Iraq and Gulf Analysis

An Iraq Blog by a Victim of the Human Rights Crimes of the Norwegian Government

More Post-Election De-Baathification: Another Blow to the Idea of Democracy in Iraq

Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 26 April 2010 14:51

Iraq’s powerful de-Baathification committee has dealt another blow to the idea of democracy in Iraq:  After many conflicting reports over the weekend, it is becoming increasingly clear that the board’s attempt to de-Baathify 55 of the replacement candidates for other candidates that were themselves de-Baathified has been sustained by the special judicial board for the elections, along with an acceptance of its proposal to annul the personal votes for these candidates instead of transferring them to their list.

With respect to the politics of this, the de-Baathification committee, of course, is largely controlled by the pro-Iranian Iraqi National Alliance, whereas the special judicial board for the elections is seen as leaning towards Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki after its decision to allow a Baghdad recount. The main victim of these decisions, Iraqiyya, has no significant influence in either body. The Kurdish chief of the elections commission IHEC, Faraj al-Haydari, had previously expressed his distaste for the idea of annulling the votes altogether.

Because of the messy process  in which candidates were struck from the ballots right until the last minute, it is still unclear exactly which individuals are subject to the new decision. Seat-winning candidates that could be in trouble include Ibrahim al-Mutlak, the replacement candidate for Salih al-Mutlak who got some 5,400 personal votes and a seat in Baghdad. The same situation may possibly apply for candidate number two for Iraqiyya in Anbar, another Mutlak (Hamid Abid), who was not listed on most IHEC lists prior to the election and therefore may have also been a replacement candidate – in this case representing some 14,700 personal votes.

Crucially, these examples show that this is about more than candidates – it is also about voters. Here we have two examples and some 20,000 Iraqis whose votes may simply be stolen from them according to procedures that are not based on any law or even any IHEC regulation. In particular, the decision to penalise voters who used the open-list system by annulling their active use of the ballot (a passive list vote would not have been cancelled) risks putting the whole idea of democracy in disrepute in Iraq.

The de-Baathified candidates have been given one month to complain the decision – another ad hoc legal concoction by IHEC and something which firmly pushes certification of the results towards June, regardless of what happens to the Baghdad recount as well as further demands for recounts by the Kurds in some of the northern governorates (which apparently remain pending).

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52 Responses to “More Post-Election De-Baathification: Another Blow to the Idea of Democracy in Iraq”

  1. Ali W said

    What a mess. Reidar has this been confirmed? Is it definite that the votes will be annulled and will not be going to the party?

  2. Reidar Visser said

    That’s what the wire reports from Iraq say. Everyone from Buratha to pro-Iraqiyya people talk about the outright cancellation of the votes, with no transfer to the entity (the latter point is explicitly mentioned).

  3. Erdaser said

    Mr. Visser,

    I have many questions rambling through my mind.

    The Panel seems to have ruled that the votes casted for the de-Baathified -winning- candidates will not be returned to the political entities.

    Does this mean that if two seat-winners from Iraqiyya was eliminated, the total number of seats of that party will be reduced to 89 for good?

    On the other hand, what about the total seats in the Parliament then? With today’s decision, will we have a Parliament of 323 seats, instead of 325?

    Questions follow questions: Is there really an appeal mechanism for this decision? Cassation Court (of 7 judges, which in fact, gave three of its members to election judicial panel, as far as I know)for instance?

    Yet another puzzle in the Iraqi politics!

  4. Reidar Visser said

    Erdaser, indeed, lots of questions here. I don’t want to speculate too much in the absence of confirmation of the identities of those banned, but obviously in the case of Baghdad much can happen, even if 5,000 votes for Mutlak may not be that much when all comes to all. If the other Mutlak in Anbar is also banned, then it would be 14,700 votes which is more substantial but probably not enough to give the seat to Unity of Iraq or Tawafuq (very rough calculation).

