Corruption in Iraq:
Barzani family needs to come clean

Despite the many issues facing our planet right now — including global warming, the Covid-19 pandemic, war in many parts of the world, poverty and racism — some countries face yet another crisis. Corruption. 

Many countries, such as the Philippines, America and Iraq, are struggling under the weight of corrupt governments that are destroying people’s lives and denying them basic human rights. Right now, I would like to focus on my home country of Iraq/ Kurdistan, where corruption is a huge problem, and a concern for most locals — including myself. 

Some officials in the Iraqi parliament are given five million Iraqi dinars (the equivalent of about $4,200) each month for simple jobs for which they are not qualified either academically or by experience, while university graduates are selling cigarettes or food on the street. And many other problems are found in all the provinces, including the absence of fresh water, electricity, and rampant poverty. 

Those struggles have been around since the early 2000s. But lately, it’s becoming worse. Paychecks are not given on time, even for healthcare employees who are considered first line fighters of Covid-19 and could be infected at any time. Locals in Iraq, and specifically in Kurdistan, are very concerned about this issue. If paychecks are not given, some people would not be able to get money from any other source and could be without food. 

The Kurdish government claims that it currently has no money to pay anyone and that they have many debts. But the Iraqi federal government also made it clear that they have sent almost 4 billion Iraqi dinars (over $3 million) to the Kurdistan Regional Government, which seems to have all disappeared. 

This has locals suspecting that members of the governments have stolen that money and spent it on their own possessions. Some proof of that is the huge bank accounts the Barzani family has in Switzerland, and all the houses and companies they and their kids own around the world.There are also leaked documents from a bank in Iraqi-Kurdistan showing that billions were transferred from Kurdistan to abroad (Europe) and specifically to Swiss banks. And on top of that, the Barzani family has many possessions in Kurdistan — like the American University of Kurdistan in Dohuk city, and many more places. 

It has been more than 40 days since the last paychecks were given to the people in Kurdistan, and still there is no news of the latest money received from the Iraqi government. And the K.R.G also made it clear that when they do pay the people, their paychecks will be lowered by some amount.

That means that during this very difficult time in Iraq, with most local businesses either reduced or destroyed by the economic crisis from the pandemic, people here will be paid less. And that’s while Barzani and his family grow richer and richer. Something is wrong.

Many years have passed since the Barzani family began ruling Kurdistan, and their corruption has only grown worse.  And the economic crisis worsens every day. I ask all civilians, parliament members, and even young teens who will be able to vote in the upcoming years: please stop voting for this corrupt government, which is creating an unstable future for Kurdistan. 

I suggest that hand in hand, we all take action together. We must immediately start and sign petitions, making our voices heard in whatever ways we can —  either ensuring that people are paid their full wages on time, or that we get rid of our current government.

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