Iraq plans to build the largest naval base in the Arabian Gulf near the under-construction Al Faw Grand Port, which has been a huge obstacle for successive governments since 2003.
During a visit to the province of Basra last week, Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari announced plans for the establishment of the largest military naval base.
The ministry said in a statement that al-Shammari visited Basra accompanied by the Minister of Transport, Abdulla Luaibi and a number of military commanders.
“Iraq has decided to establish the biggest naval base in the Faw port, which will take several years to be built,” the Defense Minister announced.
The base would be responsible for securing Iraq's territorial waters and protecting its southern maritime port and will help develop the security and economy of Basra city.
“We will do whatever we can to finalize this project for the sake of Iraq’s economy,” al-Shammari said.
For his part, Luaibi said: “We are proud to announce the biggest naval base in Basra that would help Iraq develop its security and economy, as well as control its water resources.”
Defense Ministry spokesman, Tahsin al-Khafaji told Asharq Al-Awsat that Iraq needs such a military base to protect its ports and regional waters, revealing that the project will be complete in two years.
“After resuming construction at the Faw port, we found that an advanced naval base should be built near it to help protect the port,” he explained.
Khafaji said Iraq only boasts one naval base, located in Um Qasr, and it cannot address Iraq’s naval security needs, whether in its waters or regionally.
Asked whether some neighboring states would object to the construction of the new facility the spokesperson replied: “The project would affect no one, whether Kuwait or Iran, because it will be located inside Iraqi regional waters.”
Iraq does not boast a strong navy. Its vessels are currently limited to countering human trafficking and oil and weapons smuggling operations and protecting offshore oil rigs. Military reports have said that Iraq needs to boosts its navy to meet security demands.