The Iraqi state has faced a multitude of existential security challenges since the US-led invasion and subsequent occupation of 2003. Insurgency, sectarian violence, and most recently the threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Da’esh, have all contributed to a continued degradation of the security environment in the country. Consequently, the Iraqi state has been heavily investing in its defence sector, focalizing on the modernization of its security apparatuses and the acquisition of critical advanced weapons systems and equipment. However, this procurement process has been persistently plagued by corruption, unaddressed inefficiencies, lack of transparency, and a scarcity of expertise. As a result, Iraqi defence procurement is characterized by its delays, cost overruns, and more critically, poor quality equipment. The Covid-19 global pandemic has furthermore exacerbated the abovementioned challenges, as the Iraqi government struggled to face newfound economic pressures, principally linked to the reduction of state revenues due to the fall of oil prices prior to the crisis in Ukraine. Given these challenges, it is imperative for Iraq to begin taking steps towards reform within its defence procurement process in pursuance of more effective and efficient systems and equipment acquisition, all the while addressing the malignant elements of corruption and opacity plaguing defence procurement. This policy paper will attempt an analysis of the current nature of the Iraqi defence sector, dissecting the various challenges and offering recommendation for general reform.
The paper will provide an overview of Iraq’s defence sector, including current capabilities, and will detail the ecosystem constructed around the defence procurement process currently in place. This will enable a holistic examination of the challenges facing Iraqi procurement, particularly the corruption, procedural and financial opacity, as well as the inefficiencies present in current planning and coordination efforts. Finally, concrete recommendations and protentional opportunities for reform will be presented, namely the increasing of competition, transparency, and accountability, as well as the strengthening of the role of oversight bodies in the procurement process. The paper will present its policy recommendations as they pertain to Iraqi defence procurement, considering the unique political, economic and security context in Iraq. The overall objective is to provide a framework for reform which targets the weaknesses currently inhibiting the procurement process in Iraq. Enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of defence procurement, the promotion of transparency, and the introduction of concrete accountability all ultimately are aimed at contributing to reinforcing the state’s capacity to guarantee greater security and stability for Iraq and Iraqis.
This paper will render the urgency for reform in the Iraqi defence procurement process clear, while attempting to offer practical pathways for the achievement of said reform. However, the opacity in which this process is treated in Iraq means that the amount of information and reliable data available is limited, thus the recommendations subsequently explored were formulated with the information currently available and take into account this deficiency.

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