Is the new proposed corridor “India – Middle East – Europe” a realistic alternative to the “Belt and Road”?
USA, European Union, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Israel, Jordan and India signed a memorandum on constructing a new transport corridor India – Middle East – Europe, US President Joe Biden said on September 9 following the G20 summit in New Delhi.
And today, I’m proud to announce that we’ve finalised a historic agreement for a new India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor.President Joe Biden – White House Website
As part of this project, Biden promises job creation, trade expansion, supply chain strengthening, expanding connectivity, and laying the foundations to strengthen trade and food security in many countries.
“The world is at a turning point in history. The moment when the decisions we make today will affect the course of our future – our future, our entire future – for decades to come.”
At the « G20 » summit, it was decided to develop an action plan within two months. Its goal is – to launch a large-scale project to construct railways and ports intended to transport goods from India to the Middle East and Europe.
Under the memorandum are signatures including Biden, Modi and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Muhammad bin Salman.
Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has taken many steps to bring China closer together. China contributed to the reconciliation of the kingdom with Iran. However, it seems that Riyadh will not put “all the eggs in one basket”.
The chairman of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, noted that “a bridge between civilisations and continents” is being created.
How realistic is the proposed corridor “India – Middle East – Europe”?
Obsessed with his “Middle Corridor” project, The Turkish President expressed extreme dissatisfaction with the India Economic Corridor Project – Middle East – Europe. In particular, Recep Erdogan said this corridor cannot function without his country because “Turkey – the best route for moving from east to west”.
According to the existing situation, the path from the Israeli port of Haifa to Europe goes to the Greek port of Piraeus and then to the rest of Europe. And if you take the goods by sea to the port of Istanbul, you will have to drag them by rail, but through Bulgaria and not through Greece.
Thus, Erdogan would like to include Turkey in the “India corridor – Europe” route and exclude Greece.
This is unlikely to be met with understanding in the European Union. Suppose he wants to participate in the project.
And now – about the real difficulties of the “India corridor project – Europe”. It starts from the port of Mumbai, where goods flow from all over India. It is impossible to carry them dry because of poor relations with Pakistan.
Therefore, the goods will be loaded into sea containers and sail on dry cargo to Jebel Ali in the UAE. The last time I checked, there were no railways at all. The first Etihad Rail railway in the Emirates with a gauge of 1435 will reach the port of Jebel Ali and will connect it with Saudi Arabia only in the medium term.
There seem to be too many obstacles
Consequently, cargo from the Emirates must be carried by trucks to Saudi Arabia. Then, only the highway leads to the Saudi city of Harad. Then, to Jordan, where there are two railways with a gauge of 1050! They were built under the Ottoman Empire. However, they do not go to Israel, but to Damascus. That means that you will have to go to Haifa on the tracks.
In Haifa, you will again have to overload into the container ship and sail by sea to the Greek port of Piraeus, where you will again overload to the trucks and then – throughout Europe.
I am usually very excited whenever there is a new transport corridor anywhere in Eurasia. However, this initiative sounds like a political stunt without any chance of success. What do you think?