Bil­lions pledged for Iraq, but still short of goal

Iran Daily - - Front Page -

Bil­lions of dol­lars were pledged Wed­nes­day at a donor con­fer­ence for Iraq’s re­con­struc­tion af­ter the coun­try’s dev­as­tat­ing war with the Daesh ter­ror group, though the amounts an­nounced so far still fall short of the $88.2 bil­lion Bagh­dad is seek­ing.

The big­gest pledge at the gath­er­ing in Kuwait came from Turkey, which an­nounced $5 bil­lion in credit to Iraq, while Kuwait’s emir said his oil-rich na­tion will give $1 bil­lion in loans and $1 bil­lion in di­rect in­vest­ments, AP re­ported.

Saudi Ara­bia pledged $1.5 bil­lion while the Kuwait-based Arab Fund said Iraq would re­ceive $1.5 bil­lion in in­fra­struc­ture aid in com­ing years.

Qatar, which is em­broiled in a diplo­matic cri­sis with a quar­tet of Arab na­tions led by Saudi Ara­bia, pledged $1 bil­lion. The United Arab Emi­rates pledged $500 mil­lion, as did the Is­lamic De­vel­op­ment Bank. Ger­many pledged 500 mil­lion eu­ros ($617 mil­lion) and the Euro­pean Union 400 mil­lion eu­ros ($494 mil­lion).

The United States, which has been em­broiled in Iraq since its 2003 in­va­sion that top­pled dic­ta­tor Sad­dam Hus­sein, did not di­rectly give at the con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day in Kuwait City. How­ever, it plans to of­fer over $3 bil­lion in loans and other fi­nanc­ing to help Amer­i­can firms in­vest in Iraq.

The donation by Kuwait’s emir, the 88-year-old Sheikh Sabah al-ah­mad al-sabah, showed the deep in­ter­est his na­tion has in mak­ing sure Iraq be­comes a peace­ful, sta­ble coun­try af­ter the war against Daesh.

“This large assem­bly of in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ties that are here to­day is re­flec­tive of the large loss that Iraq with­stood in fac­ing ter­ror­ism,” Sheikh Sabah said. “Iraq can­not com­mence the mis­sion of re­build­ing it­self with­out sup­port, which is why we are all here to­day from all around the world, to stand by Iraq’s side.”

Iraq, how­ever, still needs far more do­na­tions — over­all, Bagh­dad is seek­ing $88.2 bil­lion in aid from donors.

Among the hardest-hit ar­eas in Iraq is the city of Mo­sul, which Iraqi forces re­cap­tured from the Daesh in July 2017.

The vic­tory came at a steep cost for Mo­sul, as coali­tion airstrikes and ex­trem­ist sui­cide car bombs de­stroyed homes and gov­ern­ment build­ings.

Of the money needed, Iraqi of­fi­cials es­ti­mate that $17 bil­lion alone needs to go to­ward re­build­ing homes, the big­gest sin­gle line item of­fered Mon­day, on the first day of meet­ings. The United Na­tions es­ti­mates 40,000 homes need to be re­built in Mo­sul alone.

The war against Daesh dis­placed more than 5 mil­lion peo­ple in Iraq, only half of whom have re­turned to their home­towns.

How­ever, of­fi­cials ac­knowl­edge a feel­ing of fa­tigue from in­ter­na­tional donors, es­pe­cially af­ter the wars in Iraq and Syria sparked the big­gest mass mi­gra­tion since World War II. Iraq also is OPEC’S se­cond-largest crude pro­ducer and home to the world’s fifth-largest known re­serves, though it has strug­gled to pay in­ter­na­tional firms run­ning them.


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