Review Of The American Reconstruction Of Iraq, An Interview With Former Deputy Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Ginger Cruz

April 4, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ginger Cruz

Review Of The American Reconstruction Of Iraq, An Interview With Former Deputy Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Ginger Cruz

Ginger Cruz is currently the CEO of Mantid International, and most recently completed several evaluation reports for the United Nations in Iraq. From 2004-2012 she was the deputy Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. That gave her great insight into the rebuilding of Iraq. The Special Inspector General’s office (SIGIR) just issued its final report, which makes it an apt time to review how the largest reconstruction effort in U.S. history went.
1. The American attempt to rebuild Iraq went through several stages. The first was under Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). One of Bremer’s concerns was returning services to their postwar level. The CPA tended to use foreign companies and large infrastructure projects to achieve that goal. What were some of the shortcomings of using those types of businesses and projects?
The use of foreign companies to rebuild meant that most of the money was earned outside of Iraq, eaten up in overhead, security, and logistics costs. Fewer jobs for Iraqis were created that might be expected given the level of expenditure, and those that were distorted the local economy. One significant outcome was the fueling of corruption, both among U.S. and Iraqi contractors, as billions of dollars flooded the country with limited oversight. The Iraq effort brought into focus some of the basic unanswered questions about the benefits of international development, and the challenges of so-called “stabilization” efforts; principally the challenges of implementing development projects to achieve political and security outcomes in an unstable security environment. Volumes have now been written about the lessons, too numerous to list here. At the end of the day, lots of money, good intentions, and doing what you know is not enough.
2. A second drawback the CPA had was a lack of staff and capacity to manage and oversee all of the money and projects it was responsible for. Did the U.S. ever solve those two problems, and what were some of the consequences of those two issues?
Had the U.S. told managers on day one that the plan was a 10-year rebuilding program funded with $60 billion, things may have been very different. Instead, ad-hoc teams on short rotations without sufficient transition were presented with large amounts of short-term funds. This made it impossible to systemically plan for long-term outcomes. As a result, enormous amounts of waste occurred, intended outcomes were weak, and unintended outcomes abounded.
3. Another trend that seemed to start with the CPA, and continued on for the next several years was a lack of unity of effort. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the military for example, seemed to have their own plans for Iraq, and the former was openly hostile to many of the CPA’s ideas. Why wasn’t the U.S. able to get all of its various agencies to work together?
U.S. agencies, by nature, have their own processes and cultures. The only thing tying them together is the President, who does not have the time to manage Iraq reconstruction, and all the other issues confronting his office. When the U.S. decided that international development was a priority in the 1960’s, it created USAID. When it decided to fly to the moon, it didn’t ask the Air Force to build a better plane, it created NASA. But when it decided to undertake a multi-billion dollar stabilization and reconstruction operation, it failed to assign ultimate responsibility and properly resource any one agency.
One great example of conflicted inputs and outcomes, whose effects we know little about, is the use of the military’s Commanders’ Emergency Response Program (CERP)-funded micro-grants and USAID’s micro-loan program, which frequently were implemented in the same space.  If you were an Iraqi, would you prefer the grant or the loan? What was required to get the grant and what impression did our ad hoc policy leave on Iraqis view of corruption and sustainable business practices?
4. One success of the CPA was to get Iraq’s oil industry up and running again, which is the country’s main source of revenue. That is also a source of controversy as many critics have claimed that the U.S. invaded to take over Iraq’s petroleum. Did SIGIR ever find any evidence that Bremer or Washington wanted to privatize the energy sector?
Iraq is strategically important to the U.S. because of its oil reserves, but that does not mean that the U.S. ever intended to take over Iraq’s petroleum. At the end of the day, that is not what America is about.
Iraq today is the number two producer of oil, filling the gap created by international sanctions against Iran. If not for Iraq, the Iran sanctions may have driven oil prices up to the point that it would have hurt the U.S. and global economy. In that sense, the efforts taken by the U.S. to support an Iraq that freely trades its oil have been successful in maintaining oil supply and price stability.
The U.S. is only one of scores of countries that are currently working in and benefitting from the oil sector in Iraq. The greatest beneficiary of course, is Iraq, which has a budget this year of $118 billion with billions more in surplus to finance the gradual rebuilding of their country.  It is also important to note that the lions share of the efforts to get the oil industry up and running again should be credited to the Iraqis.
5. The next phase of the reconstruction effort came when the CPA was closed down and Gen. George Casey and Ambassador John Negroponte took over. They both thought that security was the main priority in Iraq, because without that nothing else could be accomplished. Were they able to operationalize their new vision?
First the Negroponte/Casey vision resulted in approximately $5 billion of funds designated for reconstruction being reprogrammed for security purposes, including the training and equipping of Iraqi Security forces.  The legacy of this program is an Iraqi Security Force whose numbers now exceed 900,000.
