By Shehab Al Makahleh, Special to Al Arabiya English |
Jordan and Iraq have agreed to reopen the Turaibil – al-Karamah border crossing shortly after Eid Al Adha.
A Jordanian security official has told Al Arabiya English that the Karamah crossing will be opened for the public on the third day of Eid, September 3, while staff will be deployed from August 30.
“We have conducted a trial run at the crossing with our Iraqi counterparts earlier this week at the al-Karamah crossing on August 20,” the official said.
The official added that the decision was made to reopen the crossing, after a year-long closure, following cleansing operations conducted by the Iraqi and Jordanian military forces against ISIS militants in the area.
Over the past few months discussions have been going on between Iraq and Jordan to reopen the border crossing.
In July, King Abdullah II declared the reopening the border. “Today, the road began to clear regarding Syria and Iraq, and there are positive indications”, the King said, voicing his optimism.
Jordanian Minister of Interior, Ghaleb Al Zu’bi, announced that the preparations have been in place to reopen the border point, saying that “Jordan is ready to go ahead at any time”.
The Karamah border crossing connects the Jordanian town of Ruwaished with the Iraqi town of Turaibil.
“The reopening of Turaibil will have positive effects on the economies of both countries,” Zu’bi said. “Jordan and Iraq can exchange medical supplies and other goods through this border,” he added
Talks were held in Amman and Baghdad between Iraqi and Jordanian officials to reopen the outlet after the defeat of ISIS in Iraq in order to resume transport activities between both countries which had been negatively affected since ISIS fighters occupied Mosul and South East of Iraq by Jordanian borders.
What encouraged both governments to reopen the borders is that ISIS has lost territory in Anbar in recent months to Iraqi army, most recently the town of Rutba 145 kilometers from the borders, clearing the way for reopening the crossing; however, the Iraqis are working on removing explosives planted near the borders, according to Iraqi ambassador to Jordan, Safia Al Souhail.
The ambassador said earlier that “the Iraqi Cabinet awarded a contract to a security firm to secure the road connecting Baghdad to Turaibil. This is a major step towards reopening the crossing border,” Safia Al Souhail.”
Jordanian Minister of Interior added that opening Turaibil is of equal importance to Jordan and Iraq, particularly from an economic perspective. It is considered a vital link between the two countries, through which they trade various types of products as well as medical equipment.
When ISIS controlled Anbar in 2014, this has affected Jordan’s exports and imports from Iraq. The closure was a blow to Jordan as its exports to Iraq declined from $1.2 billion in 2014 to $690 million in 2015.
For his part, the Jordanian government Speaker Mohammed Momani has said that the opening of the crossing was very important and it was “very crucial to both Iraq and Jordan”. Still, it is unclear if opening the crossing will automatically lead to the resumption of land trade.
According to Jordanian statistics, more than 1 million Iraqi and Jordanian passengers passed the Turaibil crossing every year on average, and this outlet was very important to both countries as it was the only land border through which commodities are traded between both Iraq and Jordan.