Tuesday, September 20, 2005

One of the largest thefts in history

Some months back I blogged about the scandal of Iraq - the systematic corruption and outright looting of reconstruction funds which occured under the American-run Coalition Provisional Authority. But it seems that that was just the beginning. In what has been described as "one of the largest thefts in history", corrupt Iraqi officials have embezzled practically the entire defence procurement budget - almost one billion US dollars. As a result, Iraqi troops are forced to rely on museum-pieces and US cast-offs, and their ability to replace Americans in providing security and fighting insurgents has been severely compromised:

The carefully planned theft has so weakened the army that it cannot hold Baghdad against insurgent attack without American military support, Iraqi officials say, making it difficult for the US to withdraw its 135,000-strong army from Iraq, as Washington says it wishes to do.


Many Iraqi soldiers and police have died because they were not properly equipped. In Baghdad they often ride in civilian pick-up trucks vulnerable to gunfire, rocket- propelled grenades or roadside bombs. For months even men defusing bombs had no protection against blast because they worked without bullet-proof vests. These were often promised but never turned up.

The fraud was carried out through a series of dubious transactions which paid inflated prices for equipment which turned out to be junk. American-appointed officials presided over these transactions, and the Iraqi government is questioning how they could have slipped past US military staff and advisors working in the defence ministry. And some are going further:

Government officials in Baghdad even suggest that the skill with which the robbery was organised suggests that the Iraqis involved were only front men, and "rogue elements" within the US military or intelligence services may have played a decisive role behind the scenes.

But even if this fraud wasn't perpetrated by Americans, it points to massive negligence on the part of US officials, which has significantly damaged their prospects in Iraq. Isn't that something the US congress should be investigating?

And the kicker is that this isn't the only fraud. An estimated US$500 - 600 million has disappeared from the electricity, transport, and interior ministries. Which explains why there's still no power, water, roads or sanitation services in Iraq: because the money to rebuild them has simply been stolen.

I am now waiting for Donald Rumsfeld to say that this is just Iraqis exercising their freedom...


After the US captured Iraqi military hardware they destroyed it - not because it would fall into enemy (ie. Iraqi) hands but so the US could sell them their military hardware. They were destroying patrol boats, tanks, everything. That way the new Iraqi forces would have to use, and be contractually locked into using American (and their Allies) hardware and systems - with upgrades etc. for many years into the future. This is also part of the reparations programme, whereby the US makes them pay for their hardware through oil revenues. After the US budgeted money is soaked up the Iraqis will be forced to pay the US & Allies to reconstitute their forces with their oil money. That's how they planned it. It's all pretty sound economically from the US perspective.

Posted by Bomber : 9/20/2005 01:08:00 PM

Ordinary Iraqis may wish for their oil-for-food programme back!

Posted by Hans Versluys : 9/20/2005 05:17:00 PM

So, after an invasion on false pretenses, a destructive occupation, and fire-sale of Iraqi assets to the friends of Bush club, they're now letting the Iraqi goverment be left in a position where the occupation and looting by the friends of Bush club will need to continue indefinately?

Yet another "well, no one could have predicted this" moment. :sigh:

Posted by Anonymous : 9/21/2005 01:16:00 AM

Sir Humphrey makes a single interesting point in the middle of his standard fare of post that the oil for food scandal was actually worth more like $21bn, and it is only the kickbacks that were of the same order as the new scandal.

I can see the success claim now - "gruesome tortures cut by 35%! Outright corruption down an amazing 90%! The invasion was a success!"

Posted by Anonymous : 9/21/2005 03:08:00 PM