EghtesadOnline: The reopening of the Abu Kamal-Qaim border crossing between Syria and Iraq will reduce transit costs between Iran and Syria by 50%, says the co-chair of Iran-Syria Economic Commission, Kayvan Kashefi.
“Iranians would normally send goods to Syria either via the southern port of Bandar Abbas or Mersin Port in Turkey. Such a shipping method would cost between $4,500-5,000 for each container and take up to 40 days to complete. With the reopening of the Abu Kamal-Qaim border crossing, transit costs will drop by $1,500-2,000 and trucks will arrive at Syria within three days,” he was quoted as saying by Otaghiranonline.ir.
Iraq reopened its Qaim border-crossing with Syria on Monday after eight years of closure amid regional turmoil, in the latest sign of normalization between Baghdad and Damascus, and a win for their mutual ally Iran, according to Financial Tribune.
The crossing, which Iraqi officials declared open for travelers and trade, is crucial for Iran’s bid to cement its growing sway over a corridor of territory from Tehran to Beirut, Reuters reported.
The opening of the crossing signified “the victory of the Iraqi and Syrian people over all terrorist groups, especially Daesh,” said Syrian Interior Minister Mohammad Khaled al-Rahmoun, using a term for the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group.
“It would revitalize Syrian-Iraqi economic cooperation,” said Iraqi border authority chief, Khadhim al-Ikabi, who like Rahmoun was attending a ceremony with local governors of provinces on both sides of the border.
The western Anbar Province town of Qaim, 300 km (185 miles) west of Baghdad, was recaptured from IS in November 2017 and was the group’s last bastion in Iraq to fall.
It borders the Syrian town of Albukamal, which was also an IS stronghold. The towns lie on a strategic supply route and the crossing between them had only been open for government or military traffic since 2011.
The Syrian government, with strong backing from Iran, captured Albukamal on the Euphrates River from IS terrorists toward the end of 2017.
The opening of the crossing was a “historic day” for Iraq and Syria, Ali Faris, a local politician, told the state TV station al-Ikhbariya, adding that there would be “great economic and social” consequences.
Al-Ikharbiya’s correspondent said the crossing was an “important economic artery”.
Iran-Iraq-Syria Rail Project
Iran, Iraq and Syria are working to link their rail networks.
According to Deputy Roads Minister Kheirollah Khademi, the contractor and investor of the 32-kilometer Shalamcheh-Basra railroad have already been designated.
He said recently that the go-ahead for the construction of the $150-million rail project was only waiting for the Iraqi side to carry out its part of commitments, adding that the Mostazafan Foundation, with years of experience in construction activities, will be responsible for the funding and execution of the entire project in Iran and Iraq.
Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami has identified the construction of Shalamcheh-Basra Railroad as the main priority of the ministry under his watch in the current Iranian year (ending March 20, 2020).
The launch of the 32-kilometer railroad boosts Iran's exports to Iraq and from this route to the countries of West Asia and North Africa.
In order to complete the Shalamcheh-Basra Railroad, the 17-kilometer Khorramshahr-Shalamcheh rail project was completed in 2011 to connect the Iranian railroads to Iraq, and it was decided to join the city of Basra.
With the start of the first government of Hassan Rouhani, the completion of Shalamcheh railroad to Basra was considered by the government seriously to facilitate the travel of Iranian pilgrims, especially during the Arbaeen pilgrimage season and commuters could use this rail link from Iran via Basra to Karbala and other holy cities of Iraq.
Now, with the rail link of Basra to Karbala, Iraqi passenger trains and freight use this route and since a few years ago, Iranian pilgrims have been travelling by train from Tehran to Shalamcheh and from there after a 32 km-trip by bus to Basra and by Iraqi train depart from Basra to Karbala.
To build the railroad, the Iraqi side was to take measures inside Iraq from Shalamcheh to Basra, but due to economic problems and a shortage of funds, the Iraqi government has so far refused to build this part of Shalamcheh’s railroad to Basra.
To complete the rail project, according to an earlier agreement reached with the Iraqi authorities in, Iran was will construct a 700-meter bridge on the Arvandroud river until the railroad passes above the river and after 32 kilometers is connected to Basra Train Station.
"We will connect the Persian Gulf from Iraq to Syria and the Mediterranean via railroad and road," Iran's First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri has been quoted as saying, making reference to the construction of Shalamcheh-Basra Railroad.