Economic Chaos at Anbar Border Crossings

By Ayser Jabbar for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

For months, security incidents in Iraq’s Anbar province — the result of military operations conducted by Iraqi government forces against strongholds of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) — have been hindering and sometimes paralyzing the movement of trucks transporting goods into Iraq.

These trucks, which enter through the Trebil [Tirbil, Tarbiel] (pictured) and al-Walid border crossings of Jordan and Syria respectively, then pass through the cities of Anbar to reach different Iraqi provinces. Traders and average citizens, as well as the government, have experienced huge losses as a result of security incidents.

Since the end of 2013, Anbar has been subjected to wide-scale military operations that extend along the Jordanian and Syrian borders, and target terrorist organizations and ISIS. This has led more than once to the closing of border crossings to avoid the infiltration or escape of terrorists. However, these crossings were later reopened.

The Federation of Iraqi Chambers of Commerce recorded a significant increase in the prices of goods in Iraqi markets, notably the price of food products. According to Jaafar al-Hamadani, the head of the federation, the increase is due to the difficulty of transporting imported goods through border crossings in Anbar and other Iraqi provinces.

Hamadani told Al-Monitor that Anbar has the largest and most important border crossings in Iraq, namely Trebil and al-Walid. He explained that, in addition to the border shutdowns, traders were unable to import goods due to the fighting taking place in various Iraqi cities. Hamadani said that while some traders wait to cross the border and remain parked with their loaded trucks, others return to their countries of origin or find alternate and more costly routes.

According to Hamadani, traders suffered huge losses due to the hold-ups and the use of alternate routes. Citizens have to bear these costs through the rising prices of goods. Even the state is facing the consequences due to a decrease in taxes and custom duties levied on imported goods. Experts in the federation estimate the losses at around $155 million per month, Hamadani noted.

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