Corrupt politicians and terrorism directly linked in Iraq, say officials

Iraqi men hold a banner as they take part in a demonstration against corruption and poor services in regard to power cuts and water shortages, at Tahrir Square in central Baghdad. (Reuters/file)
Updated 06 January 2018
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Corrupt politicians and terrorism directly linked in Iraq, say officials

BAGHDAD: Government corruption provided Daesh and local militias with the umbrella they needed to seize power in Iraq, officials and lawmakers told Arab News on Thursday.
They said Iraq’s security and political stability will remain threatened as long as corrupt officials continue to control the country’s assets.
Iraq is high on the list of the most corrupt countries. The Iraqi Parliamentary Committee of Integrity told Arab News that the estimated value of “looted” amounts during the past 12 years has been more than $200 billion.
Almost a third of Iraqi territories in the north and west fell into the hands of Daesh militants in June 2014 after the dramatic collapse of the Iraqi Army. That was the result of financial and administrative corruption which undermined the security establishment at the time.
The results of an eight-month-long investigation by the Iraqi Parliamentary Committee for Security and Defense in August 2015 showed that financial and administrative corruption played a key role in widening the gap between the residents and the security services of Mosul, Iraq’s second most populated city.
Corruption led to the fall of the city and its suburbs into the hands of the militants in 2014. The report states that Nuri Al-Maliki, the former Iraqi prime minister, tops the list of officials responsible for the fall of Mosul as he was in charge of “the appointment of incompetent leaders … and the lack of accountability of corrupt security officials.”
Late in November, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi established a campaign to combat corruption.
“The corrupt (officials and politicians) and those who seized state funds are the ones who caused these disasters (the fall of Mosul and other cities into the hands of militants),” Abadi tweeted last week.
“Daesh was only able to occupy cities because of corruption,” he said.
Iraqi lawmakers involved in the fight against corruption told Arab News that financial and administrative corruption had provided cover for the armed groups, and not vice versa.
“Before the emergence of Daesh, there was a great deal of evidence that the governors of these provinces (the three seized by Daesh) were involved in many thefts of state funds,” Talal Al-Zubaie, the head of the Parliamentary Committee for Integrity, told Arab News.
“The armed groups emerged as a result of this corruption, which aimed to undermine the authority of the state so no one could discover the thefts by some governors, which would make it seem as if Daesh was responsible,” Al-Zubaie said.
“The corruption provided cover for armed groups to ensure that chaos continued to serve the corrupt officials,” he said.
Mossa Faraj, the former head of the Integrity Committee, a governmental body established in 2004 to combat corruption and supervise the government’s performance, agrees with Abadi and Al-Zubaie.
“The relationship between politicians and terrorism in Iraq is direct and cannot be denied. It (the corruption) aims to seize power, not to accumulate money or wealth,” Faraj said.
“Seizing power requires headquarters, weapons, cars, militiamen, TV channels, and thousands of followers. All of these require a lot of money every month,” he said.
“Because of this, all Iraqi political parties have been involved in corruption since 2003,” according to Faraj.


Sudan protesters plan march on parliament, more demos

Updated 19 January 2019
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Sudan protesters plan march on parliament, more demos

KHARTOUM: A group that is spearheading anti-government protests across Sudan on Saturday said it plans to launch more nationwide rallies over the next few days, including a march on parliament.
Protests have rocked Sudan since December 19, when the government raised the price of bread, and since then have escalated into rallies against President Omar Al-Bashir’s three-decade rule.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of trade unions, in a statement called for a march on parliament Sunday to submit to lawmakers a memorandum calling for Bashir to step aside.
“We are calling for a march to parliament in Omdurman on Sunday,” it said referring to Khartoum’s twin city where parliament is located.
“The protesters will submit to parliament a memorandum calling on President Bashir to step down,” added the association, which represents the unions of doctors, teachers and engineers.
Over the past month, protesters have staged several demonstrations in Omdurman, on the west bank of the Nile.
Officials say at least 26 people, including two security personnel, have died during a month of protests, while rights group Amnesty International last week put the death toll at more than 40.
The group spearheading the protests said there will also be rallies in Khartoum on Sunday, to be followed by night-time demonstrations on Tuesday in the capital and in Omdurman.
“And on Thursday there will be rallies across all towns and cities of Sudan,” the statement added.
On Friday, hundreds of mourners leaving the funeral of a protester had staged a spontaneous demonstration in the capital’s Burri district, while crowds of Muslim worshippers had launched another rally in a mosque in Omdurman, witnesses said.
Protesters chanting “freedom, peace, justice” have been confronted by riot police with tear gas at several rallies since the first protest erupted in the eastern town of Atbara on December 19 after the rise of bread price.
The government’s tough response has sparked international criticism, while Bashir has blamed the violence on unidentified “conspirators.”
Analysts say the protests have emerged as the biggest challenge to the veteran leader’s rule who swept to power in 1989 in an Islamist-backed coup.
The protests come as Sudan suffers from an economic crisis driven by an acute shortage of foreign currency and soaring inflation that has more than doubled the price of food and medicines.