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The New Arab

Donkey meat feeds the Iraqi armed forces

Army recruits have midday meal at Baghdad Combat School in Taji, Iraq, October, 2014 [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 December, 2015

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The Iraqi authorities have arrested an MoD contractor who provided the Iraqi army and government-funded militia with donkey meat passed as beef for the past 18 months.
The Iraqi army and Popular Mobilisation fighters have been fed donkey meat for the last 18 months from an Iraqi Ministry of Defence contractor who passed off the meat as imported Indian and Australian beef.

The Iraqi authorities have arrested the contractor "who was providing army bases with donkey meat for the last year and a half," after the food was inspected by the Ministry of Health, a source from the MoD told The New Arab.

The contractor is being questioned by the security authorities, the source said, and the MoD is reconsidering all other contract agreements made with other suppliers who are feeding the army, the government-funded Popular Mobilisation militia and other security forces.

Corruption in Iraq is highly pervasive and institutionalised and most government contracting - including ones connected with feeding the country's armed forces - is affected by illicit activity and cronyism.

The government issued a gag order that would bar this news from circulating, to avoid bringing any harm to soldiers and volunteer fighters, and because the suspect has connections to one of the country's prominent political parties, according to the security source.

He said that the authorities confiscated 200 tons of meat from MoD storage rooms and freezers in the northern and western sectors of the country.

Donkey meat is consumed in some cultures and was introduced in China as a cheaper substitute to horse meat in the early 15th century. In France too, the donkey-and-pork saucisson d'Arles (Arles sausage) was common before donkey slaughtering became restricted there.
   
French sausage made from donkey meat hangs at an agricultural trade
fair in Berlin, Germany on 16 January, 2015 [Getty]

The previous Iraqi government entered into contracts in mid-2014 with several private companies in Baghdad to cater for the army and prisons around the country, through the MoD and the Ministry of Justice.

Members of the Iraqi army have been complaining about the quality of meals and the delay in delivering them to battlefronts.

The director of an organisation that supports victims of terrorism in Iraq, Hussein al-Taee, said in a statement for the press that the government should disclose the identity of the contractor and "apologise to all our armed forces heroes."

A former Iraqi army officer, Khaled Abdullah, told The New Arab that the companies that cater for the army receive very large sums of money. He wondered if the meat was not supposed to be checked by security services and the army before being allowed to be consumed by the troops.

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