Special Report: Iraq - Political stalemate delays projects boom

17 August 2010

Even prior to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 to oust Saddam Hussein, international firms were sizing up potential business opportunities in the post-war reconstruction effort

In addition to repairing the war damage, Baghdad needs to reverse decades of underinvestment that has left critical infrastructure outdated and underdeveloped. But the political deadlock following the March elections has left Iraq without a strong and stable government able to direct change and channel investment into the areas of the economy that need it most.

Until the leadership question is resolved, the country cannot move ahead with the rebuilding. The impasse is delaying much needed projects from getting under way and preventing the swift disbursement of funds. It is understandable that politicians are reluctant to compromise as there is much at stake for them personally as the potential head of the country with the third largest oil reserves in the world. Getting the right administration in place is also important as the next four years will be a crucial period in Iraq’s development.

But the stalemate is prolonging the suffering of ordinary citizens. Having endured three wars in 30 years, patience is wearing thin. An outright descent into sectarianism would set back the security situation in Iraq and possibly derail the US’ plans to complete the withdrawal of its troops by the end of next year. Baghdad’s politicians would probably agree that no one wants to see that happen.

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