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Iraqi PM’s Anti-Corruption Plan: Realities, Requirements

Alwaght- In past few days, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq has told of a plan to fight corruption in the war-torn country. As he put it, the battle against the “mafia” of corruption is more difficult than the battle against ISIS terrorist group because they are armed with media and capital and so display reversed version of the reality in the society. “To pursue their goals and cover up their corruption, they label all as corrupt,” al-Abadi said.

However, the Iraqi premier seems resolved to wage a battle against the vice in the society. “As we defeated terrorism, we will overcome corruption, and I’m certain that out victory in fighting the corruption will add to our power,” Abadi asserted on Sunday.

According to the sources close to the Iraqi PM, al-Abadi intends to form a “supreme anti-corruption council” in coming days. The new government body will be led by the PM himself and will include members of the Iraqi Financial Transparency and Supervision Commission, as we as general supervisors.

Talking to the reporters in his weekly press conference, Abadi maintained that there was a need for reliance on information, concrete evidence, and documents. He went on to say that at the end of the investigations and collection of the information and evidence, the corrupt figures will certainly be handed over to the judiciary. He denied that foreign supervisors or investigators will contribute to the process, explaining that the government only received consultation from some international institutions.

According to Jasim Mohammad Jaafar, the representative of the State of Law Coalition which is a major parliamentary bloc in Iraq, Abadi has prepared a list of the “major heads of corruption” along with the list of the stolen assets and capital. He added that the federal government will publish findings of its investigations in early April next year. He put the value of the stolen asserts at $22 billion, part of which were taken during the previous regime and other part since 2003, the year of fall of former dictator and formation of new government.

The anti-corruption plan appears to have been received well by the various Iraqi political parties. Member of the parliament Hoshyar Abdullah of the Kurdish Gorran (Change) Party of the Kurdistan region has supported the initiative and highlighted the necessity for cracking down on the corrupt officials in the autonomous region. He, echoing the Gorran Party’s position, has voiced support for the plan to also stem the roots of corruption inside the Iraqi government. Abdullah has urged the government’s clampdown on financially and politically crooked figures in Iraq and the Kurdistan region without politicization or consideration of the party relations.

Aliyah Nasif from the State of Law Coalition has also reacted to the Abadi’s anti-corruption plan, saying it is impossible to publish names of the corrupt of Iraq because they hold media and power and in case of the Baghdad’s determination to counter them, nobody knows what happens next. Abdulrahman al-Lawizi, another Iraqi parliament’s member from Nineveh province, has welcomed the idea, calling on the government to ask for help from the anti-corruption international firms. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was another party to offer backing to the move, emphasizing the significance of combating corruption and the public assets seizures as apparent mark of violation of the human rights.

Major Factors in hitting the roots of corruption in Iraq

A- After fall of the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the new Iraq, which has often been hit by various crises, gained no opportunity to stabilize the power and extend the national sovereignty to all parts of its territories. The government institutions still suffer from structural weakness and poor organizational control. Such conditions are proper for the corrupt people to step in and profit.

B- The corruption is never limited to specific geographic place, people, or a faction. It appears that one of the essential reasons for corruption proliferation in Iraq is the country’s political system that relies on tribal post sharing. Various posts in the ministries and other government branches, and even the judiciary are distributed with ethno-sectarian considerations. This strongly paves the way for corruption to grow.

C- Specific social structure as well as political and religious differences make Iraq prone to political escalation and subsequent crisis. So, there is an urgent need to avoid contentious measures.

D- The Iraqi people more than any other thing need a secure environment, without tension and crisis. Their secondary necessity is their living conditions hardships to be met.

In conditions similar to those of Iraq, the fight against corruption takes some considerations:

First, such a crackdown never fits on a short period as corruption is highly large-scale and deep-rooted.

Second- Due to depth and pervasiveness of corruption, resistance to pressures will be strong.

Third- The government, as the main body responsible for implementing national sovereignty and power, does not have leverage necessary to enforce control on the financial dealings. Years of war have not allowed the government to gain sufficient control, something playing a key role in corruption widespread. So, the first priority for the government is to gain organizational power and then work out short and long-term plans towards this end.

Forth- In hitting the roots of the corruption, the government cannot be tough at once, rather, it needs to take steps gradually. After all, it is nearly impossible to detain and try a large number of suspects.

Fifth- An anti-corruption campaign requires national will and participation. A single party is far from being able to accomplish such a difficult mission. Comprehensive participation garners support to fighting the corruption, impairs resistance to it, and at the same time blocks exploitation of the issue by a specific party against others. The honest patrons of the anti-corruption campaign want wide political partnership to make it a success, while the fake supporters who eye taking advantage pursue it intermittently rather than continuously.

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