Okay, so who does Iraq owe money to?
As I noted over the weekend, it's a really important question. And here are the beginnings of an answer.
First, one detail: Iraq's debt is overwhelmingly in the 'official' sector, i.e. debts to other countries, rather than private creditors or international institutions.
Next, who does Iraq owe money to in the developed world?
The Club of Paris says that Iraq owes some $21 billion dollars to 'Club of Paris creditor countries.' That includes debts to the US, Russia, France, Germany, Japan and a number of other developed countries. (See this table at the Club of Paris website for details.)
But that's not where the real money is. Or rather, those aren't the countries to which Iraq owes the most money. We hear a lot about France and Russia, but the big debts are closer to home.
According to Oxfam, Iraq owes (see page 23 in linked document) a titanic sum of between $55 and $85 billion to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The $30 billion difference is money from the 1980s (I assume in support of the war against Iran) that the lenders say were loans and Iraq says were grants.
This is the backdrop for Baker's new mission.