Iraq Development Road: A project to change trade routes and regional dynamics

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This article is featured in Orient III/2024.

Once completed, the Iraq Development Road project will be one of the most important corridors linking Asia, the Middle East and Europe. The Iraqi government attaches great importance to the project as it provides alternative routes to improve connectivity between and within the country, regions and continents. By facilitating connections that complement or compete with other existing or planned transport corridors, the project aims to boost trade and investment, which in turn will contribute to economic growth and development in the region. This article assesses the opportunities and challenges—in particular the ongoing terrorism activities—in implementing this initiative, and concludes that the project participants, especially Iraq and Türkiye, need to work closely together to ensure the success of the project.

Gülsüm Akbulut is Director of Global and Turkish Economic Studies of the Turkish Foreign Policy Institute. She completed her undergraduate and master studies in economics at Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara before earning her second master’s degree in International Politics from the Free University of Brussels and completing her doctoral thesis on structural financial power in the Department of International Relations at METU. From 1996 to 1999, she worked as an Economic Counselor at the Permanent Representation of Turkey to the EU in Brussels, then serving as Head of Department and Deputy Director General at the Undersecretariat of Treasury (2000–2005) and Director General for Economic Research at the Undersecretariat of Treasury (2005–2013). From 2013 to 2016, she worked at the World Bank as Alternate Executive Director, representing the country group of Türkiye, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Slovenia at the WBG Board. From 2017 to 2018, she was the Head of the External Relations Department at the Prime Ministry.

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