Each December since 1995 Germany’s Transparency International has released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index. The Index scores dozens of countries’ governments on how corrupt they are. For the last several years Iraq has been one of the worst offenders on the list.
Transparency International studies reports on corruption and uses them to give scores from 0-100 to each country in its Index. In 2014 174 countries were included with 0 being the worst possible score and 100 the best. This year the countries with the ten lowest scores were Somalia and North Korea each with an 8, Sudan with 11, Afghanistan with 12, South Sudan with 15, Iraq with 16, Turkmenistan with 17, and then Uzbekistan, Libya and Eritrea with 18 each. Of all the nations included in the report, Iraq was 170 putting it the 5th from the bottom. In 2013 Iraq was 7th worse, but that year there were 177 countries included. For both years Iraq received the same score of 16 so its dilemma with graft and bribery was actually unchanged. At the same time in 2012 Iraq did better with an 18.
10 Most Corrupt Countries On Transparency International Corruption Index 2014 (Country-Score)
1. North Korea – 8
1. Somalia - 8
3. Sudan – 11
4. Afghanistan – 12
5. South Sudan – 15
6. Iraq - 16
7. Turkmenistan – 17
8. Uzbekistan – 18
8. Libya – 18
8. Eritrea – 18
Iraq always does so badly on this topic because corruption is institutionalized. As Stuart Bowen former Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction explained to Musings On Iraq corruption has gone through three phases in the country. First there was what he called controlled corruption under Saddam during the 1990s-2000s period when the regime regulated smuggling and bribes to get around the international sanctions. Then after the 2003 invasion there was uncontrolled corruption when Iraqis, Western officials, and contractors manipulated the reconstruction of the country for their own benefit in a free for all in graft and thievery. Then there is the current situation where corruption is part of the process of governing the country. The ruling parties believe it is one of their privileges of ruling to steal public funds. For example in each ministry there is a review committee that approves major contracts, but this only happens after they receive kickbacks. Previous Iraqi governments have always talked about ending this endemic corruption, but have done nothing substantive about it. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in fact, used corruption charges to get rid of people he disagreed with including Judge Rahim al-Ogaili the former head of the main anti-graft organization within the government the Integrity Commission. In September 2011 the judge resigned, and later revealed that he and his staff were going to be charged with providing government information to a foreign country the United States, which is an illegal activity. Before that Maliki always complained about the commission’s work and tried to block its activities. New Prime Minister Haider Abadi appears to be the first post-03 leader of Iraq that is actually taking an interest in solving this problem. An inquiry he ordered for example, found 50,000 ghost soldiers on the payroll whose commanders were pocketing the money. Two days later he dismissed 24 officers from the Interior Ministry some for improprieties. The Director General of Traffic Police for instance, was sent to the Integrity Commission for investigation. The Interior Minister also said that the director of paying salaries for the Federal Police was arrested on corruption charges. These few examples show just how endemic theft is within the government. They are also just an inkling of how much needs to be done to solve it.
Corruption is a massive problem within Iraq. The country has huge needs after years of wars and sanctions. Instead of addressing these issues and using the vast oil resources at its disposal the post-03 generation of leaders have instead decided to enrich themselves leaving behind hundreds of failed projects in their wake. Hopefully Premier Abadi is serious about his attempt because cleaning up the government is long overdue.
AIN, “DG of Traffic Police referred to Integrity Commission,” 12/3/14
- “Reforming ISF structure behind dismissing officers, says Abadi,” 12/1/14
BBC, “Iraqi army ‘had 50,000 ghost troops’ on payroll,” 11/30/14
Al Rayy, “Ghaban ordering the arrest of the Director of the Federal Police salaries because of corruption cases,” 12/1/14
Transparency International “Corruption Perceptions Index 2014: Results,” December 2014
- “Middle East and North Africa: A Region In Turmoil,” December 2014