Money the key to peace, says Iraq's Finance Minister
July 15, 2008 - 1:02AM
Finance Minister Bayan Jabr Solagh says that Iraq's booming oil wealth holds the key to peace and urged foreign investors to take part in huge projects planned by his war-ravaged country.
With state revenues quadrupled since the US-led invasion of 2003 and amid soaring world oil prices, "from my point of view, money is key to peace, it is the main key," Mr Solagh said.
Iraq's oil revenues for 2008 are set to jump to more than $80 billion, earmarked for running expenditure and development projects.
"It is the first year since 2003 that we have access to that kind of money," said the upbeat Finance Minister who boasted a vision for Iraq with a more prosperous and secure future.
The army of jobless needing money to feed their families has created a pool of recruits for Al Qaeda insurgents or the ex-Baathists of toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, he cautioned.
( Remainder cut for the length )
He's quite right, of course; and the big shame is that all this didn't happen quite a few years ago. Maybe it couldn't until now; I don't know. But it is good that it's happening now, and if the rest of the world does pitch in and invest in Iraq (with the percentage of foreign investment carefully controlled and capped below half, and with ownership in Iraqi hands regardless of who is providing the expertise), that can surely only be a good thing. And as Solagh points out, if there are less idle (and desperate) hands, there's less chance of the Devil's work progressing.