| 11 December 2023, Monday |

Iraqi Prime minister faces ‘oil mafia’

Less than two weeks after the “theft of the century” scandal, which saw the “disappearance” of $2.5 billion in Iraqi tax insurance funds, a new major theft emerged, involving nine senior officers in the Ministry of Interior in the southern province of Basra.

A document issued by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior said that the nine officers have been imprisoned pending investigations into the theft. Those are detained on suspicion of cooperation with gangs and dealers to facilitate the theft of oil from Basra.

Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani said in a tweet: “We ordered the tracking of oil smuggling networks and the implementation of arrest warrants against the gangs that dared to steal the rights of the Iraqis… The National Security Agency, in cooperation with other agencies, was able to dismantle the largest oil smuggling network in Basra.”

He continued: “We will spare no effort and will work day and night to fight corruption in its various forms.”

The Iraqi National Security apparatus revealed the details of the operation, saying that the network was stealing and smuggling oil and its derivatives, by making holes in the crude oil export lines in the Zubair oil field.

“The National Security Agency thwarted one of the largest crude oil smuggling and theft operations carried out by a network led by a merchant, and involved high-ranking officers and senior officials, who were arrested based on judicial warrants,” it said in a statement.

It added: “This network engages in theft and smuggling operations by making holes in the crude oil export lines located in the Zubair oil field… The smuggled quantities are estimated at five to seven tanks daily with a capacity of fifty thousand liters per breach, while the number of smuggled tanks is estimated at 40 to 50 tanks, at a rate of seventy-five million liters per month.”

  • Asharq Al-Awsat