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Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a conference on Iraq’s reconstruction in Kuwait on Feb. 14.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a conference on Iraq’s reconstruction in Kuwait on Feb. 14.

Iran Has Edge Over Rivals in Iraq's Rebuilding Deals

“Iranian firms, including road construction and technical-engineering services companies, were operating in Iraq at a time when few other countries were active in rebuilding the country. This indicates that we have a comparative advantage to be seriously

Iran Has Edge Over Rivals in Iraq's Rebuilding Deals

Iran's long history of business and construction activity in neighboring Iraq gives it an edge over other countries competing for stakes in projects to rebuild the war-ravaged Arab country, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.
"Iranian firms, including road construction and technical-engineering services companies, were operating in Iraq at a time when few other countries were active in rebuilding the country. This indicates that we have a comparative advantage to be seriously involved in Iraq's reconstruction," Zarif said.
He added that Iranian firms are geared up to undertake projects offered by Iraq's public and private sectors, IRNA reported.
The top diplomat was speaking to reporters on Tuesday on the sidelines of an international donors' conference in Kuwait aimed at discussing efforts to rebuild Iraq's economy and infrastructure as it emerges from a devastating conflict with the hardline Islamic State militants who had seized almost a third of the country.

***Diplomatic Meetings 
Zarif held talks with his Kuwaiti and EU counterparts, Sheikh Sabah al Khalid Al Sabah and Federica Mogherini respectively, on the margins of the event. 
Iraq declared victory over the self-styled Islamic State in December, having taken back all the territory captured by the militants in 2014 and 2015. The fighters have also been largely defeated in neighboring Syria.
About $23 billion will be needed in the short term and more than $65 billion in the medium term, the director-general of Iraq's planning ministry, Qusay Adulfattah, told the conference.
The seven provinces attacked by the IS militants suffered $46 billion in direct damage, including the destruction of 147,000 housing units, and the security forces took $14 billion in losses. Tens of billions more were lost indirectly through damage to the wider economy and years of lost growth, the planning ministry said.

***Projects up for Investment 
Iraq has published a list of some 157 projects for which it is seeking investment.
They include rebuilding destroyed facilities such as Mosul airport and new investments to diversify the economy away from crude oil sales, developing transport, agriculture and oil-related industry, including petrochemicals and refining.
Rebuilding homes, hospitals, schools, roads, businesses and telecommunications will be key to providing jobs for the young, ending the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people and putting an end to decades of political and sectarian violence.
Baghdad has said it is determined to tackle the red tape and corruption that hamper investment. Iraq is viewed by investors as the 10th most corrupt country in the world, according to Transparency International.
Iraq reopened to foreign investment after 2003, with most spent on increasing its oil and natural gas production.
It has suffered from decades of war. It fought Iran for most of the 1980s and invaded Kuwait in 1990, leading to defeat by a US-led coalition and more than a decade of sanctions. A US-led invasion in 2003 toppled dictator Saddam Hussein and was followed by years of occupation, insurgency and sectarian and ethnic conflict, before the IS emerged in 2014.
Long-time foes, Iran and the United states, provided critical support to Baghdad in dislodging the IS and Iraq's Shia-led government is pursuing a difficult diplomatic balancing act by trying to maintain good relations with both of them.

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