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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Worse than oil-for-food scandal?

The bad news from Iraq continues to get worse. This is from The New York Times, Sunday February 5:
Ali Allawi, Iraq's finance minister, estimated that insurgents reap 40 percent to 50 percent of all oil-smuggling profits in the country. Offering an example of how illicit oil products are kept flowing on the black market, he said that the insurgency had infiltrated senior management positions at the major northern refinery in Baiji and routinely terrorized truck drivers there. This allows the insurgents and their confederates to tap the pipeline, empty the trucks and sell the oil or gas themselves.

"It's gone beyond Nigeria levels now where it really threatens national security," Mr. Allawi said of the oil industry. "The insurgents are involved at all levels."
An unnamed American official concurs, calling corruption a "very real threat to the new state."

Apparently, the corruption is quite organized:
The former oil minister, Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum, told the London-based newspaper Al Hayat late last year that "oil and fuel smuggling networks have grown into a dangerous mafia threatening the lives of those in charge of fighting corruption," according to a translation by the BBC.
The oil-for-food program was corrupt, but it didn't fuel Saddam Hussein's wmd programs and thereby pose a threat to US security.

Not to worry though, February 19 begins the American-declared "Anti-corruption week."

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