News / Middle East

New Carnegie Endowment Report Links Corruption to Insurgencies

Syria President Bashar al-Assad addresses reporters following his meeting with French President Nicolas SarkozyThursday Dec. 9, 2010. Syria President Bashar al-Assad addresses reporters following his meeting with French President Nicolas SarkozyThursday Dec. 9, 2010.
x
Syria President Bashar al-Assad addresses reporters following his meeting with French President Nicolas SarkozyThursday Dec. 9, 2010.
Syria President Bashar al-Assad addresses reporters following his meeting with French President Nicolas SarkozyThursday Dec. 9, 2010.

When a government is corrupt, and serving only the interests of a privileged few, the populace reacts in protest if it has that opportunity, according to a new report.

Along with civil protest, corruption can also trigger and help to sustain violent insurgency in reaction to its presence. That’s the focus of the new report from the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, facilitated by Carnegie Senior Associate Sarah Chayes.

“If you look at every country where there is an extremist insurgency,” says Chayes, “if you look at half a dozen or a dozen countries that, in the last four or five years, have undergone revolution or something close to it - almost every single time, the government in question has been, I would say, severely corrupt."

The Carnegie report notes that “Twelve of the fifteen lowest-ranking countries on Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index are the scene of insurgencies, harbor extremist groups, or pose other grave threats to international security.” The report also states that “corruption combines with other risk factors, such as ethnic, religious, or linguistic rifts in a population, or severe economic disparities, to increase the likelihood of a security challenge.”

A clear example is Syria, and the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. It first came under protest from internal anti-corruption reform elements staging the Syrian chapter of the Arab Spring. Then, when the regime appeared vulnerable, others came in to try to topple Mr. Assad by force.

And now, that conflict has spread to Iraq, where, as has been true with Syria, corruption has been endemic, along with political exclusion. The Sunni anger against the Shi’a dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki  created an opportunity for violent groups to spread from Syria to Iraq, most notably ISIL, the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” which Arabs call “Daish.” ISIL and fellow Sunni jihadis have taken and held a broad swath of territory in both countries.

“So what happened when Daish was created,” says analyst Tawfik Hamid with the Potomac Institute in Washington, “these other disenfranchised groups [in Iraq] from different tribes, for example, and the remnants of Saddam’s supporters with their military experience – what happened is that these forces effectively came together.”

Hamid explains “So now you have fighters ready to die, you have people with a military mind to organize things, and you have a number of people joining up with these fanatical groups [to try to bring down Maliki’s government.] So you have all three elements to create this chaotic situation.”

Kleptocracy is one of the most corrosive forms of corruption: those with power draining their country’s wealth into their own pockets. As the report states, “In a range of countries around the globe, corruption IS the system. Governments have been repurposed to serve an objective that has little to do with public administration: the personal enrichment of ruling networks.”

Ukraine under Yanukovych is one of the many examples that Chayes cites. “We’re talking about governments that have almost restructured themselves so that their main objective isn’t governing people – it’s filling the pockets of this clique that’s running it,” she says. “So, it’s almost like a criminal organization that is masquerading as a government.” The former Ukrainian president and his inner circle are believed to have siphoned more than US$ 50 billion.

The Carnegie study brings up something else that has been known for years, but not often admitted to by those involved – western complicity of endemic corruption. “Western policymakers,” it says, “typically prioritize other considerations, such as immediate security imperatives, the economic or strategic value of maintaining relations with a given government, or return on investment, over corruption concerns.”

The report, in its recommendations, calls on governments to include corruption as part of its assessments of state and regional security risks. It also calls on the U.S. and other western nations to take corruption into account when constructing and promoting bilateral trade and investment. Another call is for more robust transnational financial monitoring – “following the money” from corrupt regimes to its hiding places, and how it is then utilized.  Development and military aid are also noted – the report says there needs to be stronger monitoring of where the money goes and how it is used.

Equally important, according to the report, is the need for robust support for civil society elements in at-risk nations.

Nathaniel Heller, head of the good governance group Global Integrity, sums it up. “We have increasing evidence that corruption is a core driver of instability and insecurity in many countries. Adding to corruption to a climate of high youth unemployment, patronage politics, and unresponsive government is like feeding the yeast of extremism with a nutrient-rich sludge of disillusionment and pent up aggression. Corruption often provides the tipping point for many extremists’ calls to violence.”

 

 

 


Jeffrey Young

Jeffrey Young came to the “Corruption” beat after years of doing news analysis, primarily on global strategic issues such as nuclear proliferation.  During most of 2013, he was on special assignment in Baghdad and elsewhere with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Previous VOA activities include VOA-TV, where he created the “How America Works” and “How America Elects” series, and the “Focus” news analysis unit.

You May Like

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Soji Apampa from: Nigeria
July 01, 2014 4:44 PM
Nigeria is a case in point


by: Peter Eigen from: Berlin
June 30, 2014 3:57 PM
Great article, Jeffrey Young! Thanks for putting this so well.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid