Iraqi defense minister subpoenaed over accusing lawmakers of graft

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General Obide
General Obide
General Khakud al-Obeidi

… from Press TV,  Tehran

Graft corruption takes a front row seat
Graft corruption takes a front row seat

[ Editor’s Note: It is very unusual that a high level corruption battle like this one in Iraq would go public in such a major way, but it gives us a rare view into the belly of the beast. By that I mean that too often we see the officials are anti-corruption only when they are not being cut in.

But this is not necessarily just for personal profit. In many Mid East, Caucasus or Balkan countries, the public does not make enough money to be significant funders of the political process.

Candidates and parties have to fund themselves, and the main source of that money is to get a piece of the action on the big government contracts, which in this Iraq case, are military ones.

The twist in the current case is that the Defense Minister and top Parliament officials are accusing each other of corruption. Often in these cases, when the military brass find out that key political officials are keeping the big contract bribery money for themselves, they feel slighted and want what they feel is their fair share.

When all are members of the same tribe, that often will be done, but when in different tribes, then a showdown ensues, like the one we are seeing. Cash is the mother’s milk of political power, and without it, you don’t have any, hence the junkyard dogfights you see to get into the positions where you can get your hands on it. 

All those who supported you politically are expecting you to support them, and are fully on board your taking whatever you can get your hands on from contract fraud. To date, no one seems to have come up with a viable alternative, and that includes Western countries that have their own version of the problemJim W. Dean ]

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Everybody wants to get cut in on the graft
Everybody wants to get cut in on the graft

– First published  …  August 07, 2016

House Speaker Salim al-Juburi
House Speaker Salim al-Juburi

Iraqi Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi received a subpoena Sunday to appear in court on the ground of accusing a number of parliamentarians, including House Speaker Salim al-Juburi, of corruption.

The subpoena was issued after Obeidi was summoned to the parliament on August 1 to respond to allegations of blackmail in the Defense Ministry brought up against him by lawmaker Alia Nasayif.

During the closed parliament session, however, the defense minister accused Juburi and at least five other lawmakers, including Nasayif herself, of corruption.

The lawmakers accused the Defense Ministry of wasting billions of dollars in public funds and weakening the country’s armed forces in their fight against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

Obeidi said he was being challenged in retribution for his rejection of corruption, accusing the parliamentarians of seeking to blackmail him in order to pass corrupt deals, including a USD1-billion catering contract, a USD2.8-billion accord for armored vehicles, and a USD421-million pact for American Hummer military vehicles.

Juburi and other accused lawmakers strongly rejected the allegations but the charges Obeidi leveled against them during the questioning was sufficient to prompt Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to order a temporary travel ban on suspected corrupt officials. Iraq’s chief prosecutor also lodged an official complaint against Juburi and other named lawmakers on graft charges.

Juburi rejected the travel prohibition. He said the measure could only be ordered by the judiciary.

Obeidi has to present evidence to prove the charges he brought up against the lawmakers.

Earlier this year, Iraqi citizens held sit-ins inside Baghdad’s highly fortified Green Zone aimed at keeping up pressure on the government to change ministers in an attempt to combat systemic political patronage, which has paved the way for graft. The protests were called by the prominent cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

The Iraqi prime minister has faced calls to reform the country’s political structure in a bid to tackle corruption. The scandal also surfaced at a critical time when the Iraqi armed forces prepare to launch a full-scale offensive to recapture the second-largest city of Mosul from Daesh.

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