MIDDLE EAST

In Iraq, we fight corruption but elect the corrupt

Finally, and thanks to the upcoming elections it seems, the machine has begun working, and we now hope that it will not break down again or suffer any damages that burn out its engine as soon as the ballot boxes close on the evening of the 12th of May.

By the machine, I mean the one fighting administrative and financial corruption.

Fighting corrupt leaders

In the past few months, Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi escalated his tone while speaking out on fighting corruption and pledging to act against it. Meanwhile, the Commission of Integrity is no longer ‘shy’ or ‘hesitant’ like it was in the past in terms of announcing the details of the corrupt and the corruptors who are pursued or transferred to the judiciary or convicted.

What is also terrifying is that the light in the end of the tunnel seems dim and very pale. This is what we can tell from the photos showing the campaign posters for candidates for the upcoming elections. These posters have filled the country’s streets and squares

Adnan Hussein

Two of the corruption tycoons, Abdel Falah al-Sudani and Ziad al-Qattan, were both extradited to Baghdad. Some have voiced fears that their cases will be settled like what happened with other figures including governors and heads of provincial councils who were part of the amnesty law. Some of these latter figures have been so impertinent to the point that they are running for the upcoming elections within the electoral lists of powerful parties, which are the main sponsors of corruption!

Meanwhile, other corrupt figures are still free, both inside and outside the country. Ministries and departments went with the flow and began competing to announce the corruption cases they’ve exposed. However, those exposed are not major figures as the latter are protected by the government as well as by religious groups.

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Ministries, departments and banks announce their “achievements” in terms of exposing corruption on almost a daily basis. This certainly makes us happy; however, it’s also worrisome and painful as it’s the same feeling you’d have when you are in a ship in the middle of the sea and you suddenly realize that there is a hole leaking water.

Corruption and chaos

From what we can tell from these announcements about corruption - which do not have a lot of details - we are in a country where everything is violated: the state’s money, constitution, laws, dignity, sovereignty and independence. We are in a society where everything is also violated: morals, values, traditions, customs and higher interests.

This administrative and financial chaos would not have been if it hadn’t been supported by influential parties and forces, and their leaders. It would not have continued and worsened if effective control measures had been timely.

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What is also terrifying is that the light in the end of the tunnel seems dim and very pale. This is what we can tell from the photos showing the campaign posters for candidates for the upcoming elections. These posters have filled the country’s streets and squares.

There are dozens and perhaps hundreds of candidates, especially on the lists of influential parties, blocs and coalitions, who are corrupt par excellence. The problem is that these people’s victory is guaranteed thanks to the “haram” earnings they, along with their parties and blocs, made from looting annual budgets or other sources and thanks to the political support they have from the leaders of these parties and blocs!

How do we fight corruption when we open the doors of the most important and supreme authority in the state for the corrupt?

This article is also available in Arabic.

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Adnan Hussein is the executive editor-in-chief of Al-Mada newspaper and head of the National Union of Iraqi journalists. Previously, he has held the position of Managing Editor in Asharq al-Awsat newspaper. He tweets under the handle @adnanhussein.

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Last Update: Monday, 23 April 2018 KSA 13:03 - GMT 10:03
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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