The Effect of Corruption on International Peace
By Tareq Mahmood ed. Joel Lindsay
Government and military corruption has consequences that extend well beyond the misappropriation of money, including the direct support of international terrorism.
The international community strives to apply laws that allow all people to live in a peaceful environment in accordance with human rights. However, the steps that have been taken to protect humans from the dangers of terrorism appear to be only a superficial treatment that lacks the depth of analysis needed to address its root causes. The disregard of corruption as a core enabler of terrorism reduces the effectiveness of the international communities attempts at combating extremist terrorism. There exist several examples of this corruption-terrorism relationship that definitively highlight their connection to the emergence of armed groups that exist outside the legislative and enforcement framework of governments.
The type of corruption that provides economic permanence to insurgent groups can be divided into two sections, political corruption and administrative corruption. Political corruption is typified by the use of sectarianism to divide communities along religious lines, allowing a certain amount of control over populations, and in turn the government. Additionally, it is considered a reaction to this divisive form of party politics when the voting populace adopts the practice of political factionalism and loyalty instead of voting in accordance with policy practicalities. For this reason, people in politically unstable countries are constantly forced to consider their future as a member of a community that may not value their individual rights, resulting in young disenfranchised citizens joining militant groups in countries such as Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.
The fighters joining insurgent groups as a result of perceived government corruption are joined by fighters moving from stable countries, enticed by the promise of a freedom that allows them to practice their criminal behaves without constraint. According to some sources, there are more than 25,000 foreign fighters that have joined insurgent groups fighting in Iraq and Syria, with many came from Australia, Austria, and Canada. Although these countries are considered to be stable, with human rights more or less being respected, insurgents are traveling these countries to join these groups because the political environment allows them to breach the law without constraint.
Moreover, the dangers of administrative corruption must not be neglected by the international community due to the effect that it has on both national and international peace. This kind of corruption contributes to the increasing discontent of the population. In most cases, the money that should be spent on developing the education and the health systems goes instead to corrupt elites or the wastes of bureaucratic inefficiencies. The corruption in this instance can be path of transformation for a society of people without adequate access to education, people who feel enough resentment against their government to join a terrorist group to fight against their countries or the international community. As the armed groups are predominantly looking for people who want to fight or spread the ideals of terrorism, terrorist organizations will find disenchanted people a good resource for continuing their cause.
To explain the danger of corruption, the history of armed groups must be outlined. For example, in Iraq before 2003 the world and the Middle East did not face any significant threat from terrorism. However, the collapse of Saddam Hussein's authoritarian regime in 2003 cleared the way for these groups, which now also had access to weapons left over from the Iraqi army. The collapse of the Iraqi army was considered to be the main cause of the security vacuum that led directly to the strengthening of insurgent groups in the region. Therefore, coalition forces that overthrew the Iraqi government should be responsible for rebuilding a strong Iraqi army in order to prevent non-state actors form gaining a monopoly on the use of force. This can be achieved by signing agreements with the main suppliers of weapons to the region, increasing their ability reassert legitimate control over the lost Iraqi territory. Unfortunately, the corruption that has infiltrated government institutions has caused certain powerful government and military elites to start taking advantage of their position to make a lot of money, money that should have gone to development projects. The corruption with these personnel has had an extremely negative impact on security in Iraq, the Middle East and the rest of the world as a consequence. For example, the defeat of the Iraqi army in Mosul in 2014 at the hands of small rebel groups shows that advanced military hardware is still being sold on to non-government forces, prolonging conflict in the interest of business.
The collapse of the Iraqi army in Mosul is a turning point in the history of global terrorism and international peace. This is because the weapons and military equipment left behind was appropriated by ISIS and is worth more than 1 billion US dollars. In addition, it left a huge area ungoverned, and with more than 2 million inhabitants, it became a fertile recruitment ground that was effectively exploited by ISIS recruiters in conscripting fighters for their terrorist missions.
According to above discussion, the collapse of the Iraqi army can be seen to be the main cause of the international rise of terrorism. Furthermore, a deeper understanding of the issue shows that the collapse of the Iraqi army was fundamentally caused by systemic corruption, as Prime Minister of Iraq explained in his public speech. He explains that at the time of the defeat in Mosul, more than 50,000 untrained and unofficial soldiers were a part of the Iraqi army. These are the soldiers that fled the offensive at Mosul, leaving behind the weapons that equipped ISIS to become the force they are today. Therefore, the international community should not only create an international military alliance to bring stability to the world, they need build an international coalition against governmental corruption and weapons trading in order to effect a rehabilitation of the communities within the countries that are suffering the worst effects of terrorism.