The anti-Baathist campaign in Iraq is not over yet. After the Accountability and Justice Commission successfully banned hundreds of candidates from the March 2010 elections, it announced on February 24 that it wanted 376 soldiers and policemen removed for alleged Baathist ties. Unlike the barring of candidates, which was of questionable legality, the February 2008 Accountability and Justice Act actually says that Baathists are not allowed jobs in the Interior and Defense Ministries. Many southern provinces that are controlled by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law list have also created their own Accountability and Justice committees to weed out former regime members in the local governments. The latest news on that front was when Karbala said that it had fired 10 professors for being high ranking Baathists on February 25. They claim that have a list of 40 others that they are investigating. On the more positive side, banned candidate Saleh al-Mutlaq’s Iraqi National Dialogue Front will participate in the elections, and dropped its threatened boycott. This process will probably continue to play out until March 7 when Iraqis head to the polls since it has been so successful for the two leading Shiite coalitions, the Iraqi National Alliance and the State of Law.
Below is a partial timeline of the events surrounding the anti-Baathist campaign. It’s meant to help follow the various twists and turns that have occurred since the banning of candidates was originally announced.
Al Hayat reported that the Election Commission got a legal opinion from Iraq’s top court that it could ban any Baathists from participating in politics under Article 7 of the constitution.
January 7, 2010
Accountability and Justice Commission that was never appointed by parliament announced that it was banning 511 candidates and fifteen parties from the March 2010 elections for alleged Baathist ties. Parliamentarian Saleh al-Mutlaq and his Iraqi National Dialogue Front, who were part of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement are the most prominent of those banned. Al Sharqiyah of Dubai listed others banned: Iraqi National Unity Grouping, Solution Movement, Iraqi Republican Grouping, Al Rafidayn National Trend, Iraqi Al Sawaid Grouping, Our Sons Bloc, National Council of the Grouping of Iraqi Tribes, Iraqi Social Movement, Sad al-Jubouri List, Iraqi Kurdistan Justice Party, All of Iraq Bloc, People’s Trend, Iraqi Resurrection Party, and National Change Plan.
Iraqi National Movement held a meeting about banning. Said that they rejected decision and threatened a boycott.
U.N. mission in Iraq sent a letter to the Election Commission calling on it to reject the banning of candidates.
Vice president Adel Abdul Mahdi met with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and said afterward that the banning was not official and should be discussed more.
Deputy of the Iraqi National Alliance said that courts should decide on bannings.
Deputy head of Karbala provincial council said that Baathists were trying to destabilize Iraq.
Election Commission announced that it was following the Accountability and Justice Commission's banning of candidates.
Accountability and Justice committee head in parliament said he supported ban. Called for more parties and candidates to be barred.
Parliamentarian Mutlaq said that he would appeal his case to the courts.
Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi visited Washington and met with Vice President Joe Biden on a pre-planned trip. The two discussed the candidate banning. Biden later called President Jalal Talabani, speaker of parliament Iyad Samarrai, Vice President Hashemi, and Prime Minister Maliki about the matter.
Members of the Qadisiyah provincial council who are part of the Iraqi National Alliance said that they were working to prevent Baathists from returning to power.
Demonstration in Mosul against the banning of candidates.
Arab League Secretary General arrived in Iraq to lobby for overturning banning of candidates.
Prime Minister Maliki came out in favor of the banning.
Demonstration in Qadisiyah against Saleh al-Mutlaq’s Iraqi National Dialogue Front, and called for expelling Baathists from the government. Governor and provincial council members said they would work against Baathists.
Najaf’s provincial council demanded that all Baathists leave the province, and promised that former regime members would be purged from the government.
United Nations asked Accountability and Justice Commission to reverse its decision. They replied by telling the U.N. to stop interfering in Iraqi affairs.
Press reports that one of those banned is Defense Minister Jassim al-Obeidi, member of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law.
Presidential Council held an emergency meeting over candidate banning. Pres. Talabani said that the Council was creating a special commission to look into the matter. Talabani also sent a letter to Chief Judge Medhat al-Mahmoud, head of Iraq’s highest court, for his opinion on the barring.
Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi said that the banning of candidates was illegal, and that the Accountability and Justice Commission had no authority.
