After repeated delays, Iran and Iraq in April agreed to relaunch efforts to connect the Iranian border town of Shalamcheh with the southern Iraqi city of Basra via a new stretch of railway. The project is part of both countries’ use of rail to expand infrastructure and secure their regional positions. However, construction has been held up by technical challenges. On the other hand, progress has been held up as alternative competing routes have emerged.
Iraqi Minister of Transport Razzaq Al-Saadawi traveled to Tehran on Apr. 6 to meet with Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mehrdad Bazrpash. The outcomes of the meeting included an agreement to improve transport connections. In particular, the focus was on reinvigorating plans to realize the envisioned Basra-Shalamcheh railway, with construction expected to last 18 months.
The project has faced challenges since its inception. Baghdad and Tehran first signed an agreement to develop the route in 2014 but suspended plans the same year as the Islamic State group (IS) violently swept through northern Iraq. Following improved security conditions, the two neighbors in Dec. 2021 committed to complete the railway within two years. But since then...
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