As Iraqis rally against corruption, ministries up ‘for sale’

In this file photo taken on January 21, 2020, Iraqi protesters stand in the smoke of burning tires during an anti-government demonstration near the government building in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. (AFP)
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Updated 22 February 2020

As Iraqis rally against corruption, ministries up ‘for sale’

  • Since October, the country of 40 million has been rocked by unprecedented protests that have seen nearly 550 Iraqis killed and 30,000 injured, the vast majority protesters

BAGHDAD: With Iraq rocked by months of protests against corruption and nepotism, the judiciary is investigating allegations ministries are up for sale as politicians wrangle to form a new government.
These “sales and purchases,” which insiders say have dogged Iraqi politics for years, are again a hot issue as Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Allawi seeks to build a Cabinet acceptable to both protesters and the political class.
Similar allegations have surrounded other governments formed since Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003 — but this is the first time the judiciary has questioned Iraqi politicians over the matter.
Political commentator Ibrahim Al-Soumeidihi, who is close to the negotiations, claimed on Twitter that one group had offered him $30 million in return for a ministerial portfolio. He was followed by Kazem Al-Sayadi, a lawmaker with the State of Law Alliance of former Premier Nouri Al-Maliki — bitterly opposed to Allawi.
“The Oil Ministry is selling for 10 billion dinars (around $8.4 million), who wants to buy?” Al-Sayadi tweeted.

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$8.4m is the price of the Oil Ministry, according to Kazem Al-Sayadi, an Iraqi lawmaker.

With unprecedented diligence, the judiciary swiftly launched investigations with Al-Soumeidihi and urged authorities to lift Sayadi’s parliamentary immunity so he too can be questioned. Al-Sayadi has since deleted his Tweet.
Since October, the country of 40 million has been rocked by unprecedented protests that have seen nearly 550 Iraqis killed and 30,000 injured, the vast majority protesters.
The government of former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned late last year, bowing to pressure from the street and the country’s highest Shiite authority.
But despite almost five months of rallies, political leaders continue to rely on old techniques to remain in power, said Hisham Al-Hashemi, an Iraqi expert.
Political “brokers” include parliamentarians and politicians paid by candidates to lobby on their behalf, he said. Heads of parliamentary blocs also sell ministerial posts to affiliated candidates, he added.

 


Emirates airline resumes flights to 29 destinations

Updated 14 min 36 sec ago

Emirates airline resumes flights to 29 destinations

  • Connection flights for travelers from Pakistan will resume June 8
  • A number of destinations will resume on June 11, additional ones to follow as of June 15

DUBAI: Emirates airline announced the resumption of flights to 29 cities and transits through Dubai on Thursday
As of June 8, travelers from Pakistan’s Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad can book connection flights from Dubai to other destinations with the airline.
Flights to London’s Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Chicago, Toronto, Sydney, Melbourne and Manila will resume on June 11. 
Emirates will offer 16 additional destinations starting June 15, such as Bahrain, Manchester, Zurich, Vienna, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dublin, New York JFK, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta, Taipei, Hong Kong, Perth and Brisbane.
Travelers can also book flights to Asia Pacific, Europe or the Americas through a connection in Dubai if they meet travel and immigration requirements of the destination country.
The company said they are working with UAE authorities “to take a measured and phased approach to flight resumption and rebuilding connections between Dubai and the world.”