For Iraq, this week's big focus has been Kuwait.
The US State Dept released the above video with the note, "Secretary Tillerson poses for a "family photo" with ministers attending the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS meeting in Kuwait City, Kuwait on February 13, 2018."
The point of the meet-up was to raise money.
"Who's going to pay for the mess?" asks Francois Picard in FRANCE 24's report above. And it's a question worth asking. Another question worth asking is who has paid all along?
The answer to the first question?
No one really.
Margaret Coker and Gardiner Harris (NEW YORK TIMES) report:
An Iraq fund-raising conference in Kuwait attended by dozens of potential donors was headed for failure on Tuesday, with barely $4 billion pledged — none from the United States. While the conference does not end until Wednesday, the message was clear: President Trump is leaving nation-building to others, and they are barely responding.
It was a humiliating blow for the Iraqi government, which cannot possibly afford a fraction of the reconstruction cost for a war that was, in some ways, an outcome of the 2003-2011 American-led occupation.
"A humiliating blow for the Iraqi government."
Hayder al-Abadi, so promising and wonderful insist paid whores for the US State Dept but those are just words -- usually on the pages of NYT -- and they have no meaning at all as demonstrated by the refusal of so many to donate.
Kuwait, for instance. Some outlets give it credit for donating $2 million. Uh, no. It gave a million and it's loaning a million.
An observation on the way the money's being handed over?
So far most of the money for Iraq is not simple donations. They come as loans and potential investment. Looks like no one is ready to hand Baghdad free check while Haider Abdi still punishes Kurdistan and hinders it’s development.
CNN serves up some misinformation.
The reconstruction and recovery money would go to areas that had been seized by ISIS, including the country's second-largest city of Mosul http://cnn.it/2ErsKyV
CNN knows damn well better. They could have typed "should go" or "is said will go."
But Iraq is corrupt, ranking among the most corrupt governments on Transparency International's index.
There is no way of being sure that any money will "go to areas that had been seized by ISIS" -- in fact, if corruption weren't so great in the Iraqi government, no one would need to beg for money to begin with.
In the FRANCE 24 report above, Joost Hiltermann (International Crisis Group) observes that there is "pervasive corruption that makes it very difficult for the Iraqi government to effectively do reconstruction in many areas. A lot of money just simply disappears."
When that's who you are, when that's your reputation, you're always going to struggle in motivating people to give you money.
Broad gathering of Kuwaiti and International NGOs earlier today produced $330M for #Iraq’s immediate humanitarian and stabilization needs in areas liberated from #ISIS. https://twitter.com/kuna_en/status/963000628397199360 … #KuwaitConference
Brett McGurk Retweeted
The need states ahead of the meet-up was $88 billion with some anticipating a possible haul of $100 billion.
That did not happen.
"A humiliating blow."
Pledges for Iraq so far in KW (some in loans/credit): Turkey: $5bn US: $3bn Kuwait: $1bn in loans & $1bn investments Saudi Arabia: $1.5bn & $1.5bn from Arab Fund Qatar: $1bn UAE: $500m & $5.5bn investments Islamic Development Bank: $500m Germany: €500m EU: €400m Japan: $100m
The Arabian Peninsula's Elizabeth Dickinson tries to spin this "humiliating blow."
Now to the second question, "who has paid for it all along?"
The US government and the UK government primarily.
"Reconstruction" was the removal of Saddam Hussein.
Don't pretend otherwise.
Don't pretend that the prime ministers of Iraq since the US-led invasion hasn't been made up of cowards who fled Iraq.
They fled Iraq, too scared to fight Saddam. They fled and then agitated for foreign intervention.
They promised that troops -- foreign troops -- would be greeted as heroes.
Their motive was to overthrow Saddam Hussein so they could install themselves.
Which is what they did.
They are cowards and, like most cowards, they governed through fear -- which led to the abuses and crimes.
Foreign governments have been 'donating' to these corrupt officials all along.
It is past time that Iraq was ruled by non-cowards. Past-time that a leader came up in Iraq, not in discussions in the Oval Office.
Yesterday, the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette observed:
Iraq now faces two serious hurdles to future progress. The first, to be addressed in a donors’ conference in Kuwait, is some $100 billion that it seeks for reconstruction after the various wars. The second is national elections, to be held May 12.
Pledges at the Kuwait conference are problematic. The United States is reportedly not planning to increase the aid it already provides Iraq. Previous big donors, the Sunni Islam states of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are taking the position that they have other fish to fry. Their real problem with Iraq is that, through Iraq’s majority Shiite Islamic faith, it has fallen too much under the sway of Shiite Iran. There is also an active Iranian military presence in Iraq, left over from the campaign to take Mosul back from the IS.
The May elections are another question altogether. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi sought to stitch together a political “Victory Alliance,” based on his Popular Mobilization Forces. However, there quickly spun off another Shiite-based, Iran-supported group, the “Conquest” list, formerly part of the PMF that Mr. al-Abadi had been working through. The political picture is further complicated by the appearance of a new “Wisdom Alliance,” led by Shiite clergyman Ammar al-Hakim. All in all, the campaign promises to be a real jumble, with Mr. Abadi’s ultimate fate uncertain.
That's the still struggling Iraqi government.
On the issue of the Islamic State, it's not gone.
Yesterday in Kuwait, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared:
But the end of major combat operations does not mean that we have achieved the enduring defeat of ISIS. ISIS remains a serious threat to the stability of the region, our homelands, and other parts of the globe. Without continued attention on the part of coalition members, we risk the return of extremist groups like ISIS in liberated areas in Iraq and Syria and their spread to new locations.
Each of us must continue our commitment to the complete defeat of ISIS. Maintaining stabilization initiatives is essential in this regard. If communities in Iraq and Syria cannot return to normal life, we risk the return of conditions that allowed ISIS to take and control vast territory. We must continue to clear unexploded remnants of war left behind by ISIS, enable hospitals to reopen, restore water and electricity services, and get boys and girls back in school.
THE LATIN AMERICAN HERALD TRIBUNE notes, "US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday the Islamic State terror organization was not yet fully defeated and continued to pose a danger to the region, despite losing 98 percent of its territory in Iraq and Syria, in a speech broadcast on Kuwaiti state television."
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