Shatha Khalil *
After the announcement of Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi liberation of Mosul in July 2017, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, Emir of Kuwait, pledged to host a conference for the reconstruction of liberated areas in Iraq.
Abadi stressed that there is an Arab and international consensus on the possibility of Kuwait’s success in organizing the conference, which will be held between the 12 and 14 of the next February, as it will differ from previous conferences in terms of development, humanitarian aspects to allow the private sector to participate in the reconstruction of Iraq.
Abadi said that Iraq received encouraging responses to the participation of several countries, especially the United States, China and European countries.
Al-Abbadi pointed out that the conference will reduce the time period for the reconstruction of liberated cities: Anbar, Mosul, Salah al-Din, Diyala and areas in Baghdad and Kirkuk, which have been severely damaged in its service and economic infrastructure as a result of fight on the terrorist ISIS since the middle of 2014.
The Iraqi street is watching with interest the results of the conference to contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq, where there are more than 200 destroyed cities and thousands of villages in the north, west and center of the country.
The Secretary-General of the Iraqi Council of Ministers, Mahdi Alalak, explained that the conference has the support of the World Bank and its contribution, which provides the required guarantees for investment, with the wide participation of a large number of countries and specialized investment companies.
And he explained that the cost of reconstruction of Iraq amounted 100 billion dollar stressing “The reconstruction phase is one of the most important challenges facing the Iraqi government after the liberation of the cities. There is a deliberate plan to restore services to the liberated cities, followed by the reconstruction phase and rehabilitation of the various sectors,” .
Al-Aalak explained that the terrorist organization ISIS led to the displacement of five million people, pointing to the return of half of the displaced to their areas, calling on the international community to support Iraq to return the rest of the displaced and secure humanitarian operations and support stability in the areas recovered from the terrorist organization.
The EU mission in Iraq has announced a strategy to support Iraq in the reconstruction of its devastated areas, including long-term support for Iraq’s reconstruction and the establishment of national reconciliation.
The EU mission pointed out that the foreign policy representative in the Union , Federica Mujerini, and the European Commission agreed on special proposals for a new EU strategy on Iraq .
In the same context, the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stilianides said that humanitarian needs remain , and there are many displaced and homeless people , calling for the focus of the strategy to provide assistance to facilitate the return of displaced persons , reform and reconstruction efforts and long-term reconciliation to consolidate peace and build a democratic country.
Iraqi Planning Minister Salman al-Jumaili said in May that the plan for the reconstruction of liberated cities would last for a period of 10 years, at a cost of $ 100 billion.
“The reconstruction plan will be in two phases; the first will extend between 2018 and 2022, and the other between 2023 and 2028,” he said.
Al-Jumaili added that the war cost Iraq huge losses in infrastructure, bridges, commercial complexes, hospitals, universities, schools, government departments, utilities, water and electricity plants, hundreds of factories, thousands of houses and dozens of residential compounds and there is no life in it till now despite the return many of the displaced people .
The Iraqi parliament member and leader of the Iraqi National Alliance, Abbas al-Bayati confirmed that the donors conference will see the establishment of a fund called “Fund for the reconstruction of Iraq’s destroyed cities.”
The fund’s supervisor, Mustafa Al-Hitti, recently signed a framework memorandum of understanding with the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development to manage a government grant to support the health sector in the areas affected by terrorist operations worth 100 million dollars (30.6 million Kuwaiti Dinars).
al-Hiti added the cost of reconstruction of the affected areas in the war against the organization ISIS a $ 150 billion indicating that “in order to arrive at a careful cost assessment, it was agreed with the World Bank to identify damages by satellites.” He explained that the new funding would be allocated to the provinces of Mosul Anbar, southern Kirkuk and Jurf AlSakhar to reconstruct important vital sectors in it .
“The funding will focus on reconstruction in five sectors: water, sanitation, electricity, health, transport and municipal services. The funds will also help to restore and maintain heritage sites in the old Mosul, which were badly damaged during the fighting,” government sources said.
The Iraqi local reports estimate the total losses incurred by the cities of western and northern Iraq at more than 70 billion dollars, including the infrastructure of these cities, such as road networks, bridges, dams, power stations, water and sanitation, telecommunications, hospitals, schools, institutes, universities, agricultural and animal sectors, and other state service buildings and institutions destroyed by terrorist attacks and aerial bombardment of the International Alliance during the battles to get ISIS out of the cities.
The cities of Fallujah, Mosul, Ramadi, Tikrit, Hawija, Hartbeh, Hit, Jurf al-Sakhr and Baiji are among the worst affected cities, with 80% of the damage.
The number of destroyed housing units (houses and apartments) is estimated at more than a quarter of a million of housing units, with total and partial destruction and burning. The Iraqi government finds financial difficulty to rebuild it and return its population of about 7 million.
Iraq hopes the conference will be the beginning of reconstruction of Iraqi cities and the return of displaced people to their areas, trying to reassure donors by investigating the smuggling of funds over the past years and the government said in a statement that it has started to implement actual investigations in the corruption file and smuggling funds abroad with assistance of 21 foreign experts to help seven parliamentary committees and judicial council considering
“these efforts are part of the preparations for the Kuwait conference and to reassure the donor countries,” .
Abadi assured donors that the money that will be spent on the reconstruction of liberated areas will actually go to the development of those areas, “expected to” witness the government and judicial movements against the accused and convicted of corruption since 2004. ”
“The conference is a new beginning of the Iraqi government for the reconstruction stressing that the Iraqi government alone does not have the necessary resources for reconstruction without the participation of friendly and sisterly donor countries at this stage and the concerned international and Arab companies because of the financial crisis that is still plaguing Iraq,” since mid-2015, because of the large war expenses, which has weakened its budget , ” said Yassin Darraji , an economist.
The Kuwaiti government, for its part, expected the participation of about 70 Arab and foreign countries in the conference, notably: America, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Holland, Canada, Australia, Japan, China, Venezuela, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Turkey.
Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah said that his country is hosting the conference in cooperation and coordination with Baghdad and the international community, pointing out his country’s commitment to the UN General Assembly in New York to help Iraq to regain its regional and international role.
The Prime Minister added that Iraq faces great security, political and economic challenges, especially confronting and combating terrorist organizations and extremist groups, hoping that these achievements will continue to promote efforts of national reconciliation among the various components of the Iraqi people, restore security and stability and maintain Iraq’s unity, independence and sovereignty and prepare conditions to start the efforts of reconstruction and building , and the return of displaced persons to their areas.
Deputy Foreign Minister of Kuwait Khalid Al-Jarallah said that the conference will see an official contribution from the private sector expected to be effective in supporting the Iraqi brothers.
He added that the State of Kuwait will host on the sidelines of the conference a meeting of foreign ministers of the countries of International Coalition against a terrorist organization ISIS on February 13 to discuss combating terrorism, the role of civil society organizations in the reconstruction of Iraq and the role of the private sector, stressing that Iraq’s security and stability is the security of the region.
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies