade ago, is almost half completed.
The report also mentioned that the idea of transporting passengers between Iraq and Europe dates back to the beginning of the twentieth century, when there were major plans to establish a fast line from Baghdad to Berlin.
According to Al-Fartousi, Iraq will work to "activate this line again and link it to other countries," noting that there are plans to transport tourists and pilgrims to the Shiite holy sites in Iraq and the Saudi city of Mecca to perform the rituals of Hajj.
However, the report pointed out that Iraq has been witnessing for a long time promises of development projects, and that the infrastructure is still deteriorating even though the Sudanese government has pushed for the rebuilding of roads and bridges.
However, Iraqi officials say that the "path of development" depends on something new, since there has been a period of relative stability since late last year, and they hope it will continue.
According to Al-Fartousi, if the work begins in early 2024, the project will be completed in the year 2029, adding that even if Iraq was absent for a decade or two, “it must return one day, and we hope that these days will be.” It is the beginning of the return of Iraq."
For its part, the British "Middle East Eye" website said that the Iraqi infrastructure was destroyed by decades of conflicts, including the US invasion and subsequent war since 2003, and the war with ISIS, which was defeated in late 2017.
According to the British report, although Iraq has witnessed in recent years a decline in security measures, armed confrontations and bombings, "the political stalemate and uncertainty has slowed down the reconstruction process."
As for the Canadian newspaper "The Globe and Mail", it dealt with another point related to the idea of the project based on regional cooperation, and said that Iraq's relations with the Gulf countries during recent decades were tense, as Iranian-backed militias emerged in Iraq after the invasion led by Washington that toppled Saddam Hussein. It created a power vacuum in the country.
However, the Canadian report indicated that there are indications of an improvement in Iraq's relations with its neighbors, noting, for example, that Iraq hosted last January the Gulf Cup, which includes eight countries, in Basra, and it is the first international football tournament that Iraq has hosted since About 4 decades.
Under the headline "Obstacles to Iraq's Big Dreams of Infrastructure Projects in the Middle East," the Israeli newspaper "Jerusalem Post" said that Iraq had suffered huge problems in its infrastructure during the past decades, for reasons including sanctions during the nineties after Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, and later after The year 2003 due to sectarian fighting.
The report added that US investments after the invasion did not achieve much success, as billions were embezzled or pumped into failed projects, noting also that when ISIS seized a third of Iraq in 2014, additional damage occurred due to the war, and cities such as Mosul suffered heavy losses and were destroyed. Railways and airports.
The report continued, reviewing the challenges facing Iraq, saying that there are internal differences with the Kurdistan region over issues such as budgets and oil exports, as Baghdad often seeks to bypass the Kurdistan region, although it is a stable and successful region.
He pointed out that many Iraqis have transferred their investments to the Kurdistan Region, and Turkey is investing heavily in the region.
He added that Iraq faced a problem in reinvesting in areas affected by the ISIS war, such as Sinjar.
The report added that if Iraq laid down new railway lines, it would be evidence that it had achieved security in the country.
The report stated that there is another issue represented by environmental problems, as Iraq faces serious environmental challenges, which includes pollution in Basra and rivers full of pollutants and rubble, while the water is not suitable for drinking.
The report added that there are also water problems in the north due to the Turkish dams that caused the Tigris River to shrink and to the scarcity of the water level in the Mosul Dam.
The Israeli report stated that all this means that basic issues throughout the country, such as drinking water and electricity, pose challenges for Iraq, and therefore it is "unclear how the country will become a major and central road for railways."
Translated by Shafak News Agency
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