Corruption in Iraq erodes its core

Hazem al-Amin
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Commenting on the scandal over the leaked questions of the Islamic studies exam for the secondary level in Iraq, my friend Kamran Karadaghi said: “An independent high commission should be formed in Iraq to supervise the exams to prevent cheating, forgery, leaking of questions and their sale.”

Despite the hint of sarcasm in this sentence, the tragedy has taken the appearance of a black comedy as you will see a scandal that produces a tragedy no matter how you turn your face in Iraq. There was the massive forgery scandal during the recent elections and the burning of ballot-boxes.


What were leaked were the questions of the Islamic studies exams. Leaking the exams in this case is a “dramatic” act, stripping political Islam groups of any morality they may claim. The religious identity is part of this massive mixture that makes up the components of decline, and religious powers are its center and its key component. Nothing in Iraq is immune from corruption — be it security, economy, education, oil, sectarian and ethnic relations, army, electricity and water, etc! The issue here is related to the core of everything, not how it is handled or processed.

Corruption is not exclusive to the ‘Shiite’ government. The Kurdish federalism experience is also witness to cases of corruption. The Sunni groups — both loyalists or from the opposition — benefit from the corruption of the central government.

In Mosul, dozens of tribal leaders who send lists of fictitious fighters receive their salary from the government, without having any real presence in their formations.

No inhibitions

Corruption in Iraq is part of the political life cycle and is indulged in openly without any inhibition. It is somehow part of the electoral program in which the politician displays to voters his ability to innovate corrupt methods. For example, holding on to the Popular Mobilization is part of the substantial corruption because the salaries paid to its fighters are paid in half between illegitimate fighters and sectarian leaders whose militias are funded by the government.

One of the peaks of corruption was what happened in the elections. Not only votes were bought but some electoral constituencies were also entirely bought off, i.e. you do not buy a vote outside the vote center but buy off all the ballot boxes like what happened in elections that took place abroad.

Corruption is draining the national wealth of Iraq. This failure is in no way less serious than political and security failures.

Hazem al-Amin

Iraq is a poor oil country, just like Iran but the former’s deposits of oil are larger than the latter’s. Iraq’s population is less than a third of Iran’s. Moreover, there is nothing in Iraq similar to the ideological use of the Iranian wealth and the poverty it has brought to the Iranians. Corruption is really draining the national wealth of Iraq. This extent of failure is in no way less serious than political and security failures.

However, this time corruption has reached a new level, i.e. students who are supposed to be the last beacon of hope in an alternate future. This is a new indicator that someone is investing in the possibility of transforming corruption into an educational value in order to alter its characterization as a negative value and raise generations on the fact that corruption is available and that it is part of normal life. This means corruption would become part of the convictions and an ideal for achieving goals.

This article is also available in Arabic.


Hazem al-Amin is a Lebanese writer and journalist at al-Hayat. He was a field reporter for the newspaper, and covered wars in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq and Gaza. He specialized in reporting on Islamists in Yemen, Jordan, Iraq, Kurdistan and Pakistan, and on Muslim affairs in Europe. He has been described by regional media outlets as one of Lebanon's most intelligent observers of Arab and Lebanese politics.

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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