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The Iraqi ‘Development Road’ project

May 28,2023 - Last updated at May 28,2023

The term "Marshall Plan" is often used metaphorically to describe a country's comprehensive programme for reconstruction or development. The Marshall Plan was an initiative implemented by the United States after World War II to provide economic assistance and aid in the rebuilding of war-ravaged Europe. It is named after George C. Marshall, the US secretary of state who proposed the plan.

Today, when people refer to the Marshall Plan, they typically draw parallels to the ambitious and far-reaching nature of the original plan. They advocate for a similar approach to address economic, social, or infrastructural challenges in a particular country or region.

Furthermore, the Marshall Plan was a collaborative effort involving numerous countries and organisations working together towards a common goal. Likewise, when people mention the "Marshall Plan", they call for international cooperation and assistance from various stakeholders, including governments, international organisations, and non-governmental bodies.

Last Saturday, the Iraqi prime minister, Muhammad Al Sudani, announced the "Development Road" project, which stretches from the southernmost part of Iraq to Turkey. During his speech at the opening of the "Development Road" conference, Al Sudani stated, "The development road, with its work platforms, added value to national and local outputs, and economic levers, is an ambitious and deliberate plan to transform the current reality into a robust economic structure." He further added, "This project is a cornerstone of a sustainable non-oil economy, and it serves as a link benefiting Iraq's neighbours and the region."

The extensive port of Faw in the Basra province, which acts as the entry point to the "development road", has made significant progress towards completion. It will serve as the starting point for a crucial economic movement, and urban cities will integrate with the port. In addition, a state-of-the-art smart industrial city will be established next to the port, representing the latest advancements in the region and the world, aiming to simulate the anticipated technological developments of the next fifty years.

Similar to the "Marshall Plan" in Europe, the "development road" project is expected to become a promising endeavor for economic partnership with neighbouring countries and the region, turning the region's countries into exporters of modern industries and goods. This will be achieved through the establishment of multimodal corridors, over 1,200km of railways, joint interoperability, and highways, as announced last Saturday in Baghdad.

The "Development Road" project, if implemented as planned, and all indications suggest that it will be, will be similar to the European Marshall Plan in terms of the number of participating countries. This will foster greater cooperation and partnership mechanisms among the countries in the region, replacing costly political competition. The participating countries include Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, and Oman.

Expectations indicate that the "development road" will transform Iraq into a major trade hub, reducing sea voyage durations. The first phase of the project will span five years with a budget of $17 billion. It will feature a railway connecting the major port of Faw in Basra to Turkish territory, with the initial designs for the railway line already completed, as stated by the Iraqi Railways Department. The project also encompasses a highway that starts from Basra and reaches the Iraqi-Turkish border, fully funded by Iraq. Additionally, it includes industrial cities, commercial and entertainment hubs, and it is expected to generate 100,000 job opportunities upon the completion of the first phase within five years.

We hope that this project will benefit all participating countries and their economies, which are in need of such projects. The project's components contribute to its success and integration with other regional initiatives. The political, military, and security events that the countries in the region, especially those in the north, have experienced have taken a toll on the land, crops, and people. The region's nations and their infrastructure are desperate for projects of this nature to uplift them from their current circumstances and propel them towards stages of development similar to what Europe achieved after the World War II.

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