Security was and continues to be one of the key hurdles preventing Iraq from succeeding.  The genesis of security problems is a case study in unintended consequences. Once Pandora’s box was opened, the triple threat of terrorism, ethno-sectarian violence, and criminality were unleashed. The unlimited number of variables that have to be considered when judging which tools were effective in reducing violence and strengthening security make it impossible to judge whether Casey and Negropontes vision was achieved, although the continued insecurity of Iraq would suggest that it was not. While a military force is able to claim some gains with intelligence and lethal force, the asymmetrical nature of the ethno-sectarian threat limits the effectiveness of governmental responses, including of negotiation, economic development, and governance to counter violence.
6. When Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad came in he wanted a unified civilian-military effort, and brought his Provincial Reconstruction Teams from Afghanistan to Iraq. It seemed like he got caught up in political disputes back in Washington. What were some of the debates going on within the administration that held up reconstruction in Iraq?
There was never a clear consensus in the U.S. government, i.e. the Administration and Congress that it wanted to spend billions of dollars, and five to ten years reconstructing Iraq. There was no focal agency, no dedicated funding, no clear vision for the short-term, let alone medium or long-term. Instead, the Good Idea Fairy alighted on the shoulders of mostly well meaning and intelligent, soon-to-be-frustrated, folks who reacted to changing conditions on the ground, and reconstruction projects multiplied. Policy direction was too broad, “create a free and democratic Iraq,” easily said but nearly impossible to achieve. The effort was, at its core, what political scientists consider a “wicked problem”, or one that essentially morphs over time.
7. During the Surge did the U.S. finally get all of its different parts to work together or were there still some issues?
The Surge remains a controversial topic for those that study Iraq. While there were clearly actions taken that contributed to a reversal of the descent into civil war, it is hard to pinpoint the degree to which the Surge was responsible for the improved security situation, for at the same time, significant moves were taking place with the government and with the people in Iraq, the latter being the most critical element keeping the country together.
As for how the U.S. government entities pursued their lines of operation on the ground, State, USAID and Department of Defense being the biggest, it was generally more of the same. Camaraderie between individuals on the ground overcame stove-piped reporting lines back to Washington D.C. To the extent that leaders agreed to leverage each other’s work, there was improved operation, but the limitations cited above, lack of a fully resourced lead with overall authority and an informed long-term plan, persisted. There were clearly examples of how military-civilian teams cooperated on PRTs, but there were just as many examples of PRT’s that were never integrated in their purpose, including the expenditure of the respective funds.
8. It seemed like it took quite some time for the U.S. to realize that the Iraqis lacked the capacity to run and sustain all the projects they were being left with. Why didn’t the Americans address this issue better right from the beginning?
Iraq has capacity, and it has money, but the nature of that capacity, and its choice of where to spend its money were elements not factored into hasty decisions for how the U.S. was going to pursue its reconstruction program. For example, Iraqi engineers were well known for their uncanny ability to keep ancient equipment running, but western sanctions had isolated them from modern equipment and techniques. Thus, installing a multi-million dollar computerized water treatment system, for example, was simply not a good fit. Leapfrog development has a smaller likelihood of being sustained, a fact well known in the development world. With most of the reconstruction first tasked to the military, this lesson had to first be learned by the US officials with the funds.
9. SIGIR said that the main success of the Americans in Iraq was putting the security forces back together. Can you explain what the U.S. was able to accomplish with the military and police?
SIGIR also was critical of initial decisions to disband the army and police. However, recognizing that mistakes were made, the U.S. then spent over $25 billion to train, equip, and rebuild the Iraqi military and police. While there are still many years to go before their capability, especially in intelligence, reaches a sufficient level to stem the terrorism challenges they now face, most security functions are being carried out today by nearly one million Iraqi security forces. Significant credit goes to the U.S. military for the training and equipping of those forces.
10. Finally, what do you think the United States should take away from its experience in Iraq?
Every country in the world has its own way of operating.  From rule of law, to trade, to social interactions, each one has some kind of a system that has evolved over time. In some cases, the systems are largely informal, or embedded in community or even religious structures. In other cases, they can be highly bureaucratic or technical. When undertaking an effort to aid the re-building or development of another nation, one needs to understand first, the environment into which the aid is being provided. Programs should be appropriate, driven by need, as defined by the beneficiaries, and they must have a high probability of being sustainable.  Further, much more effort needs to go into evaluations of U.S. interventions to determine the actual outcomes and impacts of various programs in order to inform future efforts. If not, billions more taxpayer dollars stand to be wasted with little benefit to our international reputation.

