“Now, the countries are working on the resumption of the project connecting the railways of Syria, Iran and Iraq and are determining the date of the meeting between the representatives of the countries to develop the points of view”, an anonymous source at the Syrian Ministry of Transport said.
A date was set for a trilateral meeting since the project was an important strategic point, that was stopped during the war in Syria.
The aim of the project was to provide Iraq and Iran with access to Syrian ports. Before the outbreak of the war in 2011, Syria had completed 97% of the project, but large portions of the railway system were destroyed during the clashes.
Furthermore, there is a current project to link Iran and Iraq through Basra and Syria would like to also join in.
There is an agreement between Syria and Iraq to connect the railways between the two countries through the Altnif and now the countries are seeking to evaluate the project through a meeting to assess the possibility of re-employment and the status of government agencies in the three countries When the project is clarified, then a final decision can be made. The project could also take up to 4 years.
Al Watan also reported that there were understandings with the Chinese side to be a partner in this project, which will be parallel to the Belt and Road Initiative, which is planned to be completed for the benefit of several countries, including Syria, Iraq, Iran, China, Pakistan among others.
In the context of the Iraqi Ministry of Transport, there will be talks on linking Skaki between Iran, Iraq and Syria.
In a statement issued on the sidelines of the meeting of the joint committee between Iraq and Syria in Damascus, Talab al-Husseini said that “in the light of the guidance of the Iraqi Transport Minister Abdullah al-Aybi in the field of transport and the importance of rail links between the two countries during the Akashat- – Khnevis coordination by the Iraqi, Iranian and Syrian sides to hold a trilateral meeting to discuss the possibility of implementing the rail link between the three countries to complement what was agreed at the bilateral meeting held on July 5, 2014, where it was stressed to move forward to strengthen bilateral relations And improve the level of economic, commercial, scientific and technical cooperation in all sectors.”
Al-Husseini added that the road to joint cooperation in the economic field has been reached and all obstacles and restrictions preventing the promotion of higher volumes of trade between the countries were gone. There would also be discussions for cooperation in energy, electricity, land, sea, air travel and skiing.
Separately, in a sign of normalization, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi discussed the opening of the al-Qaim border crossing with a Syrian delegation on February 7th.
Iraqi Minister of Interior Qassim al-Araji on February 12th confirmed that al-Abbadi had given his permission to open the crossing.
Prior to the closing due to war, as well as the necessity for Iraq to cleanse the area of ISIS militants, trade was realized through the Iraqi city of al-Qaim and the city of Albu Kamal on the Syrian side.
Prior to the closing, annual trade turnover was estimated at $5 billion. After the war in Syria began, it was still operational but at a fraction of its activity and when ISIS emerged, it was completely halted.
Recently, Syria also announced that it would lease the port of Latakia to Iran from October 1st, 2019, as per an agreement between the two countries.
Earlier, on February 25th Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s visited Tehran, where he met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The trip was Assad’s first since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, approximately 9 years ago.
The situation of the improving relations between Syria, Iran and Iraq and them continuing and furthering their cooperation is a “nightmare scenario” for Israel and the US.
It is quite likely that there would be a strong negative response since all of their efforts to divide them by means of sanctions, threats (and even active strikes on targets by Israel) have resulted in failure. Even the remaining US troops in the al-Tanf military base proved ineffective in discouraging the restarting of logistical and military links between the friendly countries.