Representatives from more than seventy countries and twenty international organizations met in Madrid, Spain, on October 23rd and October 24th to find ways to help Iraq recover from decades of oppression. They pledged at least thirty-three billion dollars in grants and loans to Iraq. Besides the U.S., which pledged twenty-billion dollars, some of the other donors are South Korea, Japan, Great Britain, Denmark, Spain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.
President George W. Bush is encouraging countries “to help the people of Iraq to build a future of freedom and stability”:
“In Madrid, representatives of more than seventy nations and international bodies –- including the World Bank, UNICEF, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference -- gathered to discuss the future needs of Iraq, and the ways in which other countries can help. And these nations and international organizations pledged billions of dollars to aid the reconstruction of Iraq.”
“This growing financial support,” says President Bush, builds “on the success of the broad military coalition already serving in Iraq”:
“Today, American forces in Iraq are joined by about twenty-four-thousand troops from thirty-two other countries -- including Great Britain, Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Thailand, El Salvador, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, and the Philippines. Coalition forces are helping to hunt down the terrorists and Saddam holdouts, clearing mines from Iraqi waterways so that aid shipments can proceed, and coordinating the recruitment and training of a new Iraqi police force, army, and border police.”
The U.S.-led coalition is rebuilding schools, medical clinics, transportation infrastructure, and power plants in Iraqi. A new Iraqi currency is circulating, and commercial activity is increasing. Local governments are up and running. And Iraq will soon begin the process of drafting a constitution, with elections to follow.
As Ayad Allawi, head of the Iraqi Governing Council puts it, “the support has been outstanding. Iraq has made many new friends in the last few days. In the years to come,” said Mr. Allawi, “the Iraqis will remember who came forward to help them and to help us in our time of need.”