Iraq's Odious Debts

G8 fails Iraqis on Saddam’s odious debt

Jubilee Iraq
Kurdish Media
June 10, 2004

There has been intense speculation that the G8 summit will see a dramatic move on Saddam’s $120bn debt, but the G8 countries have not even put the issue on the official agenda. Their recent statements make it clear they are ignoring their guilt in financing Saddam and will instead use the debt to control Iraq economically.

Justin Alexander, Jubilee Iraq’s international coordinator says:

“All of the G8 countries supported Saddam in the 1980s with sizable loans which they knew were financing the horrific war against Iran rather than benefiting the Iraqi people. It is deeply cynical for them to now debate how much Iraq will repay, the US which may be saying pay 10% (though in reality they are probably aiming for about 30%) and France which is saying pay 50% are both in the wrong. If the G8 really wants to demonstrate leadership they should admit that they were wrong to finance Saddam and write off their debt claims unconditionally.”

Yasar Mohamad Salman Hasan, the son of one of Iraq’s greatest economists (tortured by Saddam) says:

“The G8 and Paris Club intend to use the debt as a lever to control Iraq’s economy. It is no secret that any debt ‘forgiveness’ will be conditional on Iraq following IMF economic policies and meeting their strict targets on privatisation and liberalisation. Instead the G8 should write off all their odious claims and give Iraqis the freedom and sovereignty to decide themselves which economic policies are best to tackle the desperate poverty, unemployment and reconstruction needs.”

These views are almost universally held in Iraq, including by the newly appointed finance minister Adil Mahdi who spoke out strongly when we first met with him back in October 2003. He recently told Reuters bluntly that he expects at least 90% debt cancellation and would tolerate no foreign interference in Iraq’s economic decision-making. The Central Bank governor Sinan Al-Shabibi, formerly a debt expert at UNCTAD in Geneva, was one of the founding supporters of Jubilee Iraq.

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