Vice President Joe Biden criticized Accountability and Justice Commission and said that it wasn’t being impartial. Suggested that banning candidates should be postponed until after the election.
Secretary general of the Iraqi cabinet said they had passed a resolution calling for the Accountability and Justice Commission to end their work since their members had never been approved.
Demonstrations in Basra and Najaf in favor of banning candidates.
Vice President Biden visited Iraq and proposed that all the banned candidates be allowed to participate in the vote as long as they disavowed the Baath Party. Said their cases should be dealt with after the election. Head of the Accountability and Justice Commission Ali al-Lami rejected the idea. Government spokesman later said that the U.S. was interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs.
Press reported that of the 511 banned candidates, 72 were from former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement, and 67 were from Interior Minister Jawad Bolani’s Unity of Iraq Alliance.
Maliki called special meeting with speaker of parliament Iyad al-Samarrai, and the Presidential Council. Maliki said that a Cassation Panel created as part of the Accountability and Justice Act would determine the future of the banned candidates, and that overrode the special Presidential Council commission announced on January 19.
Accountability and Justice Commission reinstated 59 candidates saying that there were errors in their paperwork.
Accountability and Justice Commission claimed that the Election Commission asked them to review 600 candidates to see if they had Baathist connections.
American commander of the U.S. Central Command General David Petraeus said that the Accountability and Justice Commission was working at the behest of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Qods Force. Commission responded by accusing Petraeus of working with Baathists.
General Petraeus said that 55% of those banned were Shiites, and 45% were Sunnis.
Sheikhs from the Southern Clans Council who supported the Iraqi National Movement threatened a boycott to protest candidates being banned.
Sheikh Ahmad Abu Risha of the Anbar Awakening threatened a boycott over banning of 70 candidates from his and Interior Minister Jawad Bolani’s Unity of Iraq Alliance.
Accountability and Justice Commission said that it had just banned 57 new candidates on top of the original 511.
Cassation Panel said that banned candidates could run in the election, but that they couldn’t take office until their cases were fully investigated. Government spokesman and Accountability and Justice Commission head Ali al-Lami condemn decision. Said that it was done at the behest of the U.S. Embassy. Accountability and Justice Commission claimed that Cassation Panel only had authority to rule on individual appeals cases, not to overturn all of their bannings. Lami said that if the Election Commission followed the Panel’s decision they would be taken to court.
Maliki called for a special session of parliament on February 9 to discuss latest developments in the deBaathification crisis. Claimed that the Election Commission didn’t have to follow the Panel’s ruling. Head of Maliki’s State of Law List said that the Cassation Panel should’ve followed the original Accountability and Justice Commission banning, while the Prime Minister told U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill to stop interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs.
Government spokesman said that the Cassation Panel’s decision was illegal. Moqtada a-Sadr of the Iraqi National Alliance also criticized Panel, while Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi said it was the right move.
Iraqi’s top court the High Judicial Council said that it would review the banned candidates’ cases, and the legality of the Accountability and Justice Commission. Maliki pressured court to come up with a decision before the February 9 special session of parliament.
Parliamentarians said that they wanted to withdraw support for Cassation Panel after they allowed banned candidates to run in the election again.
Iraqi National Alliance said that some parties were trying to bring the Baathists back into power, and that the U.S. was behind the Cassation Panel’s decision.
Head of legal committee in parliament who is a Sadrist, called for the banning of Vice President Hashemi from the election for promoting Baathism while on trip to U.S.
Iraq’s Election Commission announced a delay in the beginning of campaigning until February 12 so that deBaathification crisis could be resolved.
Election Commission originally said that they agreed with the Cassation ruling that the barred candidates should be able to run in the balloting. Then reversed opinion and agreed with Accountability and Justice Commission that the Cassation Panel could only rule on appeals cases, not the banning process itself.
Baghdad’s governor from State of Law announced deBaathification drive. Head of
provincial council there said they would create their own Accountability and Justice Committee. Came as State of Law organized protests in Basra and Baghdad against Baathists and American influence.
Basra, and Najaf followed suit saying that they were intent on finding and expelling Baathists within the local administrations.
Dhi Qar and Babil fired members of the security forces for suspected Baathist ties.
Muthanna began arresting civil servants with suspected ties to the former regime.
