Türkiye-Iraq diplomatic thaw and regional integration
    Ambitious vision

    ANALYTICS  23 April 2024 - 16:16

    Fuad Shahbazov

    On April 22, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan landed in Baghdad to conduct his first official visit to the country after thirteen years. Erdogan's visit came at a time of Türkiye's new military operation in northern Iraq against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which Ankara designated as a terrorist organization. Shortly before President Erdogan visited Iraq, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan held meetings in Baghdad, which resulted in the latter’s decision to label the PKK as a terrorist organization. Indeed, the move marked a significant milestone in bilateral relations between Ankara and Baghdad.

    (L to R) Turkey's Transport Minister Abdulkadir Uraloglu, UAE's Energy Minister Suhail Mohamed al-Mazrouei, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Iraq's Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, Qatar's Minister of Transport Jassim bin Saif bin Ahmed al-Sulaiti, and Iraq's Transport Minister Razzaq Muhaibas al-Saadawi pose for a picture during their meeting for the signing of the

    Another significant development during the Baghdad visit was the signing of agreements between Türkiye, Iraq, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a transformative transport project. This project, known as the Development Road Project, holds immense potential to link Iraq to Europe and eliminate long-standing water disputes between Türkiye and Iraq. Qatar and the Emirates, as potential sponsors, are set to invest in this estimated $20 billion transportation link spanning 1,275 kilometres from the oil-rich southern Iraqi province of Basra to Türkiye via road and railway, promising a boost to Iraq's economy.

    Water from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers has been a significant point of contention between Iraq and Türkiye, with Baghdad accusing Ankara of restricting its access to its water lifeline through the use of dams. The Development Road project, stretching from southern Iraq to the border with Türkiye, aims to connect the Persian Gulf with Turkey, significantly enhancing Iraq's geopolitical stance and generating economic gains for Baghdad. When completed, the project will also shorten the travel time between Asia and Europe.

    The broader project will include a highway and rail line dubbed the “Dry Canal” corridor. The corridor, which is expected to be completed by 2038 and cost around 20 billion dollars, will pass through Diwaniya, Najaf, Karbala, Baghdad, and Mosul and extend to the Turkish border, providing access to Mersin Port and Europe via Istanbul. However, the implementation of the project depends on certain geopolitical factors, such as the continuous smooth relations between Ankara and Baghdad.

    On Türkiye’s side, 615 km of new railway and 320 km of new highways will also be built to connect it to the Turkish network, with a combined cost of around $25 billion in both countries. The Turkish authorities believe that the transport project will be the best, shortest, and most affordably priced route within the South-North corridors that will connect East Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

    Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shia’ Al-Sudani is received by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, Turkey on Mar. 21, 2023. (Source: mohamedshia/Twitter)

    President Erdogan's visit to Iraq holds significant strategic importance for both countries, particularly the Iraqi Kurdistan region, in the context of recent tensions with Iran. The PKK, a notorious problem for the Iraqi and regional Kurdistan governments, has been a presence in northern Iraq and Syria for years, triggering diplomatic confrontations between neighbouring states. Historically, the PKK has been the arch-rival of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, launching frequent attacks. Therefore, President Erdogan's recent visit to Baghdad and Erbil aligns perfectly with the interests of all parties, providing a crucial insight into the complex geopolitical dynamics of the region.

    The rapprochement with Türkiye will enable Erbil and Baghdad to alleviate security concerns and invest more in regional interconnectivity. Considering that neighbouring Iran is suffering under heavy international sanctions and motivated by a policy imperative to keep Iraq dependent and in Tehran’s sphere of influence, there may not be any concessions the project’s backers could offer to alleviate outsized Iranian concerns.

    As Iraq navigates through regional geoeconomic and geopolitical rivalry, it faces the challenge of competing trade connectivity projects. However, the recent agreement with Türkiye, Qatar, and the UAE presents a promising opportunity for Iraq to establish itself as a sustained regional country. The potential failure to realize this opportunity, especially if caused by corruption and mismanagement, could reinforce the perception that Iraq is unable to diversify its economy and escape the rentierism trap. Therefore, the successful implementation of the Development Road Project could be a beacon of hope for Iraq's future.

    In this vein, Ankara-Baghdad diplomatic normalization and the recent decision to thwart the PKK threat boosted optimism on both sides regarding fruitful regional dialogue and pragmatic connectivity partnership.


    Subscribe to our Telegram channel

Read also

Azerbaijan, Tajikistan elevate bilateral relations through strategic partnership agreements

24 May 2024 - 13:00

Tensions run high between the Pashinyan government & the Armenian Apostolic Church Government's vision vs. Church-led opposition

24 May 2024 - 09:35

Israel faces dual threat: Potential two-front war and refugee crisis Axis of Resistance ramps up attacks

23 May 2024 - 18:10

Baku and World Bank: Optimal business rules Caliber.Az review

23 May 2024 - 11:05

Azerbaijan-Armenia: progress, sensitivities and the art of "fixing the fixable" Contemplations with Orkhan Amashov/VIDEO

23 May 2024 - 09:51

The roots & ramifications of riot in New Caledonia France against universal principles

23 May 2024 - 09:15
Latest news

    European Commission president backs Polish, Greek calls for EU air defense shield

    25 May 2024 - 03:05

    Korea invents new fuel we don’t know about in US

    goodbye to refueling gasoline

    25 May 2024 - 01:03

    Why US semiconductor export controls backfire?

    24 May 2024 - 23:00

    COP29 presidency hosts international diplomatic corps in Lachin

    Climate Action Dialogue event

    24 May 2024 - 22:36

    US delegation visits Lachin, Shusha, applauds reconstruction efforts


    24 May 2024 - 21:04

    NATO summit to be held in Hague in 2025

    24 May 2024 - 20:52

    Turkish president calls for UN reform amid global crises

    24 May 2024 - 20:39

    Azerbaijani, German top diplomats focus on peace process between Baku, Yerevan

    24 May 2024 - 20:24

    Armenian premier to address the nation

    24 May 2024 - 20:24

    Russian FM remains vague on reasons for ambassador's recall from Armenia

    24 May 2024 - 20:12

    Hungarian water quality control technology to be implemented in Azerbaijan

    24 May 2024 - 19:57

    Six new enterprises set to launch in Aghdam industrial park by year-end

    24 May 2024 - 19:42

    French president, Arab ministers to meet over situation in Gaza

    24 May 2024 - 19:27

    Israel ordered to immediately halt Rafah offensive by top UN court

    24 May 2024 - 19:12

    French Ambassador provides insights on Lachin visit, COP29 cooperation

    24 May 2024 - 19:01

    Armenia's aggression against Azerbaijan exposed

    Unmasking double standards/VIDEO

    24 May 2024 - 18:55

    Armenian PM skips out CIS event in Turkmenistan

    24 May 2024 - 18:50

    Azerbaijani, Moldovan interior ministries elevate cooperation to new level

    24 May 2024 - 18:38

    Azerbaijan is a bridge between various power centers

    Opinion by Modern Diplomacy

    24 May 2024 - 18:27

    Azerbaijan calls for global solidarity ahead of COP29

    24 May 2024 - 18:14

    Azerbaijan, Armenia at final stage in long-drawn-out drama

    Article by The Emerging Europe

    24 May 2024 - 18:05

    China warns of Taiwan “war” as military drills encircle island

    24 May 2024 - 18:02

    Overall global clean energy investments growing significantly

    IEA Executive Director says

    24 May 2024 - 17:50

    Caledonian FM raises concerns: Influx of French residents impacts indigenous Kanaks


    24 May 2024 - 17:44

    Tokayev highlights Kazakhstan's role in Baku-Yerevan peace process

    24 May 2024 - 17:39

    Hezbollah vs. Israel: Escalating conflict and regional implications

    Caliber.Az on YouTube

    24 May 2024 - 17:27

    Azerbaijan, NATO develop cooperation

    24 May 2024 - 17:15

    Another group of former IDPs arrive in Sus village, Azerbaijan’s Lachin


    24 May 2024 - 17:04

    OSCE chairman: Sustainable peace - favourable for both Azerbaijan, Armenia

    24 May 2024 - 16:52

    Georgia's ruling party accuses US of blackmail over sanctions

    24 May 2024 - 16:40

    Three trucks transporting transit goods via China-Kazakhstan-Azerbaijan-Georgia route

    24 May 2024 - 16:28

    Why is Macron getting very nervous about the Pacific?

    Article by Daily Express

    24 May 2024 - 16:16

    Macron wants EU top job for ex-Italian PM Draghi

    24 May 2024 - 16:04

    Azerbaijani flag hoisted over four liberated villages in Gazakh


    24 May 2024 - 16:03

    Germany supplies tanks, drones, shells for Ukrainian Armed Forces

    24 May 2024 - 15:53

    US preparing for "prominent" role in postwar Gaza

    24 May 2024 - 15:41

    Putin wants Ukraine ceasefire on current frontlines

    Exclusive by Reuters

    24 May 2024 - 15:29

    Russia recalls ambassador from Yerevan

    24 May 2024 - 15:20

    Georgian parliament to launch procedure to override veto on foreign agent law

    24 May 2024 - 15:17

    Turkish ambassador calls Azerbaijan’s hosting COP29 landmark achievement

    24 May 2024 - 15:05

All news