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 Iraq: Flourishing corruption under American occupation

 Analysis — Opinion
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Iraq: Flourishing corruption under American occupation  26.6.2008 
By Rauf Naqishbendi

June 26, 2008

In the life of any nation, there is no substitute for effective, positive leadership. Good leaders can lift a nation from despair and disappointment to hope and a re-kindling of what is possible. On the other hand, ineffective, poor leadership can burden a healthy nation with overwhelming difficulties. For nations already on the precipice, the ascendancy of poor leadership can be a fatal prescription, ruinous to the country. A case in point is the flourishing corruption in Iraq under American occupation, and the mediocre Iraqi Kurdish leadership. The corrupt behavior of Kurdish leaders casts gloom on the future of the Kurds. Nowhere is this more conspicuously manifested than in the pursuit of monetary gain at the expense of the rights of the Kurdish people.

Now, the two leaders have created a system whereby each is leading their own political party. To safeguard against any dissension in the rank and file, they cherry picked members of their executive committee from amongst their loyal friends,                   

Rauf Naqishbendi
and members of their own families. These two political parties have control over every resource. They also control an iron-fisted militia, so that no one can effectively challenge or dispute their legitimacy. Ironically, despite their dictatorial rule, they call themselves democratic.

In a democratic system the head of state is bound by the law of land. He cannot siphon state's revenue into his own personal account. He is allotted a stipend and perquisites approved by lawmakers. Barzani has, for more than a decade, sealed his account from public examination. He treats the people's treasury as his own and believes it is his inherited birth right. Democracy, in Mr. Barzani’s view, has no room for social and national obligations and responsibilities. Democracy is the recognition that he is the undisputed ultimate leader. As for his constituents, people are free to agree and bow to him. Furthermore, he places the prestige, power and interest of his clan ahead of the interests of the people.

The Bush Administration, with all its intelligence resources, has known that Barzani, for a decade, was taxing Iraqi oil in Ibrahim Khalil (the oil pipelines passed through Kurdistan to Turkey) and siphoning the money into his own coffer. No one could ever account for the billions of dollars he collected. What should have been a public accounting record remained as his secret personal account. Now, add to that the billions of dollars Mr. Barzani has received since the occupation, again with no public record.

In every democratic civil society, lawmakers are mandated to endorse a budget and disburse funds to government agencies in order to finance social programs. But there is no such process in the Kurdistan region. American administrators in Iraq have been handing over the entire Kurdistan region budget to Talabani and Barzani to share it equally amongst themselves. That would never fly in American and it should not have been condoned in Iraq.

The budget for the Kurdistan region should have been entrusted to a committee of responsible Kurdish citizens not affiliated with the dominant political parties. In essence, the current prevailing corruption is because of America’s mismanagement in administering Iraqi affairs, and emboldening corrupt leaders to prey on the public interest. This is how Kurdish leaders are ‘managing’ the Kurdistan region. Leaders of the Arab regions of Iraq are even worse.

Budgetary administration is a telling story of the U.S’s failed mission in Iraq. We created a corrupted system in Iraq, which is by far more corrupt than that of Saddam Hussein’s regime, and unprecedented in Iraq’s history. Yet our young men and women are asked to sacrifice their lives in the name of national security and freedom for the Iraqi people. Instead, we have created an environment where Iraq's corrupt leaders, both Kurds and Arabs, are advancing their pursuance for power and prestige while ignoring the real needs of the people. At the same time, Iraq resembles a death trap for our troops.

Iraq has not hindered pumping oil to the world market. It gets a formidable revenue from exporting its oil. Moreover, the Unites States has been contributing tens of billions of dollars to rebuilding and reconstructing Iraq. There should be a system of accountability regarding what has happened to those funds and into whose coffer they have gone. The funds certainly have not gone into rebuilding the infrastructure. There is not yet adequate utility service such as clean drinking water and electricity in the entire country. In fact public services,
www.ekurd.neteven with the economic blockade during Saddam’s regime, were far more efficient than that under American occupation. Though Iraq is an oil producing country, there is a shortage of gasoline and home heating oil and sometimes people have to resort to the black market to obtain these necessities at exaggerated prices. These deficiencies must be laid at the doorstep of the U.S. administration in Iraq in combination with corrupt Iraqi leadership.

In Kurdistan, the two leaders are not accountable to questioning by parliament or any institution, for they are kings, and they are the law unto themselves. In a true civil society, the head of state is accountable for his action, and major deflections from the course desired by the people can warrant impeachment by the lawmakers. If Kurdistan were a civil society with a system of real accountability, these Kurdish leaders would have been impeached a long time ago and branded as the criminals they are, with the mark disgrace discrediting their political life. The Kurdistan Regional Government has been formed. The idea may be real in Kurdistan, for it resembles a government with all government attributes. But it is an illusion because it has no clear border, thanks to the Kurdish leadership. It is unrecognized by the world and cannot be located on a world map. The Kurdish dream has always been to have their own government. If Kurdish leaders were conscious of their peoples? Will and dreams, a real Kurdish state would have been their impetus to lead, instead of being so driven by power and selfish monetary considerations. If there is going to be a real Kurdish future, the rule of these kings must come to an end.

Rauf Naqishbendi is a contributing columnist for Kurdish Websites, American Chronicle and has written Op/Ed pages for the Los Angeles Times. He has just completed his memoirs entitled "The Garden Of The Poets" which reads as a novel depicting his experience and the subsequent 1988 bombing of his hometown with chemical and biological weapons by Saddam Hussein. It is the story of his people's suffering. Rauf Naqishbendi is a software engineer in San Francisco Bay Area.

The contents of this article reflect the author's personal opinions, and we accept no responsibility for the views or opinions expressed in the articles either direct or indirect.

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