    I think the more important issue is how this is likely to inject venom into the faltering coalition-forming process, as well as the voter apathy that is likely to result. I mean, thousands of Iraqis who braved adverse security conditions might as well have cast their votes for Sarah Palin! Another aspect is the general uncertainty with respect to the rule of law that ensues. You ask about the appeals mechanism and the details simply aren’t clear yet – it is interesting that there is reference to a 30 days appeals period, which is unlike the previous round of de-Baathification (3 days) and similar to that indicated in the de-Baathification legislation (which, however, has nothing to do with the elections). Not terribly promising in terms of due process, that’s for sure.

  5. Jason said

    Iraq (and practically every ME nation) needs a Constitutional amendment along the lines of the following:

    “No person shall be barred from standing for elected office unless first having been convicted of a crime punishable under existing law by imprisonment of greater than one year, in a proceeding observing all elements of due process, including but not necessarily limited to, a trial before a fair and impartial tribunal, notice of the charges and the laws allegedly violated, the right to legal representation, and the right to present a defense, including the power to subpoena witnesses and the right to confront and cross-examine one’s accusers.”

  6. Sarah Palinka said

    You mention ‘another ad hoc legal concoction by IHEC’. Pls. note the recent decision has not been made by the IHEC, but the EJP (Electoral Judicial Panel). The 30 days period likely refers to the timline within which the Court of Cassation (the appeals court) has to decide over appeals, if any.
    Other than that, nothing to add.

  7. Reidar Visser said

    Not sure if we know yet what is in the judicial board decision and what is IHEC (i.e. beyond the exclusions themselves). I say this because it was Hamidiya al-Husayni who mentioned the appeals period, and because last time they welded the AJ legislation onto the electoral legislation to create some kind of hybrid. Ultimately, it was IHEC that structured it, albeit with frequent and not particularly discreet prompts from the AJ board. Also, it was the special appeals court for de-Baathification cases, rather than the court of cassation, that handled those appeals and it wouldn’t be surprising if that were to happen again.

  8. Ali W said

    Reidar, according to BBC, the votes will be passed on to the bloc, however due to the shifiting numbers, it could still be possible that there could be a loss of a seat. But this would not mean the votes will be annulled, just spreading it out might cost the seats. Thats i got from the article i posted below

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/8644097.stm

  9. Rachel said

    I was worried before the elections when I heard about the possibility of allowing people to run with the possibility of De-Baathifying them after the elections. This was suggested in the name of expediency- to keep the election ball rolling. But the risk that candidates would be selectively De-Baathified to influence the outcome of the vote seemed very high.

  10. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, your source in Iraqiyya is just stating how he thinks it should be. The IHEC commissioner quoted, who is close to Tawafuq, suggests that blocs may lose seats. I.e. “He said if the new calculations show that any one coalition does not lose a seat, then the coalitions would be able to replace the barred candidates with the next one on their lists who got the most votes.”

    I mean, that is pretty self-evident, he is just saying that even if you steal all the votes of an Iraqiyya candidate and Iraqiyya still has enough votes to win seats with the remainder of their votes, then they shall have the right to win that seat. What magnanimity….

  11. Gösta Grönroos said

    These de-Baathification measures appear so utterly provocative that one wonders what their purpose is. To ignite civil war? Or is just part of the haggling to form the government? In view of the fairly modest reactions from Iraqiya, the latter seems closer to the truth. Of course, I agree that it sets a murky precedent for the rule of law and democracy in Iraq, but how serious is this development from the point of view of the stability of the country?

  12. Salah said

    Reidar, is this planed in advance?

    Why this spell out just after all things settled after the election?

    We know that some parties withdrawn their de-Baathified candidates before election due to objections by IHEC and Ali Lami folk and replaced with another candidates, why now the court enforce that parties not allowed to be replaced?

    Jason,
    Let not forgot who was drafted the Iraqi constitution was Noah Friedman not any ME Nation.