From The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, latest Charts, Maps and Figures

November 15, 2011 at 10:17 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Latest Charts, Maps, And Figures On Iraq From The Special Inspector General For Iraq Reconstruction

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Every three months the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) releases its quarterly report to Congress. The SIGIR is one of the best sources for up to date facts and figures about Iraq, especially since some of  Baghdad’s numbers are old or exaggerated. For instance, throughout this summer the Electricity Ministry has claimed that it has produced around 9,000 megawatts of power each day. According to the SIGIR the government only provided an average of 7,316 megawatts per day from August to October 2011, a 1,684 megawatt difference. Below are some of the major charts, maps, and figures from the SIGIR’s latest paper.
Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq Map
The United States will continue with two training missions in Iraq after the December 2011 troop withdrawal deadline based upon the Strategic Framework Agreement that was signed in 2008 by the Bush administration. One is run by the State Department to assist the Iraqi police and Interior Ministry, and the other is by the Pentagon to aid the Defense Ministry and the military. The latter is known as the Office of Security Cooperation – Iraq (OSC-I). It operates out of ten facilities spread across the country with a mix of civilian, military and contractors as staff. One is in Irbil city, Irbil in Kurdistan with three personnel. Another is at Kirkuk Airbase in Tamim province with 110 staff that trains Iraqi personnel on planes and helicopters. One is at Taji, Salahaddin with 55 military personnel that also works with the Iraqi Air Force. There are four locations in Baghdad province, starting with Forward Operating Base Union III with 160 personnel that is the main office for the entire program next to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Sather Airbase with 46 staff that flies people in and out of Baghdad International Airport and supports the Iraqi Air Operations Center. Forward Operation Base Shield has 27 personnel and aids the Ministry of Interior, and finally there is Besmaya with 212 personnel that assist Iraq’s armored forces, mainly the M1A1 Abrams tank. In the south, there are two offices in Basra. One is in Basra city’s air base with 4 personnel that help with the country’s southern radar system, and the other is at the Um Qasr port with 54 personnel that helps train the Iraqi Navy. In total, the Office of Security Cooperation – Iraq will have a staff of 920. The State Department also wants to eventually have just under 200 trainers of its own operating in Iraq. That means whether Washington and Baghdad are able to work out a deal to keep combat troops in Iraq into 2012, there will remain around 1,000 American trainers to help with Iraq’s security forces.
Click on image for larger view (SIGIR)
Iraq Reconstruction Funds 2003-2011
From 2003-2011 Iraq has received $182.27 billion in reconstruction funds. The largest amount came from Baghdad itself with $107.41 billion. Some of that was spent by the Coalition Provisional Authority from 2003-2004, which had control of the country’s money under the Development Fund for Iraq. Next was the United States with $61.83 billion, and last was the international community with $13.03 billion in aid and loans. The chart below shows that reconstruction assistance peaked in 2004 with approximately $45 billion, and then dramatically dropped to just over $10 billion the next year. Since then, aid has gone up and down, but Iraq’s contribution has steadily increased. For 2011, there will be just under $30 billion available for rebuilding the country with nearly 80% coming from Baghdad. Iraq still needs billions more to overcome all of the years of neglect it has faced due to wars and sanctions since the 1980s.
Click on image for larger view (SIGIR)
Unspent U.S. Aid For Iraq 2011
When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, it said that it would help with the reconstruction of the country. As the insurgency took off, and the country fell into civil war, the emphasis changed to security. Now that the U.S. military is withdrawing, those priorities are still in place. The United States has $1,394 million to spend on the Iraqi security forces for the remainder of the fiscal year, $220 million for the State Department’s police training program run by its Bureau of International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement, compared to only $301 million for economic development. In total, that’s $1,915 million that has yet to be expended, 84% of which, $1,614 million, is for Iraq’s military and police. With the United States moving towards a more traditional diplomatic relationship with Iraq, the question will be whether aid will shift in the future to the economic front and away from security. With Washington’s constant emphasis upon the threat posed by Iran that change probably won’t happen in the short-term.
