Iran’s Allies Seek to Obstruct Iraq's Grand Faw Port Project

Iraq's director general at the General Company for Ports, Farhan al-Fartousi, signs a contract with South Korea's Daewoo Engineering & Construction, to construct the Grand Faw port, in Baghdad, Iraq, Dec. 30, 2020. (Reuters)
Iraq's director general at the General Company for Ports, Farhan al-Fartousi, signs a contract with South Korea's Daewoo Engineering & Construction, to construct the Grand Faw port, in Baghdad, Iraq, Dec. 30, 2020. (Reuters)
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Iran’s Allies Seek to Obstruct Iraq's Grand Faw Port Project

Iraq's director general at the General Company for Ports, Farhan al-Fartousi, signs a contract with South Korea's Daewoo Engineering & Construction, to construct the Grand Faw port, in Baghdad, Iraq, Dec. 30, 2020. (Reuters)
Iraq's director general at the General Company for Ports, Farhan al-Fartousi, signs a contract with South Korea's Daewoo Engineering & Construction, to construct the Grand Faw port, in Baghdad, Iraq, Dec. 30, 2020. (Reuters)

Iraq’s signing on Wednesday of a $2.625 billion deal with South Korea’s Daewoo Engineering & Construction to build the first phase at its planned Faw commodities port has revealed a dispute between two Iraqi camps over which country should oversee the construction.

Opinion is split between one camp that wants South Korea to take over the project, located in the southern Basra province, and another that wants China to be involved.

The first camp includes Prime Minister Mustsfa al-Kadhimi and political forces that support him, such as the Sairoon coalition of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and the al-Hikma alliance led by Ammar al-Hakim. The second camp is comprised mainly of the Fateh alliance of the Popular Mobilization Forces and other parties that are known for their allegiance to Iran.

The positions from both camps over the project, expressed before and after the deal was inked, reveal just how deeply local forces are affected by the stances of regional and international powers. The dispute was not born yesterday, but has been brewing for weeks between the abovementioned camps.

The differing positions can be understood by expanding the overall political scene in Iraq and how it is affected by regional and international interests. Moreover, the South Korean company has been overseeing the al-Faw Grand Port for years and has never been met with such strong opposition as it is today from Iran’s allies.

Under the contract, signed in Baghdad by representatives of Iraq’s transportation ministry and the South Korean company, Daewoo E&C will handle construction work including building five berths to unload ships and a yard for containers.

Daweoo will also carry out dredging and drilling works to create an access navigation channel, Farhan al-Fartousi, Iraq’s director general at the General Company for Ports, told Reuters on the sidelines of a signing ceremony at the transportation ministry headquarters.

The first phase should allow the port to receive three million containers, and all the construction work should be finished in around four years, said Fartousi.

No sooner had the deal been announced that the Fateh alliance and other pro-Iran blocs kicked off efforts to collect signatures to file a request to debrief the minster of transportation.

The alliance claimed that the deal will lead to a “massive waste of public funds and confirms the suspicions of corruption.”

Secretary General of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq Qais al-Khazali slammed the deal, saying the corrupt figures who agreed to it will “eventually be exposed.”

“The people know who you are and will hold you accountable for this major crime against their future,” he tweeted.

“For our part, we will work tirelessly to thwart this crime against Iraq and we hope the honorable people will support us,” he added.



Israeli Tanks Hit Evacuation Zone West of Rafah, 21 Dead

May 6, 2024 | Displaced Palestinians from Rafah, following Israeli evacuation orders, arrive at Khan Yunis, Gaza. (AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
May 6, 2024 | Displaced Palestinians from Rafah, following Israeli evacuation orders, arrive at Khan Yunis, Gaza. (AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
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Israeli Tanks Hit Evacuation Zone West of Rafah, 21 Dead

May 6, 2024 | Displaced Palestinians from Rafah, following Israeli evacuation orders, arrive at Khan Yunis, Gaza. (AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
May 6, 2024 | Displaced Palestinians from Rafah, following Israeli evacuation orders, arrive at Khan Yunis, Gaza. (AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Israeli strikes on a tent camp in an evacuation area west of Rafah killed at least 21 on Tuesday, Gaza health authorities said.

Two days after an Israeli airstrike on another camp stirred global condemnation, Gaza emergency services said four tank shells hit a cluster of tents in Al-Mawasi, a coastal area that Israel had advised civilians in Rafah to move to for safety.

At least 12 of the dead were women, according to medical officials. An Israeli military spokesperson said: "As of this time, we are not aware of this incident."

International unease over Israel's three-week-old Rafah offensive has turned to outrage after an attack on Sunday set off a blaze in a tent camp in a western district of the city, killing at least 45 people. Israel said it had targeted Hamas commanders and had not intended to cause civilian casualties, Reuters reported.

Tuesday's attack occurred in an area designated by Israel as an expanded humanitarian zone, to which it had called on civilians in Rafah to evacuate for their own safety when it launched its incursion in early May.

Around one million people - many repeatedly displaced by shifting waves of the war - have fled the Israeli offensive in Rafah since early May, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) reported on Tuesday.

A video obtained by Reuters showed families on the move again, carrying their belongings through Rafah's shattered streets, their weary children trailing behind them.

"There are a lot of attacks, smoke and dust. It is death from God...The (Israelis) are hitting everywhere. We're tired," said Moayad Fusaifas, pushing along belongings on two bicycles.