    As for criminals, you can find between the members of the government and member of parliament many who are criminal before coming to Iraqi, who plan and did high jacking of Kuwaiti airplane in 1981 to those who organised bombing inside Iraq one of them the incident of tried to kill the vice chancellor University of Technology in Baghdad to those bombes planted in Mansoore street inside rubbish bins killed many innocent Iraqi people, to add to those who defrauded the social support benefits system in their country of exile who got paid while they holding high ranking positions and paid millions inside Iraq like Ali Al-Alaq and Samira Mohammed the list goes on and on just go after them you will find long ugly things…..

    Ali W.
    Very surprising your U-Turn with de-Baathified! Are you serous here it’s a mess?

  13. Kermanshahi said

    I have been warning for 2 years that Maliki is trying to become the new Saddam, this is just one more step which proves that it’s true. And Gösta, there is a strong possibility IMO when Maliki feels strong enough (possibly now already) to go to full civil war with the Shi’a and Sunni Islamists, the Ba’athists and Nationalists and the Kurds.

  14. Reidar Visser said

    Kermanshahi, some in Iraqiyya react in the same way, but let’s face it, the de-Baathification drive comes first and foremost from INA not from SLA, right? To the best of my knowledge the idea of annulling the votes of candidates entirely comes directly from Ali al-Lami, who reiterated this just a week ago or so.

  15. Salah said

    I have been warning for 2 years that Maliki is trying to become the new Saddam

    huh….let keep your house clean before arranging Iraqi house.

  16. Kermanshahi said

    Who benefits most from the candidate ban, Reidar? When Secularists are banned, for who will their supporters vote? The (supposedly) non-secterian Maliki or the Shi’a Islamist parties? If the INA wanted to rig the vote to gain more power, why wouldn’t they target Maliki, their main Shi’a opponent? The INA was more or less an alliance to try unseat Maliki (with all losers from 2009 grouping together) anyway.
    Prior to the elections many thought Malikis support among Sunnis (which later appeared not to exist) would give him an edge over the INA, why would the INA target Malikis nationalists, non-secterian and Sunni opponents? And why would they, now he needs them most, try strengthen his position instead of their own by disqualifying his opponents in Baghdad?

    Also, this isn’t the only thing which makes Maliki look like the new Saddam, put everything together, he moved from Shi’a Islamist to Arab Nationalist (Saddam’s ideology), he started becoming anti-Iranian (like Saddam) and crack down on Shi’a Islamists (like Saddam), while creating conflict with Kurds (like Saddam), in the same way he started becoming increasingly authoritarian (like Saddam) and creating a strong-man image (Saddam was a strong-man) and trying to become a dictator who cannot be challenged by democratic means (like Saddam), while he’s already been commiting human rights violations (i.e. prison tortures, ect. like Saddam).

  17. Reidar Visser said

    As I see it, de-Baathification was aimed at putting pressure on Maliki, to make him move in a more sectarian direction, and to some extent this also happened. It deprived Maliki of potential support in Sunni areas but SLA actually experienced de-Baathification attacks on its own candidates just four days before 7 March,

    Another quick point: It is highly unclear what the fallout in terms of seats will be, with most estimates at 2-6 maximum. That takes us back to the overarching goal of the de-Baathification drive prior to the elections: To create a particular kind of political atmosphere.

  18. Gosta,
    I think there is an emergent pattern here, the latest debaathification seems to be another poke to see what Maliki and his backers can get away with. It is fairly obvious now that a merger with INA can lead to international sanctions and loss of recognition, and the re-count of Baghdad votes may not produce the result he is hoping for, so if Maliki receives no protest then he will proceed with the second wave of debaathification.

  19. Kermanshahi said

    Faisal, Maliki can rigg the elections as badly as Hamid Karzai did it and the Americans won’t withdraw recognition. The bottom line is, they don’t care if he’s a dictator or democratic, they just want Iraq to seem “stabilised” and than they’ll declare it a democracy no matter what. If they do admit his government is a dictatorship, it would be admitting they lost the war, it was all for nothing and it was all a massive failure, something they’re not really up to, yet (although it’s true).

