‘Worse than a jungle’: the cartel controlling Iraqi borders | AFP

[Published here March 29, 2021]

Along Iraq’s borders, a corrupt customs-evasion cartel is diverting billions of dollars away from state coffers to line the pockets of armed groups, political parties and crooked officials.

The prime beneficiaries are Iran-linked Shiite paramilitaries that intimidate federal officials who dare obstruct them, sometimes through chillingly specific death threats, a six-month AFP investigation has found.

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Dekkenet al-Balad opens in Gemmayze | NOW News

[Published here May 15, 2014]

Driving licenses, university diplomas, and votes: everything’s for sale, even your rights. Such is the motto of Dekkenet al-Balad, which translates to “Country Store,” the newly opened storefront on Beirut’s Gemmayze Street. Neatly stacked throughout the small shop are buckets full of forged Lebanese ID cards, binders labeled “List of government positions for Maronites only,” and stacks of counterfeit Lebanese government paperwork. A young employee hurriedly sifts through a cardboard box to find a customer precisely the document she needs – for a fee, of course.

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