Sheikh al-Sabah, the emir of Kuwait, speaks at the Iraqi Reconstruction Conference in Kuwait City on February 14, 2018. Photo: KUNA TV
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Kuwait announced $1 billion in loans at the Iraqi reconstruction conference and an additional $1 billion in Kuwaiti business investments with Iraq's prime minister and the UN secretary-general in attendance on Wednesday.
Sheikh al-Sabah, the emir of Kuwait, made the announcement on the third day of the Iraq reconstruction conference in Kuwait City.
"We realize the magnitude of destruction inflicted on Iraq following the control of the terrorist organizations on some of Iraq lands and what followed from that in fighting that terrorist organization for cleansing Iraqi soil," said Sabah.
The emir expressed that Kuwait and Iraq's security situations are bound.
"We reiterate that the results of our conference will contribute actively in reconstructing and building Iraq and that the positive signs indicate the success achieved in this conference," he said. "This calls for us to be hopeful in a stable future and stability for Iraq, which is an inseparable part of the security and stability of Kuwait."
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi also spoke at the reconstruction conference, thanking the humanitarians, politicians, and business leaders in attendance.
"After Iraq achieved its great victory, and after it routed Daesh and ending its despicable dream thanks to our brave armed forces and with the support of the international coalition and sacrifices by all the sons of Iraq," he said, using another term for ISIS.
"They eliminated the Daesh threat against the whole world. Iraq is looking to the future with confidence. Growth in Iraq is growth for the region and neighbors. Today we are establishing the understanding of Iraq being a bridge of connection, not a battlefield," he added
We want to make the lives of all citizens better, Abadi said. He explained Iraq "needs investment in infrastructure,” which is “the land of oppertunities.”
Abadi claimed the projects would be distributed across all of Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region.
"There are big opportunities in all of Iraq's provinces," he said. "From Basrah, that represents history and civilization and that is a great economic base, to Dhi Qar and its marshes and remnants, through the Babylon of civilization, to the beloved capital Baghdad, to the liberated Anbar, to Nineveh the mother of the two springs, and our dear northern provinces in Iraqi Kurdistan."
The premier promised to keep confronting corruption, because it leads to "terrorism."
Abadi highlighted the importance of investment in leading to growth and the attention given to the private sector. Steps have been taken to facilitate investment and remove obstructions.
"I assure you that our insistence on fighting corruption is enough for creating a successful atmosphere," he said. "We won't stop fighting corruption, the disease no less dangerous than terrorism. It is one of the reasons for the formation of terrorism."
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated Iraq could be a pillar of stability in the Middle East.
"Iraq surmounted an incredible challenge in its defeat of ISIL, but many challenges still remain," said Guterres. "After the last three days in Kuwait, I feel hope for a new Iraq that is open for business and prepared to face the next challenge of rebuilding communities while reconstructing schools, roads, bridges, hospitals and public infrastructure. A prosperous Iraq will be a pillar for development and stability in the region."
Turkey announced it had "pledged" $5 billion, and Saudi Arabia declared a $1.5 billion "pledge" to Iraq.
KRG’s reconstruction minister, planning minister, governors of Erbil, Sulaimani and Duhuk provinces, and other officials have attended the conference with 80 projects in hand.
KRG Planning Minister Ali Sindi explained that though Iraq has estimated $80 to $100 billion in damages due to the three-year-long ISIS war, “this does not mean that the donor countries will give Iraq this sum at the conference.”
Posted at 10:47 a.m.