Tags: Martin Kobler on Iraq, Sectarian violence in Iraq
Iraq in ‘crucial phase’ amid rising sectarian violence, UN envoy tells Security Council
“[Iraq] can continue to make important strides in deepening the roots of democracy, pursuing reforms and embracing diversity as well as improving its stature in the international community or it can go down a dangerous path, foretold with political impasse and sectarian violence at each turn leading to increased instability,” the Special Representative Martin Kobler, said briefing the Council on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on the situation in the country.
According to the report, there has been an “alarming” scale of renewed violence in Iraq during the latest four months, with nearly 3,000 people killed and over 7,000 more wounded.
Addressing the 15-member council, Mr. Kobler reiterated his calls on the Government to investigate the events in Hawija, north of Baghdad, where Iraqi security forces clashed with protesters killing 45 people and wounded some 110 others. The incident touched off a series of violent sectarian protests and demonstrations.
Meanwhile, successfully Iraqi-organized governorate council elections on 20 April and 20 June are a positive example of Iraqis overcoming diversity, Mr. Kobler said. The UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) which Mr. Kobler heads, provided support and technical advice to the polls.
He also noted the positive improvement in relations between Iraq and Kuwait during recent months as a result of increased dialogue and visits.
Speaking to journalists in New York after briefing the Security Council, Mr. Kobler said the situation in Syria also impacts the situation in Iraq, fuelling the insecurity, which increasingly has sectarian overtones. “These countries are interrelated. Iraq is the fault line between the Sunni and Shi’a world.”
He noted that the UN in Iraq and Syria is striving to address the roots of the conflict to bring about a political solution to the conflict.
Listing four final observations, Mr. Kobler, who completes his tenure on 22 July, urged Iraqi leaders to uphold and fully implement the Constitution.
“Iraqis must return to the Constitution as the political framework for resolving all prevailing conflicts,” he stressed noting that the first articles of the Constitution emphasize a need to protect the country’s diversity and federalism.
As the third largest exporter of oil in the world and the second largest producer among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Iraq needs to more efficiently manage and share its revenues for the good of its economic growth, social development and political stability, Mr. Kobler said.
Noting that the country has “gold literally lying beneath its feet”, he called on the Central and Kurdistan Regional Governments to agree on oil and gas revenue sharing.
The Special Representative also stressed the need to protect the environment, particularly to address the key issue of sandstorms and dust storms. As also noted in the report, Mr. Kobler commended the high-level initiative of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to set up a national commission to combat the storms and to facilitate regional cooperation towards that aim.
Turning to the role of women, who make up more than half of the Iraqi population, the Special Representative called on the Government to scale up to implement a national policy on women.
Similarly, he urged greater resources to be funnelled towards projects and programmes benefiting the country’s youth who in addition to insecurity, grapple with a lack of opportunities for education and employment.
“Fear, frustration, helplessness; these feelings plague the youth of Iraq and run contrary to the spirit of hope, optimism, ambition that fuels their deep belief in their country,” Mr. Kobler said.
“Leaders need to act now to keep the promising youth in the country.”
Tags: IMF Report Iraq's Economy
IMF Report On Iraq’s Economy Sees Short-Term Growth, But Long-Term Structural Problems
Real GDP growth
GDP per capita
More importantly, the IMF noted the major structural problems that could hinder Iraq in the long-term. First, Iraq is heavily dependent upon oil. Its GDP and growth are directly related to how much petroleum it can produce and export. That means that if oil prices were to drop, Iraq’s budget and growth would be threatened as well. The government’s entire development plan is based upon boosting oil output as quickly as possible. The money that it raises is supposed to help diversify the economy, but that hasn’t happened. Instead, this has swelled the government’s coffers, and increased the state’s role. This is a classic example of the oil curse. Like many other bodies, the IMF has suggested that the authorities speed up their reforms to support the private sector, so non-oil jobs can be created. Finally, political and security instability were noted. Iraq has seen a huge increase in investment in recent years, but that was directly related to the end of the civil war when foreigners finally felt comfortable about sending their money to the country. Now security is worsening as the insurgency is growing. The rival political parties have been in an on going test of wills against each other that has led to deadlock in Baghdad as well. Together this has economic repercussions as major legislation like the oil law has no chance of being passed in the current political environment. The growing threat by militants could also scare away investors. All together this poses a daunting set of barriers to Iraq’s future. The government isn’t following its own suggestions, and warnings by various international bodies about its oil dependency. Instead, it is making the situation worse. The fact that Iraq’s ruling elite are at each other’s throats doesn’t help either, because it means that no major decisions can be made or the business environment improved. Finally, the worsening security situation could reverse the flow of investment to Iraq.