    Reidar, the INA also suffered de-Ba’athifications, but these were mostly symbolic. As far as I can see the biggest benefiter of the pre-election de-Ba’athification (and that’s why he so strongly supported it) and the biggest benefiter of the post-election de-Ba’athification is Maliki and he also seems the most outspoken supporter of both Ba’athification and has already made it publicly known that he wants these kind of things to happen to give him more seets than Allawi.

  20. Reidar Visser said

    I just cannot agree that the Obama administration has been particularly supportive of Maliki. Maybe true for Bush, but instantly in 2008 when Maliki seemed capable of restoring some sense of mildly coherent government in Baghdad Washington became full of whispers about “authoritarianism” etc. and from the moment Obama took over they made a point of diversifying their contacts with Iraqi leaders with all the vice presidential visits, Barzani in DC etc. And they were jubilant over Samarraie as speaker, which was of course also an anti-Maliki choice.

  21. Ali W said

    Reidar, are the people getting banned actually have baathist connections?

    Kermanshahi, you are very wrong about Maliki, i dont even know were to start. Yes he has mistakes, but so do theKurdish politicians, I mean are yo telling me that Barazani or Talabani are not corrupt, or authoritarian? What happened to a journalist a few years ago when he wrote about barazani’s nepotism?

    THis was the work of INA as Reidar states, not Maliki. I beleive if these guys are baathist sympathizers then good, get rid of them, if it was up to me i would take away their nationality as well. But their votes should not be disqualified, thats my problem, its extremely undemocratic to cancel votes, but not criminals or criminal sympathizers.

  22. mostafa said

    Hi Riedar,
    I think that every body in this world must accept the new iraq without albaath party. It is exactly like Europe without Nazism.
    It is not that Nazism don’t have supporters in Germany (Actually it does have & Adolf Hitler became a leader by democratic elections then destroyed the world).
    when Saleh almutlaq was debaathified he stopped talking about Saddam as a national hero (good for him and for the people he represents to learn not to make Saddam their hero.
    I think the debaathified figures don’t respect the constitution and we saw INM’s supporters raising the old Iraqi flag with Saddam husain’s handwritting

  23. Rifat said

    Hi Reidar, do we know how many of the 22 Iraqiqia banned candidates were actually elected? Also, why is this such a shock when we knew these 52 cands were going to be banned before the results were out?

  24. Rifat said

    I also just read from the following link that only 2 candidates actually have seats, if so then why does it constitute an attempt sideline Allawi?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/8644097.stm

  25. Kermanshahi,
    I don’t think the Obama administration will give Maliki a very long leash; Maliki tried to appoint his aid as ambassador in Washington but the US refused to receive the proposed ambassador’s (Al Rekabi) credentials and he had to go back, at least that’s what I heard. Recognition does not come only from the US, the Europeans and some Arab states are very mindful of shady and repressive anti democratic practices. Not only Maliki is aware of the possible consequences of a merger but also Hakim by his contacts with Saudi Arabia and others. And you got to keep in mind that the Iranians are very shrewed politicians who don’t like confrontation, sometimes they give good advice..

  26. Reidar Visser said

    Mostafa, the problem with your de-Baathification criteria is that you are making them up, they are not the law. Until the Iraqi parliament has adopted a law pursuant to article 7 of the constitution, the only legal basis for exclusion of candidates is the AJ law of 2008 which relates to party/bureaucracy rank. Ali, for the same reason, the question of “sympathies” really is secondary here. As long as there is no legal framework to handle “glorification” issues, it would lead to anarchy if people could walk down the street in Baghdad and demand to have people that they think “look Baathi” locked up and removed from social life. All I’m asking for is in fact a state of law – dawlat al-qanun!

    Rifat, the estimates I hear for actual seat winners that will lose votes are between 2 and 6 candidates. The new, and if you will, particularly scandalous element (for this is all scandal to some extent), is that those votes will be annulled and not transferred to the lists of the candidates. In democratic theory, the deeper problem was created when the elections went ahead with candidates on the ballot that would later be excluded using de-Baathification criteria. You simply cannot do that to voters, especially not in an open-list system where it means outright theft of the vote. Either the elections should have been postponed or all listed candidates must be considered approved as of 7 March.

