The Development Road Project, a collaborative effort between Türkiye and Iraq, holds substantial promise as a cornerstone for fostering stability within the Iraqi state
Roads played an extensive role in geopolitical landscapes in history as in contemporary times. The Silk Road is the first in this context. Geopolitically, infrastructure components such as roads, bridges, railways and maritime routes have assumed pivotal significance. Of course, throughout history, pathways such as the Silk Road and Spice Road have effectively underpinned the very framework within which global trade has been configured.
For example, the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope between Europe and India had a vital impact on the gradual decline of the Ottoman Empire. On the other hand, the discovery of America has changed the global balance of wealth in access to new routes and fresh resources.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been familiar to us for some time and essentially signifies the revitalization of the Silk Road after centuries and ages.
As it is known, China’s global trade started with the relationship it established in Pakistan and exported goods globally from a port and the customs environment it created there. Later on, China transferred the Pakistani model to other countries.
Even though the road from India to Europe, which has recently been on the agenda at the G-20, is ultimately a dream, it is known that the BRI, or the bridges and railways to be established from one end of the world to the other, now constitute essential reference points in global competition.
My focus today is on the Development Road that is to be established between Iraq and Türkiye.
Once critical, always critical
Historians and political scientists, or those who pen on geopolitics, generally have the following judgment: Historically important crossroads, transport routes and strategic areas remain critical at all times.
When the British occupied India, that is, when the East India Company occupied the Middle East from one end to the other, even when Ottoman-British relations were good, the Faw Peninsula, which is today’s Basra and its surroundings, formed the basis for a critical diplomatic rivalry between the Ottomans and Britain.
Today, as it is known, the oil pipeline between Iraq and Türkiye is being revived, and the shipment of the oil from Iraq to third countries through the Yumurtalık pipeline, as in the previous years, has come to the agenda.
I added the word “stability” to the Development Road. In other words, the Development Road between Iraq and Türkiye can also form the basis for stabilizing the Iraqi state.
In its last period, the Ottoman state, especially taking advantage of the rivalry between England and Germany, had developed the Hejaz Road project with the Germans, which would start from Istanbul and, in a sense, set off from Europe and reach Mecca and Madina.
If this project had been completed, the Ottoman state would have the power and grounds to dispatch its armies to cross the Middle Eastern borders from Istanbul to the Hejaz whenever required. At the same time, there would be an opportunity to ship goods from east to west and west to east, and perhaps the Hejaz Road project would have allowed the Ottoman state to hold substantial territories. But the life of Ottomans was not enough for this, and the imperialists made every effort to prevent it.
Today, the Development Road is being planned so that a product coming out of the Persian Gulf would cross Iraqi territory and reach the borders of Türkiye.
As it is known, the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 and tried to destabilize it. Iran, which is supposedly in a position to help, is making all efforts to keep Iraq unstable.
Since Türkiye is a country with the remnants of an empire and has a culture of working with a wide range of cultures and nations, as well as a population that today makes a living through trade on a large scale, the stability of Iraq means the steadiness of Türkiye.
In this context, when the Development Road is completed, Iraq will benefit economically alone or together with Türkiye, and a product and energy flux will emerge from Türkiye to the Persian Gulf and all Gulf countries. At the same time, this emerging position will gradually form the basis for Iraq’s stability.
Since the safety of the roads depends on the security of the countries, when the Development Road is completed, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and all the Gulf countries, as well as Türkiye and even China and many other countries will be in favor of the stability of Iraq. Products from China or the Gulf can safely reach the borders of Türkiye, or goods and technology can travel from Europe and reach the Persian Gulf.
When railways and pipelines accompany the highway, the Development Road represents development, transportation, access and energy lines.
I believe that when the Development Road is completed, not only the development of Iraq but also its stability will be secured, which we will wait and see in the coming years.
It is noteworthy to mention as a final word that all the roads mentioned above concerning the intercontinental traffic of all kinds in the Old World throughout history are crossing today’s Türkiye. We must salute the foresight of our ancestors who realized this as they flowed from east to west, held on to this geography, and paid fortunes for it.