This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Locals in Anbar celebrated when an important Iraqi-Jordanian border crossing was recently reopened. But the drivers who use it say many areas are still too dangerous to pass through.
When it was announced at the end of August that the Turaibil [Terbil] border crossing between Jordan and Iraq would reopen, there were celebrations. The border point, which facilitates trade between the two countries, was closed in late 2014 because the extremist group known as the Islamic State, or IS, had taken control of the areas in Anbar province leading toward the crossing.
“Opening the Turaibil crossing is urgently needed,” Faleh al-Issawi, the deputy head of Anbar’s provincial council, told NIQASH. “Other provinces are slowly becoming more stable and secure again and we too are working to restore our economy and our commercial facilities. The time has come for Anbar to go back to what it was before.”
Anbar sits between three countries – Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia – and between four Iraqi provinces. Traders must cross Anbar and locals know they could be exploiting that business. The re-opening of Turaibil has them hoping they will be able to.
On the Jordanian side of the border, everything was apparently ready for Turaibil to re-open. But the Iraqis haven’t been so fast. Most bridges and rest stops on the way there have been destroyed in recent fighting in the province and some areas that the road passes through are still dangerous.
Al-Issawi explains that they have a plan for this. Trucks will be escorted by security forces once they cross into Iraq, right up until they reach another completely secure area. The truck drivers won’t pass through the cities of Ramadi or Fallujah, both of which had been under control of the IS group, before heading to Baghdad or southern and northern provinces directly.
The Jordanian government has said that as part of its efforts to overcome obstacles to trade with Iraq, its Prime Minister, Hani Al-Mulqi (pictured), has decided to exempt Iraqi trucks parked on the Jordanian side of the border from the financial penalties.
Petra news agency reports that the exemption, which came in conjunction with the opening of borders between Jordan and Iraq, would encourage trade through the Al Karama-Turaibil [Terbil] border crossing, boost economic relations between the two countries, and facilitate the movement of citizens and goods in both directions.
The decision also “aims to accelerate the operation of the Kingdom’s truck fleet that transport goods and commodities to Iraq, and revive shipping in the port of Aqaba“.
Jordan and Iraq have agreed to set up a joint industrial zone on the border between the two countries, and asked companies on both sides to promptly put in place their visions on implementation.
According to Petra, Iraqi Minister of Industry and Minerals, Mohammad Shia’ Al Sudani, and Jordan’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply, Yaroub Qudah, also agreed to form a joint Jordanian-Iraqi trade committee chaired by the minister of industry, trade and supply and the Iraqi minister of trade to follow up on the implementation of the free trade agreement that went into effect on March 15, 2013.
They also reviewed the list of Jordanian commodities that will be exempted from Iraqi customs fees.
The Iraqi minister said his country is also keen to further promote its economic relations with Jordan through increasing trade, especially after the reopening of the Terbil crossing.
By Mustafa Saadoun for Al Monitor. Any views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Iraq is trying to revive the Trebil border crossing between Iraq and Jordan, which was closed in 2014 after the Islamic State (IS) took control of Anbar province.
But the highway from Baghdad toward the crossing is not safe and has been the stage of terrorist attacks for a while, most recently the IS attack on an Iraqi security forces’ convoy April 22 in the Al-Sakkar area east of Rutba on the highway near the Jordanian border.
As a result, 10 security officers were killed and 20 others were injured. Following the incident, soldiers of the Eighth Brigade deployed in Rutba appealed to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi for equipment and weapons to secure the international highway between Ramadi and Rutba to avoid surprise attacks by IS sleeper cells.
Due to the imminent threats to the road, which is one of Iraq’s vital economic lines as it connects Basra in the south to Jordan in the west, Iraq commissioned an American company to secure and rebuild the road. The contract also included reconstructing bridges, 36 of which are destroyed.
A government source close to Abadi told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “In his recent visit to Baghdad, Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, discussed with Iraqi officials the issue of securing the Baghdad-Terbil and the Safwan-Terbil crossings.”