With 97,000 U.S. troops still stationed in Iraq, recent turmoil over de-Baathification in the run-up to March’s national elections there is not a welcomed development.
Two articles we’ve translated over the past few days, one from Iraq and the other from Algeria, highlight America’s continuing role in that still-divided land – and what in Iraq is called the ‘Accountability and Justice Commission,’ charged by the Shiite-controlled National Assembly to weed out and disqualify candidates who are former Baathists and Saddamists.
And who leads the Accountability and Justice Commission? … None other than Ahmed Chalabi, the man credited with persuading the Bush Administration to invade Iraq and who was later cut off by the Bush White House for ”unauthorized contacts with Iran.’
For Iraq’s Sotal Iraq newspaper, columnist Fa’ez Al Tamimi, favoring the Accountability and Justice Commission, writes in part:
Once again we hear the same news: The American ambassador [Christopher Hill] says that the Accountability and Justice Commission has become a “problem” and has raised the concerns of Iraqis.
Who are those Iraqis worried about the Accountability and Justice Commission?!! If he thinks that Saleh Al Motlaq [head of the Iraq Accord Front] and the Saddamites represent Iraqis, that means he is rescinding Iraqi citizenship from the majority of Iraqis, who for the first time see in this commission something that can stop the flow of Saddamites into the government and National Assembly. What worries Iraqis isn’t this respected commission, but statements by American civilian and military leaders regarding the de-Baathification process. … as the saying goes, ‘birds of a feather flock together.’
Then for Algeria’s El Watan, columnist Tayeb Belghiche in an article headlines ‘De-Baathification: Kiss Iraq Goodbye,’ provides a perception from the wider Arab world on the elections – and makes a forecast that if true, would certainly delay a U.S. withdrawal.
For El Watan, Tayeb Belghiche writes in part:
As a legislative election campaign got underway yesterday, in the background one caught a whiff of the score-settling among communities that is so prejudicial to the future progress of the country.
A commission for Accountability and Justice, established in 2008 for the “de-Baathification” of Iraq, but which has no legal foundation, is in the process of pouring gasoline onto the fire. Directed by Ahmed Chalabi, a sulfurous character who is a former CIA agent known for being a bank swindler, this body has eliminated around 500 candidates, some who are celebrities, under the pretext that they’ve had ties with the Baath Party. One peculiarity is this: the banished ones are Sunni and the banishers are Shiite.
Iraqi Kurdistan already has one foot in secession. It happens that the countries that neighbor Iraq are doing everything they can to accentuate the climate of discord. Tehran, which has set itself up as a sort of Vatican of Shiism, is fanning the flames of division, while a number of Gulf monarchies want to consolidate Sunni extremism by arming radical elements. In a sense, a war over influence has broken out between Sunnis and Shiites and between regional powers who interpose their own Iraqis. We mustn’t forget that the leader of Iraq’s Shiites is Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani … an Iranian. Israel had always dreamed of the Balkanization of the Near- and Middle East in for the purpose of establishing its hegemony in the region. Its dream is coming true.
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