Iraq and Gulf Analysis

The New De-Baathification Board?

Posted by Reidar Visser on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 16:26

The big news out of Iraq today is of course the passage of the 2010 budget, but since the final document  (including the all-important annexes) has been a little slow to emerge, we might as well have a look at another interesting item in the meanwhile, published this morning by Sumaria TV.

Sumaria, which was also the first to publish the names of the 511 banned candidates for the 7 March parliamentary elections, claims to have obtained the revised list of candidates for the de-Baathification board that the government is eager to put in place in order to improve the legal façade of its de-Baathification process. According to the sources, the new names are Kamran Rasul and Bakhtiyar Umar from the Kurdistani list, Haydar Hanun of Daawa, Falah al-Shanshal of the Sadrist list (he has lately been the most outspoken parliamentary supporter of Lami/Chalabi’s de-Baathification policy), Muhammad Salim and Mahdi Salih listed as Iraqi National Alliance (presumably ISCI or close to ISCI since the Sadrists are listed separately), and Abd al-Razzaq Hassan of Tawafuq.

The apparent removal of Walid al-Hilli, Maliki’s preferred candidate to head the commission, is interesting. Other than that, it has to be said that with the exception of Shanshal, these aren’t individuals about whom a great deal is known. But if the party affiliations are correct as reported (the candidature of Shanshal, at least, has been confirmed by other sources) then this is bad news indeed. Blunt, straightforward ethno-sectarian and party-based muhasasa with 4 Shiite Islamists, 2 Kurds, 1 token Sunni Islamist and, as usual, no one representing the secular nationalists. The board was reportedly not voted on today even though Shanshal had pressed for such a vote.

6 Responses to “The New De-Baathification Board?”

  1. Wladimir said Barzani is against the ban (Talabani too)

    More than 25 candidates on Kurdish lists have been banned from participating in the upcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections by the Justice and Accountability Commission, according to reports in the Kurdish newspapers.

    So, is it only a project of the Shia’s supported by Al-Quds/Iran?

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Interesting, but no, there is more support. In parliament, there is support from Tawafuq (the Sunni Islamist bloc), most notably Ayad al-Samarraie, but reportedly also Rashid al-Azzawi has rejoined the parliamentary sub-commitee that he first quit in protest. Also, whatever Barzani may say, Talabani certainly expressed support for simply letting the Iraqi appeals process run its course during the trilateral meeting with Maliki and Samarraie last weekend. And of course, then Biden said it was ok to do it this way. I think Obama missed a big opportunity to make some constructive input in the State of the Union address the other day; instead he expressed full support for the Iraqi government. Hopefully, he will modify that position within the next month or so – otherwise I think we are dealing with a major crisis in the making.

  3. Wladimir said

    SOTU was a more general speech. It’s hard to stop this ball from rolling. FP site is offline, but there was an insightful article of a former Iraqi minister about this issue.

  4. Reidar Visser said

    Wladimir, possibly what you are referring to is this one by Sayf al-Din Abd al-Rahman:

    In which case I cordially disagree with your positive assessment. To my mind this is the classical, narrow-minded sectarian approach that will get Iraq nowhere. It will ensure an endless succession of over-sized, dysfunctional and corrupt cabinets of “national unity” and thereby guarantee its eternal status as an Iranian vassalage. What he is saying is essentially “Forget about these noisy Iraqi nationalists; just give me and my friends some cabinet posts (and the patronage that comes with them) and we’ll make sure to keep the Sunnis quiet”. Which is as unrealistic as it sounds.

    As long as Iraqis are subdivided through the enshrinement of ethno-sectarian identities in their state structure, Iran will always come out on top automatically through its Shiite Islamist partners. Sunnis and Shiites with a nationalist orientation understand this. I think that one day, the Kurds also will.

  5. Wladimir said

    Ok. And what about this comment of neorealist Rubin:
    “The White House and U.S. embassy in Iraq should be cautious about interfering in judicial matters. From an Iraqi perspective, their law is seldom as arbitrary as U.S. embassy whims or U.S. CENTCOM experiments. The Iraqi system now works. Already, several dozen disqualified candidates have won reinstatement through appeal. An overly active White House will fuel Iraqi distrust, which is already high because of the perception that the current administration is hostile toward Arab democracy. “

  6. Reidar Visser said

    I disagree with the notion that “the Iraqi system works”. I have tried to show in a number of postings that from the legal point of view this whole thing is a charade. Washington’s task is not primarily to bring about reinstatements; this is about re-establishing confidence and legitimacy. That is why the measures by the international community must go beyond cheering on the appeals process, and why the de-Baathification hardliners will have achieved their aims if there is no further reaction from Washington.

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