Jordan, Iraq Reopen Main Border Crossing on Baghdad to Amman Highway
Edward Yeranian, VOA News
30 August 2017 (4:30PM)
CAIRO — Tureibil, Iraq's main international border crossing with Jordan and a key trade route, officially reopened Wednesday after being officially closed for three years. Privately-owned U.S. security firms, along with Iraqi ground and air forces, will be responsible for safety along the 500-kilometer route from Baghdad to Amman, which goes through Iraq's Anbar province.
Iraqi forces have cleared areas near the highway of Islamic State militants in recent months, and parts of the route, including a number of bridges and overpasses, were rebuilt or repaired.
The Iraqi parliament agreed to allow U.S. security firms to oversee the highway, after a long and heated debate.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi indicated in a tweet Wednesday that he was "pleased by the reopening of the Iraq-Jordan border crossing," adding that it will "increase bilateral relations considerably."
The deputy head of the Anbar provincial council, Falah al-Aissawi, told al-Hurra TV recently that the provincial government was doing its utmost to reopen the key highway.
He says that Anbar province is using part of its budget to reopen the highway and the crossing with Jordan, which is a lifeline for both Anbar and the country, and that its reopening to traffic will give a boost to the economy.
Iraqi Interior Minister Qassem al-Araji inspected the highway and the border crossing several days ago, noting that the security situation appeared to be good.
The interior minister says he has inspected all the key infrastructure along the route and that Iraq was intent on reopening all its border crossings. He says the Tureibil crossing is vital to Iraq's economy.
Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, tells VOA that the reopening of the Iraqi border with Jordan was yet another step in the ongoing collapse of the Islamic State group.
"It's clear that IS is being defeated and it is in full retreat on all fronts. This move points in the direction of increasing security in both Iraq and Jordan," said Khashan.
Khashan also thinks that Jordan agreed to reopen its border crossing with Iraq "in conjunction with both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia," and that the move "marks a significant improvement of ties between Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and [possibly] Iran."
Iraq and Saudi Arabia recently reopened their land border, which had been closed since 1990.
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