Iraq's top cleric says graft in army helped Islamic State

By REUTERS
November 7, 2014 14:12

 
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 Iraq's most influential Shi'ite cleric said on Friday that corruption in the armed forces had enabled Islamic State to seize much of northern Iraq, criticism that will pressure the government to enact reforms in the face of an insurgency.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has become increasingly critical of Iraqi leaders since Islamic State's lightning advance, which created Iraq's worst crisis since a US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Iraq's army, the recipient of $25 billion in US training and funding, collapsed in the face of the onslaught. Further Islamic State advances and the beheading of Western hostages triggered US-led air strikes.

Speaking on live television through an aide in the holy southern city of Kerbala, Sistani asked rhetorically what would happen if the military were corrupt.

"We think that the security deterioration that happened some months ago can answer that," said Sistani.

"Objectivity demands that the different military positions should by occupied by those who are professional, patriotic, faithful, courageous and not affected in doing their duties by personal and financial influences."

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