Should weapon sales be taxed to help rebuild war-torn nations? Iraq PM says it's an 'interesting idea'

  • Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met with civil manufacturing companies, not arms manufacturers, at the 2018 Munich Security Conference.
  • He spoke to CNBC Sunday of the "understanding that without rebuilding (and) reconstruction, peace and security cannot be achieved."
  • Investors pledged $30 billion to help rebuild war-torn Iraq this week.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi delivers a speech during Baghdad Dialogue Conference in Baghdad, Iraq on January 14, 2017.
Haydar Hadi | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi delivers a speech during Baghdad Dialogue Conference in Baghdad, Iraq on January 14, 2017.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that spending on reconstruction — not arms — was necessary for peace.

Discussing the amount of money spent on conflict in the Middle East, "this is not good for us," Al-Abadi said. "We cannot build our nations with a lot of arms," he added.

Al-Abadi was speaking to CNBC Sunday on the sidelines of the 2018 Munich Security Conference in Germany, attended by politicians from Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East among others, as well as leaders from NGOs and private companies. Iraq received pledges of $30 billion from allies this week, though this was less than its propositioned $88 billion to recover from years of conflict.

Al-Abadi said that he had not met with any arms manufacturers at the conference, but instead had been in talks with civil manufacturing companies.

This is a "good sign that there is now an understanding that without rebuilding, reconstruction, peace and security cannot be achieved – I think this should be the slogan," he said.

Al-Abadi described the suggestion of a tax on weapons to contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq as "an interesting question." He pointed out the spending of the U.S. and Russia on weapons, "while people there are in actual need, in a physical need – whether in the U.S. or outside, in our region."

The Iraqi prime minister highlighted agriculture, housing and infrastructure as areas for investment in Iraq. "I think the country is in major need of an electricity overhaul," he said, and also pointed out the "scarcity" of water in the country.

"This Iraq reconstruction is the beginning," he said. "There is a trust that Iraq is moving to a different direction than before."