World Bank ties financial support to Iraq to reconciliation


BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The World Bank plans to offer financial support to Iraq alongside projects aimed at fostering reconciliation after the defeat of Islamic State, its regional director said on Monday, to ensure the sustainability of reconstruction after years of conflict.

U.S.-backed Iraqi and Kurdish forces have dislodged ISIS from most of the cities the hardline Sunni group captured in Iraq in 2014, and they are now fighting the militants in their last major stronghold, Mosul, in the North.

While mainstream Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish forces participate in or support the battle to dislodge Islamic State from Mosul, their politicians have yet to resolve the divisions that followed the United States’ invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“The battle for Mosul keeps all these forces together,” World Bank Middle East director Ferid Belhaj told Reuters by telephone. “When the fight is over, we don’t know what kind of pressures… will be in place; that is why it is very important that the Iraqis start this exercise now.

“We will try as much as possible to ensure that the incentives … for reconciliation are more attractive than the incentives for each of these factions … to go it alone.”

The World Bank approved a new $ 1.485 billion loan in December to help Iraq reduce the impact of low oil prices on its economy and bear the cost of the war against Islamic State, supporting Iraq total to the nation to nearly $ 3.4 billion.

The revenue of the government of the OPEC country comes almost exclusively from the exports of crude oil. It fell sharply when world oil prices fell three years ago.

In addition to the planned financial support, “we will bring people who have had experience of rebuilding social ties in several countries of the world,” Belhaj said, referring to the experiences of South Africa, Morocco and Rwanda. .

“It will be a parallel track. We will make sure that the money goes … to reconstruction and reconstruction, but at the same time, to make reconstruction and reconstruction sustainable, we will have to make sure that the social contract is crafted in a way that allows the infrastructure to remain strong. “

The World Bank also offered advice to the government on the maintenance of the Mosul dam, Belhaj said, although it was not involved in financing or organizing the contract with the Italian company Trevi which was selected. last year to make much-needed repairs.

A US government briefing document released a year ago said that 500,000 to 1.47 million Iraqis living in the most-at-risk areas along the Tigris “are unlikely to survive” the impact of ‘a flood that would be caused by the collapse of the dam north of Mosul. The Iraqi authorities downplayed the threat, estimating only a 1 in 1,000 chance of failure.


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