Iraq has received pledges of $30 billion from donors and investors who wish to rebuild the war-ravaged country.
The funds fall far short of the country’s appeal for $88 billion which it says it needs to recover from its three-year war with Daesh.
The funds were raised during the three day Kuwait International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq, held in Kuwait City which came to an end yesterday.
In a news conference yesterday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari said: “If we compare what we got today to what we need, it is no secret, it is of course much lower than what Iraq needs…But we know that we will not get everything we want.”
By Tuesday, there was only around $4 billion raised, prompting fears that the conference would be a failure and an embarrassment for the Iraqi government and the region’s support for it. The next and final day, however, saw a surge of funds in the form of pledges and loans, resulting in the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling the conference “an enormous success”.
Turkey said it would provide $5 billion in credit lines, Qatar pledged $1 billion in loans and investments, the United Arab Emirates pledged $500 million with an added $5.5 billion in investments to Iraq’s private sector, and Saudi Arabia is to provide $1 billion and an extra $500 million in export credit. Kuwait itself pledged $1 billion in loans and another $1 billion in investments.
The United States extended its credit line to Iraq to $3 billion but did not provide any direct government assistance. It wants Gulf allies to take the burden and share the responsibility, proving ironic contrast to its interventionist policies that helped destroy Iraq.
The Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Achim Steiner, said that the conference could have raised more funds if Iraq didn’t have such a bad reputation amongst investors of being the world’s tenth most corrupt country.
Steiner insisted, however, that the amount pledged is still sufficient to aid urgent reconstruction of the country. “Would you be better without the pledges made today? The answer is clearly no. Would you be better off if all of it was in the form of grants funding? Absolutely.”
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.
The conflict left thousands dead, millions displaced and around 150,000 houses destroyed, particularly in the areas and cities in the north-west of the country.