Baghdad to Berlin
Those looking for Iraq's answer to the TGV will be disappointed, however. The trip takes 18 hours. But the railway represents a new era of co-operation among a triumvirate of states that have not always enjoyed good relations. Free trade agreements, joint military exercises and relaxed border regulations were only initiated in recent years between Turkey, Syria and Iraq, whose relations had become further strained by the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. In particular, improved relations between Turkey and the Kurds in its own country and in Iraq have paved the way for this railway to operate.
For those nostalgically drawn to the grandeur of Mesopotamia's past, an interconnected railway system may fall short of restoring the ancient abundance and prosperity of the region. But for "the land between rivers" whose neighbourly goodwill had all but dried up over the past 30 years, it's a start on the right track.
Published: February 18, 2010 04:00 AM