    As said before, I take the view that INA initiated the de-Baath campaign and that it has often hurt SLA (which, it has to be said, has failed to tackle it properly and, especially in the provinces, seemed to go along with it quite willingly). What bothers me in this latest development is the very vocal role played by Tariq Harb, a pro-Maliki legal commentator, in communicating the decision to the Iraqi public, almost as if he seemed pro-active.

  27. Sarah Palinka said

    Reidar, this is something you keep getting wrong: The AJC is not ‘run’ by the INA, just because Chalabi is part of that block. It is indeed SoL who has its hand on the ACJ. Chalabi has always been a ‘double agent’ and will always be. He is Maliki’s man within the INA. Watch it.

  28. Reidar Visser said

    I cordially disagree with that for a number of reasons. Firstly, I think it overlooks the bigger historical picture in which anti-Baathism was a tool used by ISCI to prevent Maliki-Mutlak rapprochement in March 2009. Second, the intensity of the anti-Baath attacks on a number of Maliki candidates in the pro-ISCI press and blogosphere suggests to me that this is more than just symbolic, tongue-in-cheek actions. Third, the consistent pattern of all of this has been initiatives by the AJ board, followed by applause by INA (often with an ecstatic Buratha news agency or al-Forat TV in the lead in breaking the news), and then apparently reluctant responses by SLA.

    What is the evidence for the warm relationship between Maliki and Chalabi?

  29. Joe said

    Reidar,

    Thanks again for the great dialogue. On your assertion “I take the view that INA initiated the de-Baath campaign and that it has often hurt SLA”…agree completely. At the same time, would assert that now, in the post-election atmosphere, Maliki realizes the benefit of the AJC’s push for his own benefit.

    Briefly: Maliki pushes for and gains a recount in Baghdad Province, although not expected to result in large re-arrangement of votes or even seat allocations. However, now with the AJC’s push and the EJP’s acquiescence, a Baghdad recount takes on much more significance. With a certain number of votes thrown out due to the recent EJP ruling (which forces a re-calculation of the electoral divider), a near-simultaenous recount may shift the electoral divider even more and change the seat allocation calculus by that much more (likely in favor of SLA in one way or another)…no?

    It’s like he’s applying pressure from both sides to amplify his leverage in the coalition formation process by gaining as many seats as possible. As you mentioned in an earlier spot, he only needs enough seats to be able to viably cut ties with INA and form the coalition of his own choosing.

  30. Reidar Visser said

    Joe, as indicated above, I think the implications of the decision in terms of loss of seats may be exaggerated whereas its impact may be greater in terms of a general poisoning of the political atmosphere as well as declining legitimacy for the political process as a whole. I am saying this particularly because it seems Ibrahim al-Mutlak is indeed one of the candidates concerned, and it would be really surprising, even with the recount, if the act of scrapping his 5,000 votes would change the Baghdad result where the electoral divider is some 40,000 and where both SLA and INM have fairly good margins for all their seats. In general INM candidates in Baghdad other than Allawi and Hashemi have relatively low personal votes (same thing as in the case of SLA) so cancelling their votes is likely to have a relatively limited impact and probably will just mean that one candidate moves up the ladder. I would be more concerned about some of the provinces, which is why I mentioned Anbar.

    So if the implications in terms of seats are minimal or non-existent, it is the prospect of INM and SLA moving closer together that gets hurt, because Maliki once more will come under pressure (from INA) to behave in a sectarian fashion.

    PS: It is very important to note that even if the votes are not given to the list (and hence “stolen” quite literally), the list still has the right to fight on in the distribution of the seats with the remainder of its votes which is why the impact is going to be limited as long as we are talking about candidates with relatively low numbers of personal votes. There is no suggestion that any seats are taken out of the equation and most may well end up staying within the same list.

