No Winners In Iraq’s New ‘War On Corruption’

This new anti-corruption campaign will target three basic issues, a senior government official who is part of the new project, told NIQASH, on condition of anonymity. Firstly, there will be warrants issued against individuals who have illegally smuggled money out of the country. It is thought that an estimated US$100 billion has left Iraq this way.

Secondly, authorities will take a close look at contracts for failed projects and investments; there are estimated to be 6,028 of these types of projects on which the government has spent about US$250 billion. And thirdly, problems with currency auctions involving the Iraqi central bank and high ranking politicians.

“Iraq’s political parties fight one another about politics and security in front of the whole world,” this official continued. “But behind the scenes they are doing deals with one another through these economics offices. For example, it is possible to buy a job through an auction – this includes posts in the federal government and on provincial councils.”

And corruption even goes beyond this, the official noted. “When a person holds a senior position he pledges to finance his own political party from the government’s budget – he does this by granting contracts to companies affiliated with his party. Most of the political parties do this. That’s why no one political party would complain about corruption in federal ministries because they know if they do that, then other politicians will complain about them.”

Despite the new anti-corruption campaign having such a clear eyed assessment of the problems, it’s still going to be a difficult task. The fight against corruption has historically been a failure in Iraq.

For example, the Iraqi Commission of Integrity was formed after 2003 to look into accusations of corruption. It seems to have been unable to achieve much, despite the fact that dozens of officials were accused of corrupt practices over the ensuing years. The Commission has not been able to sentence any official until after they had managed to escape the country. That includes former Trade Minister Abdel Falah al-Sudani and former Electricity Minister Ayham al-Samarraie.

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