Thieves in high places. The spoils of war

One billion dollars has been plundered
from Iraq’s defence ministry in one of the largest thefts in history,
The Independent can reveal, leaving the country’s army to fight a
savage insurgency with museum-piece weapons.

The carefully planned theft has so weakened the army that it cannot
hold Baghdad against insurgent attack without American military
support, Iraqi officials say, making it difficult for the US to
withdraw its 135,000- strong army from Iraq, as Washington says it
wishes to do.

Government officials in Baghdad even suggest that the skill with which
the robbery was organised suggests that the Iraqis involved were only
front men, and “rogue elements” within the US military or intelligence
services may have played a decisive role behind the scenes.

Mr Allawi says a further $500m to $600m has allegedly disappeared from
the electricity, transport, interior and other ministries. This helps
to explain why the supply of electricity in Baghdad has been so poor.