It is unclear whether the recent accusations against the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Muhammad al-Halbousi, for corruption reflect a strong commitment to fighting corruption and holding all corrupt individuals accountable, regardless of their positions in the state. Instead, it may indicate a worsening of his political differences with opponents, and the efforts to remove him from office have reached a critical juncture.
The Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Muhammad al-Halbousi, is currently facing multiple accusations. These accusations include involvement in financial corruption cases, unauthorized communication with foreign parties, collusion with Kuwait in the Khor Abdullah case, working towards abolishing the Accountability and Justice Law, and promoting the general amnesty law, which would pardon those wanted by justice and reintegrate them into society. The accusations against him are political in nature.
According to Al-Halbousi’s associates, the allegations against him are baseless and are aimed at undermining his political influence. However, his adversaries claim that they have evidence to support the charges and are determined to pursue legal action.
A few months ago, there were reports of sharp disagreements between the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Prime Minister, Muhammad Shiaa al-Sudani. The disagreements arose due to the leaders of the coordination framework behind the government failing to fulfill their promises towards Al-Halbousi and those close to him during the negotiations to form the government.
During that time, political sources reported that the Speaker of the House of Representatives was attempting to unite Sunni political figures and forces to establish a coordination framework to oppose the framework made up of Shiite parties.
Al-Halbousi disagreed with the Shiite coordination framework and tried to establish a Sunni counter-coordination framework.
The surge in wealth of Al-Halbousi and his associates has led to the filing of lawsuits against him.
A member of the Azm Alliance, Haider Al-Mulla, has urged the Prime Minister and the Integrity Commission to investigate the origin of the millions of dollars being spent by the Speaker of Parliament on lavish displays of extravagance and private planes for his travels.
According to a document published in the local media, the Integrity Commission has sent a letter to the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism Office. The letter requests information about the real estate and bank accounts owned by Muhammad al-Halbousi and his two wives, in both Jordan and Belarus.
The Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament had previously faced accusations of deducting percentages from project funds in Anbar Governorate and receiving commissions for granting licenses to establish certain projects, which led to allegations of corruption.
Al-Halbousi’s opponents claim he consolidated power as governor of Anbar by appointing followers and relatives to key positions.
On Monday, several Iraqi news outlets linked the name of Al-Halbousi’s party to a corruption case involving the Anbar Health Department. According to reports, committees from the Integrity Commission are investigating the department’s corruption files which include allegations of forgery and illegal acquisition of funds by leaders in the Taqadum Party, headed by Muhammad al-Halbousi.
The Maalouma news website has reported that the Anbar Health Department is being investigated for corruption and forgery of medical committee decisions. Employees have confessed that their colleagues were involved in the theft of medicines from the governorate’s health directorate. There is also a case of theft of bank instruments designated for the purchase of chronic disease medications. The Integrity authority is said to have opened corruption files based on these allegations.
According to the source, most of those implicated in the corruption cases are members and leaders of the ruling party in Anbar, which is headed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. It was discovered that a large quantity of medication had gone missing over a year ago, and its whereabouts remain unknown. This prompted the integrity committees in Baghdad to investigate the corruption cases and prosecute those involved, referring them to the judiciary.
Rafiq Al-Salhi Al-Halbousi, a member of the Iraqi Parliament, has demanded the disclosure of his financial assets. He emphasized the need to activate the “Where Did You Get This” Law and suggested that the Speaker of the House of Representatives should set an example by applying the law to himself as the head of the legislative authority.
The charges against Al-Halbousi go beyond mere involvement in financial corruption cases to making illegal contacts with external parties and colluding with them against the highest interests of Iraq.
Al-Halbousi faced criticism for meeting with President Erdogan during his visit to Turkey.
Those close to Al-Halbousi claim the charges are false and politically motivated, while his opponents allege the charges are supported by evidence.
The Al-Fatah Alliance, which is a part of the coordination framework, believes that the recent visit by the Speaker of the House of Representatives was a part of a campaign to gain regional support to repeal the Accountability and Justice Law. This law aims to prevent the return of Baath Party members to power, according to the coalition.
Ali Al-Fatlawi, a leader in the Al-Fatah Alliance, stated that Al-Halbousi used his official address to request support for his project of reintegrating Baathists into the political process by abolishing Article 25 of the Accountability and Justice Law.
There were political forces that demonized Al-Halbousi for allegedly colluding with Kuwait in the Khor Abdullah case, which involved sharing a sea port on the waters of the Arabian Gulf. Recently, the Iraqi judiciary cancelled an agreement related to the sharing process with Kuwait.
Hussein Al-Karaawi, a member of the Rights Movement representing the Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq, has accused the Speaker of Parliament of colluding and receiving bribes to ignore the Khor Abdullah file. According to Al-Karaawi, the Speaker’s silence on the matter is evidence of such wrongdoing, which comes at the expense of the Iraqi people’s interests.
Observers of the developments in the case of the Iraqi Speaker of Parliament state that if he is found guilty of corruption, it would not be a unique incident in a country that has lost hundreds of billions of dollars as a result of corruption among its ruling class. However, they do not excuse his opponents, as corruption charges are often used selectively as a tool to settle scores and remove political rivals by others who are no less corrupt.