Last updated: 14 April, 2012

Iraq probes possible Arab summit corruption

The Iraqi parliament is investigating possible corruption in preparations for the Arab summit which Baghdad hosted in March at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, an MP said Saturday.

“We have indications that there was corruption (in the preparations for) the Arab summit and we need four to 10 weeks to complete our investigation,” MP Bahaa al-Araji said in a statement.

Araji said documents on logistics for the summit, construction and furnishings were in the hands of the parliamentary anti-corruption commission which he heads.

“Once the probe is over we will submit the results to the (independent) commission and after that to the judicial authorities so that they can take the adequate measures,” he added.

Baghdad hosted Iraq’s first Arab summit in 22 years on March 29, and it was preceded by two days of meetings of foreign and economy ministers.

Authorities spruced up the capital for the landmark event, spending as much as $500 million to upgrade facilities, according to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Palm trees and grass were planted along the airport road — dubbed “RPG alley” by US soldiers for the numerous rocket-propelled grenade attacks it took — while six hotels were renovated for delegates and journalists.

The monumental Republican Palace built by slain dictator Saddam Hussein was also refurbished for the summit and 22 villas were built to accommodate Arab leaders, while several roads were repaved.

Baghdad was also locked down and the government declared a week of holidays triggering frustration among residents.

Officials trumpeted their hosting of the summit as evidence of Iraq’s relative stability after decades of conflict and sanctions.

But despite their efforts most key leaders snubbed the summit with only 10 heads of state attending, while a mortar round struck on the edge of the Green Zone where the summit was being held.