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.