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Iraqi officials differing views on security reform and rooting out corruption in security forces

Updated: Sep 1, 2020

Major-General Yahya Rasoul, Spokesman of the Iraqi Security Forces

“In 2014 it was a retrogression for Iraqi army, but we learnt from all we have been through. We started to rebuild Iraqi armed forces capabilities and capacities in all aspects - ground forces, air forces, and navy. When the cities fell to IS, we had nothing to defend to our land such as warplanes, and helicopters. Now, we have F16 warplanes, T50, 159, and cargo aircraft. The same for ground forces, artillery, armored vehicles, and all fields in military defense. Therefore, the experiences we gained from liberation, now we have huge information and knowledge. The most important in all these is morale. I believe Iraqi armed forces now has a very good military system, that will inspire respect among forces in the region.

Definitely, we have new professional military leaders in Iraqi army…Therefore, we have to focus on each officer and leaders in each section of the Iraqi army. We recruited them based on their professional ability.”

“We were able to prevent and restrict corruption such as ghost soldiers to a large extent. Now, as the ministry of defense we have contracts with exchange companies. They are helping us to distribute the salaries to our employees in order to prevent corruption. We have a very good officers with high knowledge and specialized with intelligent information in this matter. We will take firm action against all such phenomena.”

“Hashd al-Shaabi (PMU) is a part of Iraqi defense system and national defense system. It is officially acknowledged by Iraqi parliament. Hashd al-Shaabi have officially adopted the QI card system for distributing the salaries of their soldiers - this is very important for the fight against corruption.

Smart card or QI card procedure (a form of Iraqi debit card used nationally) requires the owner of the card to be present when receiving payment at the first stage. It is very accurate. The payment is followed up by checking out, following up, auditing. The purpose is to prevent all kind of corruption in military system.”

“The Peshmerga is a part of the Iraqi military system - as regional guard forces acknowledged by the Iraqi parliament. We appreciate and respect all the sacrifices they did, and we won't forget when they fought side by side with Iraqi army in Mosul liberation. They gave martyrs there and there should not be any conflict between us. We are all in the same boat - Iraq is for all. At the same, we respect and appreciate all other section and division forces that fought for Iraq.

As mentioned, IS don't differentiate between Peshmerga, Iraqi amry, or hashd Al-shaabi, they are all the same for IS.”

Judge Raed Jouhi Hammadi, Inspector General of the ministry of Defense. (2014-2019). In June 2020 rumors asserted he might be appointed head of PM Kadhemi’s Bureau

“It has been exactly one year since I left my job as head of the committee against corruption. We have been working in developing integrity at military institutions. One module of development was creating electronic payment such as master card, Q card, and other exchanges. It was a long journey, we had to talk with a lot of exchange companies about this matter. We talked with the central bank so they can give us a list of reliable banks and companies in this field. Then, it became a decision. The idea was to change cash payment to electronic payment, so it cannot be available under the hand of officers to pay to the soldiers. It was to prevent any possibility of corruption, so it became an electronic payment - everyone get his/her money through their electronic card. Whenever, they go to any exchange office or shop they can withdraw the sum.

At that moment we also requested a biometric, but I don't know whether it has been implemented or not. I requested it, as it was one of the suggestions to eliminate the corruption activities which depended on fingerprint for every single soldier.

Because, these suggestion will help us to remove all ‘ghost employees’. master card without fingerprint it can be easily hacked. But, with fingerprint it cannot be - each soldier should be present to receive their money, so when the soldier go to withdraw money if fingerprint not match the master card information it will not be done. By doing this, we will eliminate the corruption of so-called ghost soldiers. I would say it won't eliminate it totally, but it will be less.

All these were our demands at that moment we were working, but how much of all these has been implement or achieved, I don't have any information on that.

I left the committee on May, 2019. I left the ministry of defense. I joined the committee in 2014, and these suggestions we recommended when I was Inspector General of the ministry of Defense.

There were indicators of corruption in many sectors and cases. Therefore, we went to eliminate some of these indictors by providing suggestions or recommendations. One of these recommendations was the biometric system, and there were others. For example, cancelling food supply contracts by ensuring that the army supply itself within the ministry of defense itself, in cooperation with the ministry of industry, ministry of trade, and ministry of agriculture - who will be providing warehouses of the army with fresh and frozen food. All these will be going through ministries, so there won't be need of cash to be paid or to be manipulated with. It will be one ministry contracting another. So the process will be inside government, not outside.”

Hakim Abbas Al-Zamili, Iraqi politician and deputy in the Iraqi parliament and head of the Iraqi Parliament's Security and Defense Committee. He also served as the former deputy minister of health and is a member of the Sadrist movement.

“I was the head of committee looking into the collapse of Mosul, and the head of the committee of security and defense from 2014-2016.

We observed that the reason for the collapse of Iraqi land, Mosul, Salah al-din, Anbar, and more places over a huge area was due to financial, administrative reasons and in particular poorly selected military leaders.”

“I have all these information with documentations, I presented to parliament members when I was the head of this committee with 26 parliament members include Arab, Kurd, other minorities and ethnicities. But, the main reason behind of it was the control of parties over security sectors by putting some their followers in sectors such as security and military. The individuals lack experience to operate in these positions. The parties who were behind these were the parties who were running the government at that moment. I don't want to mention any names here, we don't need to remind names.”

“The reform that has been taking place through governmental sectors it's just on paper. It's not a real reform, we couldn’t find a real reform in security and military sectors so far. Therefore, until now we hear and see corruption in military and security sectors - buying and selling the position one to another. Friendship and party's relation between each other which leads to continuation of the corruption to remain without eliminating it.

There were reform of ghost soldiers to become less than before, but still massive corruption along government sectors with all its ministries- besides the shortage of financial resources. Until now, official sectors suffer of corruption, there has not been real attention paid to reform and rooting out corrupted personnel.

The corruption is still present – alongside the Qi card system which is presented as preventing corruption. But, Qi has not yet been implemented in all sectors such as military and security yet.”

“There is no real change in the Iraqi army - as is shown by the recent evidence that a former chief of staff with two his brothers has engaged in very obvious corruption. The chief of staff of that area has been acknowledged as not guilty because he belongs to a particular political party.

He has not been accused or brought to the court while, medium rank soldiers or rank and file soldiers who provided evidence in this regard were fired from their positions or even imprisoned. This is a clear injustice, and shows that there is corruption and the main players are still free to participate in the military, security , and other sectors.”

“Even Hayder Al-Abadi didn’t make any changes, there were a few changes in military and security sectors. But all these changes were not effective and real on the ground. It didn’t bring new personnel or new faces.

We are afraid that the corruption that exists in the military sector relates in particular now to Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi due to the intervention of parties in the administrative sector of Hashd. Indeed, then these people going to any sector will destroy it. Hashd Al-Shaabi is a modern institution, it's not old, and it has had less corruption compared with military or any other Iraqi sectors. But I am concerned that now some corrupted persons have entered it, and they have loyalty to some certain party which will effect the reputation and reliability of it. We hope that the number of Hashd Al-Shaabi fighters is a real number after given the Qi card. I personally do not have a real number of Hashd Al-Shaabi. But, we will research about that through transferring all Hashd Al-Shaabi to QI card.

Corruption is everywhere - in Peshmerga, Federal Police, and Iraqi army sectors. Peshmerga is an institution that is different from the rest of Iraqi institutions. But it too has corruption in the arms purchase, salaries, employment, and party's relationship areas. But, the corruption is present in all Iraqi sectors, there are no pure sectors.”

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