Nearly 100 countries are taking part in the forum, which gathers on 05/29/2008, in Upplands Vasby, about 25km (15 miles) north of Sweden’s capital, Stockholm. The conference purpose is to support Iraq’s efforts to restore stability and rebuild a functioning economy.

In the conference Iraqi PM Nuri al Maliki called for debt cancellation, mainly from neighboring Arab nations. Iraq is one of the oil richest countries in the world and is producing in the last year over 2 million barrels a day, still far from its peak in days prior to the invasion to Kuwait in 08/1990. Still Iraq is submerged in total of $67bn debt. Among the biggest creditors are Russia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The debts were created in previous war – the war with Iran in the years 1979-1988.

Giving the level of nowadays oil prices and the accumulation of hundreds of billions of petrol-dollars in the Gulf stats and Saudi Arabia, it is fair to say that the Iraqi debt is relative proportional and can be handled without any special difficulty.

Iraq is not only the scene of confrontation between Al Qaeda and USA or USA and Iran. Iraq is also the scene of a bitter confrontation between the Arabs and the Iranians and the Sunna and the Shiaa in Islam. That confrontation stretches from the Gulf, through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon. The “Shiite Arc”, as king Abdullah of Jordan preferred to call it when he warned President Bush from invading Iraq in early 2003. 

In Iraq most of the oil is in Shiite and Kurdish dominated regions while the Arab Sunni inhabited areas are almost empty of oil. The internal conciliation efforts to bridge between the Shiite community and the Sunni community, which ruled Iraq and all its wealth in the day of Saddam Hussein, is about sharing the political power and economic wealth of Iraq between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.

In the eve of the Stockholm Conference the leader of the largest Sunni bloc in Iraq’s parliament, Adnan al-Dulaimi, suspended, once again, talks on rejoining the government, saying there was a dispute over which posts his followers would be given. The Iraqi coalition is formed only from Kurds and Shiite Muslims without participation of Sunni Muslims in the government.

In the current situation, without sharing power and wealth with the Arab Sunni community, the Sunni Arab countries considers Iraq as a Shiite country, affiliated to Iran.  Iraq’s debt is regarded not as a debt of a fellow Arab country but as a debt of a bitter Shiite pro-Iranian adversary. The Arab countries are determined to use the Iraqi debt to pressure the Iraqi regime toward reconciliation and sharing power with the Arab Sunni minority of Iraq.

The economic recovery of Iraq does not go through international conferences but through internal reconciliation between Sunnis and Shiites and through the political process in Iraq rather than begging the international community for donations.


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