The “M4” highway as economically and militarily vital strategic artery for Syria
The international “M4” highway constitutes a strategic artery for commercial traffic in northern Syria, making its reopening an important juncture in revitalizing the productive wheel and reviving the Syrian economy.
The highway is approximately 450 km, and starts from the “Rabiaa-Al Yarubiyah” crossing at the Syrian-Iraqi border in the province of Hasakah, passes along “Qamishli” then enters “Tal Tamr”, “Aalia” silos and the town of “Ain Issa” north of Raqqa, arriving Aleppo governorate where it passes through the cities of “Al-Bab”, “Manbij” and the town of “Tadif” in the north before reaching Aleppo city then heading south towards Saraqib and Areha in Idlib, passing through “Jisr Al-Shughour”, then reaching its destination at Latakia. It was established in 1950 to link the northern and eastern regions with the Syrian coast.
An SDC informed source said that “M4” is a strategic path, and reactivating it will lead to strategic gains in the long term, especially economically, indicating that the reopening of Aleppo International Airport and securing the highway from the Iraqi border to the Syrian interior will constitute a crossroads in commercial traffic and economic activity in Syria, in the event of re-working on the international highway.
The source added that transporting goods to and from Iraq will be very easy, with low costs and a shorter time, in addition, linking the airport with coastal ports will significantly affect trade and economic activity.
On the other hand, the “M4” highway derives an additional importance being an extension of the old Silk Road from China, while Syria seeks to be part of the new Silk Road China seeks to establish, which benefits directly the infrastructure and achieves a strategic gain in the investment of the Syrian geographical location as a gateway to eastern Asia towards Europe.
According to the source, the parts of the highway that the Syrian government regained control over have been re-maintained and rehabilitated, while the other parts extending from Hasakah towards Aleppo as some of them are controlled by the “SDF” and others by the Turkish forces, in addition to the parts extended in Idlib controlled by “Al-Nusra Front” and its allies, need a comprehensive rehabilitation because of the extensive damage due to the battles, bombings and sabotage operations, especially in Idlib, where the highway was targeted directly several times by bombing bridges and planting mines on both sides.
“M4” highway has also a military importance as it is linking the northern regions of Syria up to the coast, which gives the controlling force military superiority in controlling the northern parts of the country from east to west, making the northern regions, whether under Turkish control or “Al-Nusra front” isolated from the Syrian interior. In addition, the highway forms a vital artery that extends from Iraq, through Syria to Lebanon, connecting the allies of Syria in the region from Iran to Iraq towards Lebanon, which pushes the American and Turkish forces to pour their efforts towards preventing “Damascus” from regaining control over it.
It is noteworthy that one year ago, “Moscow” agreement was signed between Russia and Turkey, which stipulated the reopening of the “Aleppo-Latakia” international highway and the establishment of a safe zone at a depth of 6 km on both sides where it passes in Idlib that is controlled by Al-Nusra Front and its allies. However, the Turkish side has not abided by the terms of the agreement, and the highway remains dangerous due to the armed groups targeting, who are targeting the Turkish points on both sides as well, while the eastern part of it extending from Iraq towards Aleppo remained occasionally vulnerable to mutual bombardment between the “SDF” and the Turkish forces, bearing in mind that the Syrian economy currently has become in dire need to revive international highways and trade movement in light of the negative effects of the American and European economic sanctions and the blockade imposed by the American” Caesar “law.