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COLUMN: US refusal to contribute aid to reconstruct Iraq is shameful

Last week, the Iraqi government had a conference in Kuwait to solicit aid, loans and investments from international donors and foreign governments.

The goal of the conference was to raise the money necessary to rebuild Iraq after the massive destruction that has occurred throughout the war against the Islamic State group. The Iraqi government has declared IS group defeated, but many of the areas IS was expelled from were reduced to rubble in the process.

The Iraqi government estimated that it would require $100 billion of international support to rebuild the country. It lowered the goal for the Kuwait conference to $88 billion. It ended up garnering only $30 billion in pledged loans and investments.

Most of the largest pledges came from Middle Eastern countries, including Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The largest pledge was by Turkey, which offered Iraq $5 billion in credit.

The United States did not pledge any direct aid or investment. It only offered $3 billion in credit.

Some of Iraq’s major cities have been utterly devastated by the massive amounts of bombing and shelling that the U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi security forces have inflicted in the process of defeating IS group.

The worst example of this destruction is probably the city of Mosul, which IS group was pushed out of in July 2017. The United Nations has estimated  40,000 homes in Mosul need to be rebuilt or restored after the fighting. At least 9,000 civilians, and possibly many more, died in the battle.

There is a total of 2.6 million internally displaced persons in Iraq. The nation is home to 8.7 million people whom the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs deems to be in need of humanitarian assistance.

There are many states that could be doing more to contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq, but no country’s lack of contribution is more shameful than that of the U.S.

The U.S. is by far the country most responsible for the mess Iraq now finds itself in. IS group is a phenomenon that essentially grew out of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Al-Qaeda had virtually no presence in Iraq before the U.S.’s aggressive and illegal invasion of the country in 2003.

We could go back further. The U.S. has been at war with or in Iraq almost without interruption for nearly 28 years. After supporting and arming Saddam Hussein’s regime in its aggression against Iran throughout the 1980s, the Bush administration abruptly turned on Hussein when he invaded Kuwait.

The United States trounced Iraq in the first Gulf War, but that wasn’t enough. The U.S. led the implementation of sanctions the U.N. said killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. President Clinton bombed Iraq repeatedly throughout his term. 

The 2003 invasion — the worst international crime of the century so far — imploded Iraqi society and led to hundreds of thousands more deaths.

After all this, for the U.S. to refuse to give Iraq any aid, offering only loans to a government already deeply in debt, is outrageous.

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