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

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.


Israel approves new settlement 2 days before polls: official

Updated 15 September 2019

Israel approves new settlement 2 days before polls: official

  • Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet agreed to turn the wildcat settlement of Mevoot Yericho in the Jordan Valley into an official settlement

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government approved a new settlement in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, his office said, just two days ahead of closely fought general elections.

Netanyahu’s cabinet agreed to turn the wildcat settlement of Mevoot Yericho in the Jordan Valley into an official settlement, the premier’s office said.

All settlements are viewed as illegal under international law, but Israel distinguishes between those it has approved and those it has not.

Sunday’s approval follows Netanyahu’s pledge last week to annex the Jordan Valley, which amounts to one-third of the West Bank, if he wins Tuesday’s elections.

“The government passed the PM’s motion to build Mevoot Yericho,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said as the weekly cabinet meeting was convened ceremoniously in the Jordan Valley.

Netanyahu has also said he intends to annex settlements in the wider West Bank, but in coordination with US President Donald Trump, whose long-awaited peace plan is expected to be released after the election.

The prime minister’s annexation plans could effectively destroy any remaining hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Palestinians, the European Union and the United Nations condemned Netanyahu’s Jordan Valley announcement last week.

Netanyahu said the Jordan Valley annexation would not include Palestinian cities such as Jericho, but it would effectively be encircled by Israeli territory.

Netanyahu is locked in a tough re-election battle with ex-military chief Benny Gantz and his Blue and White centrist alliance, and right-wing nationalist votes are key for his Likud.