Iraq launches huge $17 billion transport project to connect with Turkey

The development route aims to connect the oil-rich port of Faw in southern Iraq to Turkey, turning the country into a transit hub by shortening travel time between Asia and Europe in an attempt to compete with the Suez Canal.

“Do not imagine that the road of development is a road only for the passage of goods or travelers, no, this road will be an opening for the doors of development in large areas in Iraq”, Farhan al-Fartousi, general director of the General Company for Iraqi Ports, told Reuters.

The Iraqi government is considering high-speed trains carrying goods and passengers at speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour, in addition to extending lines to local industry and energy hubs, which could include oil and gas pipelines.

This will represent a major transformation of the country’s old existing transport network.

Iraq’s rail service currently operates a handful of lines, including slow tanker freighters and a single overnight passenger train from Baghdad to Basra that takes 10 to 12 hours for a 500 km journey.

Al-Fatousi also said that the Faw Grand Port project, which had been planned for more than a decade, is halfway to completion.

Passenger transport between Iraq and Europe dates back to the grand plans drawn up at the beginning of the 20th century to launch a rapid line from Baghdad to Berlin.

Al-Fartousi said: “The ancient route, Basra-Baghdad-Berlin, which carried Iraqi tourists from Basra and Baghdad, Iraq, to ​​​​Europe. Those who like to visit holy shrines in Iraq or go to the House of God performing Hajj or Umrah.

The development path project was announced on Saturday at a conference aimed at attracting interest from Arab countries such as the Gulf states, Syria and Jordan. A senior government official said regional investments were on the table.

There are promises of long-term development in Iraq, but infrastructure remains in shambles even as Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani’s government struggles to rebuild roads and bridges.

But officials say the path to development hinges on something new, a period of relative stability the country has enjoyed since late last year, and they hope that continues.

Al-Fartousi said that if work begins early next year, the project will be completed in 2029. “No matter how much Iraq is absent from the civilizing role… for a year or two, for a decade or two, he has to come back one day,” he added.

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