Tags: Hicran Kazanci interview
KAZANCI EXPLAINED THE RECENT SITUATION IN IRAQ TO TRT TÜRK
Iraqi Turkmen Front Representative Dr. Hicran Kazancı participated in Detay Haber program which is broadcast on TRT Türk and explained how the situation in Iraq became what it is.
Kazancı indicated that after occupying Iraq, the United States was unable to resolve the problems particularly regarding Kirkuk and other controversial areas and said, “The army and security forces were established on ethnic sect separation”. Kazancı emphasized that the Iraqi Constitutional Law used vague phrases regarding Kirkuk and controversial areas, other important issues as well as those dealing with returning lands seized from Turkmen and Kurds in the previous era and said:
“The problems continued. The US deferred them, postponed them but did not resolve or could not resolve them. In 2006-2007 the ethnic sect conflict peaked. But at that time it did not make great waves because 180 US troops were there. They tried to prevent it and did so.”
THE POLITICIANS ARE FAR REMOVED FROM A CULTURE OF COMPROMISE
Kazancı reminded that after the US troops withdrew the problems started to emerge once again and that the problems in Iraq were political and could only be resolved by politicians who were familiar with a culture of compromise. Kazancı underlined that the Iraqi politicians were far from the culture of compromise, that instead of culture of compromise a culture of dissolution had emerged in Iraq, that immediately after the US withdrew first a warrant for arrest was issued for the Vice President who represented the Sunni after which he was given a death sentence and that mosques were attacked during the protests organized on Fridays.
Kazancı also indicated that failure to implement the Arbil agreement was one of the reasons which started the crisis and said, “The crisis blew up when this failure was followed by the budget and energy issue between the central Government and Arbil”.
POLITICS AND ADMINISTRATION SHOULD BE SHARED IN KIRKUK
Kazanci indicated that Kirkuk was not only significant in terms of economy but also possessed a very important strategic position and because it was not indicated in the constitutional law the status of Kirkuk is a matter for debate. Kazancı said that the Kirkuk issue was not an issue between Baghdad and Arbil, it was also an international issue and as such the resolution was also political and underlined that political and administrative sharing should be carried out.
OUR DEMANDS FOR AN ARMED FORCE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN REJECTED
Kazancı said that after 2003 all the political groups in Iraq acquired an armed forces and commented that, “However, our requests to establish such a security after 2003 have been continuously rejected. If you not possess special forces to protect you in a region where terror is rampant then you become the number one target of terror. That is the case in Turkmen regions”. Kazancı continued to say that: “Our lack of armed forces put us face to face with terror. Time after time we have requested from the Iraqi central government that we ensure our security. These requests were always rejected. For this reason the negligence of the central government has a significant contribution in the targeting of Turkmen.
WE REJECT A REVIVAL COUNCIL BASED ON SECT
Regarding the establishment of a 750 person unit for the Turkmen for security Kazancı commented that, “It is very offensive that political issues get involved with security issues in Iraq”. Kazancı continued by saying: “Any kind of armed formation based on sect is a disaster both for the region as well as for Turkmen. If a Turkmen force is established under the title Revival Council it must be established for all regions. It must be commanded by the Iraqi Turkmen Front. The establishment of an armed unit based on sect will endeavor to deepen the rift between sects even further. That is the intention of those behind this.”
