Restoration of Border Villages Allegedly Tied to Elections

By Omar al-Shaher for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

For weeks, numerous Iraqi politicians have been speaking about a bundle of development projects in the country, including reviving the thousands of border villages that were abandoned and decimated during the Iran-Iraq war. However, some contend that “these rumors are merely propaganda for the approaching local elections.”

Members of parliament say that it is the responsibility of the government to find a solution for the problem affecting hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who fled from their villages in the central, northern and southern border regions. These dislocated people left their homes due to the Iran-Iraq war, or because of the al-Anfal Campaign, which former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s regime carried out against the Kurds.

Mansour al-Tamimi, a representative from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s bloc, said that Iraq’s financial budget suffers from big problems. One of these problems is its lack of transparency in disclosing how funds are distributed to city centers and outskirts. Tamimi said, “This imbalance continues to prevent border villages from receiving the allocations they need.”

Tamimi, who hails from the Basra province in the Shiite-dominated south, said that in 2012 his city spent about $400 million of its budget on pavement. It spent a tiny amount, however, on projects to revive and restore the border villages destroyed by the war with Iran.

Tamimi also said, “Plans for reconstructing and saving these villages are ink on paper, and nothing more.” He described the country’s budget as “nothing but a gateway to corruption.”

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