Iraqi officials have announced they will soon start the construction of a joint industrial city on the borders between Iraq and Jordan.
The plan to turn a remote desert area on the western outskirts of Anbar province near the Trebil crossing with Jordan into an industrial zone was first unveiled late last year.
The border crossing was reopened in 2017 after being closed for three years due to security concerns in the aftermath of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) occupying large swathes of Iraq.
The industrial zone will essentially be a "comprehensive city that includes car and truck repair shops, industrial factories and grocery stores", Anbar provincial council member Mahmoud al-Dulaimi said August 20th.
It will help create new job opportunities for unemployed youth, he said, and will include restaurants and rest areas that will serve those traveling across the border, as well as Anbar residents.
The Iraqi Ministry of Industry has already formed a work team led by the ministry's Director General of Industrial Development Salam Saeed, and comprising representatives of a number of other ministries.
The team visited the area on August 14th to identify a suitable location for the industrial city near the Trebil border crossing.
Boost for economy
"The industrial zone project, whose implementation will commence [soon], is one of the most important investment projects in the province," Anbar provincial council economic committee chair Fahd Mishaan told Diyaruna.
By virtue of its location, it will serve as a vast area for commercial and industrial exchange with Jordan, and an important gateway for the passage of various products and goods between the two countries, he said.
The industrial city will have a positive impact on Anbar province's economy and provide a boost to the inflow of foreign investment to the province, he said.
"The most important challenge facing the project, which will also be a measure of its success, is to establish security in the area where it will be implemented near the Trebil border crossing," said Mishaan.
The area was until recently a hotbed for ISIS, he said, expressing confidence in the ability of Iraqi forces to secure it and help boost investment activity.
Border crossing 'secure'
"Economy and politics are inextricably linked, and one cannot succeed without the other," economist Nabil Jaafar told Diyaruna.
"Therefore, the overall political situation in the country will remain the biggest challenge to the success of any investment projects, such as industrial cities or trade exchange zones," he said.
"What is important is that the investor sees that there is political stability in the country before he ventures to pump his money in it," he said.
The border strip with Jordan is "more secure and stable" than cities near the border, said Falah al-Qaraghouli, a tribal mobilisation forces commander.
"The border area is fully secured by the Border Guard and Iraqi Army's 1st Division, which are deployed along a line extending from the Trebil border crossing and al-Tanf border crossing [with Syria] to al-Mafraq [in Jordan]," he told Diyaruna.
Joint Iraqi army and tribal mobilisation forces also secure the road from Trebil to the city of Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar, he added.
"Protecting the industrial city is a top priority for Iraqi forces because it has a positive impact on the economy of [Anbar] province in particular and the country in general," he said.
Capital needs to come back to the province, he said, as high employment rates play a role in enhancing security and pulling the youth away form the traps of extremism.