High Judicial Council ruled that the Cassation Panel only had jurisdiction over individual appeals of banned candidates.
Speaker of parliament al-Samarrai said that the legislature had endorsed the creation of the Cassation Panel, and that meant no one could withdraw confidence in it as some had threatened. Said that Panel had agreed to finish appeals before campaigning began on February 12.
Cassation Panel went back to work, and during their review said that parties had replaced more than half of their banned candidates and those cases could no longer be dealt with. Said that left only 177 cases to be appealed. Of those, only 37 had filed their complaints correctly and the rest were disqualified for technical reasons.
Demonstration in Dhi Qar against the Cassation Panel allowing banned candidates to participate in the elections.
Maliki called off special session of parliament as a result of Cassation Panel going back to reviewing individual cases.
Maliki began trip across central and southern Iraq campaigning against Baathists. Started in Sadr City, and focused upon tribal sheikhs.
Aide to Ahmad Chalabi of the Accountability and Justice Commission told Iranian TV station that the U.S. was conspiring to bring Baathists back into power.
Demonstration in Qadisiyah against Baathists.
Protests in Karbala against Baathists organized by provincial council. They said there were Baathists throughout the local government and security forces.
Ali al-Lami said that the Cassation Panel had finished going through all the appeals of the banned candidates.
Karbala and Qadisiyah announced formation of their own Accountability and Justice committees.
Protests across Diyala against Baathists running in the election and complained about American influence.
Election Commission announced that only individuals were banned from the voting, not political parties.
Among those banned are Dhafir Al Ani, leader of the Iraqi Accordance Front, and Hussein Saeed, head of Iraq’s Football Federation. Ani was running as part of Iraqi National Movement.
Iraqi National Movement suspended their campaigning over the banning of some of their candidates. Called on the Judicial Council to rule on the banning, wanted a special meeting of parliament, and a talk with President Talabani, parliament speaker Iyad al-Samarrai, and Prime Minister Maliki.
Kurdish Alliance said that they supported the Accountability and Justice Commission’s decision and all other parties should do the same.
Ahmad Chalabi of the Accountability and Justice Commission accused Vice President Biden and U.S. Ambassador Hill of pressuring the Commission as well as the Cassation Panel.
Commander of U.S. forces in Iraq Gen. Ray Odierno said that Ahmad Chalabi and Ali al-Lami, the leaders of the Accountability and Justice Commission were working at the behest of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Qods Force.
Parliamentarian Saleh al-Mutlaq’s Iraqi National Dialogue Front announced they were boycotting the elections because of Mutlaq’s banning, alleged Iranian influence in the voting, and the arrest of one of their followers in Diyala. National Dialogue would still run in Tamim.
Just before Mutlaq’s decision, the Iraqi National Movement said that it would resume campaigning for the March election.
Al Hayat reports that the Accountability and Justice Commission wanted 376 soldiers and police officers fired for Baathist ties.
Banned candidate Saleh al-Mutlaq’s Iraqi National Dialogue Front announced they would not boycott the March elections, and would run as part of the Iraqi National Movement.
Karbala’s provincial council’s Accountability and Justice committee announced the firing of 10 professors for being high ranking Baathists. Claim they have files on 40 other educators that are Baathist loyalists.