  31. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar and Faisal, the American leadership wants Iraq as democratic as possible (cause otherwise it’s embarresing towards their people), but they will do the same towards Maliki as towards Karzai when it comes to election fraud, even if they’d prefer other parties they won’t want to admit the war was a failure and they lost it. Also, cutting relations will only push Iraq towards Iran and they know it.

    Ali, the difference is that Kurdistan was a dictatorship (or actually two dictatorships) but a dictatorship turning into a democracy and while it’s far from perfect, human rights and freedoms are better there than anywhere else in the region (not that that’s very difficult), Iraq as a whole on the other hand was more or less democratic but is now seeing a new dictator emerge and Iraq’s current situation is the ideal situation for a dictator to emerge.

  32. Joe said

    Reidar,

    Acknowledge your great points and detailed insight on the implications in terms of seat allocations.

    At the same time…how seriously did we entertain the possibility of Maliki reaching out to INM in the first place? Such an eventuality assumes that either: a) Maliki holds respect for the process higher than remaining PM; or b) One or the other (Maliki or Allawi) will capitulate and support the other’s candidacy for PM. Neither a nor b appears to be accurate at this point.

    Which brings us back to Maliki’s designs on power. INA does have some to gain by a “general poisoning of the political atmosphere” as you put it; however, the scariest manifestation here may be Maliki’s apparent determination to let nothing stop him in his bid for re-election as Prime Minister.

    Perhaps the other blocs are alarmed as well and Maliki’s acceptability as a PM candidate decreases across the board. But if he succeeds in engineering what he seems to be trying to, it runs the risk of further alienating INM and the Sadrists, some of whose constituents may choose to voice their discontent in counterproductive fashion.

  33. Kermanshahi,
    I agree to some extent with your observation that there are parallels between Afghanistan and Iraq, I wrote about it in April 2007 here. And your scenario of compelling the US to accept a status quo designed by the Iranians sounds like my check-mate scenario which I described in January 2010 here. But surely you don’t expect the US to go along with financing such a regime when Iraq is under Article 7? Iran can’t invest much in Iraq anymore, it simply does not have the money..
    The legitimacy of the Iraqi regime will be in question if Maliki pushes thru his anti democratic policies, you think the US will accept this situation grudgingly, I hope this will lead to UNCEI, census first then elections.

  34. Mohammed said

    Reidar:

    I agree very much with your analysis. To the others of you, let’s just remember that for Maliki to get the post of PM, he is either going to have to make a block with Iraqiya or INA. I very much doubt that Maliki is willing to form a block with either group unless the group will support him for PM. Who benefits from these debaathification announcements? They are unlikely to change the seats by much. They poison the atmosphere so that sunnis will not be willing to support SOL and destroy any potential alliance with Iraqiya and SOL. This leaves Maliki with only the INA to turn to, and increases the INA’s importance to force Maliki to give up the PM post.

    If Maliki comes out against the debaathification process, INA will use this to undermine his Shiite support (Hakim and Sadr are always looking for issues to show that Maliki is “not religious enough” and will paint him as being in bed with the baathists).

    This is all about power and oil, and who gets to control it. Right now, INA has lost a tremendous amount of power since the last election. If they join Maliki, they will be dwarfed by his base and strong personality and will eventually decay to insignificance…The debathification process gives them some temporary power back to sway the process. This also shows that INA cannot join forces with Iraqiya.

    The net effect of all these efforts is that it will prolong the government formation process further. I think the INA hope is that the longer this goes, the more pressure will be brought to Maliki to give up the idea of being MP. Already, we see reports that the USA is saying Iraq needs to get on with the process. The INA hope is for a government of national unity that is really weak to emerge from this process (and they will try to get the neighbors and the USA to support such a weak govt). In that case, what will happen is that SOL will form a block with INA, and they will ask for Iraqiya to join the block to form a government of unity (but with neither Maliki or Allawi as PM). Even if Iraqiya refuses to join SOL + INA (and maybe Kurds), as long as Maliki is out of the picture, INA will come out of the process stronger with such a weak central government.

