U.S. leaving Mosul reconstruction to Iraq — potentially creating opening for Iran
The U.S. spent more than $160 billion to rebuild war-wrecked Iraq and Afghanistan, but there appears to be little appetite in Washington to fund a third big reconstruction era for Iraq’s ongoing second war.
The money vacuum opens the door for terrorist-supporting Iran to inject its influence into more neighborhoods as the U.S. stays out.
“In fact, this vacuum could become a major strategic blunder,” said Mr. Dubik, an analyst at the nonprofit Institute for the Study of War in Washington. “If the post-Ramadi and post-Fallujah actions are any sign of what will happen after Mosul is cleared, I think we are justified in concluding Iraq may repeat previous errors.”
He added: “Iraq needs a real partner to help it move forward in a positive way. Iran is not such a partner, but if the U.S. and other coalition nations don’t form a partnership with Iraq, Iran will, and the results will not be good — for Iraq, the U.S. or the region.”
A military source in Baghdad told The Times there is little talk among ministers about the job ahead of repairing the damage to a number of cities such as Mosul, which has been held by relentless Islamic State henchmen for two years.
“When you ask them what’s going to happen the day after, just the rebuilding challenge they just kind of shrug their shoulders and shake their heads,” the source said. “No one I talk to has a good answer because it’s just a conundrum of how you handle the day after. I said, ‘Where’s the money coming from?’ [They said] ‘We don’t have any idea.’ ‘How are you going to sort out the humanitarian problem with devastated villages?’ No one has come to that.”
Special U.S. auditors for both wars have issued blistering reports on the amount of money wasted on defective buildings, unused roads, failed water projects and fraud.
On Capitol Hill aides say they know of no movement to set up a new Marshall Plan (the rebuilding of post-World War II Europe) as was done in the early 2000s for Iraq and Afghanistan. The lack of funds is partly due to those audits and because, unlike the 2003 war, the U.S. is not leading the current campaign.
“If we were breaking things, we would fix it,” said Joe Kasper, chief of staff to Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican and a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “But we’re not breaking things anymore. The Iraqis are.”