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Title: Clientelism, rent-seeking and protection :a study of corruption in Iraq after 2003
Authors: Abdullah, Sarwar Mohammed.
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis examines corruption in post-2003 Iraq. As an oil-rich country with a factionalised political system based on sectarian appointments along ethnic and religious lines, Iraq is an interesting case for studying corruption. The core argument of this thesis is not about whether corruption exists in Iraq, but about the nature and forms it takes and why. The central claim is that corruption in Iraq takes three forms: clientelism, rent-seeking and corruption protection. Clientelism centres on the trading of state funds by multiple parties in return for political support or ‘buy affiliation and buy vote’. Rent-seeking is corrupt if it arises from an artificial monopolistic situation. Corruption protection is action to counter a primary form of corruption - i.e. clientelism or rent-seeking- and to prevent perpetrators from being brought to justice. Two factors make corruption distinctive in Iraq. The first factor is that these three forms of corruption may or may not be illegal, but I argue against regarding the law as a standard for defining corruption, because otherwise, some forms and ways of practising corruption could be deemed corrupt in one legal system but not corrupt in another. The reason why these three forms of corruption are labelled as corruption is because they are practised to promote mutual benefit between two parties, thereby subverting the public interest for sectional interest. In other words, people who are involved in such forms of corruption gain a mutual benefit which is private, and this means privatising the public interest by a particular segment of the community. The second factor follows on from the first, in that corruption has a political rather than a legal foundation, based on the sectarian and partisan line appointments muhasassa political system which is not necessarily illegal, but is a politically damaging (undemocratic) political process which is against the public interest. Over 100 years ago, Brooks (1909) argued that corruption is intentional action, and I agree that privatising the public interest by particular segments of the population subverting the public interest is definitely intentional action. My view, therefore, is that corruption in Iraq has only one condition -intentional action for sectional interests- and that the issue of legality/illegality is not relevant to the definition of corruption. The study uses data from key informant interviews and focus groups that were carried out during 2014-2015 in Iraq. The thesis concludes that the three forms of corruption that have plagued Iraq cannot be easily eliminated, because reconciliation between the different groups in power is needed to make institutions for anti-corruption work, and that would require a process of democratisation which is unlikely to take place in the near future.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

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