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Donors commit funds to help rebuild Iraq after war with Islamic State

Among those to commit money was Kuwait which was invaded by its larger neighbour in the 1990s.

A picture of Kuwait's ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah at the conference venue for the reconstruction of Iraq (Jon Gambrell/AP)
A picture of Kuwait's ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah at the conference venue for the reconstruction of Iraq (Jon Gambrell/AP)

Billions of dollars have been pledged at a donor conference for Iraq’s reconstruction after the country’s devastating war with the Islamic State group, though the amounts announced so far still fall short of the 88.2 billion US dollars Baghdad is seeking.

The biggest pledge at the gathering in Kuwait came from Turkey, which announced five billion dollars in credit to Iraq, while Kuwait’s ruling emir said his oil-rich nation will give one billion dollars in loans and one billion in direct investments.

Saudi Arabia pledged 1.5 billion dollars while the Kuwait-based Arab Fund says Iraq will receive 1.5 billion dollars in infrastructure aid in coming years.

Qatar, which is embroiled in a diplomatic crisis with a quartet of Arab nations led by Riyadh, pledged one billion dollars. The United Arab Emirates pledged 500 million, as did the Islamic Development Bank. Germany pledged 500 million euros (617 million dollars) and the European Union 400 million euros (494 million dollars).

The United States, which has been embroiled in Iraq since its 2003 invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, did not directly give at the conference on Wednesday in Kuwait City. However, it plans to offer over three billion dollars 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 the small, oil-rich nation.

Kuwait's ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah (Jon Gambrell/AP)

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 US-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 dollars in aid from donors.

Among the hardest-hit areas in Iraq is the city of Mosul, which Iraqi forces, aided by a US-led coalition, recaptured from the Islamic State group in July 2017. Iranian-backed Shiite militias also participated in the operation, fighting in the villages around the city.

The victory came at a steep cost for Mosul, as coalition airstrikes and extremist suicide car bombs destroyed homes and government buildings.

Of the money needed, Iraqi officials estimate that 17 billion dollars 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 group displaced more than five 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 the Second World War. 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 United States under President Donald Trump also seems uninterested in directly investing in Iraq’s reconstruction.

Press Association

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