Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Cost Of Rebuilding Iraq


Now that the conventional war against the Islamic State is coming to an end the government has to deal with reconstruction. Estimates for rebuilding Anbar, Ninewa and Diyala stand at $60 billion. Half of that is just for Mosul with 70% of the west side destroyed. In Anbar, the deputy governor told Al Mada that 100,000 houses were damaged in the province along with 80% of the hospitals in Ramadi, Fallujah and Qaim and 90% of the bridges were knocked out. Back in the summer, the Planning Ministry thought total reconstruction in the country could stand at $100 billion. The authorities are facing two dilemmas: one where is the money going to come from, and how are they going to use it.


The Iraqi government has been in a financial crisis since oil prices collapsed in 2014, so it is looking to the international community for help. Baghdad plans on holding three meetings to try to raise funds for rebuilding via grants, loans, etc. Right after the Battle of Mosul was over several countries made the first donations, but that only totaled about $1 billion. That's a small fraction of what the country needs. The Planning Ministry is thinking about a ten-year reconstruction period, so the government doesn’t need to raise all the money at once. At the same time, there appears to be minimal interest by the international community to contribute that much to Iraq. That starts with the United States where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said it was not doing reconstruction in Iraq with other officials saying that Washington would only provide limited aid.

Even if Baghdad were to get the money it needs it has no idea on what to do with it. During the summer the authorities were supposed to form a joint committee with Kurdistan and the U.S. led Coalition to create proposals for rebuilding Mosul, but it never happened. The government has worked with the United Nations to provide services and return displaced to liberated areas, but no long-term plans have been made. The head of the Ninewa council for example, complained in October that there was no strategy for Mosul reconstruction. The government has been singled out before for only focusing upon the war and not the aftermath. Now that the major fighting is over perhaps things will change. At the same time, Baghdad is infamous for spending months coming up with detailed plans and not following through with them or letting corruption siphon away most of the funding.

With the central government mostly absent, that has left the people, local officials, and the United Nations to do almost all the work in putting the country back together. For instance, the Fallujah mayor pointed out that Baghdad was not allocating sufficient funds to rebuild infrastructure and houses. The head of the Garma reconstruction agency in Anbar was quoted in the New York Times that the government was providing little and that international donations were being held up by auditing to try to prevent fraud and embezzlement. Instead, it has been left to the people, municipalities, provincial governments, and the United Nations to bare the brunt of the burden of rebuilding. They have cleaned the streets, restored water and electricity, gotten schools back up and running, etc. That leaves most of the heavy lifting yet to be done, and the question of how much and when it will actually be accomplished.

SOURCES

Iraq News Network, “Ninewa Council: 80% of Mosul destroyed,” 7/11/17

Kalin, Stephen, “Basic Infrastructure Repair in Mosul Will Cost Over $1 Billion: U.N.,” Reuters, 7/5/17

Al Mada, The war on Daesh has left 20,000 victims and reconstruction needs $60 billion, 11/20/17

Al Masalah, “Kuwait: Ready to host conference on reconstruction of liberated areas of Iraq,” 7/31/17

Nakhoul, Samia, “As Mosul battle ends, struggle over Iraq’s future intensifies,” Reuters, 7/7/17

New Sabah, “Commander In Chief of the Armed Forces directs the movement of military units towards Tal Afar, Hawija and western Anbar,” 7/11/17
- “The government is preparing a plan with international support for the reconstruction of liberated areas ending in 2027,” 6/16/17

Al Rafidain, “Falluja Mayor: Government Is Slow To Pay Financial Compensation For The Reconstruction Of The City,” 7/23/17

Schweitzer, Matthew, “Rivalries threaten in post-ISIS Mosul,” Le Monde Diplomatique, 5/5/17

Scotti, Ciro, “The Billion-Dollar Job of Raising Mosul From the Rubble,” Fiscal Times, 7/19/17

UN Human Settlements Program, “Planning Prospects for the Reconstruction and Recovery of Mosul Discussed with Key Partners,” 10/23/17

Zucchino, David, “As ISIS Is Driven From Iraq, Sunnis Remain Alienated,” New York Times, 10/26/17

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