Cost to rebuild Iraq has $88.2B price tag
After Islamic State war, more than 5M people displaced.
Kuwait has KUWAIT CITY — opened a week of conferences seeking aid for rebuilding Iraq after the onslaught of the Islamic State group, seeking tens of billions of dollars for a nation that only a generation ago invaded it.
Authorities estimate Iraq needs $88.2 billion to restore a country smashed after the Sunni extremists seized the country’s second-largest city of Mosul and a mass of territory in June 2014.
While the U.S. will not make any new direct aid pledges at the conference, Secretary of State Rex Tiller- son is expected to announce an over $3 billion financial package, an American official said. Still, far more money will be needed, Iraqi officials say.
finished one battle but we are engaged now with a war for reconstruction,” said Mustafa al-Hiti, the head of Iraq’s reconstruction fund for areas affected by terror- ist operations.
Among the hardest-hit areas is Mosul, which Iraqi forces, aided by Iranian-backed Shiite militias and a U.S.-led coalition, recaptured in July 2017. Their vic- tory 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 $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 majority of the damage was to western Mosul as it went through one of the worst and fiercest battles in history,” said Nofal al-Akoub, the governor of Iraq’s Nineveh province. It “led to the total destruction of its infrastructure.”
Al-Akoub said $42 billion was needed for his province alone, as it is home to Mosul. Iraq needs some $20 billion now to begin its reconstruc- tion, al-Hiti said.
The war against the Islamic State group displaced more than 5 million people. Only half have returned to their hometowns in Iraq.
However, officials acknowl- edge a feeling of fatigue from international donors, espe- cially after the wars in Iraq and Syria sparked the big- gest mass migration since World War II.
President Donald Trump himself on Monday tweeted that America was “so stupidly spending $7 trillion in the Middle East, it is now time to start investing in OUR country.”
Billions of dollars poured into Iraq after the 2003 U.S.- led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, with what feels now like little visible effect. While Iraq is OPEC’s second-largest crude producer and home to the world’s fifth-largest known reserves, it says it needs $7 billion to repair its oil and gas fields. It has struggled to pay international firms running them.
The U.S. alone spent $60 billion over nine years — some $15 million a day — to rebuild Iraq. Around $25 billion went to Iraq’s military, which disintegrated during the lightning 2014 offensive of the Islamic State group, which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq. U.S. government auditors also found massive waste and corruption, fueling suspicions of Western politicians like Trump who want to scale back foreign aid.
The over $3 billion package now planned for Iraq from the Americans will come from the Export-Import Bank of the United States, according to a U.S. official. The official said the package will be structured so that the initial amount could rise to as much as $5 billion over several years. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the package prior to its announcement.
That money would include loans, loan guarantees and insurance devices to encourage American investment.
Homeless Iraqi people push their belongings through the rubble of al-Rashid military base belonging to the former Iraqi army in Baghdad on Monday.