Nouri al-Maliki held the premiership from 2006-2014, the longest sitting prime minister in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Like other top officials Maliki used his position to enrich himself and his party, Dawa. Surprisingly, for all the years he was in office there were few stories about his corruption that made it into the media. In February, the Daily Beast broke a story documenting one such case involving a kickback from a defense contractor.
The Beast’s article is based upon an ongoing Justice Department investigation into Sallyport Global Services. Justice is looking into whether the company paid bribes to Iraqi officials to service the Balad Air Base in Salahaddin. In January 2014 Sallyport won a U.S. Air Force contract to provide security, training and supplies to Balad. Before winning that contract Sallyport made a partnership with Afaq Umm Qasr Marine Services, which is allegedly controlled by Maliki. The former PM’s son and son in law are also involved with the business. In turn, a former member of Sallyport said that Afaq helped win the Balad contract by making payoffs including to Maliki. Iraq is routinely ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. It has become institutionalized and is now part of how the political parties rule the country. This Sallyport case is a perfect example. Maliki, like other officials took advantage of his position to make money from a government deal.
According to Iraq’s main anti-corruption agency, the Integrity Commission around $500 billion went missing under Maliki’s administration. While he was in office Iraq earned $822 billion from oil and received another $250 billion in aid. Almost half of that disappeared. This was not all done by Maliki’s Dawa party, but it was able to take its fair share along with everyone else. Since there are consequences for reporting on Iraq’s ruling parties that helps explain the dearth of media reports about many of the shady dealings that occurred under Maliki’s reign.
Daily Sabah, “500 billion dollars stolen under Maliki rule in Iraq: official,” 10/28/15
Kopplin Zack, McCullough, Irvin, “DOJ Is Investigating Whether U.S. Payoffs to Iraqi Officials Opened the Door for ISIS,” Daily Beast, 2/12/19
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