For immediate release 13thFebruary 2016


The EU should treat with great caution pleas for aid by the Iraqi Prime Minister. This is the view of the President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) Struan Stevenson, in the wake of the visit to Berlin this week of Haider al-Abadi, the Iraqi Prime Minister. Abadi was in Berlin to beg for cash from Angela Merkel. Pleading poverty due to the collapsing oil price, Abadi urged the world community to support Iraq, not only in its fight against Daesh (ISIS), but also he called for support for Iraq “so that the state can provide essential services to its people.” Predictably, the German Chancellor, concerned that her poll ratings have plummeted due to the migrant crisis, agreed to offer Abadi a €500 million ($560 million) credit line, stating that the funding was aimed at helping Iraqis to “rebuild their infrastructure, as well as give people hope for the future, so that they can avoid having to leave their country”.

Struan Stevenson, President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) described the Iraqi people as deserving support but called on Prime Minister Abadi to introduce radical measures against corruption and injustice to prevent a repeat of the Maliki era. He added: “Despite repeated warnings, the West stood aside and allowed Abadi’s predecessor Nouri al-Maliki to remain in office as Prime Minister of Iraq for 8 disastrous years. He became a puppet of the fascist Iranian regime, doing their bidding by opening a direct route for Iranian troops and equipment heading to Syria to bolster the bloody Bashar al-Assad regime. Maliki gave free rein to the Iranian-led Shi’ia militias, as a vehicle for ruthlessly enforcing his merciless "iron fist" genocidal policy of indiscriminate bombing, shelling, arbitrary arrests, torture and mass executions of innocent Sunni civilians. The sectarian divide fomented by Maliki opened the door for Daesh, who quickly consolidated their gains by grabbing more than one third of Iraqi territory, including the major cities of Fallujah, Ramadi, Tikrit and Iraq’s second city Mosul. 

“Maliki also became a serial thief, systematically robbing the Iraqi people of their oil wealth. The Iraqi Commission of Integrity (CoI) told the Iraqi Parliament last year that Maliki siphoned off a staggering $500bn (£327bn) during his term in office between 2006 and 2014. The CoI report stated that nearly half of the Iraqi government's revenues during that eight-year period were "stolen" by Maliki. This was corruption on an industrial scale. Iraq is now considered as the most corrupt country in the Arab world, according to Transparency International. Widespread protests involving tens of thousands of Iraqis have taken place in Baghdad, Basra and other major cities. The main focus of the protests has been a general outcry against on-going corruption by government officials and the failure of the Abadi government to tackle the situation effectively. Until Abadi arrests Maliki and charges him with corruption, genocide and crimes against humanity, dissolves the militias and confronts their atrocities, any international aid package would have the same destiny as previous ones and the West should be wary about offering any financial help to Iraq.”

If Mr Abadi carries out these reforms, it will attract a lot of support, otherwise destruction, corruption and genocide will continue in Iraq. 

Note: Struan Stevenson was a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 and was President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014.