  35. Reidar Visser said

    Mohammed, I agree the time factor is really important here. In addition to the reasons you mention, there is another power that benefits immensely the longer this takes: Iran. Tehran leaders probably think they have leverage over the US as long as the coalition-forming process is ongoing in Iraq and that this may help mitigate threats about sanctions etc.

  36. Jason said

    Who is Noah Friedman?

  37. Reidar Visser said

    I suppose he means Noah Feldman. But the reference is misleading anyway since Feldman had left Iraq in 2005. If he had any influence on the framework it would have been in the TAL in 2004. The 2005 constitution was more influenced by Peter Galbraith.

  38. JWing said

    I would agree with Reidar that the work of the Accountability Commission was led by the National Alliance. Iran probably had a big role in the bannings as well. And Maliki did benefit from their actions, but he jumped on the bandwagon, he didn’t initiate it.

    Also one report said that the fate of 7-9 other winning candidates is to be decided next week (it was supposed to have been today but it got delayed) and half of them are from Allawi’s list and the other half from Maliki’s.

  39. Salah said

    Rieder,

    with due respect, left Iraq in 2004 so he have nothing to do with 2005 constitution, he was the guy he involvled deplly in the initial drafting there is no dout in that, although passing the consistution in 2005 that not meaning that what darfted in 2004 were have no value.

    the time taken to pass the constitutions was to preparation the ground to get pass with minimal opposition to that’s why took that long and that why he left in 2004.

  40. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, we are way beyond the topic of the post, but just to conclude this particular aspect, could you please specify which articles Feldman drafted and your sources for this. I am not asking about general, unsubstantiated claims of the “everyone knows the US wrote the Iraqi constitution” type, which are common among commentators who do not bother to check their sources.

  41. Salah said

    In 2003 Feldman, who is fluent in Arabic and a constitutional law professor, went to Iraq as the Senior Advisor on constitutional law to the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Feldman shares some intriguing and often humorous anecdotes of his work for the CPA in his book What We Owe Iraq, which is sort of a half-travelogue half-ethical analysis of nation building.

    He is the advisor on same consistution who advised on writing and drafting

    some interesting observations today about a constitutional process that has left many befuddled. He is able to provide a rather <iblunt opinion while simultaneously providing much of the uncovered back story to the constitutional negotiations.

    more on Iraqi Constitution

  42. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, that is just copied from what appears to be a US student blogger at http://mralec.blogspot.com/2005/08/noah-feldman-on-iraqs-constitution.html
    Again, if he advised on anything it would have been the TAL. In fact, the blog entry you quote relates to a review of Feldman’s book whose date of publication means it did not cover the truly significant period that is of relevance here: The hard articles of the constitution came into being in early August 2005 as described by Jonathan Moore whose friend Peter Galbraith was probably the American to exercise the greatest influence on any clauses that have real significance.

    Again, follow-ups on this particular subject need to contain a specific clause reference to articles drafted by Feldman & a credible source in order to get published since we are already far away from the original topic of this post.

  43. Salah said

    Reidar Visser

    You asking as you try telling here US and her teams in Iraq are angles Reidar…..
    What make you then just speaks about Peter Galbraith was the only bad guy or just jealousness of his 5% oil shares from the Kurds?

    You should ask your self as an expert from western world what make so important to push for constitution while the nation under threat in a situations that no place on earth or any mindful person will tell why get it now. Iraq nation was just under Shock and Awe state, life of millions was hugely damaged people have lost, disoriented and suffering from massive war.

    I don’t have backdoors spies to tell nor Noah or US telling what they doing.

    To discredits things here asking for real source not just inconvenient but a way of twisting things and reality what went inside Iraq with US unspeakable bad behaviours from head to toes.

    But there was story in at the time were a member of committee joint with Noah said to the Arabic newspaper they will write the Iraqi constitution according to the draft copy of the TAL, this means Noah drafted constitution, don’t tell me there Iraqi members have all the right and say in all what written.

