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20 November 2017 Last updated 30 minutes ago

Iraq, Jordan officially reopen vital trade route on border

Iraq, Jordan officially reopen vital trade route on border Iraq, Jordan officially reopen vital trade route on border

Iraq and Jordan have finally allowed traffic through their single border crossing as officials watch the reopening of Trebil on the Jordanian side of the border.

Iraq's Interior Minister Qassim al-Araji said in a ceremony on Wednesday that the reopening marked another victory in an ongoing fight against terrorists who have been wreaking havoc in Iraq’s north and west for the last three years.

“... we have told the world we are greater ... than any terrorist group,” Araji said on ending the closure.

Jordanians were even happier about the reopening as journalists saw their passports swiftly stamped on Wednesday in Karameh, the term used to designate the crossing on the Jordanian side.

Iraqi officials refused to allow journalists, although they had initially collected the passports.

Iraq and Jordan have yet to announce when trucks and passengers could officially cross the border post. The governor of Iraq’s Anbar province, Mohammed al-Halboosi, said security was still an issue as Iraqis were trying to ensure maximum safety for passengers on the 900-kilometer road that goes through Trebil and links the two capitals of Baghdad in Iraq and Amman in Jordan. Iraq has managed to liberate most of the areas once captured by the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in Anbar. Militants, however, still launch sporadic attacks on security forces using the road.

“.. we must make a plan ... to protect the road from any Daesh movement,” Halboosi said, adding that truck traffic could resume instantly.

Iraq closed Trebil in 2015 after reports emerged of Daesh levying taxes on cargo trucks travelling between the two countries. Before the closure, Iraq used to send oil shipments of about 10,000 to 12,000 barrels a day to Jordan. The Jordanian side benefited even more with an export of about one billion Jordanian dinars' ($1.4 billion) worth of goods to Iraq each year. That fell almost by two thirds in 2016, when Jordanians were forced to send cargos via a longer route through Saudi Arabia. Estimates say hundreds of factories have been closed in Jordan as a result of Trebil’s closure.

Jordan’s economy has also suffered from acts of terror by Daesh in Syria, Jordan’s other neighbor to the north, which used to be a major market for Jordanian goods. The trade crossing between the two Arab countries remains shuttered since it was closed in the spring of 2015.