Iraq folded the page of the field battles with the terrorist organization “Da’ash”, to end this field era, which cost the country a lot, more than three years after the invasion of the organization of many areas in June 2014. The war resulted in significant losses in infrastructure in liberated cities, Bridges, commercial compounds, hospitals, universities, schools, government departments, utilities, water and electricity plants, hundreds of factories, thousands of houses, and dozens of residential compounds that have caused disruption of life, despite the return of many displaced people. The end of the field battles with the organization does not mean the end of the crises and the problems of Iraq, the country is still facing a large accumulation of serious crises, “The end of the page” ISIS “is an important stage for Iraq, to begin the stage of stability and reconstruction. In view of the importance of this stage, Iraq has moved towards its Arab environment, where the Iraqi government is turning its attention to the capitals of the wealthiest Arab countries in search of a part of the huge financial cover estimated at tens of billions of dollars for the reconstruction of what was destroyed by a war of ISIS, it is an important process to exit the country from a period of war to a desired stage of security, stability and development.
In this context, the State of Kuwait officially announced on January 8 that it will hoste the International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq this month. In a joint press conference with the Secretary-General of the Iraqi Council of Ministers Mahdi Al-Alaq, Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Al-Jarallah affirmed his country’s continued support for Iraq that the stability of Iraq is part of the stability of Kuwait and the region. He stressed that the conference will be held between 12 and 14 of the current Feb. ill be different from the previous conferences from development aspects in its human dimensions and he expressed to allow the private sector to take part in the reconstruction of Iraq , and on his part , Al-Alaq revealed the cost that the cost of reconstruction of Iraq is not less than 100 billion dollars, stressing his country’s aspirations for contributions from various countries of the world.
Local Iraqi reports estimate the total losses incurred by cities in the west and north of Iraq at more than $ 100 billion, including the infrastructure of these cities, such as road networks, bridges, dams, power stations, water and sanitation, communications, hospitals, schools, institutes, universities and the agricultural and animal sectors. In addition of service state institutions and buildings destroyed and caused by terrorist operations and aerial bombardment of the international coalition during the battles to take out “Daash” organization from the cities , and the cities Fallujah, Mosul, Ramadi, Tikrit, Hawija, Hartbeh, Hit, Jorf al-Sakhr and Baiji are the largest cities in terms of damage, some of which reach about 80%.
Iraq is looking forward to this conference, which will involve a number of donor countries to support it, which is undergoing a major financial crisis, as a result of the expenses of the war, which ended in control of the last bastions of “ISIS”, which allows the foreign and Arab companies to enter these cities, and start the reconstruction phase, or support Iraq with the necessary funds to proceed. It is also seen as a practical double test: for the Arab countries and their seriousness in embracing Iraq and helping it to overcome the exhausting remnants of war on the terrorist ISIS and a test of the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and its ability to adjust the compass of country’s regional relations and balance relations with Iran and its major rivals in the region, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Arab political sources say that the restoration of Iraq to the Arab incubator is an issue already put forward on the agenda of senior decision makers and has been discussed among senior Arab officials on several occasions. Observers believe that some Arab countries with the financial and economic capabilities will be during the period of stability and reconstruction in Iraq is better than Iran’s influence on the inside of Iraq, if it is good to employ its assistance to the country in the service of reconstruction after the great destruction occurred in its areas in the war against the terrorist organization of a ISIS. The most prominent visits in Baghdad recently, the visit of a senior Egyptian delegation led by Ibrahim Mahleb, assistant of president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Riyadh has made great steps towards reestablishing its ties with Baghdad. Saudi Arabia ended a quarter century of rupture in relations with Iraq and re-appointed an ambassador in Baghdad. During the past year, Riyadh received a number of Iraqi personalities and on the forefront is the Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, his visit in the last October witnessed the announcement of the establishment of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council. These steps have taken comprehensive diplomatic, economic, political and security features through the reopening of the Saudi Embassy in Iraq, the establishment of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordinating Council and the establishment of joint programs to monitor the borders between the two countries and prevent the infiltrating of terrorist elements. The security aspect is one of the areas of expansion of cooperation and coordination between Saudi Arabia and Iraq in the coming stage. The two countries face a number of common threats, especially the threat of terrorist organizations such as the organization of Dahesh, which was defeated in Iraq, but its remnants and sleeping cells will continue to pose a threat to the security of the region for years to come. Saudi Arabia comes closer with Iraq, recently by taking a very symbolic step to withdraw the nomination of Riyadh to be the capital of the Arab media 2018, in favor of Baghdad, “in recognition of the role of Iraq in the fight against terrorism,” which facilitated its victory to embrace this event . In the latest steps of the Saudi-Iraqi rapprochement, Majid al-Qasabi, the Saudi minister of trade and investment, announced that his country’s embassy in Baghdad would start issuing visas of the entry of Iraqis to the kingdom instead of issuing them from the Jordanian capital Amman.
It seems that Iraq’s approach to Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, in search of funding for reconstruction projects is realistic and justified because of the financial assets they possess, which are not available to others, especially Tehran, which in turn suffers economic difficulties reflected on the social situation of its citizens and sparked their anger and protests. But observers see that the matter is a paradox that Baghdad is politically linked to Iran and opens up a wide door to intervene in the political, security and military affairs of Iraq while it goes for the Arabs, when it comes to asking for material assistance, they wonder how this affects the level of the response of countries such as Saudi Arabia with the demands of the government of Abbadi .Some say that Riyadh, aware of the size of Iran’s influence in Iraq, is pursuing a policy of of the outstretched hand towards Baghdad in order to limit that influence and work to restore the country to its Arab incubator by weaving a network of interests with it. Observers of Iraqi affairs expect that the Kingdom ill show a degree of responsiveness to the Iraqi request for assistance in the field of reconstruction to encourage the desire to open up to the Arab environment, which was shown by the current Iraqi government led by Haider Abadi, compared to what was shown by his predecessor Nuri al-Maliki of the stresses and exaggeration of dependence on Iran, but they expect that Riyadh waits in the steps of its proximity with Baghdad, waiting for what will result from the upcoming Iraqi elections scheduled for the next month of May and the nature of the government will be produced and the directions that government will follow in its policy towards the countries of the region .
In sum, Arab support for Iraq could play a crucial role in balancing Iranian influence in the country ahead of crucial elections in May. The political scene in Baghdad has seen rapid developments over the past few weeks, leading to the mobilization of most of Iran’s Iraqi allies in a single political bloc aimed at preventing Abadi from obtaining a second term as prime minister. Both sides, Iraq and the countries of the Arab region, in front of the test to correct the relationship between them and the opening of a new page of communication, cooperation and reconciliation… Baghdad must prove its seriousness and ability to break the link with Tehran and dependence. And the Arab capitals have to convince Iraqis in a practical way, to the effectness of its role in helping them to achieve stability and development and overcome the remnants of war against ISIS in their country.
Iraqi Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies