Ovaköy: The border gate that will bypass northern Iraq
WORLD ECONOMY

Ovaköy: The border gate that will bypass northern Iraq

Turkey has accelerated preparations to end Barzani’s influence on Iraqi trade by completing preliminary preparations for an alternative to the Habur border gate

News Service Yeni Şafak

Preliminary preparations for the opening of the new border gate in Ovaköy, located in the Silopi district of the Şırnak province in southeastern Turkey as an alternative to the Habur border gate, have been completed. Turkey and the central government of Iraq have begun work to ensure the security and operations of the region are fully established.

The new border gate in Ovaköy will take its final shape when Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım visits Baghdad this weekend. A great volume of trade will be shifted from Habur to Ovaköy, and this will contribute to the prosperity of the Turkmen region.

Barzani refused to hand over Habur to Baghdad

As the greatest economic strike against Barzani, the Iraqi central government has started to conduct investigations in its own territory for Ovaköy, the new border gate.

Parking areas for commercial trucks are being constructed on both sides of the gate. Security forces launched simultaneous moves on both sides of the border. Both the entrances and exits of Ovaköy are controlled by soldiers.

Turkey has referred to the Ovaköy border gate as a new trade hub with the Baghdad government, which received a negative response from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) when asked to transfer the Habur border gate to the central administration’s jurisdiction.

Investments required to form a commercial route

There is not enough infrastructure at Ovaköy yet to enable it becoming a commercial route. However, it is stated that if the negotiations with the Baghdad government go well, the border gate can be developed rapidly with mutual investments.

Ankara and Baghdad conducted inspections in the area

Inspections were conducted by Ankara and Baghdad in order to determine how long it would take to make Ovaköy active. Last week, the Iraqi Central Government examined the Iraqi side of Ovaköy. Following Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s visit, the matter will gain clarity.

Alternative border gates must be established

The possible intervention of Iraqi troops was among the possibilities for the capture of the Habur gate from the northern Iraqi administration. Such tensions also affect trade negatively. Turkey is engaged in more trade with Iraq at the Habur border gate than it is with Iran across five border gates.

Baghdad to make final decision

Aside from the KRG tension, Ovaköy is another border gate with Iraq that was long discussed in order to balance trade flow. The final details of the new border gate will be concluded during Yıldırım’s Baghdad visit.

The aim is not to punish the public

The closure of the Habur border gate came on the agenda following the illegitimate referendum held in northern Iraq on Sept. 25.

It was realized that if the only functioning border gate to Iraq was closed, the people living in the region and the Baghdad government would be punished and even Turkey's military troops in northern Iraq would suffer.

Following this, Turkey started to work on alternatives. The Ovaköy and Aktepe border gates that were discussed in 2013 resurfaced, and Turkey presented the Ovaköy gate possibility to the Baghdad administration.

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