With Iraqis due to head to the polls in just a week, others issues besides Baathists are finally being discussed. One is corruption in the government. That’s an easy target since Iraq has continually been ranked one of the most corrupt countries in the world since the 2003 invasion. Ahmad Chalabi who is running as part of the Iraqi National Alliance made one of the first comments about it when he charged the government with misspending its money. He said that there was a large deficit in the food ration system, which Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was supposed to make up, but never did because Baghdad used the money inappropriately for other things. He also pointed to the bomb detector wands that were purchased by the Interior Ministry as another example of government waste, and said that the National Alliance had stood up against corruption when the 2010 budget was being put together in parliament. On February 25, one of the leading Shiite clerics in Iraq, Ayatollah Bashir al-Najafi attacked the Education, Water, Electricity, Agriculture, Oil, and Trade Ministries for graft. Although the Shiite clergy has not taken sides in this year’s election, five of the six ministers Najafi named are close to Maliki. Finally, on February 28 Vice President Tariq Hashemi on a trip to Jordan said that Iraq had received up to $300 billion in aid, cut its debt, and gotten international support, yet was still a poor and impoverished country. He blamed corruption, and said that Iraqis needed a change. Hashemi is part of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement. Since Maliki is the one in power he is obviously taking the brunt of these attacks. A member of the Prime Minister’s State of Law List responded to the criticism by saying that it cannot be blamed for the actions of the ministries. He claimed that the ministers listened to the orders of their respective political parties, not Maliki since it is a national unity government made up of various entities.
In the 2009 provincial elections Maliki ran alone as part of his new State of Law list. One of his main talking points was that the local governments run by the Supreme Council and others were corrupt, and had done nothing to develop the country since they took power in 2005. Now that same charge is being leveled at Maliki since his State of Law controls most of the southern provinces and Baghdad, and he has been in office since 2005. Corruption is definitely rampant throughout the country, and all the parties in power should shoulder the blame for it. Unfortunately, all of these attacks on Maliki are likely just campaign rhetoric that will end after the voting is over. When a new government is seated, it will operate just like the old one with graft, bribes, smuggling, etc.
Agence France Presse, “Iraq VP slams corruption, urges a vote for ‘change,’” 3/1/10
- “Shiite cleric accuses Iraq ministers of corruption,” 2/26/10
AK News, “Al Chalabi accuses the government of spending the public money,” 2/17/10
- “Iraqi MP: the Iraqi government can not judge corrupted Ministers,” 2/24/10
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