It is welcome news that Iraq is working with Chinese and Iranian businesses to expand the country’s power infrastructure. Shanghai Heavy Industry of China will build a $ 940 million, 1,300 MW plant and Sunir of Iran will build a $ 150 million, 160 MW plant. Together they will increase Iraqi electricity generating capacity by over 20%. The Iraqi Electricity Ministry is one of the few in the central government that has successfully invested money allocated to it in the Iraqi budget for reconstruction projects. Because of corruption most funds for reconstruction have either been left unspent or poured into projects that have had a marginal impact on the quality of life for Iraqi citizens. (Although provincial spending, though smaller than national budgets, is more efficient.)
Some might be concerned by Iraq’s engagement with Iran while the US condemns the Iranian nuclear power programme. However, pragmatic observers will realise that Iran and Iraq working together means peace in the region and power for Iraq means that factories can operate and people can rebuild their lives. The development of industrial and social infrastructure has been critical to encouraging people to live instead of fight, to stay instead of leave. The investment by Iran and China also means those nations have a stake in Iraq’s stability – a far more persuasive motivator than war. Peace in the region depends on cooperation between neighbours, not a military surge.