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Iraqi PM orders probe into corruption allegations over weapons deals

1 August 2016 23:31

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Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has issued an order for an investigation into alleged corruption in weapons contracts to avoid fomenting a political crisis in the country as the military plans to retake Mosul from the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

The move was prompted on Monday after Iraq’s Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri dismissed corruption allegations made by the country’s Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi during a closed parliament session earlier in the day.

“If Obeidi can provide evidence for his charges against me, I am ready for any kind of investigations,” he said, adding, “For the charges Obeidi claimed against me I will turn to the court since his claims are baseless.”

The Iraqi parliament had summoned Obeidi to respond to allegations of blackmail in the Defense Ministry, which has been accused of wasting billions of dollars in public funds and weakening the country’s armed forces in their fight against Takfiri groups in the oil-rich country.

“What happened today was a charade in order for the questioning not to be held,” Jabouri said in a televised news conference after the session.


Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi speaks during his visit to the front line on the outskirts of Makhmur, about 280 kilometers (175 miles) north of the capital, Baghdad, on March 30, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The Iraqi defense minister later wrote on his Facebook page that he had details of graft related to weapons deals, but did not provide evidence.

Back in February, Abadi pledged to stamp out corruption in 2016, following a criticism by Iraq’s senior Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who said his government has done little to combat graft.

“2016 is the year of eliminating corruption, there is no such things as acceptable corruption and non-acceptable corruption,” Abadi said.

In a sermon in August 2015, Ayatollah Sistani called on Abadi to resolve internal issues in the government.

Abadi assumed power in 2014, pledging tough action against corruption. In response to Ayatollah Sistani’s call, he promised to combat graft and prepare a comprehensive reform plan.

Findings of an ad hoc parliamentary committee have shown that corruption within the officers’ corps was one of the reasons the Iraqi military failed to counter the quick advance of the Daesh Takfiri terrorists in the summer of 2014.

Abadi’s move comes at a time when Iraq is preparing for an offensive into Mosul, the country’s second largest city which fell into the hands of Daesh in the summer of 2014. The city is the last remaining bastion of Daesh in Iraq as the military and allies have managed to retake key towns and villages from the militants over the past months.

Violence has plagued the northern and western parts of Iraq ever since Daesh launched its offensive in June 2014. Iraq’s army soldiers and fighters from allied Popular Mobilization Units are currently battling to win back militant-held regions in joint operations.

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