Are the policies, administration, and budgets of the intelligence services subject to effective and independent oversight?
Iraq score: 25/100
There is considerable and regular undue influence in the oversight of the intelligence service’s policies, administration, and budgets. It is likely its mandate results in limited power and resources to carry out the oversight.
A parliamentary committee or independent body (e.g., appointed by PM) is designated to scrutinise the intelligence service’s policies, administration, and budgets. It may occasionally be subject to undue influence from the executive or the military or its mandate is not always matched by the body’s powers and resources.
A parliamentary committee or independent body (e.g., appointed by PM) is designated to scrutinise the intelligence service’s policies, administration, and budgets. It functions without undue influence from the executive or the military. Its mandate is matched by the body’s powers and resources.
Within the structure of the MoD, the National Security Council is responsible for intelligence policies, programmes and budgetary planning (1). Other intelligence structures also exist within Iraq’s MoI, the Hashd Al Shaabi (PMF) Commission and the joint intelligence-sharing quartet between Iraq, Iran, Syria and Russia. The oversight capacity of each is not made public. The plethora of actors involved in intelligence gathering and the service’s policies renders independent oversight highly improbable. An inspector general is attached to each ministry, empowered by their legal mandate to inspect all ministerial records and financial activities but IG’s act under the auspices of a party or political bloc that appoints the minister (2) which interferes with independence. The recent appointment of a militia commander affiliated to Badr Corps as the IG for MoD institutions (3) reveals how Iraq’s system of patronage has contributed to the erosion of meritocratic job requirements enshrined in Iraqi law. As members of the GoI such as Moqtada al Sadr, among many other, criticise; “the presence and influence of Iranian-sponsored militias in Iraq as undermining the central government and boosting corruption” (4). The PM has also been criticised of being ensnared in the patron-client politics’ which places even greater limits on his ability to ensure the independence of watchdog’s whose very position is sponsored by actors marred by corruption and political favouritism (5) Aliyah Nassif, an Iraqi MP, recently accused IG offices of selling sensitive and classified information “to cover up crimes of corruption and thefts of public money” (5), (6).
Extant coverage of security developments and intelligence gathering (7) presents strong evidence of Iranian influence in the realm of intelligence Abadi’s appointment of Badr Corps members as interior ministers (Mohammad al-Ghabban and Qassem al Araji) stands as evidence of this (8), alongside Abadi’s failed attempts to dismiss pro-Iranian Faleh Al-Fayyadh as head of national security (9). “Criticism of any collusive behaviour between IG’s and Iran-leaning security actors” a CSO member interviewed told Transparency “may cost you your life or land you in prison” — further evidence of the limitations facing investigators and watchdogs.
1. “Developing Iraq’s Security Sector The Coalition Provisional Authority’s Experience,” RAND, 2005, https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2005/RAND_MG365.pdf.
2. “Will Iraq close all inspectors general offices?,” Al Monitor, March 31, 2019.
3. “Abdul Mahdi names militia PMF leader MoD Inspector General,” The New Arab, August 8, 2019.
4. “Iraq protests: The cost of corruption and failed reforms,” The Interpreter, October 17, 2019.
5. “MPs continue to enjoy their salaries, allowances and influence,” Al Sumaria, October 18, 2019.
6. “Parliamentarian issues warning to the office of inspector generals,” Al Sumaria, September 15, 2019.
7. “Hash Al-Shaabi official stresses Iraq’s Security Cooperation with Iran, Russia and Syria,” Fars News, February 14, 2018, http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961125001692.
8. “Iran’s Role in Iraq: Room for U.S.-Iran Cooperation?,” RAND, 2015, https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/perspectives/PE100/PE151/RAND_PE151.pdf.
9. “Hours after dismissal, Faleh al Fayad nominated to head Iraq’s government,” Al Arabiya News, August 31, 2018.
Iraq score: 25/100
The oversight function has little to no influence over the intelligence services.
The oversight function does not have regular access to classified information. It may meet less frequently than every 6 months.
The oversight function has access to classified information and meets at least every 6 months to review budget and expenditures, personnel issues, and policies of the intelligence services. Findings are rarely published.
The oversight function has access to classified information and meets at least every 6 months to review budget and expenditures, personnel issues, and policies of the intelligence services. Though meetings are held behind closed doors, a summary of findings is published.
The oversight function has access to classified information and meets at least every 2 months to review budget and expenditures, personnel issues, and policies of the intelligence services. Though meetings are held behind closed doors, a summary of findings is published.
There is little evidence of transparency and of intelligence oversight beyond the INIS charter which places IG’s in charge of oversight. However, It is unclear from the charter if the process includes access to classified information, across all of Iraq’s security intelligence branches. The charter legally defines the mandate that intelligence actors operate within but the effectiveness of their functions and investigative activities are widely questioned (1).
