Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Archive for February 16th, 2010

Governorate and Party-Level Indicators of De-Baathification, Plus Some Breaking News

Posted by Reidar Visser on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 20:49

Since the Iraqi elections commission flatly refuses to release aggregated statistics at the party/governorate levels of its exclusions with reference to the de-Baathification procedure, the temptation to try to interpret the more indirect indicators of de-Baathification that exist in the public domain is irresistible.

The most promising source in this regard may be the list of 6,172 candidates for the 7 March elections that was issued last week. Or, more specifically, the lacunae in that list. As a rule, candidates are listed for each electoral list from number one right down to the last candidate (in Baghdad, some lists have more than one hundred candidates); where the numbered sequence of candidates is broken and someone is missing, the IHEC has indicated that there is a problem with that person’s candidacy. In the majority of those cases, probably around 170–200 of the some 350 that can be identified in a rough count, the omission will relate to a de-Baathification appeal that was pending at the time the list of approved candidates was published. The remainder likely relates to other sorts of procedural problems that may have delayed or prevented the approval of a candidate, including document forgeries, although there is so much contradictive information about a second batch of de-Baathification exclusions that it is not inconceivable that at least some such cases are also included. What we have, at any rate, is not a perfect measurement of de-Baathification as such, but a somewhat more messy indicator of “conflict level with the IHEC”. Predictably, in the few cases where actual de-Baathification statistics can be found for a party or a particular governorate, the numbers that emerge using these methods show similar trends but are not identical.

Some additional methodological points are in order. Obviously, if an individual was originally placed at the bottom of the list but then got excluded then the exclusion will not be discovered using this method since the numbering will not be broken. Similarly, one-person entities that fail to appear in the list for reasons of exclusion will go unnoticed. More related to the interpretation of the data: Out of 511 exclusion cases originally reported, several hundreds prompted the affected entities to voluntarily replace their candidates, whereas a more limited number simply led to withdrawals. In other words, the numbers reported here, which are mostly related to appeals, do not tell the full story about intimidation of electoral candidates by the accountability and justice board.

Tawafuq Alusi Kurd INA Ahrar SOL Unity of Iraq Iraqiyya Other secular & nationalist Total
Basra 2 3 1 1 3 3 13
Maysan 1 1 2 1 5
Dhi Qar 2 1 2 3 8
Muthanna 1 2 2 3 8
Babel 2 1 2 2 5 12
Najaf 1 4 5
Karbala 1 3 4
Wasit 1 1 3 5
Baghdad 3 4 7 3 6 9 18 20 31 101
Anbar 1 1 2 4 2 25 35
Salahaddin 1 2 1 1 2 14 21
Mosul 5 2 2 3 12 2 9 35
Diyala 1 2 4 2 3 12
Kirkuk 1 1 1 2 4 10 19
Sulaymaniyya 4 1 1 3 1 10
Arbil 1 1 2
Dahuk 1 5 6
11 13 16 23 18 21 42 50 107 301*

*Excluding around 55 cases related to local/individual/smaller lists. These are back-of-an-envelope calculations! Firefox recommended for viewing.

Nonetheless, even if aspects related to these caveats conflate the figures somewhat, the picture that emerges is a rather remarkable one. Out of the big coalitions, the Kurdish list as well as Tawafuq – the Sunni Islamist entity that is seen as most oriented towards compromise with the Maliki government – rank top of the class in terms of a frictionless relationship with the IHEC. They are followed closely by the (increasingly more) Shiite-oriented alliances, the Iraqi National Alliance and State of Law. Both of these have certain lacunae in their lists, but it is noteworthy that this occurs mostly in governorates that are rather unimportant to these parties (such as the Kurdish ones for INA), and tend to involve candidates far down on the list (suggesting the omissions may well involve problems with documents rather than de-Baathification). Due to its intimate relationship with the IHEC and the accountability and justice board, INA was in fact able to exclude many of these names when they published their own electoral lists before they were approved by the IHEC – conceivably because INA may have had inside information about potential problems related to some of their candidates in the more marginal constituencies!

The picture is sharply different for the secular and nationalist lists. Even after the process of replacement of candidates, Iraqiyya and Unity of Iraq still account for a third of all exclusions. Additionally, in their cases, it is often top candidates in key constituencies that have been struck from the lists. In terms of having problems with the IHEC, these parties are followed by other, smaller secular lists that also experience problems that are disproportionate to their party size. Ahrar of Ayad Jamal al-Din and the list of Mithal al-Alusi stand out, but there are also others. In fact 8 lists about which less is known except that they have a secular and/or nationalist orientation and some of them with a particular strength in Sunni tribal areas (310, 324, 327, 348, 349, 357, 358, 373) account for another third of the lacunae in the list of candidates. Geographically speaking, the patterns of discrimination seem clearer than was the case with the original 511. In this material, Anbar, Salahaddin and Kirkuk have been targeted in a way that is disproportionate to their population size – more detailed information from Kirkuk confirms that it is the anti-Kurdish blocs that are suffering. The areas south of Baghdad have been left comparatively untouched.

In other news, the IHEC tells us today that the legal board for the elections of the ordinary Iraqi court of cassation (distinct from the extraordinary appeals court for de-Baathification cases) has rejected a second appeal apparently related to the exclusion of candidates (as ever, no legal details provided), once more including Salih al-Mutlak and Zafir al-Ani. So that hitherto unconfirmed board actually exists, or it has come into existence, and might in theory perhaps form a more appropriate appellate board for cases arising under article 7 of the constitution than the de-Baathification appeals court (except that a law implementing the provisions of that article is of course still lacking). This is another case of obvious front-page news dropping off the radar of the Iraqi media in a chaotic situation: It is quite sensational that the IHEC should suddenly backtrack from its previous position, namely that their use of the special appeals court for de-Baathification cases was correct and not subject to any kind of other appeals procedure. The outcome of the appeal was of course no big surprise, given the high level of political pressure that is evidently being exerted on the Iraqi legal system these days. Only two weeks ago, the special appeals court talked about examining the legitimacy of the accountability and justice board; the reversal of its position one hundred percent within one week suggests that the members of that court may have been subjected to intolerable levels of pressure from political circles. But the bigger point is this: The revelation today that the IHEC once more rather abruptly changed its procedure is at least a small indication that even the members of the commission understand the weakness and the contradictions of the legal framework to which they make reference. The “State of Law” is no more; only raw power seems to be working.


Posted in De-Baathification, Iraq's 2010 parliamentary election, Iraqi constitutional issues, Iraqi nationalism | 3 Comments »