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And, yes, I DO take it personally: This is far beyond skimming a little off the top
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Sunday, February 05, 2006

This is far beyond skimming a little off the top

The NYT headline reads: Oil Graft Fuels the Insurgency, Iraq and U.S. Say. Such language implies that there is a little bit of bribery going on, sort of to be expected in a place as tumultuous as Iraq is right now. But then you get into the article and find out it is the problem is deeply entrenched and huge.
Iraqi and American officials say they are seeing a troubling pattern of government corruption enabling the flow of oil money and other funds to the insurgency and threatening to undermine Iraq's struggling economy.


In one example, a sitting member of the Iraqi National Assembly [Meshaan al-Juburi] has been indicted in the theft of millions of dollars meant for protecting a critical oil pipeline against attacks and is suspected of funneling some of that money to the insurgency, ...

On Saturday, the director of a major oil storage plant near Kirkuk was arrested with other employees and several local police officials, and charged with helping to orchestrate a mortar attack on the plant on Thursday, a Northern Oil Company employee said.

An attack on the company he was in charge of??? Oh, but there is more.
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."


Senior officials in Iraq's Oil Ministry have been repeatedly cited in the Iraqi press as complaining about what they call an "oil smuggling mafia" that not only siphons profits from the oil industry but also is said to control the allocation of administrative posts in the ministry.

An Iraqi Army battalion commander Mr. Juburi hired was arrested recently and accused of organizing insurgent attacks on the pipeline, said a high-ranking Iraqi official who is close to the investigation.

And for a little comic relief...
The reports of corruption have set off a major reform effort in recent months, with American advisers assisting internal investigations and promoting new rules like requiring financial disclosure forms for government officials.

Yeah, we are so good at controlling government corruption. Heh.

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