“Commencement of Construction for Iraq-Iran Railway Connection”

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Iraq and Iran Begin Construction of Basra-Chalamja Railway Connection

Iraq’s Prime Minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, marked the commencement of construction work on the “Basra-Chalamja connection project,” a significant railway venture aiming to establish the first-ever rail link between Iraq and neighboring Iran. This endeavor holds paramount political and economic significance, solidifying the relationship between the two nations. The project will forge a connection between Basra, a vital port city in southern Iraq, and Iran’s extensive railway network through the Chalamja border crossing.

Timetable for Project Completion

Officials estimate that the construction of the Basra-Chalamja railway project will span between 18 and 24 months, ushering in enhanced connectivity and trade prospects. Prime Minister Sudani emphasized that the primary objective of this undertaking is to facilitate the transportation of travelers from the Islamic Republic of Iran and Central Asian countries to the revered Shiite holy cities within Iraq. He underscored that discussions regarding this project had been ongoing for years before culminating in an agreement in 2021.

Symbolic Inauguration and Gratitude to Tehran

During the inauguration ceremony, Prime Minister Sudani laid a symbolic foundation stone, signifying the official commencement of the project. He was joined by Iran’s First Vice President, Mohammad Mokhber. Sudani expressed his gratitude to Tehran for their commitment to demining operations along the border, ensuring the safe passage for the forthcoming railway line. Additionally, he acknowledged Iran’s support in constructing a railway bridge over the Shatt al-Arab waterway, where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers converge before emptying into the Gulf.

Historical Context and Strategic Outlook

Iraq and Iran share a complex history, marked by an eight-year war in the 1980s when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran following the 1979 Islamic revolution. Despite historical challenges, Vice President Mokhber described the Basra-Chalamja railway project as “strategic” and indicated its anticipated completion within the next two years, according to Iranian state media.

Improving Infrastructure and Regional Partnerships

Iraq, a nation grappling with the aftermath of conflict and pervasive corruption, contends with inadequate infrastructure, including outdated roads and railways. In response, Prime Minister Sudani’s administration has been actively pursuing regional partnerships to address these challenges. In May, Iraq unveiled the ambitious $17-billion “Route of Development” project, encompassing a 1,200-kilometer (745-mile) road and railway corridor extending from the northern border with Turkey to the southern Gulf region, aiming to revitalize transportation and trade networks across the country.

SOURCE: Ref Image from The Cradle

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