Fabulous. Remember the donor conference held in 2003 that garnered all the promises of international aid?
How much financial aid for Iraq was pledged at the October 23-24 Madrid donor conference?
About $33 billion in grants and loans, almost two-thirds of it from the United States. The widely used estimate of Iraq’s reconstruction needs is about $55 billion over several years. Still, the Bush administration was pleased with outcome of the conference, because non-U.S. pledges totaled more than many U.S. policymakers had expected.
Not surprisingly, some countries appear to be holding back:
The U.S.-led effort to rebuild Iraq’s devastated infrastructure is falling short because of a lack of financial support from other countries, the head of the Army Corps of Engineers said.
“There’s lots of good news, and good things are happening,” Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, the Corps’s chief of engineers, told The Hill, “but on the international effort, there’s simply not enough to get the Iraqis to where they need to be.”
Strock, whose agency acts as a middleman between the Agency for International Development (AID) and U.S. contractors and oversees actual construction, said about 2,500 projects valued at $5.8 billion have been started as of June, with 3,000 or so others on the drawing boards…
“What happened was that we are standing by our commitment but we have not seen the donor nations stand by theirs. The Iraqis are generating some income, primarily from oil, but right now we are the only show in town. We’re not going to get to where we need, given the current level of investment.”
Strock’s downbeat assessment comes as the new U.S. envoy to Iraq, Zalmay Khalizad, told reporters in Washington that he wants to give Iraqis “greater control and responsibility” over the reconstruction effort.
However, the reconstruction efforts, which to date have been bogged down by the violence and bloodshed, appear to be continuing forward, albeit slowly:
One of the biggest problems is the poor condition of the infrastructure, Strock explained.
“First, there was a lot of damage caused by sabotage and looting, but the real problem was that just about every area of the infrastructure suffered from 35 years of neglect by Saddam. We went in with the idea of repairing the infrastructure, but when we got in, we found that it simply was not going to be enough.”
Strock pointed to the oil infrastructure as “the area where we’ve made the most progress. We’re up to the point where we are producing about 2 million barrels a day and we’re working toward 3 million.” Slightly more than half of the oil is exported, he said.
“The bottom line is, I think we’ve turned the corner,” he said. “I really do.”
Read the whole thing.