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Monday, January 14, 2008

The realities of the new Iraqi “De-baathification Law revision

And Juan Cole shakes his

The big news coming out of Iraq over the weekend of course was the new revision to the De-baathification Law instituted by the CPA (Coalition Provisional Government) in the summer of 2003, whereas now they are welcomed back into the positions of Iraqi government. CPA head Paul Bremer, backed by a smirking and flight suited Bush, decided what was best for the Iraqi’s by telling them those who would not be welcome in the new Iraqi reality. As Bush, Cheney and Bremer stood around waiting for the Iraqi citizenry to deliver flowers and candies for their efforts, the rest of the population decided to loot what they could and then settle down into a bloody sectarian battle among themselves. One of Bremer’s first acts was to dissolve the Iraqi military dominated by Baathist which would be inline with the CPA’s de-Baathification policy and create ideal conditions for an insurgency armed and hostile toward the American invasion and subsequent occupation.

As a politically benign and spent Bush stumbled his way through the Middle East this past weekend in a desperate attempt to salvage some kind of legacy of note pretending to prop up an equally spent Israeli P.M. Olmert and an ineffectual PLO P.M. he stopped to laud the Iraqi parliament for their new revision. In light of the CPA’s original de-Baathification policy then, Bush must have looked positively comical to the Iraqi’s at large as his Christianized Middle East caravan of the clueless
paused long enough to offer praise:

"It's an important step toward reconciliation," President Bush said during his visit in Manama Bahrain. "It's an important sign that the leaders in that country understand they must work together to meet the aspirations of the Iraqi people."

Of course, the even more comical aspects of Bush’s laudatory remarks are incredible when contrasted with his own domestic actions back home of doing just the opposite.

Juan Cole gives us the realities on the ground and asks questions about certain dynamics that just doesn’t add up:

“That [original de-Baathification] law got tens of thousands of Sunni Arabs fired from their government jobs and excluded from public life and helped kick off the Sunni-Shiite civil war we having been living through for the past few years.The passage of the new law will be hailed by the War party as a major achievement. But as usual they will misread what really happened.”

Mr. Cole then reveals something you will not see reported in the MSM. The Baathist sympathizers in parliament voted against the provision:

“If the new law was good for ex-Baathists, then the ex-Baathists in parliament will have voted for it and praised it, right? And likely the Sadrists (hard line anti-Baath Shiites) and Kurds would be a little upset.Instead, parliament's version of this law was spearheaded by Sadrists, and the ex-Baathists in
parliament criticized it.”

Mr. Cole then goes on to explain how this looks all very suspicious:

“Now, when the Iraqi cabinet of PM Nuri al-Maliki initially introduced the draft bill into parliament last November 25, the Sadr Movement deputies rhythmically pounded their desks in protest. The Sadrists have a special and abiding hatred for the Baath Party, which killed both major clergymen that they venerate,
Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr (d. 1980) and Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr (d. 1999). But on Saturday the Sadrists spoke for the new law. Very suspicious.”

The really interesting part of all of this of course is the actual intended effect of the law:

“The headlines are all saying that the law permits Baathists back into public life. It seems actually to demand that they be fired or retired on a pension, and any who are employed are excluded from sensitive ministries.”

I’m really struck by this move on the part of the Iraqi parliament to pass a law with a name that suggests one thing and then has the opposite intent once its enacted. It reminds me of the Republican measure passed by Congress named the “Clear Skies Initiative.” We all know how that turned out for the industrial polluters.

No wonder Bush liked what he saw.

Update: I see where AmericaBlog's A.J. Rossmiller posted about this story late this afternoon. Juan Cole in the article cited above talks about how close the vote was. Mr Rossmiller [that is a gender assumption] also stated that information was hard to come by for some reason. Wonder what that is all about?