Corruption in Post-Conflict Environments–An Iraqi Case Study

An Iraqi Case Study
By Jeffrey Coonjohn

Corruption in Iraq is the single largest factor undermining the credibility of the Iraqi government and the second most important factor threatening Iraq’s national security. To date, corruption has developed unabated to a point where virtually every individual or company is making some form of payment to facilitate services that should be part of normal governmental administration. Foreigners make ―facilitation payments‖ for visas, registrations, licenses, etc., while Iraqis are forced to the black market for basic needs such as health care, electricity and education. In addition to the administrative corruption that persists at all levels of government, corruption in the form of contract fraud, embezzlement and black market oil have also siphoned tens of billions of dollars from the Iraqi government and have financed a multitude of nefarious activities around the world. Assigning blame for this situation is almost counter-productive at this stage. What is important, however, is understanding the modalities of corruption so that processes can be developed to counter this insidious scourge that is responsible for retarding economic development and stymies Iraq’s entry into the international business community as an equal player.

A study of the empirical evidence from Nazi concentration camps to post-war Iraq demonstrates that there is a concatenation of circumstance under which corruption

thrives in post-conflict environments. It is these circumstances that must be identified to facilitate early intervention to stem the flow of corruption and provide valuable resources to needy populations.

The future of Iraq in relation to anti-corruption is problematic: government ministries are Balkanized into sectarian and political divisions and subdivisions, all vying for sweet-heart contracts, kick-backs and other forms of fraud that will bring money to the sect, its political party or its individual leaders. This is not a recent phenomenon but has been developing since the Coalition invasion of 2003.

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