Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
World | By Melba Underwood

Iraq seeks US$88.2b for reconstruction, says minister

Iraq seeks US$88.2b for reconstruction, says minister

The United States will be a main absentee from plans to contribute to Iraq's finances, U.S. officials say as Baghdad seeks to rebuild the country following a devastating battle against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

Planning Minister Salman al-Jumaili said during the conference that those ignoring Iraq's pleas for financial help were forsaking the security of the entire Middle East region.

The officials made their declaration at an worldwide donors' conference hosted by Kuwait.

The conference, which took place in Kuwait, involved donors and investors discussing efforts to rebuild Iraq's economy and infrastructure following the defeat of ISIS jihadists who conquered almost a third of the country. Jobs for young people could be provided during the rebuilding of homes, schools and other vital infrastructure systems in the country.

Rebuilding Iraq after three-years of war with the so-called Islamic State (IS) will cost $88.2 billion, just under half of the country's 2016 GDP (World Bank), according to Iraqi officials at an global conference in Kuwait.

United States officials at a donors' conference held for Iraq's reconstitution in Kuwait said Monday that the White House did not plan to pledge funds at the event.

Nations could help by acting as guarantors with lenders, allowing Iraq to take out soft loans to fund infrastructure projects, Mahdi al-Alaq, secretary general of Iraq's Council of Ministers, told the conference.

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Lise Grande, U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said failure to help Iraq could lead to renewed instability.

Iraq hopes to raise billions of dollars in pledges at the three-day meeting, as the country reels from the rise of IS and punishing fightback against the jihadist group. He added there were early indications that some states are willing to do so.

Oil-rich Iraq's economy was weakened by years of worldwide sanctions under Saddam Hussein's regime.

Non-governmental organizations have pledged $330 million in humanitarian aid, according to Kuwait state news agency KUNA as reported by Reuters. It fought Iran for most of the 1980s and invaded Kuwait in 1990, leading to defeat by a USA -led coalition and more than a decade of sanctions.

Billions of dollars poured into Iraq after the 2003 USA -led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, with what feels now like little visible effect.

"Iraq is emerging from a devastating period of conflict and violence", noted the World Bank study cited by the Journal.

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