Turkey eyes leading role in rebuilding Iraq, offers numerous projects

Iraq's infrastructure sustained heavy damage during the fight to push back Islamic State forces

Iraqi officials said at the conference on Monday that it will cost more than $88 billion to rebuild Iraq, with housing a particularly urgent priority.

The rebuilding effort includes Iraq's infrastructure and economy.

Participants attend a presentation during the Kuwait International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq on February 12, 2018, in Kuwait City.

Qusai Abdelfattah, director general at the planning ministry, said United States dollars 22 billion of those funds were needed immediately and the rest for the medium term.

The seven provinces attacked by the militants suffered $46 billion in direct damage, including the destruction of 147,000 housing units, and the security forces took $14 billion in losses.

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They confirmed the obstacles in Iraq are not restricted to reconstructing the areas affected from the war on terror.

Nations could help by acting as guarantors with lenders, allowing Iraq to take out soft loans to fund infrastructure projects, Mahdi al-Alaq, secretary general of Iraq's Council of Ministers, told the conference.

Araji said the country is offering as many as 86 projects in the agricultural sector, many others in the health and education sectors, in addition to key ventures in tourism.

Iraq-OPEC's second-largest oil producer behind Saudi Arabia-will be looking to attract investment mostly in the downstream, planning the construction of new refineries with different capacities, including one at the Al-Faw Port with a 300,000-bpd capacity.

Lise Grande, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, warned failure to help Iraq could lead to renewed instability.

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Non-governmental organisations pledged $330 million in humanitarian aid at a parallel NGO conference, Kuwait's state news agency KUNA reported. Officials from more than 70 countries and global organizations are taking part in the 3-day meeting.

Oil-rich Iraq's economy was weakened by years of worldwide sanctions under Saddam Hussein's regime. Iraqi forces, aided by Iranian-backed Shiite militias and a USA -led coalition, recaptured the city in July 2017.

Billions of dollars poured into Iraq after the 2003 US -led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, with what feels now like little visible effect.

Tuesday's announcement is part of the government's Middle East strategy which includes a contribution of $2 billion over three years which is meant to go toward security, stabilization and humanitarian assistance in response to the crises in Iraq and Syria and their impacts on Jordan and Lebanon.

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