Kazancı drew attention to the fact that so far there had been no ethnic-sect conflict between the Turkmen in Iraq, however as a result of the recent attacks there had been efforts to create discrimination. Kazancı said, “The establishment of such a security force will serve the targets of those trying to create discrimination”.
THE COMMISSIONS DO NOTHING
Kazancı commented on commissions saying, “The same investigation commission was established after previously committed attacks. However, none of their investigations presented any results”. Kazancı indicated that the commission established after the Tuzhurmatu attack had done nothing and said, “We saw that the full picture displayed a commercial targeting the press”. Kazancı pointed out that those who had incurred damage from terror would be indemnified from the investment budget put aside for Turkmen regions and that the expectations of the Turkmen people were most definitely far from fulfilled.
THE SUPPORT OF TURKEY IS ALWAYS RIGHT BEHIND US
Kazancı indicated that as always the moral support of Turkey for the Turkmen continued and said, “Turkey did what had to be done up to now”. Kazancı said that it was the support of Turkey which enabled the Turkmen to have 3 ministers and 6 members of parliament represent them in the central government and continued to say, “If the referendum in Kirkuk has been delayed from 2005 to date that is on account of Turkey. For this reason whatever positive things have happened to the Iraqi Turkmen have incurred with the significant moral support of Turkey”.
Kazancı repeated what Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoğlu had said at the reception of martyr Ali Haşim Muhtaroğlu, “Turkey is always behind you. This is your second home. 76 million are behind you” and emphasized that this was a clear indication of the support Turkey gave to the Turkmen.
Tags: Mahir Nakip
A blast that killed more than 30 people and wounded many more on Friday attracted particular attention because it occurred in Kirkuk, the oil-rich city in northern Iraq that is one of the cities inhabited mainly by Turkmens. Professor Mahir Nakip, a lecturer at Kayseri’s Erciyes University (ERÜ) and spokesperson for the İstanbul-based Kirkuk Foundation, told Today’s Zaman that, like in other attacks,Turkmens were the target of the blast in Kirkuk.
“Turkmens were the main target of the recent blasts in Iraq. Attacks against Turkmens have been happening for a long time. The objective is that Turkmens living in Iraq be assimilated and be forced to migrate from Iraq‘s oil-rich city of Kirkuk,” Nakip said in a telephone interview.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry also made a statement that condemned the attack in Kirkuk and sent a message of unity and solidarity from its website on Sunday.
A bomb exploded in a teahouse where many people had gathered after breaking their fast for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Kirkuk on Friday, and another bomb attack in Dujail killed more than 70 people at a Shiite mosque on Thursday.
Iraqi Turkmens are the third-largest ethnic group in Iraq and live primarily in Kirkuk and Tuzhurmatu. Kirkuk Province is a historically diverse area; in addition to ethnic Turkmens, there are also many Arabs and Kurds. Friday’s blast in the city took place in an area of previous ethnic, sectarian and political clashes.
Mehmet Tütüncü, the general director of the İstanbul-based Iraqi Turks Culture and Mutual Aid Society (ITKYD), told Today’s Zaman that there is a bomb blast every day of the week in Iraq and pointed out that there are many more attacks occurring in predominately Turkmen areas as compared to other ethnic groups in Iraq.
“It is very hard to say who is behind the attack in Kirkuk, but I can easily say that there are many attacks directed at areas where Turkmens live,” Tütüncü said, underlining the fact that the Turkmencommunity is the only unarmed ethnic group in Iraq.
The future of Kirkuk and its lucrative resources remains undecided and the controversy is one of the reasons for continued unrest in the region. Because of its oil reserves, strategic location and history, it is of great importance to both the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the government of Iraq. Though the city lies within the territory of an Iraqi governorate, Arbil wants to incorporate the city into its own borders. A referendum was to determine the city’s future in 2007; however, political discord has caused several delays, and Kirkuk remains a disputed area.
