Thursday, February 18, 2010

Railway Connects Mosul to Istanbul

MAP from the BBC

A railway connecting Mosul to Gaziantep facilitated the first train journey between the two cities since the 1980s. From Gaziantep, the train connects to Istanbul and onward to Berlin; from Mosul, the train connects to Baghdad. The train route was first thought up as a project between Germany and the Ottoman Empire. Are railways on the Foreign Ministry's agenda? Yigal Schleifer links the train to Turkey's recent "zero problems" foreign policy, which has included building closer relationships with the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq and Syria. Though portrayals of Turkish foreign policy as "neo-Ottoman" are a bit played up in the Western media sometimes, there could hardly be a more symbolic government-led venture. From the BBC:
[ ] the revived rail link symbolises the increasingly close ties between the three countries.

Having overcome its fear of Kurdish nationalism, Turkey now does about $10bn of trade with Iraq's Kurdish regional government every year - about 80% of goods sold there are Turkish.

Relations between Iraq and Syria are more fragile - in the past Syria has been accused of backing the insurgents behind several big bomb attacks in Iraq.

But trade between them - and between Syria and Turkey - is growing rapidly.

Turkey is gradually upgrading its railway network with high-speed routes and Iraq also plans big investments in its railways.

The Turkish government is now talking of a fast rail link running all the way to Pakistan.
According to Schelifer, "Along with the Mosul line, Turkey is building a fast train link between Gaziantep and Aleppo in Syria and is part of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project, which conceivably could end up being linked up to a rail network that stretches all the way to China."

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