Iraqi defense minister receiving benefits as Swedish citizen: tabloid

Iraqi Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari

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SULAIMANI — Iraqi Defense Minister Najah Shammari has landed in hot water following reports in a Swedish tabloid that he maintains dual-citizenship with that country and is receiving significant social benefits there.

Swedish outlet Nyheteridag first reported on Thursday (November 21) that Shammari was registered as a resident of a Stockholm suburb and does not work, but reportedly receives a pension and free health care.

Nyheteridag is known for its ties to the Swedish far-right.

The Wataniya (National) Coalition has denied that he held Swedish citizenship when he was put forward for defense minister.

Many high profile Iraqis hold dual citizenship, but are required to surrender other national affiliations upon entering high office.

After significant delays in forming the cabinet, he was appointed earlier this year by Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi to fill one of Iraq’s most difficult and sensitive jobs.

The Swedish government has requested Shammari cooperate with an investigation into the situation.

Over the past several weeks, thousands of Iraqis have taken to the streets in Baghdad and southern provinces to protest against the government.

At least 325 people have been killed since the start of mass unrest began in early October, the largest demonstrations since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The security forces, including members of units overseen by the Ministry of Defense, have been accused of using excessive force against the protesters, who are demanding the overthrow of a political class seen as corrupt and beholden to foreign interests.

(NRT Digital Media) 

This story was updated on November 23 at 10:22am