Stressing the international significance of oil reserves in Kirkuk, Tütüncü said oil is the biggest reason for the chaotic atmosphere and ethno-religious conflict that has led to the targeting of Turkmens inIraq.
“Iraqi Turkmens were given the destiny of living in oil-rich territories, and that underground oil shapes the Turkmens’ destiny as they face violence and attacks. There is no bright side to the reserves in Kirkuk for Turkmens; they only witness the violence of those who are trying to seize control of the oil reserves,” he said.
The turmoil in Iraq, the result of ethno-religious conflict between Sunnis and Shiites as well as Kurds and Arabs, was a factor contributing to the incident, with allegations of Turkmens being used for political aims and under pressure from different political sides.
“Turkmens are torn between Shiites and Sunnis. The most powerful members of Iraqi politics don’t want the Turkmens to gain power and have a say in the country’s politics. They are increasing pressure onTurkmens to choose a side and vote for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the next elections,” said Professor Birol Akgün, a specialist from the Ankara-based Institute of Strategic Thinking (SDE), stressing the political gamesmanship in Iraq.
The answer to who is behind the recent attacks in Dujail and Kirkuk remains uncertain. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks as of yet, according to Reuters. Serhat Erkmen, a Middle East advisor for the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM), said that one cannot identify a single actor who is responsible for the turmoil in the country.
“There are many attacks across the country. Only the ones that resulted in large death tolls draw our attention, but there are many incidents happening as part of everyday life in Iraq that result in the small scale loss of lives. There is a general security problem in Iraq. The people who feel left out of politics are trying to be on the political stage with these kinds of incidents,” Erkmen said, emphasizing that politics walks hand-in-hand with violence in Iraq.
Tags: Gilles Munier
Parler de la situation des Turkmènes irakiens
Intervention de Gilles Munier
5ème Conférence des médias turkmènes irakiens
(Istanbul – 18 et 19 mai 2013)
Je remercie les organisateurs de cette conférence de m’avoir invité et donné l’occasion de dire quelques mots.
Je suis Français et connais assez bien l’Irak pour y avoir effectué environ 150 voyages depuis 1974. J’y ai accompagné des journalistes, des hommes politiques, des universitaires, des hommes d’affaire… J’ai surtout été témoin des malheurs qui se sont abattu sur ce pays : guerre Iran-Irak, 1ère guerre du Golfe, embargo, 2ème guerre du Golfe… Mon dernier voyage a eu lieu en mars 2003, au cours duquel je me suis rendu à Bagdad et à Mossoul avec une délégation française de spécialistes des armes de destruction massive qui ont dénoncé – preuves à l’appui – les mensonges de George W. Bush et de Tony Blair. J’ai quitté Bagdad la veille du bombardement. Depuis, comme journaliste indépendant, je suis quotidiennement l’actualité de l’occupation du pays – ou de sa double occupation, pour être plus précis – ainsi que les activités de la résistance – civile ou armée – et, pour revenir au sujet qui nous concerne tous ici : la volonté des dirigeants de la Région autonome du Kurdistan de s’emparer de Kirkouk et de territoires avoisinant gorgés de pétrole, peuplés depuis des siècles par les Turkmènes.
