|Feb 2018 Kuwait Conference (AFP/Getty Images)|
A year ago Kuwait hosted a three day conference to raise money for Iraq. Originally promoted as a way to obtain funds for the rebuilding of the country after the conclusion of the war with the Islamic State, it eventually morphed into a general investment meeting to help develop the economy as well. Before the meeting the Planning Ministry estimated that Iraq needed $45.7 billion to repair war damage, and $88 billion overall for reconstruction and promoting economic growth. Iraq received around $30 billion total falling far short of expectations. Since then little of that money has actually been spent due to a variety of issues.
The Iraqi bureaucracy is holding things up. Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hakim said he was creating a committee to oversee the disbursement of the money pledged in Kuwait. It doesn’t appear it has done anything yet. Foreign companies hoping to bid on construction contracts in Iraq have to deal with the various kickbacks and bribes they have to pay. The Iraqi government has problems with contracting to begin with. Trying to follow the various anti-corruption regulations also slows the process, which ironically rarely stops the ruling parties from stealing money. These were all issues voiced before the Kuwait conference that likely deterred more funds being promised. The result is that much of the rebuilding is being done by locals, provincial governments, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations. In areas that were liberated the earliest in the war such as Anbar much has been done. In other areas like Mosul that was the last major area to be freed and the countryside not much has been accomplished. Iraq needs to move forward to repair these areas and provide the opportunity for the million plus displaced to return to their homes. Unfortunately it appears that will take years as red tape and graft continue to impede reconstruction.
Tarzi, Nazli, “A year after Kuwait conference, Iraq is no closer to reconstruction,” Arab Weekly, 2/17/19
Zaya, Gevera, “Is Mosul Headed for a Second Fall?” Fikra Forum, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2/11/19