Click on image for larger view (SIGIR)
Recent Security Incidents
The map of “Significant Security Incidents, 7/15/2011-10/15/2011,” shows that the insurgency is concentrated in central Iraq. It operates in the north to Tamim and Salahaddin province, stretching out to the major cities of Anbar in the west, to Baghdad, Babil, Karbala, Wasit, and Najaf provinces in the center. Surprisingly, no major attacks happened in Diyala during this quarter, which is also a hotbed for militant activity. The deadliest attacks during the period were two days worth of bombings in Karbala city from July 15-16 that killed 13, and wounded 100, 30 killed and 60 wounded in multiple bombings in Kut, Wasit on August 15, 22 Shiite pilgrims killed on a bus in Anbar on September 22, and 19 killed and more than 70 wounded in multiple attacks in Baghdad on October 12.
Click on image for larger view (SIGIR)
Attacks And Deaths Jan. 2004-Sep. 2011
Two important trends in Iraq’s security situation can be distilled from the chart below on incidents and civilians killed from 2004 to 2011. First, the bottom blue line represents monthly deaths. It shows that casualties peaked at just under 4,000 deaths per month in the last quarter of 2006, and then began a steady decline after that. This decrease began before the Surge started in 2007. This supports the argument made by Doug Ollivant and others, that Iraqis were ending their civil war on their own, before the United States changed tactics and strategy. This wasn’t apparent at the time because attacks continued to rise until the middle of 2007, which is displayed by the black line at the top. The second important trend is that both attacks and deaths have flat lined since 2009. In the 2009 provincial elections, many Sunnis decided to participate, including many insurgents. That led to a precipitous drop in violence. Militants still carry out daily attacks, but they lack the wherewithal to launch major operations except for once every month if that. Many groups have lost so much support and funding that they act more like criminal gangs today, extorting money from businesses to survive, instead of insurgents. Iraq still probably has years of violence ahead of it, but the security situation is completely different than before. Rather than having a civil war or a large insurgency, the country now is facing a serious terrorist threat.
Click on image for larger view (SIGIR)
Terrorism In Iraq vs Afghanistan
Afghanistan gets much more attention in the United States today than Iraq, because the Obama administration has focused upon the former. That has led the press to report far more on the Afghan war than Iraq, and given the public the impression that violence in Afghanistan is far worse. A comparison of deaths, casualties, and kidnappings compiled in the State Department’s annual report on terrorism shows that Iraq actually has a worse security situation. From 2006-2010, Iraq had 61%-28% of all victims of terrorism worldwide, compared to just 18%-4% in Afghanistan. In 2010 for instance, 15,109 people were killed, wounded or kidnapped in terrorist acts in Iraq, compared to 9,016 in Afghanistan out of a total of 49,901 around the globe.
Click on image for larger view (SIGIR)
Assassinations In Iraq
One of the changes in Iraq’s security situation is that an increasing amount of violence has gone from random acts to more targeted ones. The wave of assassinations that have hit the country this year is a perfect example. The map shows that these types of attacks have occurred in eleven of Iraq’s eighteen provinces. The incidents in governorates such as Anbar, Ninewa, Tamim, and Salahaddin are the work of Sunni insurgents, while Shiite militias and Special Groups probably do hits in Wasit, Maysan, Qadisiyah, and Basra. The attacks are not only meant to undermine the government, but to eliminate political opponents.
Click on image for larger view (SIGIR)
Oil And Iraq’s GDP
Iraq is the most oil dependent country in the region. The chart shows that the growth in Iraq’s economy is directly related to how much money it is able to earn from petroleum. When oil prices dipped in late-2008 to early 2009 for instance, because of the world recession, Iraq’s GDP dropped as well, and has only begun to recover as prices have climbed back up because of the unrest in the Middle East. In 2011, Iraq is expected to earn $74.76 billion from its oil industry, which is 68% of the GDP, predicted to be $108.6 billion.
Click on image for larger view (SIGIR)
GDP and Consumer Prices In Iraq vs Middle Eastern/North African Oil Producers
Since Iraq’s civil conflict has ended, economic growth has returned to the country. In 2007 for example, the economy only grew 1.5%. The following year, the sectarian war was over and the country grew 9.8%. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have both predicted continued robust expansion of Iraq’s GDP over the next few years. This is largely due to foreign energy companies returning to the country, and their predicted impact upon the oil industry, which is what drives the economy. For 2011, the Central Bank of Iraq and the IMF both believe that Iraq’s GDP will grow 9.6%. In 2012, the IMF believes that Iraq will reach approximately 12%. That is a huge increase from 2010 when the nation’s GDP grew an anemic 0.8%, because of the world recession. The projections for 2011 and 2012 are also much better than for other oil producing countries in the region. For 2010 they are expected to only have 5% GDP, and a little less than that the following year.