Mon premier passage au Pays des Turkmènes – appelés généralement en France : Turcomans – date de 1976. Membre permanent d’une association franco-arabe qui entretenait alors de bonnes relations avec l’Irak, j’accompagnai un cadre d’une chambre de commerce de Bretagne – région située à l’ouest de la France – qui souhaitait rencontrer les dirigeants de la Région autonome du Kurdistan, nouvellement créée. En visitant Erbil, je n’ai pu que constater que la ville était peuplée, pour une large part, de Turkmènes. J’y suis retourné trois fois ensuite et me suis aperçu que la proportion de Kurdes allait grandissante, ce qui me semblait tout naturel puisque la ville était en quelque sorte la capitale du Kurdistan irakien. Je ne savais pas, à l’époque, que Saddam Hussein – alors vice-Président – avait, quelques années plus tôt, autorisé Mustapha Barzani à « kurdiser » Erbil et qu’en dépit de la reprise de la rébellion – soutenue par les Etats-Unis, l’Iran du Chah et Israël -, c’est ce qui était arrivé sous la direction des partis et tribus kurdes liés au pouvoir central.
Quiconque a traversé, comme moi, les ponts sur l’Altun Su ou l’Aq Su à Altun Kopru ou à Tuz Khurmatu – ou est allé à Tel Afar – s’est aperçu que les noms de lieux et la langue des habitants de la région sont différents d’ailleurs en Irak, qu’une minorité méconnue – les Turkmènes – est majoritaire dans toute une partie du pays. Depuis la chute de Bagdad et le déclenchement de conflits ethniques et religieux, grâce à Internet – et malheureusement aux attentats et aux massacres dont sont victimes les Irakiens, les médias font parfois mention des Turkmènes – on en sait plus, dans le monde, sur les Turkmènes irakiens. En Belgique, l’Association des Amitiés Europe- Turkmènes et le Comité pour la Défense des droits des Turkmènes irakiens ont brisé le silence qui entoure trop souvent leur situation. Mais, en Europe, nombreux sont encore ceux qui les assimilent à des colons Turcs installés par l’Empire ottoman. Très peu de gens savent que leur présence est bien antérieure à la prise de Constantinople par les Ottomans.
Dans les années 1970, des intellectuels et des hommes politiques se réunissaient en Europe occidentale pour sensibiliser l’opinion publique au problème kurde. Je dis « problème kurde », mais en fait exclusivement kurde irakien. Aujourd’hui, les Turkmènes irakiens sont plus de 3 millions – c’est-à-dire à peu près le nombre des habitants du Kurdistan irakien dans les années 1970 – et rien ne les empêche d’en faire autant. Les outils de communication –Internet, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube… etc… – leur faciliteront la tâche et leur permettront d’atteindre sans grands frais beaucoup de monde. Ces outils doivent être utilisés au maximum, c’est-à-dire pas seulement en anglais, en arabe ou en turc. Il ne faut pas oublier le Français, l’Espagnole et le Portugais parlés en Afrique et en Amérique latine.
Pour nous, observateurs de ce qui se passe en Irak, il manque une agence de presse qui rendrait compte de l’actualité à Kirkouk et dans le Pays des Turkmènes. Par exemple, des élections provinciales viennent de se dérouler en Irak, on n’en connaît pas le détail. C’est dommage. Toutes les occasions devraient être bonnes pour parler des Turkmènes.
La Turquie pourrait contribuer – grâce à son expérience dans le domaine des médias – à la diffusion des informations qui nous permettraient, dans nos pays respectifs, de mieux informer l’opinion publique sur la question turkmène.
Je vous remercie.
Tags: UNPO Commemoration 59 Massacre of Turkmens
UNPO: Commemoration of the Anniversary of the Kirkuk Massacre
On the 54th Anniversary of the Kirkuk Massacre, UNPO extends support to Iraqi Turkmens who continue to face human rights violations in Iraq.
Today, 14 July 2013, marks the 54th anniversary of the Kirkuk massacre of the Iraqi Turkmens. On this day in 1959 animosity towards the Iraqi Turkmens came to a head in Kirkuk, and erupted in a spectacle of violence, leaving approximately 20 Turkmens dead. On that day in Kirkuk, a parade was taking place, celebrating the first anniversary of the new Republic of Iraq. As the parade was meandering through the streets of Kirkuk, it was set upon by assailants with automatic weapons. In the ensuing chaos there were reports of prolific incidences of torture and barbarism, including automotive keelhauling.
