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Iraq Finance Minister: Our Military Is Way Too Corrupt


Hoshiyar Zebari will push for about 23 percent of a proposed 2015 budget of $100 billion to be poured into defense and security when it is presented to Iraq's cabinet "very soon".

Iraq has not published spending figures for this year, but according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Baghdad spent $7.9 billion on defense in 2013. The United States has also provided money and equipment since pulling the last of its forces out of Iraq in 2011.

When Islamic State fighters swept through northern Iraq in June, they were almost unopposed by Iraqi soldiers. U.S.-led air strikes have since helped Iraqi forces retake some territory.

While stressing that the security forces deserve support to counter what is seen as the world's most ruthless militant group, Zebari said tighter controls were needed.

"Definitely we will recommend strongly that there should be some serious deep-rooted reforms in the military security establishment to fight corruption, mismanagement," he told Reuters in an interview conducted on Thursday.

"But at the same time, the military has to be cleaned of all these numbers, figures of ghost soldiers and other mismanagement."

Ghost soldiers are enrolled men who do not turn up and fight but whose salaries go into the pockets of the commanders. The phenomenon has been associated with the collapse of the army during Islamic State's sweep through the north.

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