With Iraq’s March 2010 elections just a few weeks away, the country’s top parties and politicians are increasing their attacks upon each other.
First, on February 6, the head of Iraq’s legal committee in parliament sent a request to the Accountability and Justice Commission, the former deBaathification Commission, to look over comments made by Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi while he was visiting Washington D.C. The parliamentarian accused Hashemi of promoting the Baath Party during his trip. On February 9, the committee head went further, calling on parliament to ban Hashemi from running in the election, accusing him of being a Baathist sympathizer. Hashemi is the head of the new Renewal Party, and is part of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s National Movement List. The head of the legal committee is a Sadrist, which is part of the National Alliance. It controls the Accountability and Justice Commission, and has been at the forefront of banning candidates from the vote.
Next, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki recently gave a speech to sheikhs and leaders from Baghdad’s Sadr City, claiming that he would prevent any Baathists from ever returning to power. He went on to say that there were some political parties that were helping former regime members. The National Alliance took issue with that claiming that the Prime Minister meant them, and accused Maliki of letting 32,000 Baathists back into the government. A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s State of Law List denied that the Alliance was ever mentioned in the speech. Maliki jumped on the Baathist bandwagon when a series of large bombings occurred in Baghdad beginning in August 2009, blaming it on former regime members residing in Syria. His party has also supported the banning of candidates from the upcoming election. This spat with the National Alliance shows that can cut both ways. Since Baathism has become the center of the national campaign, anyone can be charged with helping or sympathizing with them.
These two events show what a free-for-all this year’s election has become. The banning of candidates in January for alleged Baathist ties was the start, but most of those involved were not well known to the public. Now the vice president and prime minister are being attacked, which shows that no one is off limits to these pointless accusations. Once the Baathist rabbit was let out of the hat, anything can happen, and the accusers can quickly become the accused.
AK News, “Iraqi MP Calls for VP ban from polls,” 2/9/10
- “Iraqi MP says: Al Maliki’s Governenment brought the Baathists back to the governmental institutions,” 2/9/10
Alsumaria, “Al Maliki firmly rejects Baathists in power,” 2/9/10
Aswat al-Iraq, “MP proposes debaathification to cover VP Hashemi,” 2/6/10