The "Silk Road Developmental Road"... "promising" investment opportunities and mutual benefits for Iraq and Turkey[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Baghdad today - Baghdad
Businessmen and decision-makers in Iraq view the development road project, which is scheduled to link the Gulf to Europe via Turkey, as a promising opportunity to strengthen ties with Turkey, as well as support common interests and economically remote regions.
The development path project occupied an important place on the agenda of Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan during his visit to Iraq between August 22 and 24, and the talks held by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on September 9 and 10 at the G20 leaders’ summit in New Delhi.
Through the project, which includes a group of roads, railways, ports, and new cities, Iraq aims to shorten the travel time between Asia and Europe via Turkey, and to transform into a transit center through Al-Faw Port, which is the first stop in the project.
The Iraqi Silk Road.. What are its goals?
The project, known as the Iraqi Silk Road, also aims to facilitate commercial activities faster and more efficiently, by creating a competing route to the Egyptian Suez Canal.
The length of the railways and highways that will connect Al-Faw Port to the Turkish border is expected to reach 1,200 kilometers, at a cost of $17 billion. The aforementioned port is scheduled to be the largest port in the Middle East and construction work on it will be completed in 2025.
The project, which was initially called the Dry Canal, before it was changed to the Development Road Project last March, coinciding with a meeting in Ankara that brought together Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa al-Sudani with the Turkish President, is described as “the basis of a sustainable, non-oil economic project.”
In his speech during the Development Road Conference organized by the Iraqi government in the capital, Baghdad, on May 27, with the participation of representatives of neighboring countries, including Turkey and the Gulf region, Al-Sudani said that the project reflects the reality of establishing a strong economy by increasing employment and the value of the gross national product.
Iraqi businessmen and decision-makers described the project, which is scheduled to be completed in three phases in 2028, 2033, and 2050, as "Iraq's economic gateway open to the world through Turkey."
The project, whose end point is Turkey, is intended to connect a wide economic region from Europe to the Gulf countries.
In this context, Al-Sudani praised the role of Turkish companies in infrastructure work in Iraq, and stated that Turkish companies possess important capabilities and expertise that enable them to work in developing the development road project.
Nasser Al-Asadi, advisor to the Iraqi Prime Minister for Transport Affairs, explained in a statement to the official newspaper that Turkey and Iraq are on the cusp of signing a group of agreements related to the development road project.
Businessmen in Iraq support Turkey playing an active role within the framework of the project, given the volume of bilateral trade between the two countries, which exceeds $24 billion, as well as the potential that the project will provide paint a promising future for the business sector in the two countries.
The head of the Baghdad Chamber of Commerce, Firas Al-Hamdani, said, “Turkey is considered our most important strategic partner in the development road project, in addition to Ankara being an important strategic partner in the development of the Republic of Iraq.”
Al-Hamdani stated that the project will provide an important boost to trade relations between Iraq and Turkey, and said: “There will be a real presence of the Turks when implementing the project, especially since Turkey has a promising market and the Iraqi government and businessmen would like to benefit from Turkish expertise to develop this project.”
In turn, Hassan Al-Sabari, a member of the Economy and Investment Committee in the Iraqi Parliament, stressed that Turkey is an important strategic partner for Iraq, and said: “We share long borders with Turkey, a deep history, and even a unity of blood.”
Al-Sabari stressed that Turkey is a pivotal country in the development of the Iraqi economy, praising previous statements by the Iraqi Prime Minister in which he said that "Turkey is a strategic partner of Iraq."
Preferential features of Turkey
The construction work of the large Al-Faw port in the city of Basra in southern Iraq continues, which is considered the first stop of the development road project. The port is located on the Shatt al-Arab, where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers meet before they empty into the Arabian Gulf.
The project, which includes railway and land routes starting from the port area, passing through Diwaniyah, Najaf, Karbala, Baghdad and Mosul to the Turkish border, is expected to provide access to the Turkish port of Mersin.
The project was designed by the Italian company PEG Infrastructure, and after passing through Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, and the capital, Baghdad, it enters the development path of Turkey starting from the village of Uwakoy in the province of Şırnak (southeast).
Turkey, the country that made the largest commitment to the reconstruction and stability of Iraq, pledged to provide a loan worth $5 billion at the conference held in Kuwait in 2018 for the benefit of the reconstruction of Iraq.
The Assistant Governor of Nineveh, Rifaat Samo, said that the railway line being built within the framework of the project will pass about 8 kilometers from the center of Mosul.
He added: "We preferred Turkish companies over other foreign companies in investment and infrastructure work in Mosul. Turkish companies are among the best foreign companies operating in Iraq."
His Highness stated that Turkish companies played a major role in building Mosul Airport, roads and bridges in the city, and said: “Turkish companies have the lion’s share in the projects established in Mosul, and its people feel relieved when they see Turkish companies in the city.”
He pointed out that they expect Turkey to make an important contribution to the “Development Road” project, explaining: “Iraqi companies cannot manage this huge project alone. Iraq needs foreign companies to help complete and manage this project, and neighboring Turkey is the country closest to Mosul.”
The Iraqi official continued: "Turkey must participate in the development path project through its large companies that have completed important projects and left their mark in the business world."
Alternative options project
Construction work on the Al Faw Grand Port is scheduled to be completed in 2025, and its capacity is expected to reach 90 berths, surpassing Jebel Ali Port in Dubai, which has 67 berths, and is known as the largest container port in the Middle East.
The Development Road Project is one of the alternative options in the event of potential conflicts or wars, as the Chinese Silk Road does not pass directly through Iraq.
The project is expected to reduce time and costs by shortening the distance between China and Europe, compared to the sea route that passes through the Suez Canal.
On the other hand, the project, which aims to be a “new Silk Road” between Turkey and Iraq, is considered one of the projects with a high cost that the Iraqi government cannot bear alone, so it is expected that Turkey, the Gulf states, and China will contribute to financing and completing the project.
On September 13, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said that his country is conducting intensive negotiations with Iraq, the UAE, and Qatar regarding the development road project.
Fidan stated that the project was put on the agenda during the meetings that President Erdogan attended at the G20 leaders’ summit, noting that Erdogan agreed to put the project into effect in a short time, especially during his meeting with the President of the Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Former Iraqi MP and businesswoman Songul Jabuk said that Iraq "is located in the heart of the Silk Road because of its location, in addition to the fact that Turkey is determined to connect European countries with Asian countries through Iraq."
According to Jabok, "Thanks to this project, Iraq will have the opportunity to reach Asia, the Gulf, and even Europe."
She pointed out that Turkey, which has been present in Iraq with its important companies over the past twenty years, “demonstrated its serious desire to participate and support the project through meetings it held with Iraq and several countries, expressing its hope that other countries will contribute to this project to strengthen the transportation sector between Asia and Europe.”
Source: Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed