Iraq and Gulf Analysis

It Is Official: Nine of the De-Baathification Appeals Succeed

Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 17 May 2010 15:41

In an interview with Sumaria News today, the director for de-Baathification, Ali al-Lami, has admitted that the 9 winning candidates that he sought to exclude have been successful in their appeals to the special de-Baathification board.

In many ways, this is old news, since influential political voices including the presidency council and Ahmad Chalabi have already said they wanted it to be this way. They have after all achieved what they were interested in (and therefore no longer need Lami): Discouraging Maliki from the idea of building a political majority and forcing him back to the logic of an oversized, governing-council style government of “national unity”. It should be stressed that there appear to be at least two real seat-winning victims of the de-Baathification campaign: Ibrahim al-Mutlak of Iraqiyya (who was in the initial list of 52 de-Baathified and did not appear on the revised list of Baghdad winners; some newswires erroneously attribute this demotion to the recount), and, possibly, Raad al-Bayati, also of Iraqiyya, in Diyala, and among the original 52 exclusions.

It is interesting, too, that Lami expressed his intention to “appeal” the decision! Regardless of which of the several legal frameworks involved (i.e. the accountability and justice law, or the IHEC regulations on approval and registration of political entities), these decisions cannot be appealed, period. Wasn’t Lami himself quick to point that out some months ago when the legal authorities were working in his favour?

22 Responses to “It Is Official: Nine of the De-Baathification Appeals Succeed”

  1. Swopa said

    Regarding your last paragraph: How do you say “Calvinball” in Arabic?

  2. Reidar,
    I think you and Joel and maybe some influential American observers are granting Chalabi’s camp with more wisdom than what they deserve. Sure de-baathification polarized the votes but it didn’t get Maliki a plurality, and they had to pull a fast one in the eleventh hour with the Supreme Court’s interpretation. What I am saying is: Iran is winning in Iraq not because it is clever but because it grabs the initiative, everybody else is doing only a little more than a spectator.

  3. Reidar Visser said

    Swopa, I am afraid I don’t even know how to say it in Norwegian. But this was helpful: “The only consistent rule states that Calvinball may never be played with the same rules twice.”
    That certainly applies in the Iraqi case. So maybe Chalabiball, كرة الجلبي

  4. Jason said

    Faisal, it looks to me like de-Baathification was specifically designed to stop Maliki (or Allawi either one) from putting together a cross-sectarian majority that would marginalize the INA. It appears to have succeeded.

  5. amagi said

    Reidar, just a quick question for the non-Arabic speaking audience, if you please: how is Iraqiyya biding its time as the other blocs dance around them? I can’t seem to find anything on what sorts of political maneuvers they are making in light of recent developments.

    Also, as an aside, the Calvin/Chalabiball commentary above gave me the first tension-relieving laugh at the Iraqi political scene in months. Thanks for that, both of you.

  6. Ali W said

    The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War without End by Peter Galbraitj

    Hi Reidar, jsut wondering if you read this book? I’m sure it would have infuriated you

  7. Jason,
    De-baathification is designed to polarize the votes, it certainly played a role in distancing Maliki and Allawi but how big was this factor? We can debate that, some people think that the clash of their personalities was a bigger factor.
    Anyway, I don’t believe the recent de-baathification succeeded because it could not make the supreme court’s interpretation redundant. I also think that “putting together a cross-sectarian majority” government isn’t over yet.

  8. Gösta Grönroos said

    Also, one wonders whether the purpose of the de-baathification campaign was ever to make SLA a bigger block than Iraqiya. For that would have weakened INA’s position vis-a-vis SLA.