Iraq is also looking to do better than other regional nations in terms of inflation. While Iraq’s consumer prices have doubled from 2010 to 2011 because of increasing international commodity prices, they are supposed to stay constant at 5% this year and the next. For other oil exporting countries in the Middle East and North Africa however, inflation is suppose to top 10% in 2011 and then go down to around 7% in 2012. Iraqis will be paying lower prices on average than their neighbors. The problem is that Iraqis are much poorer than many of their fellow Arabs and Iranians, so they may not be much better off.
Click on image for larger view (SIGIR)
Iraq’s 2010-2011 Budgets
Iraq has greatly benefited from the recent increase in international oil prices. As a result, Iraq has brought in rising revenues, which has helped with its last two budgets even though neither reached the level of petroleum exports set in each. For example, the 2010 budget was based upon an average of 2.1 million barrels a day in exports and $62.50 a barrel price. Iraq ended up averaging 1.89 million barrels, but the average price was $75.62. The nation has done even better in 2011. This year’s budget was based upon 2.2 million barrels per day in exports and a $76.50 price. For the first ten months, Iraq has averaged 2.16 million barrels a day at $104.63. As of September 30, 2011, it has earned $56.07 billion from oil, which is 22% higher than the $45.95 billion the budget was supposed to have spent to that date. That will lead to another large budget surplus for the government since it has never been able to spend all of its money, and it is bringing in much more this year.
Click on image for larger view (SIGIR)
Oil Industry
After a rough few years after the 2003 invasion, Iraq’s oil industry has finally recovered. From 2003 to 2006 oil production and exports went through wild fluctuations as the United States, and then Iraqi governments attempted to revive the business after years of neglect due to international sanctions. During that time, oil pipelines also became a favorite target of insurgents hoping to destabilize the new Iraq. Production briefly hit 2.5 million barrels during 2004 several times before falling off. It would not return to that level until 2008. Beginning in late 2010, production and exports have steadily increased because foreign energy companies won the rights to develop some of the country’s oil fields. The problem today is that Iraq’s aging oil infrastructure lacks the capacity to handle the rise in exports, so there will be no dramatic jumps upward until those bottlenecks are solved.
Click on image for larger view (SIGIR)
Electricity Problems
Iraq has suffered from poor services since the 1980s when the Iran-Iraq War undermined much of the economy. That was made worse by the international sanctions imposed on the country in the wake of the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and then the U.S. invasion, and subsequent war. What the 2003 overthrow of Saddam did do was open Iraq up to many cheap imports, which the public was quick to snatch up. Many of these were appliances, which has greatly increased the demand for power. In fact, that has consistently increased every year for the last eight, and is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. The supply of electricity has also steadily gone up, but not as fast. That has created constant power shortages and blackouts throughout most of the country. In the 3rd quarter of 2011, supply stood at an average of 7,316 megawatts per day, while demand was 14,038, a 6,722 megawatt difference. The government has said that it will solve this problem by 2012 or 2013, but outside experts and the Special Inspector General doubt that will happen. The International Energy Development Organization believes that Baghdad’s plans are not adequate to solve the problem, while the Special Inspector General has found that none of the government’s short-term plans to build power plants has panned out. That will likely continue the present status quo with both supply and demand continuing to go up, but not meeting.
Click on image for larger view (SIGIR)
Ollivant, Douglas, “Countering the New Orthodoxy,” New America Foundation, June 2011
Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report and Semiannual Report to the United States Congress,” 7/30/11
– “Quarterly Report to the United States Congress,” 10/30/11
Al-Wannan, Jaafar, “Report: Iraq needs $12bn to resolve energy crisis,” AK News, 9/18/11
– “Shahristani: electricity crisis will end in 2013,” AK News, 9/24/11
World Bank, “Interim Strategy Note For The Republic of Iraq For The Period Mid FY09-FY11,” 2/10/09