Agence France Presse, “Chalabi accuses US of interfering in Iraq election,” 2/14/10
- “Iraqi province gives Saddam loyalists 24 hours to leave,” 1/18/10
- “Iraqi secular list suspends campaigning,” 2/13/10
AK News, “Demonstration in Diyala against the decision of the Appealing Committee,” 2/11/10
- “Demonstration in Karbala condemns the Discriminatory Committee and Baath return,” 2/10/10
- “IHEC: more candidates excluded,” 2/2/10
- “Iraq considers dissolution of the Accountability and Justice Commission,” 1/20/10
- “Iraq in stalemate of appeals commission,” 2/8/10
- “Iraqi government: Hussein Sa’eed included within de-Baathification procedures,” 2/12/10
- “Iraqi MP Calls for VP ban from polls,” 2/9/10
- “KAL seem support Justice and Accountability decisions,” 2/13/10
- “Karbala Council: Baathists destabilize the situations in Iraq,” 1/13/10
- “MP: Parliament may withdraw accreditation from appeals commission,” 2/6/10
- “National coalition fighting to prevent return of Baathists,” 1/14/10
- “’Political blocs working to rehabilitate Baathists,’” 2/6/10
- “Tenion university professors fired because of their inclusion within the procedures of Accountability and Justice,” 2/25/10
Al Alam, “Al-Chalabi Aide Qanbar Refers To Dirty U.S.-Ba’thist Alliance,” MEMRI Blog, 2/9/10
Alsumaria, “Appeals panel backtracks Iraq poll decision,” 2/8/10
- “Al Maliki firmly rejects Baathists in power,” 2/9/10
- “IHEC: Nine entities excluded from elections,” 1/28/10
- “Iraq Cabinet: Appeals panel decision illegal,” 2/5/10
- “Iraq Cabinet Secretary halt works of Justice and Accountability Committees,” 1/21/10
- “Maliki discusses Iraq appeals panel decision,” 2/5/10
- “Petraeus: Justice and Accountability manipulated by Iranian Quds Force,” 1/27/10
Ashour, Muhammad, “al-mutlaq, a ban and a crisis,” Niqash, 1/15/10
Aswat al-Iraq, “Chieftans in southern Iraq threaten to boycott elections,” 1/29/10
- “Debaathification decisions illegal-VP,” 1/20/10
- “Demonstration in Diwaniya against Baathists’ return,” 2/9/10
- “Demonstration in Ninewa against accountability commission’s decision,” 1/14/10
- “Demonstrators in Diwaniya call for closing Mutlak’s office,” 1/16/10
- “IHEC excludes 500 candidate from election,” 1/14/10
- “IHEC says blocs of Motlaq, Aani not excluded from election race,” 2/13/10
- “Karbala forms accountability committee to remove Baathists,” 2/11/10
- “MP proposes debaathification to cover VP Hashemi,” 2/6/10
- “Parl. Cancels extraordinary session,” 2/8/10
- “Political prisoners foundation in Thi-Qar protests against Cassation Board’s decision,” 2/8/10
Bakri, Nada, “Barred Politicians Mostly Secular, Iraqi Says,” New York Times, 1/22/10
Danly, James, “Iraqi Elections Update,” Institute for the Study of War, 2/15/10
DPA, “Report: 376 Iraqi security officers to be fired for ‘Baathist’ ties,” 2/24/10
Jakes, Lara, “Iraqi sheik threatens boycott over ballot purge,” Associated Press, 1/30/10
Jamail, Dahr, “Iraq Political Fissures Widen as March Vote Nears,” Truthout, 1/16/10
Myers, Steven Lee, “Ban on Hundreds of Iraqi Candidates Overturned,” New York Times, 2/4/10
- “In Turmoil, Sunni Party in Iraq Calls for Vote Boycott,” New York Times, 2/21/10
- “Iraqi Court Given Time to Review Candidates,” New York Times, 2/8/10
Najm, Hayder, “local governments launch new front in de-baathification,” Niqash, 2/22/10
Pessin, Al, “US Commander Says Iran Planned Political Dispute in Iraq,” Voice of America, 2/16/10
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “Iraq Parliament Campaign Raises Fears Of Sectarian Strife,” 1/18/10
Al-Rafidayn, “Key Sunni Group to Boycott Iraqi Elections,” MEMRI Blog, 2/19/10
Recknagel, Charles, “What Do We Know About The Election Crisis In Iraq?” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1/28/10
Reuters, “Most banned Iraqi poll candidates’ appeals rejected,” 2/9/10
- “Prominent Iraqi Sunni Ends Party’s Poll Boycott,” 2/25/10
Roads To Iraq, “Barred candidates allowed to stand, INA’s emergency meeting … updated,” 2/3/10
Salloum, Sa’ad, “commission defends election ban,” Niqash, 1/26/10
Sly, Liz, “Iraqi prime minister backs ban on 500 election candidates,” Los Angeles, 1/17/10
Sullivan, Marisa Cochrane, “Sunni Politicians Barred From Candidacy,” Institute for the Study of War, 1/14/10
Visser, Reidar, “Constitutional Disintegration (Part III): The IHEC Is Making Up the Law,” Iraq and Gulf Analysis, 1/15/10
- “The Reign of Terror Continues in Iraq,” Iraq and Gulf Analysis, 2/2/10