Security

Iraqi army consolidates control over 15 land, sea ports

By Khalid al-Taie

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Iraqi soldiers on July 24th are seen lined up on a dirt mound erected to protect the Shalamcheh border crossing with Iran. [Photo courtesy of the Iraqi Ministry of Defence]

The Iraqi army has asserted full control over 15 land border crossings and seaports as part of a plan to tackle corruption, smuggling and illegal activities, the army said Saturday (July 25th).

But the security campaign, launched July 11th, will continue and aims to impose the rule of law and the sovereignty of the state at all border crossings, said Maj. Gen. Tahseen al-Khafaji, a spokesman for the Joint Operations Command.

It has so far resulted in securing 11 land border crossings, mostly on the border with Iran, he told Diyaruna.

These include Mandali, Munthiriya, Badra, Zarbatiya, al-Shayb, Shalamcheh, Safwan, Trebil, Abu Fulous, Arar and al-Qaim.

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Iraqi soldiers on January 16th check trailers carrying imported vehicles arriving from the Trebil commercial crossing on the Jordanian border. [Photo courtesy of the Iraqi Ministry of Defence]

Four seaports were also secured: Umm Qasr (Northern, Southern, and Central) and the Khor al-Zubair port in Basra province.

The Joint Operations Command has devised plans to maintain control over these ports, which include the deployment of military units on various fronts, al-Khafaji said.

These forces "have the legal authority to intervene to stop violations and tackle any attempt to tamper with the regulations, instructions and rules in effect", he added.

On Thursday, the director of the Zarbatiya crossing with Iran and his aide were relieved of their posts after they assaulted a customs employee who was fulfilling his duties at the crossing, media reports said.

They had sought to pressure the employee to violate the law and rules of operation, al-Khafaji pointed out, but the military force in charge of protecting the crossing arrested the two individuals and handed them over to the court.

"We will take all measures within our powers to combat corruption and prevent our national resources and public funds from being wasted through the illegal practices of those in power," he said.

"The army has finished consolidating full control over a large number of ports, but we will not stop there and our efforts will continue until the remaining commercial ports are secured," he said.

Iraq loses billions of dollars every year due to corruption and weak oversight of 22 land border crossings and sea ports.

The violations include importing goods with false certificates of origin or that do not conform to quality standards, not paying taxes and customs fees on imported goods or conducting checks on them.

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