Al-Monitor: You said that this proved to be a success. How so? What have you accomplished so far?
Zubeidi: In terms of air transport, we started improving the work of Iraqi Airways by introducing fundamental changes in the management of the airline and developing plans for the construction of new civilian airports in a number of Iraqi provinces. In the area of land transport, we developed plans for opening up numerous new train stations in different parts of Iraq, and we signed joint agreements with neighboring countries for extending railway lines, and these are some of the important strategic projects that will see the light in the future.
In terms of maritime transport, the ministry’s works are continuing through the development of ports and the construction of new ones. A few days ago, we launched projects for the construction of new railways linking some Iraqi provinces and some neighboring countries.
Al-Monitor: What about funding? How will these projects be financed? Doesn’t investment require money?
Zubeidi: Yes, it definitely requires money. We invest the available funds. We attract international financial investments and cutting-edge technology. We rely for some projects on the deferred payment method. We have concluded strategic agreements on the completion of important projects according to the deferred payment method that is subject to minimal interest rates. This allows us to overcome the lack of financial allocations.
Al-Monitor: Iraqi Airways is obsolete, and its airplanes are few in number and old to the extent that Iraqis even criticize some of them, describing them as flying buses. Airports have fallen into disuse and are neglected. What is the role of the ministry? Are there practical and realistic achievements or is the ministry’s work limited to long-term plans?
Zubeidi: There are practical achievements. First, to make things clear, I took over the ministry less than a year ago. Despite this short period, the ministry has seriously strived to develop the air transport sector, and we accomplished outstanding achievements.