Kuwait City : A total of $30 billion in pledges were made yesterday at a donor conference for Iraq’s reconstruction after the country’s devastating war with the Islamic State group, falling well short of the $88.2 billion Baghdad is seeking.
The biggest pledge at the gathering in Kuwait came from Turkey, which announced $5 billion in credit to Iraq, while Kuwait’s ruling emir said his nation will give $1 billion in loans and $1 billion in direct investments.
Saudi Arabia pledged $1.5 billion while the Kuwait-based Arab Fund says Iraq will receive $1.5 billion in infrastructure aid in coming years.
Qatar has pledged $1 billion. The United Arab Emirates pledged $500 million, as did the Islamic Development Bank. Germany pledged 500 million euros ($617 million) and the European Union 400 million euros ($494 million).
The United States, which has been embroiled in Iraq since its 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, did not directly give at the conference in Kuwait City. However, it plans to offer over $3 billion in loans and other financing to help American firms invest in Iraq.
Kuwait’s donation particularly was in many ways stunning as only a generation ago, Saddam Hussein invaded that country. The donation by Kuwait’s ruling emir, the 88-year-old Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, showed the deep interest his nation has in making sure Iraq becomes a peaceful, stable country after the war against IS. Iraq also still owes Kuwait reparations from Saddam’s 1990 invasion that sparked the 1991 U.S.-led Gulf War.
“This large assembly of international communities that are here today is reflective of the large loss that Iraq withstood in facing terrorism,” Sheikh Sabah said. “Iraq cannot commence the mission of rebuilding itself without support, which is why we are all here today from all around the world, to stand by Iraq’s side.” Wednesday is the last day for the funding to come forward at the summit held in Bayan Palace in Kuwait City. Iraq, however, still needs far more donations — overall, Baghdad is seeking $88.2 billion in aid from donors.
Among the hardest-hit areas in Iraq is the city of Mosul, which Iraqi forces, aided by a U.S.-led coalition, recaptured from the Islamic State group in July 2017.
40,000 homes need to be built in Mosul alone
Of the money needed, Iraqi officials estimate that $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 war against the Islamic State displaced more than 5 million people in Iraq, only half of whom have returned to their hometowns.However, officials acknowledge a feeling of fatigue from international donors, especially after the wars in Iraq and Syria sparked the biggest mass migration since World War II. Iraq also is OPEC’s second-largest crude producer and home to the world’s fifth-largest known reserves, though 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.
The U.S. has offered an over $3 billion package for Iraq from the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
The package will be structured so that the initial amount could rise to as much as $5 billion over several years.