Iraq reconstruction funds ‘missing’

July 28, 2010 at 1:31 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Iraq reconstruction funds ‘missing’ 

July 27, 2010


 The US Defence Department is unable to properly account for $8.7 billion in Iraqi oil money tapped by the US for rebuilding the war ravaged nation, according to an audit.

This came in an audit report released by the US Special Investigator for Iraq Reconstruction on Tuesday.

The report offers a compelling look at continued laxness in how such funds are being spent.

The audit found that shoddy record keeping by the Defence Department left the Pentagon unable to fully account for over 95 per cent of a total of $9.1 billion it withdrew between 2004 and 2007 from a special fund set up by the UN Security Council.

Of that amount, the Pentagon “could not provide documentation to substantiate how it spent $2.6 billion.”

The funds are separate from the $53 billion allocated by Congress for rebuilding Iraq.

No basic services

The report comes at a critical time for Iraq, where people complain basic services like electricity and clean water are sharply lacking seven years after the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

The audit cited a number of factors that contributed to the inability to account for most of the money withdrawn by the Pentagon from the Development Fund for Iraq.

It said most of the Defence Department organisations that received DFI money failed to set up Treasury Department accounts as required.

In addition, it said no Defence Department organisation was designated as the main body to oversee how the funds were accounted for or spent.

“The breakdown in controls left the funds vulnerable to inappropriate uses and undetected loss,” the report said.

Money on hold

The audit found that the US continues to hold about $34.3 million of the money even though it was required to return it to the Iraqi government.

The audit did not indicate that investigators believed there were any instances of fraud involved in the spending of these funds.

The DFI includes revenues from Iraq’s oil and gas exports, as well as frozen Iraqi assets and surplus funds from the now-defunct, Saddam Hussein-era oil-for-food programme.

With the establishment of the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq shortly after the start of the US invasion in 2003 until mid-2004, about $20 billion was placed into the account.


Visite surprise de Karel De Gucht à Bagdad

May 27, 2009 at 9:10 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Karel de Gucht

De Gucht déclare la Belgique disponible pour reconstruire l’Irak



Le ministre belge des Affaires étrangères, Karel De Gucht, a exprimé mercredi le souhait de la Belgique de participer à la reconstruction de l’Irak, un marché estimé à 400 milliards de dollars.

Cette info en vidéo
See video :–De+Gucht+d%C3%A9clare+la+Belgique+disponible+pour+reconstruire+lIrak

Le ministre belge des Affaires étrangères, Karel De Gucht, a exprimé mercredi le souhait de la Belgique de participer à la reconstruction de l’Irak, un marché estimé à 400 milliards de dollars.

M. De Gucht a expliqué que la Belgique disposait d’un savoir faire en matière de logistique et d’infrastructure et qu’elle possédait l’un des leaders mondiaux en matière de dragage. Il a également rappelé que la société de travaux publics Besix avait été très présente en Irak (sous le régime de Saddam Hussein) et que c’était une entreprise belge qui y avait construit la première centrale électrique. Mais les entreprises belges hésitent à retourner en Irak, où la sécurité n’est toujours pas “idéale”, de l’aveu même de Hoshyar Zebari, ministre irakien des Affaires étrangères. M. De Gucht a toutefois annoncé qu’une société belge venait de signer tout récemment un contrat pour la construction de 13 stations d’épuration à Bagdad. Il s’agit de la firme Waterleau de Herent, près de Louvain, qui a décroché ce contrat d’environ 22 millions d’euros.

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