The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, has pledged $2 billion to the reconstruction of Iraq.
Speaking at the International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq currently being held in Kuwait, the Emir announced his intention to lend $1 billion to Iraq and invest a further $1 billion in the country.
Other international players participating in the conference have also pledged their support, with the European Union promising €400 million ($494 million) in investment and the US extending its $3 billion credit line, but not promising any direct government aid. The Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Mahmoud Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, also said that his country is committed to supporting reconstruction of Iraq, pledging around $1 billion.
The donations fall a long way short of the $88.2 billion Iraq has said it will need to rebuild the country following several years of war with Daesh. The conflict has devastated a number of major cities in the country, with Mosul particularly in need of reconstruction. The New York Times has suggested failure to obtain the vast sums needed for reconstruction represents “a humiliating blow for the Iraqi government” and could threaten the future of Iraq’s Prime Minister, Haider Al-Abadi.
The Emir of Kuwait told the conference that the security and stability of Iraq is integral to his country’s stability and that of the wider region, and that in pledging money to aid reconstruction the international community was recognising the huge sacrifices Iraq has made in the face of terrorism.
Daesh came to prominence in Iraq in 2014 when the group captured the northern cities of Fallujah, Mosul and Tikrit, representing almost a third of the country. A protracted effort by US air forces, Kurdish and Iraqi armed forces to expel the group finally resulted in Al-Abadi declaring a final victory over Daesh in December 2017.
That the conference is being hosted in Kuwait is of particular significance given the history of animosity between the two states. Tensions reached a peak during the First Gulf War, when then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded and occupied Kuwait in August 1990 following a dispute over the Rumaila oil fields. An US-led coalition drove Iraq’s Republican Guard out of the country in February 1991.
The conference also represents a move by key Sunni states to support Shia Iraq as part of a wider regional power play to curb Iran’s influence in the area. Iran has provided Iraq with substantial support in the fight against Daesh backing the Popular Mobilisation Forces which now form part of the Iraqi Army. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is in Kuwait to participate in the conference which comes to an end today.