Kuwait, UAE, Saudi pledge billions for Iraq’s reconstruction

Donors and investors have gathered in Kuwait this week to discuss efforts to rebuild Iraq’s economy



Kuwait’s Emir said it would lend $1bn and commit a further $1bn of investments to Iraq, joining a group of international backers that have this week pledged funds to bolster the country’s recovery.

Donors and investors have gathered in Kuwait to discuss efforts to rebuild Iraq’s economy and infrastructure as it emerges from a devastating conflict with Islamic State militants who seized almost a third of the country.

“Kuwait will earmark $1bn in loans to Iraq and will commit to another $1bn as investments,” Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah told an international conference on Wednesday.

Minutes later, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the bloc would invest EUR400m, in addition to individual contributions from member states.

The United States said on Tuesday it was extending a $3bn credit line but has not provided any direct government assistance. International NGOs have so far pledged $330m in humanitarian assistance.

Turkey said it would give Iraq $5bn in credit lines. Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said his country was providing a $1bn loan through its Saudi Fund for Development and $500m in export credit.

Qatar announced $1bn in loans and investments while the United Arab Emirates pledged $500m for rebuilding. Germany said it would provide $350m in assistance.

Britain pledged up to $1bn annually in export credit over 10 years and Japan said it would contribute $100m this year to Iraq through UN agencies and international organisations.

UAE minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash later tweeted that there were also $5.5bn from the UAE in private investments in Iraq “in addition” to his country’s pledge but it was not clear if this was a new announcement.

Those sums are dwarfed by the more than $88bn that Iraqi officials have said it will cost to rebuild the country after three years of war, with housing a particular priority.

Iraq, which still owes Kuwait reparations from the Gulf War, declared victory over Islamic State in December, having taken back all the territory the jihadist group captured in 2014 and 2015. Its fighters have also been largely defeated in neighbouring Syria.

Read: Iraqi PM congratulates armed forces for Mosul ‘victory’ over ISIL

On Wednesday, the United Nations launched a two-year Recovery and Resilience programme designed to help Iraq’s government fast-track the social dimensions of reconstruction.

“It will revitalise areas that are at risk of violence, and support broad political participation and inclusive social development,” UN secretary general Antonio Guterres said.

“The …programme will help those who have suffered most.”

Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference his country was committed to supporting reconstruction in Iraq and would focus on infrastructure projects.

The reconstruction conference is taking place two weeks before Kuwait celebrates its Liberation Day from Iraq.

Iraq invaded in 1990, leading to defeat by a US-led coalition and more than a decade of sanctions.

Iraq’s reparations payments were suspended in 2014 after the Islamic State takeover but have resumed, and Baghdad is set to hand over 0.5 per cent of its oil proceeds in 2018 and escalate annually until the end of 2021 in order to pay off a remaining $4.6bn owed to Kuwait.

Read: Iraqi PM congratulates armed forces for Mosul ‘victory’ over ISIL