Following the massacre, supporters of the old regime within the Iraqi Army began mortaring Turkmen homes, razing over 120 dwellings. The total death toll of Turkmens ranged from 40 to 80, with an additional 130 becoming injured in the fray. These tallies do not consider the infrastructural damage, psychological effects, or looting which accompanied the mayhem. A military detachment was sent from Baghdad to restore a tenuous order.
Recently, the Turkmens have been subject to land grabbing, assimilation campaigns, and religiously- ethnically-motived violence. Furthermore, as Iraq has no minority rights or anti-discrimination laws, incidents of Turkmen mistreatment in prisons, unregulated enforcement of capital punishment, disappearances of Turkmen intellectuals, and economic neglect are all too common.
On the anniversary of the massacre UNPO would like to extend its support to the Iraqi Turkmens and their continued struggle against human rights violations in Iraq.
At least five people were killed and 29 others wounded Thursday in a truck bomb explosion at a Shiite Turkmen neighbourhood in the city of Tuz-Khurmato in northern central Iraq, a local police said.
The attack occurred in the morning when a booby-trapped truck ripped through the neighborhood of Aq-Sou, leaving eight houses badly damaged and set more than four vehicles ablaze.
The toll of the attacks could rise as ambulances, civilian and police vehicles were taking the victims to different hospitals and medical centers in the city about 200 km north of the capital Baghdad.
No group so far has claimed responsibility for the attack, but al-Qaida militant group was blamed previously for deadly attacks against Shiite Turkoman targets in Tuz-Khurmato.
UNPO URGENT APPEAL – European Parliament Urged to Hold Hearing On The Situation of the Iraqi TurkmenJuly 10, 2013 at 11:05 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
Tags: UNPO urgent appeal
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Tags: Corruption in Iraq
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
The Problem Of Institutionalized Corruption In Iraq
Tsparency International is a global organization committed to fighting corruption. In April 2013 it released a report looking at the problem in Iraq, and its attempt to deal with it. Like many that have researched the issue, Transparency International did not find a pretty picture. It found that corruption wasn’t just at the bottom where bribes for example are commonplace amongst the police and bureaucrats. The real theft came at the top where all the political parties were involved in skimming money off of contracts, the oil industry, and the budget. It’s for that reason that Baghdad shows no real interest in dealing with the matter even though there are plenty of offices, laws, and agreements to prevent it from happening. It’s this institutionalization of corruption that will continuously plague the country, and prevent it from reaching its huge potential.
(Iraq Business News)
Every group that looks at corruption in Iraq finds a bleak situation. Corruption was widespread under Saddam Hussein, especially when sanctions cut off much of the country’s money. Almost everyone believes that it got worse after his overthrow in 2003. Transparency International in its annual report on corruption has consistently ranked Iraq one of the worst in the world. In 2012 for instance, it was 169 out of 175 countries with a score of 18 out of 100. The World Bank put Iraq at the bottom 10 percentile of nations trying to control corruption in 2011. The 2010 Global Corruption Barometer found that 77% of Iraqis surveyed believed that corruption had gotten worse in the previous three years with only 4% saying it had decreased. A poll conducted the next year by the World Bank found that 62% of companies said that corruption was a major obstacle to doing business in Iraq. This has all cost the nation tremendously. There’s no way to know exactly how much it has lost, because of theft, fraud, and embezzlement, but there have been several estimates. Judge Radhi Hamza Radhi, the former head of Iraq’s main anti-corruption agency the Integrity Commission said that from 2003-2008 $18 billion was lost. A study funded by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank estimated that $65 billion was smuggled out of the country from 2001-2010. In 2013, the Board of Supreme Audit, which is in charge of checking Baghdad’s finances, believed that $40 billion in illicit funds left the country each year. Those are staggering figures for a country that is trying to pull itself out of wars and sanctions. Losing that much money is simply robbing the future from the nation, and severely handicapping its development.
