AL QA’IM, Iraq --
A single ribbon stood between a port of prosperity and progress. A single ribbon made to cut, yet intended to tie the bonds of two nations.
A vast crowd of dignitaries and military leaders gathered on the new port-of-entry facility by the Iraqi-Syrian border for one of the most significant ribbon-cutting ceremonies in the recent history of Iraq.
Continuous conflict in the area prompted the closing of the border in 2005, causing a decline in the regional economy. Iraq was Syria’s first trade partner, and before the port was closed, commerce crossing the border reached up to 2 billion USD per year.
The opening of the newly constructed facility promises a brighter future for Al Anbar Iraq, and shows the operational capabilities of the local government, despite relentless hardships.
“This facility will play a major role in the economic development of Iraq and Syria and will help relieve the strain at other borders,” said Gen. Mohsin, the head of the Department of Border Enforcement. “This used to be an open theater for terrorist and criminals, but we managed to take control of the area. We have fought a battle to open this port-of-entry.”
The Syrian economy has also felt its share of struggles, not only due to lack of trade with Iraq but because of the 1.5 million Iraqi immigrants who have fled to safety in Syria. The dramatic influx in population has boosted Syria’s domestic consumption and demand for consumer goods.
Several key leaders within the local government spoke words of inspiration regarding the momentous occasion to a gathering of hundreds at the facility’s administration center.
“This is life back to normal after the darkness that has befallen Iraq,” said Mayor Farhan Tekan Farchan, the regional mayor of Al Qa’im. “Today is a special day for all the people of Iraq.”
The Iraqi minister of interior, Jawad Karim al-Bolani, received the honor of cutting the ribbon and offering a blessing to the new facility.
The crowd appeared overwhelmed with emotion as the ribbon fell to the ground and the port-of-entry was officially opened. The sound of cheers and applause carried over the border as Syrian onlookers joined in.
“This is a blessed day; November 15, 2007,” said Gov. Mamoon Sami Rasheed, provincial governor of Al Anbar. “This day is not only for the government but for all of Iraq and its economy.”
Coalition forces played a role in the completion of the facility but attended the ceremony as guests, appreciating this as a historic day for the Iraqi people.
“This is the conclusion of all the efforts and sacrifices during a really difficult time,” said Dr. Abdul Salam, the president of the Anbar Provincial Council. “It wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Iraqi government and the coalition forces.”
Steps in the direction of a better tomorrow are made everyday in Iraq with the help of coalition forces, but steps this significant show the resolve of the people and their government as they strive to strengthen the future of Iraq.