    The team of the constitution was Adel abdul Mahadi, Humam Hamudi and few others there names not put in public domain

  44. Reidar Visser said

    I am not suggesting that the US played a positive role or anything at the time, but that the worst parts of the constitution were authored by the Kurds and ISCI with the assistance of Peter Galbraith and to some extent UNAMI. Bush made a pathetic attempt at calling Hakim in August but only Khalilzad appears to have had any tangible influence (in the last-minute batch of revisions in October).

    The names of the 55 or so members of the constitutional committee are indeed in the public domain, but more important is the fact that ISCI and the Kurds sidelined almost everyone else in August when many key features such as the imlementation procedures for federalism were adopted.

  45. Wladimir van Wilgenburg said

    The delay and messy aftermath of the Iraqi election mean it may be months before the next government is formed, even as tens of thousands of American troops pack to leave. Yet Mr. Obama has not had a meeting on Iraq with his full national security team in months, and the White House insists that it has no plans to revisit the withdrawal timetable.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/28/world/middleeast/28iraq.html?hp

    Obama just wants to withdraw, U.S. expected delays.

  46. Kermanshahi said

    Faisal, the problem is that the US government cares more about having power and influence in Iraq aswell as saving face towards their own people than about whether Iraq (or Afghanistan) actually become democratic. Examples of the US caring more about their own power than democracy in other countries cannot only be seen in Afghanistan but there are numerous dictatorships backed by the US, take for instance neighbouring Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait and Jordan aswell as other Arab regimes like in Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain, Yemen and past examples like the Shah of Iran, the military juntas in South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Cuba and almost every African and South American dictator there is or has been.

    And even if they would really care about undemocraticness of Maliki, the chances they would withdraw recognition of his government and instead recognise some government in exile is virtually 0, what could happen at worst is that Iraq would become somewhat like Syria (in the sense of their relations with the US, with Iran and their role in the region) but the Americans would prefer to keep up the current status quo of having an Iraqi government which is friendly to both the US and Iran.

  47. Jason said

    The U.S. is, of course, divided. Obama’s base of support wants out of Iraq, no matter what, which appears to be driving his policy. They really don’t care about “power and influence in Iraq” at all, only redirecting the spoils of government to public sector unions in the U.S. that support him.

    The Wilsonian (Neoconservative) school of thought (now completely out of power) believes that the investment to insure true democracy in Iraq will pay long-run dividends, both for peace and stability in the ME, as a hedge against oil supply disruptions in neighboring dictatorships, and to undermine the despotic Iranian Mullah Regime.

    Everyone else, the majority of Americans, want out very badly, but not if that means losing what has previously been invested. Obama has to balance the demands of his base with this majority of Americans.

  48. Jason said

    To follow up, I would agree that Obama would overlook significant imperfections in the election so long as it leaves Iraq stable, so that he can leave under the appearance of democracy.

    But I do not agree that a Maliki victory (even a tainted one) would spell the end of America’s democracy project in Iraq. I am not convinced that four more years of Maliki, serving with a more balanced parliament and, hopefully, an improved cabinet, would be such a bad thing.

  49. Ali W said

    Hi Reidar, any news about when the results of the recount will be coming out?

  50. Reidar Visser said

    The recount is supposed to begin on Monday from what I’m hearing

  51. Kermanshahi said

    Jason, I don’t think bringing democracy was actually the objective of the US, the objective was to put a US-friendly government in power, they called it “bringing democracy” to justify the WMD-lie towards their population, but in real they don’t care if Iraq becoems a dictatorship (like Afghanistan) or a real democracy, as long as they remain US-friendly. Ideally they were hoping that liberal, non-secterian, pro-American, anti-Iranian candidates would be elected but they’re prepared to work with any religious or ultra-nationalist government aswell.

  52. Reidar Visser said

    The discussion of “US objectives in Iraq (general)” is now closed.

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