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BRICS on the Move
Türkiye, Iraq, U.A.E., Qatar Agree on Huge Rail, Highway ‘Development Road’

Printable version / Version imprimable

By Dean Andromidas

EIRNS—The official visit of Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Iraq on April 22 promises to bring bilateral relations to a higher level. Following Erdoğan’s discussions with Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid and Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, they signed the “Development Road Project Agreement,” aimed at linking Iraq’s Grand Faw Port on the Persian Gulf, to Türkiye’s southern border. It spans some 1,200 km. Planned for completion by 2030, it will create a rail and highway corridor, whose effects of which will radiate through the entire region.

Also at the agreement signing were United Arab Emirates’ Energy Minister Suhail Mohamed al-Mazrouei and Qatar’s Minister of Transport Jassim bin Saif bin Ahmed al-Sulaiti. Both Qatar and the U.A.E. can be expected to provide investment funding. U.A.E. and Iran became new members of the BRICS in January.

“I believe that my visit and the agreements just signed will constitute a new turning point in Türkiye-Iraq relations,” Erdoğan said in a joint press statement with al-Sudani. “It was decided to continue technical negotiations in many areas, such as security, counterterrorism, economy, trade, energy, transportation, transboundary waters, health and education and to establish joint standing committees.” For his part Al-Sudani emphasized that the project will serve as a bridge for regional cooperation and development.

The two countries also signed other accords, including the Strategic Framework Agreement for Joint Cooperation, and 24 memoranda of understanding, including in energy, trade, and water-sharing.

Commenting on the agreements’ call for cooperating in using the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, whose sources lie in Türkiye’s highlands, and which flows into the Persian Gulf, Al Sudani said, “The agreement will last for 10 years and will ensure the joint and equal management of water resources.”

Iraqi authorities have long charged that Türkiye’s dams on the rivers are causing a decline in water levels on the Iraqi side, exacerbating its drought problem. Ankara argues that Iraqi authorities need to upgrade their country’s irrigation technology for more effective water usage.

Erdoğan also visited Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish Region of Iraq, which at times is at loggerheads with the central government over oil rights and security. He met with Iraqi Kurdistan Regional President Nechirvan Barzani and Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, where they discussed counter-terrorism, as well as regional and global issues, reported Türkiye’s Communications Directorate.

Their discussions centered on security issues, since the Turkish-based Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) has engaged in an insurgency against Ankara using bases in Iraqi Kurdistan. However, Erdogan also emphasized the “Development Road” agreements signed in Baghdad will contribute to the well-being and tranquility of all of Iraq. Therefore, he said, the administrations in Baghdad and Erbil should establish a constructive dialogue and cooperative relationship while preventing interference from third parties.

The Development Road Project overlaps the Iran-Iraq-Syria railway corridor that has been under development for the past year. See “Is a New Iran-Israel War Aimed at Sabotaging Major Infrastructure?