  9. Reidar Visser said

    Amagi, it seems the main strategy of Iraqiyya is to keep claiming the right to form the government as the biggest pre-election bloc. At the same time, though, many of them – and I think I hear this more frequently from Hashemi, Eisawi and Allawi than from the others – talk about some kind of “partnership” government, which is code for an oversized government of national unity. The net effect is probably that they are being pulled further away from the idea of an issue-based coalition with State of Law, and closer to a redo of the “governining council” of 2003, apparently hoping that some kind of miracle (involving variously ISCI or the Sadrists) can help them push Maliki to the side. I personally find this somewhat unrealistic. It is still interesting that elements within Iraqiyya, in particular those with ties to Hiwar, speak more positively about State of Law (as they also did in 2009).

    It should be added that some less senior leaders in Iraqiyya (among them Radwan al-Kalidar) have now publicly made the point explained here earlier about the need for the new Shiite alliance to get a name and a bloc leader:

    I personally think this is a better approach as it could highlight ideological contradictions in the new Shiite alliance and make some of them rediscover points of convergence with Iraqiyya. Interestingly, INA leaders such as Karim al-Yaqubi (Fadila) today says the Shiites will indeed find a name and a leader, tonight actually! But this approach by Iraqiyya could of course backfire in the sense that it would mean tacit acknowledgment of the idea of post-election kutla-forming, which is probably why the more senior leaders have not adopted it.

    Ali, that is so off-topic, but since the book infuriated me so much, I’ll give you the link for a review I wrote about it:
    I originally titled it “The End of Soft Partition”!

    But save your criticisms of Galbraith for later please.

  10. Kermanshahi said

    The new Shi’a alliance with 159 seats only needs 4 more to have a parliamentary majority, so why create a massive oversized government of 308 (or possibly up to 325) seats? They could allign with the Coalition of Kurdistani Lists and leave out Iraqiya, or even chose to allign with Tawafuq and/or Unity (possibly even the Assyrian parties) if they don’t want to allign with the Kurds. Do they really aim to keep an ethnic secterian unity government for ever? In which case: What’s the point of having a democracy? And What’s in it for them when IMO they’d benefit more from a smaller alliance themselfes?

  11. Reidar Visser said

    I think they are avoiding the purely Shiite-Kurdish alliance since it would be seen by some as almost as a declaration of war against the Arab world. I do think the scenario of a smaller government excluding the Kurds could take place if the initial negotiations with the Kurds fail because of Kirkuk.

  12. JWing said


    I think the deBaathification was motivated by a number of factors. 1) The National Alliance had nothing to run on. They were a bunch of Shiite parties brokered together in Tehran that didn’t like Maliki. Nothing much to run on, and since they had nothing, why not make something up, the return of Baathists, which still sells with many Shiites. 2) It was also meant to attack the nationalist/secular trend in Iraqi politics which was gaining momentum after the 2009 provincial elections.

    It was just part of the games that Iraq’s politicians are so good at. It’s no joke when people say that Iraqi politics is like a soap opera. By the fall there should be another dysfunctional national unity government in office, which will bungle along just like the next one. If Maliki is successfully pushed aside, Iraq will probably end up with a weak and ineffective prime minister for the short term, which will allow the larger parties to run the ministries as their own personal fiefs as they did in the past, and parliament will be deadlocked like usual on many major issues.

  13. Jason said

    What if the Sadrists do get important ministries in a new govt. There is every reason to believe that they will once again run them as corrupt personal fiefdoms with grotesque abuses of power. Will Dawa stand by and allow that to happen?

  14. Salah said

    فعلى سبيل المثال مرشحهم عبود وحيد عبود العيساوي في محافظة النجف الكل يعرف ماذا كان دوره في حزب البعث ونشاطاته وأسألوا طلاب واساتذة متوسطة المصطفى في حي تموز في الكوفة انتهاءا بعمالته الى الامريكان .

    السيد جعفرمحمد باقر الصدر امينا عاما لحزب الدعوة الاسلامية ( قريباً )</A

    Looks all ba’athest matter is a hook to hung on all bad things for the last seven years from the chaos, distortion of Iraq as state and Iraqi society because of Qaeda a& Ba’athests and the terrorists.

    This as usual the next four years will be same as the last passed seven, let wait and wake up me and talk then.

  15. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, there is another very interesting aspect to that article: It highlights the internal struggle in the Daawa between sectarian and nationalist/pragmatic wings. The writer criticises Maliki for being too soft on alleged “Baathists”, highlighting his contacts with Mutlak in 2009 and the appearance of Abbud al-Eisawi, described as an ex-Baathist, on his list in Najaf.

    Interestingly, he identifies Ali al-Adib, Jaafar al-Sadr and the exiled Daawa circles in London as key players in setting Daawa back on what he considers the right path, i.e. a merger with INA in a more sectarian alliance and a concomitant marginalisation of Maliki.

    Even more interestingly, the article was written on 25 January 2010.

  16. Salah said


    That’s right, I think this shows not as you stated “sectarian and nationalist/pragmatic wings” fights as such I think the fights is for the power and position that made Maliki oscillated between “sectarian and nationalist” to stay in power which obviously that’s why he think he will be the next PM, he still not believing he should go today not tomorrow.

  17. Salah said

    it seems the main strategy of Iraqiyya is to keep claiming the right to form the government as the biggest pre-election bloc.

    I think this just for Alawi and small group with him not the majority of the Iraqiyya, tha’s why they having probelm to make any fast move that to make collotion and come with big Kutla and form govremnt.

    last week I read some one from Iraqiyya accusing Alawi not communicates with high rank figures what he up to, which obviously we see Iraqiyya had no clear strategy till now after the end of election.

  18. Ali W said

    Reidar, I will try to stick to the topics from now on, its just I’m interested in your views, which sometimes are not related to the topic at hand.

    In regards to the De-baathification, I still beleive that the process could be as mentioned nothing to do with actually keeping baath power out of government, but rather sunni politicians who seem to be secterian or to close to the insurgency, or shias who have jumped in bed with them. I do not beleive that most people involved actually take orders from Tehran, most shias and particuraly those who fled Saddam genuinly hate these individuals, and dont need someone else to push them to marginalise them. I do not understand why people attribute these things to Iran, of course the Iranians have influence, but so do the Saudis, and there influence is worse for Iraq, because its against the majority of iraqis.

    Many shias done like Iran, and still supported the debaathification, therefore its the shia politicians rightly or wrongly just did what the majority of the population wanted. I mean come on, Thafir Al-Ani!!!

  19. From a well connected Iraqiyya source, posted today:
    المالكي يرغب بالتحالف مع السنة لتشكيل حكومة وطنية ، وان المباحثات بينه وبين الائتلاف الوطني ربما لاتصل الى نتيجة ، واذا ما وصلت ربما تكون على حساب المالكي بعدم توليه ولاية ثانية

  20. Ali W said

    Faisal, this is a very interesting revelation, this could be a good sign, or maybe it could also be a way of putting pressure on the Sadrists to allow him the PM position.

  21. Jwing said

    Jason you don’t have to be a sadrist to run a corrupt ministry. The trade ministry which was involved in one of the largest corruption cases was run by dawa.

  22. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, the Arab world is very divided, there’s no way they’d create a solid front to prevent Shi’a rule of Iraq and even if they could, would ISCI, Sadr and Dawa want to accept that they will for ever have to share power with the country’s Sunni minority to keep Sunni Arab states (in 90% of which there is not even slightest power sharing with Shi’a) happy? Besides, Syria has a Shi’a dominated regime and they were not isolated and even the (Shi’a) Islamic regime in Iran is on friendly relations with atleast half of the Arab states.

    Ali W, during Saddam’s regime Iran has been demonised so much that many Iraqi Sunnis, specially the Ba’th sympathisers we are talking about (and those Shi’a which as you say “have jumped in bed with them”) see bad intentions in anything Iran does and link all the country’s problems to an Iranian conspiracy. Just like Saddam blamed for instance the 1991 uprisings on “Iranian agents,” the banned Ba’athists like al-Mutlaq & co. blame Iran for the de-Ba’athification among many other things.

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