U.S. has no plans to fund Iraq re­con­struc­tion af­ter ter­ror war

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY ROWAN SCARBOROUGH

The U.S. spent more than $160 bil­lion to re­build war-wracked Iraq and Afghanistan, but there ap­pears to be lit­tle ap­petite in Washington to fund a third big re­con­struc­tion era for Iraq’s on­go­ing sec­ond war.

U.S. of­fi­cials say this time the re­spon­si­bil­ity lies with cash-de­pleted Iraq, which is lead­ing the cam­paign to evict the Is­lamic State ter­ror­ist army. But if Fal­lu­jah and Ra­madi are ex­am­ples, Baghdad has a lot to learn.

Ba­sic hu­man­i­tar­ian and re­build­ing aid to those west­ern post-bat­tle cities was slow and in­con­sis­tent. On the hori­zon is the daunt­ing job of putting back to­gether Iraq’s sec­ond-largest city — Mo­sul.

“We don’t have a ‘re­con­struc­tion fund for Iraq,’” a State Depart­ment of­fi­cial told The Washington Times. “There is not a spe­cific re­con­struc­tion fund for Iraq like there was in 2003.”

The prob­lem goes fur­ther than not be­ing able to re­build. The money vac­uum opens the door for ter­ror­ist-sup­port­ing Iran to in­ject its in­flu­ence into more neigh­bor­hoods as the U.S. stays out.

“I nei­ther know nor have heard of a post-ISIS plan,” said re­tired Army Lt. Gen. James Du­bik, who com­manded troops in the first Iraq war.

The Is­lamic State is known by the acronyms ISIS, ISIL and Daesh.

“In fact, this vac­uum could be­come a ma­jor strate­gic blun­der,” said Mr. Du­bik, an an­a­lyst at the non­profit In­sti­tute for the Study of War in Washington. “If the post-Ra­madi and post-Fal­lu­jah ac­tions are any sign of what will hap­pen af­ter Mo­sul is cleared, I think we are jus­ti­fied in con­clud­ing Iraq may re­peat pre­vi­ous errors.”

He added: “Iraq needs a real part­ner to help it move for­ward in a pos­i­tive way. Iran is not such a part­ner, but if the U.S. and other coali­tion na­tions don’t form a part­ner­ship with Iraq, Iran will, and the re­sults will not be good — for Iraq, the U.S. or the region.”

A mil­i­tary source in Baghdad told The Times there is lit­tle talk among min­is­ters about the job ahead of re­pair­ing the dam­age to a num­ber of cities such as Mo­sul, which has been held by re­lent­less Is­lamic State hench­men for two years.

“When you ask them what’s go­ing to hap­pen the day af­ter, just the re­build­ing chal­lenge … they just kind of shrug their shoul­ders and shake their heads,” the source said. “No one I talk to has a good an­swer be­cause it’s just a co­nun­drum of how you han­dle the day af­ter. … I said, ‘Where’s the money com­ing from?’ [They said] ‘ We don’t have any idea.’ ‘ How are you go­ing to sort out the hu­man­i­tar­ian prob­lem with dev­as­tated vil­lages?’ No one has come to that.”

Spe­cial U.S. au­di­tors for both wars have is­sued blis­ter­ing re­ports on the amount of money wasted on de­fec­tive build­ings, un­used roads, failed wa­ter projects and fraud.

On Capi­tol Hill aides say they know of no move­ment to set up a new Mar­shall Plan (the re­build­ing of post-World War II Europe) as was done in the early 2000s for Iraq and Afghanistan. The lack of funds is partly due to those au­dits and be­cause, un­like the 2003 war, the U.S. is not lead­ing the cur­rent cam­paign.

“If we were break­ing things, we would fix it,” said Joe Kasper, chief of staff to Rep. Dun­can Hunter, Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can and a mem­ber of the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee. “But we’re not break­ing things any­more. The Iraqis are.”

The ul­ti­mate an­swer then is in­ter­na­tional fundrais­ing for ma­jor projects: hu­man­i­tar­ian aid such as food, wa­ter, tem­po­rary liv­ing quar­ters; a sta­bi­liza­tion pro­gram to get ba­sic ser­vices run­ning again; and re­con­struc­tion.

This is how fund­ing to date shapes up: The U.S. has pro­vided $1.1 bil­lion in hu­man­i­tar­ian aid since 2014, when the Is­lamic State swept into north­ern Iraq.

Washington spon­sored a donors’ con­fer­ence last sum­mer that raised $2 bil­lion for hu­man­i­tar­ian aide, ba­sic sta­bi­liza­tion and rid­ding ar­eas of the Is­lamic State’s far-flung im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vices. The United Na­tions has been asked to pro­vide $1.8 bil­lion for sim­i­lar needs.

To­day, that fundrais­ing sys­tem is not keep­ing up with im­me­di­ate needs, such as tak­ing care of mi­grants, much less fund­ing new bricks and mor­tar.

One ex­am­ple: The U.N.-backed In­ter­na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Mi­gra­tion es­ti­mates the oc­cu­pa­tion and bat­tle for Mo­sul will pro­duce 3 mil­lion dis­placed peo­ple. It has raised $93 mil­lion to help them but needs over $50 mil­lion more.

The U.N.’s World Food Pro­gram also has a short­fall.

“WFP Iraq con­tin­ues to re­quire fur­ther staff and fund­ing in or­der to ad­e­quately re­spond to con­tin­u­ing mass dis­place­ment around the city of Mo­sul,” it said in an Oc­to­ber re­port.

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