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    'Chance for Chaos': Iraqi Corruption Could Spawn New Terrorists - Journalist

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    A new global terrorist group like Daesh could emerge in Iraq unless the nation implements social and political reforms. This is what State Department Senior Adviser Douglas Padgett said during a panel discussion with the Hudson Institute in Washington on Friday.

    Sputnik discussed Mr. Padgett's comments with Laura Silvia Battaglia – a freelance journalist, specializing in Iraq.

    Sputnik: What is your take on the concerns of the State Department official about the emergence of a new global terror group in Iraq?

    Laura Silvia Battaglia: Iraq is a country were violence never ends and I guess that the analogy is quite good and it’s likely because we know that ISIS wasn’t defeated 100% and that are still groups of people from ISIS[Daesh] in some provinces, especially in Tikrit which is a very difficult area, where the minorities are fighting a lot.

    There are also other groups who are in areas that are very close to Tigris so sometimes they emerge in the fight with the Iraqi forces, sometimes they stay quiet, so basically the concern actually is that they are (staying) quiet for some time and trying to build new strategies for the future.

    Sputnik: Mr. Padgett said that Baghdad needs to implement reforms, social and political reforms, can you elaborate more on that?

    Laura Silvia Battaglia: At this time we have a very difficult time for Baghdad, as you know, there were elections two months ago. We are on a very difficult path because the majority won the election and basically they needed to stop and to start to have new alliances because the previous party, who were ruling the country before, now they’re not the majority anymore.

    So we now are at a moment where there is a chance for chaos and the desire of people is to stop corruption.

    The main problem in Iraq that helps these groups emerge is corruption. We should remember that Iraq is the 169th most corrupt country in the world out of 180, so it is nearly among the 10 most corrupt countries in the world and the most corrupt in the Middle East.

    Sputnik: Do you think Iraqi authorities are able to tackle these problems or do they need outside assistance?

    Laura Silvia Battaglia: Iraqis can do that but the most important thing is that they stop the sectarian way of thinking about the faith, and this is very difficult because the constitution is sectarian-based.

    First of all, they should keep faith in the people who actually won the elections, so they are demanding transparency, something that in Iraq doesn’t exist at all, people are for transparency, they’re just looking for a simpler life, like going to the hospitals and not paying bribes to have a bed in the hospital.

    If all the country starts to work on it then, of course, the terrorist groups won’t have a chance to grow. Another problem is actually in the area, for example, in the area of Mosul, of course, ISIS[Daesh] was defeated. But what will happen when a lot of money will be used for reconstruction, who will be the people who will gain this money and they will use this money for what? This is a very important question considering that we don’t know exactly how much it is possible for the Iraqi government to control all the provinces and control also the governments of the provinces.

    Sputnik: What are the chances that the Islamic State could gain ground once again, because local authorities say that some cells of the terrorist group remain active in Iraq despite the fact that authorities declared a victory over the Islamic State?

    Laura Silvia Battaglia: I don’t think actually the Islamic State[Daesh] like exactly the Islamic State[Daesh] could emerge again in the way it emerged before because Islamic State's[Daesh] difference from groups like Al Qaeda was exactly the fact that they had the space, they had a state, they had an airport, they had mainways, they had a lot of money, so it was different.

    Of course, the idea of having like an Islamic State[Daesh] in the area of the Mashreq, which is very likely to hold the people who are joining this kind of ideology, but actually it’s not possible to have this again in Iraq.

    So we can say that maybe they will emerge again as small groups, like little provinces, trying to do something the same thing as they did before, but the idea of a possible new state with a connection between Syria and Iraq at the moment is quite impossible.

    In this file photo released on Aug. 5, 2015, by the Rased News Network a Facebook page affiliated with Islamic State militants, an Islamic State militant holds the group's flag as he stands on a tank they captured from Syrian government forces, in the town of Qaryatain southwest of Palmyra, central Syria
    © AP Photo / Rased News Network via AP, File
    Sputnik: In your view what is the main cause of the appearance of terrorists in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East in the first place?

    Laura Silvia Battaglia: There are different reasons why all these groups emerge. First of all, there's a political game on the shoulders of the people, they feel they are abandoned by institutions, there are different dictatorships, the dictatorships are very violent, the presence of Americans is really, really strong and sometimes, for example, in Yemen or Iraq I have a lot of people join terrorist groups because of drone attacks, so this point is very sensitive.

    And also people need money, so they go immediately to join terrorist groups because they need money, they need a position, they need an idea to fight against somebody, but the other point is, of course, that the lack of the state and the lack of institutions, and the lack of justice, which is a very important point, especially for people in Islamic countries.

    For example, if the Iraqi government continues to have people inside jail and accuse people of being part of ISIS[Daesh] they can’t prove at different steps of the trial that those people that were under ISIS[Daesh], were people of ISIS[Daesh], and they will execute innocent people, but they will execute women, but they will execute kids, that will help any kind of terrorist group to emerge again.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Laura Silvia Battaglia and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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