Corruption is an everyday occurrence in Iraq. One of the most common forms it takes is bribes. According to the Integrity Commission, the police, customs, and the judiciary asked for bribes the most. A poll by Transparency International conducted in 2011 found that 64% of Iraqis said they paid a bribe to the police. That was the worst institution in the survey. Paying money is also expected to get jobs in the police and army as well. This also has an affect upon the economy. The World Bank’s enterprise survey reported that bribes were asked for 33.8% of times in business transactions with the government. This rate varied across the country with some of the province at the high-end being Baghdad, 70%, Karbala, 89%, and Basra at the top at 100%. It was also different based upon the size of the company. For instance, 64% of medium sized firms said they were expected to pay up to get a government contract. At the bottom end, the citizenry to get better services or speed up the bureaucracy usually pays some money. The fact that this goes all the way up to winning tenders with the authorities shows the extent to which corruption is part of the governance of the country. Officials expect kickbacks in most transactions whether it is to get papers filed or to build a power plant. It is because this problem extends all the way to the top that it is such a dilemma for state building.
One cause of this rampant corruption is nepotism and clientelism. Every Iraqi government since 2005 has been a national unity one meaning that every party that wins a seat in parliament gets its own ministry and office. These officials then fill the government with their family members, followers, and tribesmen.
In 2012, the Bertelsmann Transformation Index reported that this kind of clientelism led to massive hiring of unqualified people into the public sector. For example, in 2011 the Integrity Commission stated that there were around 20,000 government workers with fake degrees. The Justice Ministry thought the problem was even worse at 50,000 employees. This extends to politicians themselves. In the 2009 provincial elections, 352 candidates had fake credentials and degrees, and 102 candidates in the 2010 parliamentary vote had them as well. Government offices continuously talk about dismissing all these people, but it either never happens or the ones who replace them are using fake papers as well. Without educated people and technocrats Baghdad can’t hope to carry out the planning and execution of the projects needed to reconstruct the country. What’s more important is maintaining the patronage networks the parties use to stay in power.
This also points to the high-level corruption, which is at the root of the problem in Iraq. In 2009 the Integrity Commission issued 152 arrest warrants for director generals or above, including eight ministers. Former Integrity Commission head Judge Rahim al-Ogaili was forced to resign in September 2011 after he discovered a network of shell companies stealing government funds, which was run by high level officials including some in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s office. Ogaili went on to say that the Baghdad had no interest in fighting corruption, and just wanted to protect itself from prosecution. In late 2012, the President of the Board of Supreme Audit told the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction that high-level theft and fraud had become institutionalized. It’s because all of the country’s political parties and their ministries are involved in the systematic theft of government funds that Iraq consistently ranks as one of the most corrupt in the world. It’s one thing for a policeman to take a bribe to look the other way and ignore a crime. It’s quite another for ministers to steal billions, and then have his party block him from going to court for his offense. It’s because those at the top are acting criminally that all those below them are following suit. It’s also the reason why the nation has done nothing about the problem. If all the parties are involved there’s no reason to go after offenders, because it would implicate them all.
