The Iraqi government is pumping $350 million into three of the war-torn nation’s most embattled areas in an effort to stem violence by producing jobs and reinvigorating social programs, as U.S. lawmakers are pushing for the oil-rich country to pick up its reconstruction tab, The Washington Times reported Tuesday.
Iraqi Ambassador to the United States Samir Sumaida’ie told the Times that the emergency aid is for “hot spots, troubled areas,” such as Mosul and Basra, where people are joining the insurgency for economic reasons — a point made by many analysts.
“It’s very important to get people working and to wean them away from violence,” Sumaida’ie told the paper. “This is consistent with government policy of linking economic development with improvement in security.”
Sumaida’ie would not detail the source of the money, the Times reported — specifically whether it was oil revenue — but said $100 million of the “urgently allocated” money will be given to the Shiite city of Basra, were Iraqi security forces were fighting factions of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.
Another $100 million will be given to Mosul, a mainly Kurdish city, where violence west of the city escalated Monday when a suicide bomber and two car bombs killed up to 18 soldiers, many which were members of Iraq’s Kurdish Peshmerga security force, part of the Iraqi army, according to the report.
The final $150 million is being sent to the Al Shula and Sadr City neighborhoods in Baghdad, two Mahdi Army militia strongholds where fighting has escalated over the recent weeks, the Times noted.