Newly formed military structures such as the PMF appear to have a functioning IG office while internal and oversight functions are absent from the charter (2) . Under Abadi, various decrees were issued which have given the coalition of militia forces formal and independent status and access to the state budget (3). PMF-tied intelligence branches are thus, not directly answerable to the MoD as the only legal requirement is that PMF reports directly to the office of the PM. The state-backed umbrella organization has an inspector general but it is unclear whether the officer must act in accordance with the INIS legal mandate. The effectiveness of IG’s oversight functions, from interaction with classified information to budgetary spending on intelligence activities, is undermined by politicking and the politicisation of investigations due to difficulties for offices to remain independent from the respective minister of the ministry whose activities IG’s monitor. These matters culminated in a parliamentary vote this year (4), (5), on whether or not to abolish IG offices. Current PM, Abdel Abdul Mahdi issued a statement after parliament failed to reach a quorum, that endorsed the IG system and their accomplishments, in spite of countless complaints from parliamentarians over alleged corruption and graft (6). The statement conceded that failures include oversight functions and a lack of transparency into the policies that ensure effectiveness. Effectiveness is further stunted by the inability of disparate intelligence branches to pool their powers to advance intelligence cooperation.
1. “Charter of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service,” INIS https://fas.org/irp/world/iraq/inis.pdf.
2. The New Arab (in Arabic) ‘Abdul Mahdi names militia PMF leader MoD Inspector General’ Aug 8 2019. https://bit.ly/2pOGQ77
3. Vanda Felbab-Brown, “Report: Pitfalls of the paramilitary paradigm,” Brookings, June 2019.
4. “The Council of Representatives votes to cancel inspector general offices,” Youtube video, “Iraqi News Channel,” October 9, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5lhbXgCjGU.
5. “Adel Abdul Mahdi is confronted by Parliament over the IG system in Iraq,” NAS News, April 15, 2019, https://www.nasnews.com/عبد-المهدي-في-مواجهة-البرلمان-على-ميدا/.
6. “Iraq: Controversy stirred beneath attempts to abolish IG offices,” Asharq Al Awsat, September 20, 2019, https://aawsat.com/home/article/1910246/العراق-جدل-حول-مشروع-إلغاء-مكاتب-المفتشين-العموميين.
Compare scores by country
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|Country||21a. Independence||21b. Effectiveness|
|Albania||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Algeria||0 / 100||NA|
|Angola||0 / 100||NA|
|Argentina||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Armenia||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Australia||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Azerbaijan||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Bahrain||0 / 100||NA|
|Bangladesh||0 / 100||NA|
|Belgium||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Botswana||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Brazil||75 / 100||0 / 100|
|Burkina Faso||50 / 100||NEI|
|Cameroon||0 / 100||NA|
|Canada||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Chile||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|China||0 / 100||NA|
|Colombia||NEI||50 / 100|
|Cote d'Ivoire||0 / 100||NA|
|Denmark||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Egypt||0 / 100||NA|
|Estonia||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Finland||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|France||50 / 100||75 / 100|
|Germany||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Ghana||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Greece||25 / 100||0 / 100|
|Hungary||50 / 100||100 / 100|
|India||0 / 100||NA|
|Indonesia||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Iran||0 / 100||NA|
|Iraq||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Israel||50 / 100||100 / 100|
|Italy||75 / 100||100 / 100|
|Japan||25 / 100||0 / 100|
|Jordan||0 / 100||NA|
|Kenya||75 / 100||25 / 100|
|Kosovo||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Kuwait||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Latvia||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Lebanon||0 / 100||NA|
|Lithuania||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Malaysia||0 / 100||NA|
|Mali||0 / 100||NA|
|Mexico||0 / 100||50 / 100|
|Montenegro||50 / 100||75 / 100|
|Morocco||0 / 100||NA|
|Myanmar||0 / 100||NA|
|Netherlands||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|New Zealand||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Niger||0 / 100||NA|
|Nigeria||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|North Macedonia||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Norway||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Oman||0 / 100||NA|
|Palestine||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Philippines||50 / 100||0 / 100|
|Poland||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Portugal||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Qatar||0 / 100||NA|
|Russia||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|Saudi Arabia||0 / 100||NA|
|Serbia||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Singapore||0 / 100||NEI|
|South Africa||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|South Korea||100 / 100||25 / 100|
|South Sudan||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Spain||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Sudan||0 / 100||NA|
|Sweden||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Switzerland||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Taiwan||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Thailand||0 / 100||NA|
|Tunisia||0 / 100||NA|
|Turkey||0 / 100||NA|
|Uganda||50 / 100||0 / 100|
|Ukraine||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|United Arab Emirates||0 / 100||NA|
|United Kingdom||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|United States||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Venezuela||0 / 100||NA|
|Zimbabwe||0 / 100||NA|