This theft affects every aspect of the government. The budget for instance, is non-transparent. The Open Budget Survey gave Iraq a score of 4 out of 100 in 2012, which means hardly any information is made public. That means the people can’t hold officials accountable for what they do with the funds, and they in turn can do what they like without any scrutiny. Oil is Iraq’s most important industry, and brings in billions each month, which offers a huge source of money to steal. Oil smuggling for instance, is still going on from everything from local pipeline tapping to large-scale fraud. This all goes to financing political parties, individual politicians, gangs, and insurgents. Oil smuggling is estimated to have cost $7 billion from 2005-2008. In 2013, a strike amongst oil workers in Basra complained that their management was involved in stealing oil. The government has also failed to install meters upon the entire industry, probably because it would interfere with their nefarious activities. Finally, contracts with the security ministries have repeatedly been found to include kickbacks and other illegal activities. In 2008, former Integrity Commission head Judge Radhi claimed that $4 billion was lost in corruption in the Defense Ministry and $2 billion in the Interior. The fake bomb detectors are a perfect example. Jim McCormick who made and sold the devices was recently convicted of fraud in England, yet Prime Minister Maliki claimed that Iraq had taken care of the issue a long time ago, and that some of the detectors actually worked. To admit to wrongdoing would be to admit that the entire deal was corrupt from the beginning, and included the premier’s office. Instead, the fake devices are still being used throughout Iraq. At the end of 2012, an Iraqi delegation went to Russia to finalize an arms deal for the Defense Ministry, which involved huge kickbacks as high as $500 million allegedly going to the Defense Minister Sadound Dulaimi, former government spokesman Ali Dabbagh, the prime minister’s media adviser Ali Musawi, and various generals and others officers in the Iraqi military. It’s this illegality at the top that makes the situation in Iraq so bad. Iraqi officials seem to think that it is their right to steal the country’s resources and money at every turn. Governance is taking a backseat to greed, negatively affecting daily life and the future.
If the government wanted to it has the tools and resources to combat corruption. In 2007 it adopted the United Nations’ Convention Against Corruption. It went on to develop an anti-corruption strategy with the help of the international organization. It repealed Article 136b of the Criminal Code that allowed ministers to stop investigations and protect their officials. Baghdad has signed onto the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which covers the oil and natural gas fields. It has the judiciary, parliament’s integrity committee, the Integrity Commission and Inspector Generals in each ministry and office to look into corruption, the Board of Supreme Audit to go through public finances, and the Anti-Corruption Committee to coordinate all this work. The problem is there is no will to implement these laws and initiatives or to support these various offices. Instead the heads of the Integrity Commission have routinely been dismissed, and the prime minister attempted to disband the Inspector Generals. The courts are supposed to be independent, but have continuously come under pressure from the government and other forces, which prevents it from convicting anyone but the lowliest officials of corruption. That doesn’t stop Maliki from talking about taking up the fight against this issue every year, but those are just empty words. His State of Law list and all the others are up to their necks in robbing the government till, and therefore has no reason to push the matter. Instead he has stood in the way of investigations, and helped get rid of several Integrity Commission heads.
In its overview of corruption Transparency International pointed out why it is such a pressing issue in Iraq, and why it will not be solved. Everyone from the clerk at a government office to top ministers are stealing billions of dollars each year. Most government contracts involve bribes and kickbacks, while oil is being smuggled and funds stolen. The agencies tasked with fighting this problem have been made ineffective by the leadership who are partaking in this theft. The result is that Iraq is one of the most corrupt countries in the world with no end in sight. As long as everyone in the government feels that they can take a piece of the pie there is no incentive to stop the practice, and it becomes institutionalized as part of running the country.
Aswat al-Iraq, “Ministries of Defense, Trade, Health, Municipalities, electricity – the most corrupt ministries in Iraq, Parliament official says,” 7/19/11
Dagher, Sam, “Iraqi Report on Corruption Cites Prosecutors’ Barriers,” New York Times, 5/6/09
Al-Rafiydan, Al-Zaman, “Iraqi Integrity Authority Identifies $49M In Corruption, But Recoups Only A Fraction,” MEMRI Blog, 6/15/11
Ramzi, Kholoud, “iraq gets tough on fake qualifications, up to 50,000 jobs at risk,” Niqash, 4/18/11
Shafaq News, “Integrity Commission announces names of wanted in the Russian arms deal investigation,” 11/29/12
Sowell, Kirk, “Inside Iraqi Politics No. 50,” 11/21/12
Transparency International, “Iraq: overview of corruption and anti-corruption,” April 2013
Posted by Joel Wing Musings on Iraq