News Briefs

U.S. won’t contribute to Iraq rebuilding A three-day donors’ conference was held in Kuwait this week under the sponsorship of the United Nations, the European Union and the World Bank.

The objective was to raise 80 billion euros needed for the medium-term reconstruction of Iraq, mostly concentrated in the areas that had been occupied by ISIS from 2014 until its defeat late last year.

During the conflict against ISIS, a large part of central and northern Iraq has been destroyed over the past two years. One of the most severely affected areas is Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq. In western Mosul alone, it is necessary to build 40,000 new residential buildings (Reuters, “Allies promise Iraq $30 billion, falling short of Baghdad’s appeal,” 02.14.2018).

The situation is similar in at least six other Iraqi cities in the area, where a complete rebuilding of public infrastructure will be required (Reuters, “Allies promise Iraq $30 billion, falling short of Baghdad’s appeal,” 02.14.2018).

“We finished one battle but we are engaged now with a war for reconstruction,” said Head of the Reconstruction Fund Mustafa al-Hiti at the opening of the long-awaited conference in Kuwait. Iraq requested 20 billion euros for the short-term emergency reconstruction projects and 60 billion euros for medium-term efforts.

Despite a military victory over the Islamic State, there is still a major humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq. Of the five million people who lost their homes during the time of the Islamic State’s rule, 2.6 million still cannot return home (The New York Times, “$88.2B Price Tag for Rebuilding Iraq After Islamic State War,” 02.12.2018).

Head of the Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Iraq Katharina Ritz has expressed concern that the money will not be able to solve all of Iraq’s problems, pointing out the possibility of the rise of new instabilities.

Iraq needs more than just cash, she said; it needs a return to the rule of law and a clear answer for families whose members disappeared during the war against ISIS (ABCNews, “$88.2B price tag for rebuilding Iraq after Islamic State war,” 02.12.2018). Although the United States has been one of the of the most important actors in the conflict and has contributed to some of the devastation in Iraq, the U.S. government will not officially contribute to Iraq’s reconstruction. U.S. President Donald Trump stated that since 2001, the U.S. has already wasted $7 trillion in the Middle East and that it is time to invest in our own country. The Washington Post and the Associated Press said that Trump’s estimate of $7 trillion is too high (The Washington Post, “Trump claims the U.S. has spent $7 trillion in the Middle East. It hasn’t,” 02.12.2018).

However, the U.S. will still help with reconstruction through private corporations attending the conference. Out of 2000 corporations present, 150 are American (Reuters, “U.S. urges help for Iraq, extends $3 billion credit line,” 02.13.2018).

United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq and Deputy Head of the UN Mission Lise Grande said that a possible failure of the donor conference could lead to new instability. She elaborated, “If the international community doesn’t help the government of Iraq to stabilize these areas [devastated by the war] the gains against Daesh could be at risk” (Reuters, “Iraq says reconstruction after war on Islamic State to cost $88 billion,” 02.12.2018).

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