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Topic: Corruption
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RUMOR MILL
Kut Commander Reported to Face Charges of Forgery, Fuel Smuggling
06/30/2009 7:44 PM ET
A high-level Iraqi security official in Wasit Province is to be charged with various counts of forgery and fuel smuggling according to reports in Arabic in Iraqi cyberspace.

The anti-government Haq News Agency reports that its sources in the Interior Ministry have disclosed that arrest warrants will be issued for Maj. Majid Latif al-Amara, identifited as the commander of rapid response forces in the province, along with orders dismissing him from his work.

The sources said that al-Amara will face more than one legal charge. The arrest order cited by the Haq Agency includes allegations of falsifying a school degree, although the unidentified sources are also reported to reveal that more than one charge will be issued against the officer.

According to Haq News, the official stepped down from his post to contest the January elections in Wasit Province on the part of the secular al-Iraqiya List, led by former Iraqi Interim PM Iyad Allawi, but returned to the security forces after failing in that bid for a provincial council seat in Kut.

Meanwhile, the Buratha News website, a media organ of the Iraqi Supreme Islamic Council led by Shi'a cleric Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim, says that unidentified high-level officials in Wasit Province have disclosed documents that link al-Amara to fuel smuggling operations in the province.

Both reports appear on highly partisan websites and cannot be confirmed at this time.

Exclusive
Stolen Vehicles Used in IED Blasts; Hidden Missile Leaves Militant Childless
By SLOGGER NETWORK 06/17/2009 5:36 PM ET
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.

Iraqi forces in the province of Salah al-Din, north of Baghdad, conducted raids targeting an auto theft ring whose activities were allegedly providing vehicles for use in bombing attacks in the governorate.

Police in the al-Duz district, about 50 miles east of the provincial capital Tikrit, targeted the four individuals on Thursday who were reportedly selling stolen vehicles to groups linked to the al-Qa'ida in Iraq organization for use in vehicle-mounted bombing attacks.

The raids, which were launched after Iraqi police obtained intelligence information as to the site of the theft ring’s activity, led to the arrest of the four men, who were transferred to the local police headquarters for interrogation. Police also seized three stolen vehicles from the site.

The same day, Iraqi forces in the al-Belaj area, just north of Tikrit, recovered the corpse of a young man. The body bore signs of torture and gunshot wounds to the head and chest, security forces said. Security sources identified the man as Ali Shakir, a local resident, whom locals say may have been targeted for voicing opposition to the armed activities of the al-Qa'ida in Iraq organization in the area.

Also Thursday, a missile exploded in a residence in the al-Nafut area, about 25 miles north of Tikrit, killing two children inside and thereby leaving the parents childless. Security sources say that the missile was in storage inside the house when it detonated, killing an 11-year-old boy and 8-year-old girl. Locals told Slogger that the mother of the children was rendered unconscious in the blast and taken to hospital in Bayji. Security sources told Slogger that the owner of the home was linked to the so-called Islamic State of Iraq organization, and might have been keeping the missile in storage for use in a future IED attack.

Finally, the Salah al-Din governorate council has announced that it will form an independent media center in the provincial capital of Tikrit in order to investigate and publicize the workings of the provincial authorities in a bid to mitigate corruption in local governmental affairs, as well as to publicize the policies of the provincial governorate.

Members of IraqSlogger's network of Iraqi staff in Salah al-Din contributed to this report but choose to remain anonymous for security reasons.

The Latest
Corruption Charges Prompt Dismissal; Councilman: Health Services "Deteriorating"
06/11/2009 10:38 PM ET

The Salah al-Din Provincial Council has voted to dismiss the provincial health director on corruption charges, according to media report in Arabic.

The council dismissed Hasan Zayn al-Abidin from his post on allegations of involvement in financial and administrative corruption cases, according to the head of the health committee in the council, Dr. Wathiq al-Samara’i.

The council had seen documents pointed to the mismanagement and foul play with public funds, which forced the council to take the decision to dismiss the director of health in the province, al-Samara’i said.

The councilman stated that the health situation in the province is seeing deterioration, “despite the allocation of large sums by the state” for that purpose, al-Malaf Press writes.

“Health services are poor and we find hospitals and health centers in a deteriorating state and without medicines and supplies.”

Al-Samara’i added that the council would nominate a new director for the health administration, which is now under the directorship of the former associate director.

“The council will nominate five doctors, from among whom the governor will choose one” to fill the vacant position of director of health services in the province.

The councilman added that a number of agencies in the governorate suffered from corruption, saying that the provincial government was working to introduce oversight and enforcement to address the issue.

The Latest
Budget Deficit Dampens Reconstruction Spending in Southern Province
06/03/2009 6:44 PM ET
The head of the Basra Provincial Council Reconstruction Committee has announced that a budgetary crunch in the province will prevent the local government from taking on any new reconstruction projects this year.

