Monday, December 9, 2013

Iraq Slips One Place On International Corruption Index

Germany’s Transparency International (TI) released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index 2013 in December. The Index is based upon various reports on graft in countries around the world. Iraq has done very badly on the survey since 2003 being ranked one of the ten most corrupt nations globally for the last eight years. In 2013 it fell one spot from the previous year.

Transparency International uses a ranking system to determine a countries place on its Index. Each is given a score of 0 meaning highly corrupt to 100 that is very clean based upon various reports on corruption. In 2013 69% of the 177 nations included had a score below 50 showing a serious problem with fraud and theft globally. The most problematic states this year were Somalia, North Korea, Afghanistan all three of which received an 8, Sudan with an 11, and South Sudan with a 14. Those have all continuously been towards the bottom of the Index for several years now showing little inclination to tackle their problems.

10 Most Corrupt Countries Transparency International Corruption Index 2013
(Country – Score)
1. Somalia 8
1. North Korea 8
1. Afghanistan 8
4. Sudan 11
5. South Sudan 14
6. Libya 15
7. Iraq 16
8. Uzbekistan 17
8. Turkmenistan 17
8. Syria 17

In 2013 Iraq received a worse score and moved down one place from 2012. This year Iraq was ranked seventh from the bottom with a score of 16. Last year it was the 8th most corrupt with a score of 18. The country’s ranking has fallen since 2003, but then improved a little bit since the civil war ended in 2008, but not enough to raise it out of the bottom. In 2003 for example it was twentieth before falling to second from 2006-2008. Then it climbed to 4th most corrupt in 2009 and 2010, and then moved up to 8th in 2011 and 2012. The Integrity Commission one of the main anti-corruption bodies in Iraq criticized TI for using sources outside of the country and ignoring its appeal to improve its score after a meeting with the organization in Berlin before the latest report was issued. The Commission claimed that it was complying with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, and had transparent contracts with oil companies that should have given it a better standing. It also stated that TI used 13 reports to rank other countries, but only 3 when it came to Iraq. The Commission doesn’t have much to talk about however. As Stuart Bowen the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction pointed out, corruption has not only become institutionalized, but is used as a means to govern amongst the ruling parties. The anti-corruption agencies are also ineffective. The Inspector Generals have no real authority since they have to go through each minister to move any cases forward, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has attempted to control them. The Integrity Commission and Board of Supreme Audit that covers the government’s books have strong constraints upon their work, have not been successful charging any top officials they have investigated, and the prime minister has tried to take over both. Finally the judiciary has not been able to maintain its independence, and therefore has consistently failed to prosecute graft cases. Finally, Maliki has used corruption charges to take on his opponents and assert authority over independent institutions. Given that background it is no wonder that Iraq has consistently done so badly on Transparency International’s Index.

Iraq’s Ranking On Corruption Index 2003-2013
2003 #20
2004 #17
2005 #22
2006 #2
2007 #2
2008 tied #2
2009 tied #4
2010 #4
2011 tied #8
2012 #8
2013 #7

Even when compared to the rest of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Iraq did not do well. The region received a mix of scores with a few doing good, a couple in the middle, and the rest in the bottom third. The United Arab Emirates and Qatar were at the top with scores of 69 and 68 respectively. Then there was Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, and Tunisia with scores in the 40s, followed by Morocco, 37, Algeria, 36, Egypt, 32, Lebanon, 28, Iran, 25, Yemen, 18, and Syria 17. Iraq was second from last with only Libya, 15, doing worse. That meant 84% of the MENA nations had a score below 50. While Iraq did badly most of the region has not successfully dealt corruption either.

Middle East and North Africa Scores On Corruption Index 2013
United Arab Emirates 69
Qatar 68
Saudi Arabia 46
Jordan 45
Kuwait 43
Tunisia 41
Morocco 37
Algeria 36
Egypt 32
Lebanon 28
Iran 25
Yemen 18
Syria 17
Iraq 16
Libya 15

Iraq has gone through three phases of corruption over the last several decades. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction called the first period controlled corruption under Saddam where the regime regulated and manipulated graft mostly for its own benefit to get around international sanctions. The second was uncontrolled corruption, which happened after the 2003 invasion where everyone from government officials to contractors to foreigners was trying to steal as much as they could. The current stage is where the political parties manage the corruption to enrich themselves and make sure that each member of the government benefits. There is no serious effort to solve the rampant thievery as a result. Until the ruling elite start thinking about the welfare of the country and not themselves this situation will continue and Iraq will remain at the bottom of the corruption index.


Aldhargam, Ali, “Integrity: TI report is inaccurate and relied on the outskirts lacks many of the facts,” Buratha News, 12/5/13

Transparency International, “Corruption Perceptions Index 2013,” December 2013

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