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Analysis: Reports Of Rampant Corruption In New Iraqi Institutions

Corruption is reportedly running rampant in the new Iraqi government, according to Judge Radi al-Radi, who heads the Commission on Public Integrity established by the Coalition Provisional Authority to monitor corruption. Al-Diyar television cited al-Radi on 13 October as saying that 14 administrative corruption cases have been investigated at Iraqi ministries. The cases were reportedly referred to the Iraqi courts. Al-Radi also said that hundreds of instances of administrative corruption and bribery have been uncovered. Those issues will be addressed by the commission in the coming days, he said.

The Al-Diyar report is just one of many to surface in the Iraqi press in recent weeks. "Al-Zaman" reported on 7 October that Environment Ministry Undersecretary Ali Hanush resigned from his post a week earlier after his complaints of corruption and cronyism were not addressed. "I was extremely disappointed at the way affairs were being conducted in the ministry," Hanush told "Al-Zaman" in a letter. He said that government offices were subject to what he called "administrative violence," adding that many civil servants were promoted, demoted, removed, and transferred without justification. Loyalty to political factions tied to the government outweighed a person's qualifications, he said. "Al-Zaman" reported that corruption is affecting several levels of the civil-service structure in Iraq, with officials openly seeking bribes to perform routine functions.

Baghdad's "Al-Shira" cited State Minister Wa'il Abd al-Latif in a 4 October report as saying that corruption is affecting border security as well. Abd al-Latif said that the problem stems from having border guards indigenous to the areas manning border stations. "When the police from Al-Basrah are deployed to protect the borders there, they sympathize with citizens of Al-Basrah, and the same is true when the police from Al-Anbar Governorate are deployed" at borders within the governorate.

Terrorists are entering the country from Syria without search or verification of passports by paying bribes, he contended. Thus, they are also able to smuggle in paraphernalia that could assist them in their objectives, he added.

Many Iraqis seeking passports to travel abroad have complained in recent months that Iraqi passport agents were seeking between $100 and $200 to speed up the processing of passports. The official cost for a new passport is $1. AP reported on 10 August that Iraqi citizens have complained of having to pay bribes at other places as well: banks, the electric company, telecommunications offices, the tax service, and at real estate offices.

The Commission on Public Integrity was established in March and was to have 21 inspectors general working within government ministries and offices to monitor corruption. The website offers a 16-page overview of the legacy of corruption in Iraq, dating from the time of the Ottoman Empire to the Hussein regime.

[For the latest news on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq".]

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