Funds available for Basra’s development budget fall 97 billion Iraqi dinars (about 84 million US dollars) short of those necessary to sustain projects already approved by the provincial council, according to remarks by Mustafa Atiya Rasn, the reconstruction committee chair. Rasn told al-Malaf Press that this shortfall would mean that no further development projects would be approved in 2009. The deficit in the 334 billion ID ($289 million) provincial reconstruction budget would be made up by funds borrowed against the 2010 reconstruction budget, Rasn added.

The councilman also said that an oversight committee would be constituted to monitor development spending for waste and corruption.

Rasn appealed to the Iraqi ministries in the federal government to work with the local authorities in Basra to bring reconstruction and employment projects to the province.

Daily Column
Iraq-Kuwait Crisis Escalates, More Corruption Trials to Come
By AMER MOHSEN 06/03/2009 5:55 PM ET
Az-Zaman
Az-Zaman
Iraq news is relatively scarce today. But al-Bayyna al-Jadeeda opens with two interesting items: firstly, Maliki is continuing his efforts to present himself as an anti-corruption statesman who is willing to stand up to rampant corruption in the Iraqi state (in electoral terms, such a reputation may have better echoes with the frustrated Iraqi voters than sectarian or nationalist slogans.)

The paper’s headlines today quoted a “pledge” that Maliki made in an interview with the editors: “I promise myself never to protect a corrupt person.” The Premier told the Iraqi daily that “we have launched a broad campaign against corruption ... and we will not relent ... we will not hesitate to turn a corrupt Minister or civil servant to the legal system, even if he was a friend of mine.”

This comes after the arrest and prosecution of 'Abd al-Falah al-Sudani, a Minister in Maliki’s cabinet who came from Maliki’s own Da'wa party. The choice of al-Sudani as the first target in the anti-corruption campaign was clearly meant to disarm Maliki’s political opponents who may claim that corruption prosecutions are done on a political basis.

Another important item is the escalating crisis between Kuwait and Iraq, and the Iraqi government (or elements within it) is now more comfortable in launching political attacks against Kuwait and other Arab neighbors.

Following an exchange of angry statements over Kuwait’s policy towards Iraq (namely, its refusal to facilitate Iraq’s emancipation from UN Chapter VII mandate,) al-Bayyna al-Jadeeda is reporting that Kuwaiti MPs are lobbying for a decision to withdraw Kuwait’s Ambassador from Iraq. This comes after Iraqi MPs said that they will initiate a legislation demanding “war reparations” from Kuwait for its role in the 2003 US invasion.

In a new round of (dangerous) escalation, the Iraqi daily is claiming that “a number of Iraqi MPs” are preparing a project to launch a popular referendum in Iraq “over Kuwait being a part of Iraq.” This discourse that questions the political borders of the two countries had largely disappeared after the trauma of the 1990 Kuwait invasion, its reappearance in Iraq (even in a symbolic form) is likely to enrage Kuwait’s officials.

On the same front, Az-Zaman quotes al-Maliki calling for “dialogue” and for “calming” the political rhetoric between Iraq and Kuwait. The PM’s comments were made while he was receiving the Kuwaiti Ambassador in Baghdad in an effort to relieve the diplomatic crisis.

Also in Az-Zaman (local edition,) harsh positions against Kuwait were reported via Usama al-Najeefi, the Mosul MP, who complained that Kuwait’s conditions will lead to Iraq not regaining its sovereignty “for many years to come.” Kuwait’s attitude, al-Najeefi claims, has left a bad impression among the Iraqi public “and brought back the painful memories of 1991 ... we have seen nothing but intransigence (from Kuwait.)”

In other news, London-based al-Hayat says that Parliamentary blocs are criticizing the government “disinterest” in the popular referendum over the Security Treaty that was signed between the Iraqi government and the US last year.

According to the terms of the agreement, a popular referendum should be held by the end of July, which, if rejected by the populace, will annul the treaty and leave the US with no legal cover for its military presence in Iraq.

MPs from the Tawafuq and Ayad 'Allawi’s blocs complained that no legislation has been proposed so far to hold the referendum and that the poll may not be held on time if preparations are not stepped up. According to the chair of the Elections’ Commission, Faraj al-Haidari, holding the referendum will require a budget of $90 million, which has not been made available by the Parliament as of yet.

Lastly, Az-Zaman says that an Algerian paper claims to have conducted an interview with 'Izzat al-Duri, the highest-ranking Ba'thi still at large, who claimed that he will send President Obama a “document of demands” that will include a call for negotiations with the US administration.

The paper said that it was able to reach al-Duri after six months of contacts with Ba'thi leaders inside and outside of Iraq, and that the ex-Vice President responded to the paper’s questions in writing. Al-Duri allegedly denied rumors of his death, and said that he remains in Iraq and did not take refuge in a neighboring country (as is often claimed.) Al-Duri also reiterated his rejection of the current “political process,” describing it as “an American project that is executed by Iraqi hands.”

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