Militias Can Derail Iraq Mega Rail Project
Militias, especially the resurgence of the Islamic State, can derail the multi-billion dollar mega rail project in Iraq. Baghdad is already facing difficulty securing funds and the project could go on beyond the 2038 deadline because of geographical and “security” complications.
Iraq is in dire need of revenue and has turned to tourism, trade, industry, and logistics to bolster its coffers. The mega rail project has also hit some obstacles. There is a provincial election in December and this will definitely not be achieved without protests and boycotts here and there. And there are Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi militias who believe Kuwait is historically a part of Iraq.
But the Iraqi government is pushing ahead with its infrastructure projects, cautiously. It strives to make the Faw Grand Port the largest of its kind project in the Middle East, and upturn Iraq’s economy.
The country also has plans to develop a major naval base. And there’s the much talked about – the $17 billion high-speed Development Route railway – that will connect Turkiye and other GCC countries to Europe. Countries like Saudi Arabia have shown keen interest in this project and thus, improved diplomatic relations with Iraq to have a slice of that billion-dollar pie.
Iraq Has a Record of Stalled Projects
While the Mohammed Shia’ al Sudani-led government is cautiously steering the pathway for the mega rail project, Iraq has a record of stalled projects owing to corruption and mismanagement. But Iraqi authorities attributed the unfinished business to political, financial and technical factors.
A spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Planning argued the government is very much serious about the projects and resuming work on them soon. He highlighted that the number of unfinished projects reduced from 1,452 projects to 1,063. The spokesman said continuous efforts have been made to finish the projects.
Majority of the uncompleted projects need funding. It should be noted that the government’s nation budget is the main source of funding for the country
Iraq Must Secure Routes for Mega Rail Project
With multi-billion dollar, multi-country projects to boost Iraq’s economy, the government should also work to secure its routes. And Iraq has a conflict-riddled neighborhood, emphasis on Syria. Shiite militias – Hezbollah and local tribes are always fighting. It can potentially endanger the project works.
And there’s no security on trade routes, making the projects vulnerable to threats, and routine extortion. It’s advisable for Iraq to first clear this obstacles then go ahead with the mega project.