The extremes of risk and reward in Iraq were very much in evidence over the past week.
On the negative side:
- Ayad Allawi, in his attempts to bolster his bid for the top job, has reportedly reneged on his commitment to honour oil and gas contracts signed by they current administration;
- The government has admitted that it no longer has the authority to sign major contracts such as the deal to buy F-16 fighters; and,
- While the politicians continue to test the patience of the people, Iraq languishes fourth from the bottom of Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index.
But balancing this gloom:
- Iraq is expected to earn $4.2 trillion from oilfield development;
- Development continues, with 125 companies being considered for the project to build one million new homes, and new tenders being issued for mall developments; and,
- The budget for next year expected to be 20% higher than 2010.
So the opportunities are there, as Iraq is gifted with an abundance of exactly what the rest of the world needs – oil and gas – but the lack of political will is continuing to hold the country back.
As a director of Abu Dhabi's Invest AD put it, Iraq is “a country that cannot be allowed not to succeed”.