Iraq: December 22, 2003


There are suspicions that the increase in attacks on Iraqi oil facilities is, at least partially,  the work of fuel smuggling gangs. The current spate of attacks are directed at refineries and pipelines that supply them. These refineries supply oil products for Iraqi consumption. The less fuel there is in Iraq, the more the gangsters can charge for their smuggled stuff. Criminal gangs have grown enormously since Saddam's government fell, even though there has been a major crack down on the fuel smuggling operations (which steal fuel from Iraqi pipelines and tank farms for resale in Iraq or neighboring countries). Most of their crimes are committed against Iraqi civilians, although the recent increase in police on duty had made the streets somewhat safer. But this just forces the gangs to look for new scams. 

Hiring former army and police officers has proved to be a risky process. Many of them got their positions by proving their loyalty to Saddam. This usually meant reporting any disloyal acts or statements. It's a pattern similar to what was discovered after the communist governments fell in Eastern Europe and Russia. The communist secret police served as a model for Saddams own. It's understood that some of the newly hired police and their commanders are on the Baath Party payroll. These men receive, from the Baath party resistance, many times their wages and in return they pass on whatever they know about police or American operations. As a result, the police are kept out of the information loop as much as possible. Corruption is such an ingrained tradition in Iraq that it will take a sustained efforts, and some economic prosperity, to make a dent in it.




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