Opinion: Iraq's future still murky despite massive aid donations
( 2003-10-27 11:10) (Xinhua)
The two-day international donors' conference for the reconstruction of Iraq ended Madrid Friday, raising more donations than expected.
More aid promises, however, do not immediately promise a bright future for the war-torn country's rebuilding as several key factors remain uncertain.
At the conference, attended by delegations from 71 countries, 20 international organizations and 13 non-governmental organizations, the United States, the European Union, Japan as well as some international financial institutions pledged a total of US$33 billion in aid to Iraq, much higher than the highest estimate of US$28 billion.
Analysts here said the fund would be vital for the inauguration of the reconstruction process, but the successful running of the process in subsequent years would depend on several key factors, such as the security situation in Iraq, the role of the United Nations in the rebuilding process, transparency of fund use and the nature of the future Iraqi government.
To begin with, the security environment in Iraq is disappointing with increasing violent attacks on coalition forces and mounting criminality in the civil society.
The coalition forces currently face more than 30 attacks per day on average, much higher than the level of 10 to 15 attacks in summer. More than 100 US troops have so far died in non-combatant incidents.
Moreover, the ethnic hatred between opposing factions also flared up, casting another shadow over the prospect of security in the country.
These destabilizing factors would certainly affect the country's reconstruction process, as the implementation of humanitarian aid projects in Iraq has been hampered by domestic insecurity, causing heavy humanitarian crises in some parts of the country.
Another sticking point is what role the United Nations is going to play in the reconstruction process, on which major countries in the world remain divided.
The anti-war camp, led by France, Germany and Russia, holds that the United Nations should play a vital role in the process, while the United States refuses to make any further substantial concessions on this issue.
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin told reporters earlier this week that the vital role of the United Nations is indispensable for the success of Iraq's reconstruction. The delegations from France, Germany, Russia and the EU also reiterated this point at the donors' conference here Friday.
The third key factor would be how the donations would be used. An international fund for Iraq's reconstruction was set up at the donors' conference, and the participants at the meeting agreed on the terms of reference for the International Advisory and Monitoring Board, which will help ensure transparency and accountability in the management of the fund.
Reports, however, quoted some British aid groups as saying that the Coalition Provisional Council had a record of lacking transparency in the use of some reconstruction funds.
With inefficient monitoring of the fund use, the international community has every right to doubt the handling of donations in the reconstruction process. Many participants raised this point at this donors' conference.
Besides the above factors, the status of the future Iraqi government would also have important implications on the country's reconstruction process.
What kind of government are the Iraqis going to have? Would it be as democratic and representative as expected by the international community in general and Iraqi people in particular? Both questions remain unanswered up to now.
Should the future Iraqi government be a regime hand-picked by the coalition forces, people would surely be filled with misgivings about the country's future.
In short, a "better than normal" outcome of the donors conference does not provide enough assurances for a bright future of Iraq's reconstruction process. No matter what prospects it is going to have, one sure thing is that it will continue to be a focus of international attention in the years to come.
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