EARLIER THIS month $300 million was taken out of the Iraq Central Bank in cash, and secretly flown to Beirut, Lebanon, in a chartered jet. The defence minister in Iraq’s interim government, Hazim al-Shalaan, authorised this withdrawal.Talking from Beirut, an aide to al-Shalaan explained the money was needed to buy arms from Poland, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Ukraine and the US and that it was approved by prime minister Iyad Allawi.
The interim government’s national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie commented, “I am sorry to say that the corruption is worse now than in the Saddam Hussein era.”
Are they friends or enemies?
AS US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld plans a possible attack on Iran, the White House is pinning its hopes on Iran’s allies winning this week’s election in Iraq. The leading figure in the United Iraqi Alliance, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, gave a press conference in Baghdad last week. The alliance is the largely Shia party that is expected to get the biggest share of the vote.
For two decades al-Hakim was head of the Badr Corps, the military wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which was based in Iran. Al-Hakim said his supporters wanted Iraqis to run their own security, not occupation troops.