Rebuilding Iraq: reconstruction plans reveal the real cost of defeating Isis

The reconstruction of Iraq after its war with the so-called Islamic State (Isis) is going to cost $88bn, according to Iraqi officials.

This is following a report from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and the country’s government that the US-backed military campaign that defeated Isis caused $45.7bn worth in damage to Iraq’s infrastructure. 

The comments were made the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq this week. A mixture of donors and investors are attending the conference to discuss how to rebuild Iraq’s economy and infrastructure following the series of conflicts it has faced in recent years.

What was said:

Iraq’s planning minister Salman al-Jumaili, said:

“Rebuilding Iraq is restoring hope to Iraq, and restoring the stability of Iraq is stabilising the states of the region and the world.”  

The IFC’s country manager for Iraq, Ziad Badr, said: 

“I don’t think that in any other part of the world there are such investment opportunities.”

Why it matters:

At the Kuwait International Conference this week, the Iraqi government is showcasing 157 projects focused on rebuilding the country that are ready for investment. The estimated costs of these projects is about $100bn in total.

The projects including rebuilding Mosul airport as well as investments to diversify the country’s economy away from oil sales. Iraq has one of the biggest oil reserves in the world, second only to the US. 

In addition, housing is top of the list for rebuilding efforts. Nearly 140,000 housing units have been damaged or destroyed as a result of the fighting. As well, around 2.5m Iraqis remain displaced following the conflict.

The country’s secretary-general of Iraq’s Council of Ministers, Mahdi al-Alaq, is calling on nations to act as guarantors with lenders. This would allow Iraq to take out soft loans in order to fund the new projects.

The impetus is on actors like the World Bank and countries to help Iraq in order to prevent further instability.

Background:

At the end of 2017, Iraq announced it had officially defeated the jihadi group Isis after three years of fighting in the country.

This was one of the main priorities for the country’s prime minister Haider al-Abadi as he faces elections this year. However, the next priority is rebuilding the country and that is going to take a lot of work.

Despite the US support in ending Isis’s stronghold on the country, it will not be pledging any money at the Kuwait conference this week.