Turkey, Iraq, Qatar and UAE ink initial Development Road transit corridor agreement

Turkey, Iraq, Qatar and UAE ink initial Development Road transit corridor agreement
President Erdogan receiving members of the Iraqi Sunni community during his official visit to Baghdad. / Turkish presidency
By bne IntelliNews April 24, 2024

Turkey, Iraq, Qatar and the UAE have inked a preliminary agreement to cooperate on the $17bn Development Road project—the mega infrastructure initiative envisages the transit of goods received at an Iraqi commodities Gulf port facilty in Basra to European markets via road and rail links stretching across Iraq and Turkey.

Iraq's prime minister Mohammed Shia' Al Sudani and Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on witnessed the signing of the initial agreement during the latter’s just-concluded visit to Iraq.

Turkey has been pushing to speed up the development of Development Road since last September when India, Middle Eastern powers and the European Union’s biggest economies used a G20 summit to announce the India-Middle East-Europe trade corridor project, also costed at $17bn. The route entirely shuts out Turkey.

“There is no corridor without Turkey,” fumed Erdogan to journalists who had accompanied him to the G20 get-together in New Delhi: “The most convenient line for traffic from east to west has to pass through Turkey,” he added.

Shipping and rail lines of the India-Middle East-Europe trade corridor would pass through the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel, then reach to Greece and other points in Europe.

Like Development Road, the corridor could compete with the Suez Canal for trade shipments.

The Iranians and Russians, meanwhile, are working on developing the North-South Corridor (also known as the International North-South Transport Corridor, or INSTC). It is designed to facilitate multi-modal trade routes linking Russia, the South Caucasus, Central Asia and Europe to the Middle East and India via Iranian ports on the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman (Indian Ocean).

A big difficulty facing the Development Road option is security.

Ankara has argued that the continued presence of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group in northern Iraq poses a threat to the construction of the major trade route.

Erdogan said on April 23 during his trip to Iraq that he believed Baghdad recognised the need to eliminate the PKK militia and had the will to back efforts to achieve that aim.

He praised a ban on the PKK announced by Iraq. However, Iraq has stopped short of designating the PKK as a “terrorist” organisation in line with Turkey, the EU and US.

The Kurdish group took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984. Tens of thousands of people have since been killed in an insurgency.