IHEC in Trouble Again, and Melkert’s Fairytale from Baghdad

May 29, 2010 at 10:22 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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IHEC in Trouble Again, and Melkert’s Fairytale from Baghdad

Posted by Reidar Visser

 on Friday, 28 May 2010 14:44


 New information keeps emerging about the attempts by State of Law (SLA) to have three parliamentary seat winners – two from Iraqiyya in Diyala and one from the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) – disqualified and their votes cancelled. The likely net effect of such an action would be a gain for State of Law of one to two seats and a similar loss for Iraqiyya, putting the two on an equal footing or even making State of Law the biggest bloc in parliament.

Continue Reading IHEC in Trouble Again, and Melkert’s Fairytale from Baghdad…

The Federal Supreme Court Goes Incommunicado over De-Baathification, Compensation Seats

April 1, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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The Federal Supreme Court Goes Incommunicado over De-Baathification, Compensation Seats

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 1 April 2010 12:21

It has emerged that one possible explanation for the recent decision by Iraqiyya to challenge the jurisdiction of the Iraqi federal supreme court could be sheer exasperation. After a period of long silence, and without much attention from the media, the court has over the past few days quietly issued a series of opinions which must have done little to inspire confidence in its ability to act as a neutral arbiter in Iraqi affairs.

The first is the much-anticipated and long-overdue response to a query from Salih al-Mutlak and Nasir al-Ani that was transferred by Ayad al-Samarraie, the parliamentary speaker, to the court on 28 February, i.e. more than one week ahead of the parliamentary elections. The two deputies were asking about the permissibility of their exclusion from the election which was based on a reference to article 7 of the constitution, which outlaws glorification of the Baath, racism and sectarian cleansing, but which also calls for a special law to implement those red lines in Iraqi politics. Mutlak and Ani asked whether one could be excluded with reference to this article at a point in time when the actual piece of legislation called for by the constitution has yet to be passed by parliament.

Continue Reading The Federal Supreme Court Goes Incommunicado over De-Baathification, Compensation Seats…

OPINION- A nest of contradictions: exclusion and immunity in the Iraqi elections

February 23, 2010 at 12:17 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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A nest of contradictions: exclusion and immunity in the Iraqi elections

Created 02/22/2010 – 19:42

Published on openDemocracy (http://www.opendemocracy.net)


Mohammed Hussainy


The fudged compromise on Iraqi election candidates previously excluded from running raises more questions than it answers.

With campaigning in the Iraqi election officially launched, the decision to ban a number of candidates from standing still overshadows the electoral process.  The main parties are still preoccupied with the exclusionist war; each presents its arguments and evidence to corroborate the ensuing decisions to ban other parties or criticize the ban thereof.  Amid the tension, it is obvious that the decisions to ban candidates are political and that there are doubts cast upon the independence of the relevent commissions.

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Blacklisted in Baghdad

January 29, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Can Washington Fix Iraq’s Election Crisis?

Reidar Visser

January 27, 2010

Until recently, the United States viewed Iraq’s upcoming parliamentary elections on March 7 as a reflection of the country’s stability and self-sufficiency — the main ingredient needed if Washington is going to successfully end its engagement there. But the legitimacy of the elections was jeopardized earlier this month, when the country’s de-Baathification board barred 511 candidates from running, citing their alleged ties to Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party. The resulting political crisis has revealed the limits of Iraq’s political maturation process, with its failure to move past an atmosphere of sectarianism and a political wing close to Iran poised to cement its power. 

Since many of those targeted by the ruling are either Sunni or secularist, some analysts have suggested that the ban was motivated by the desire of Shiite Islamists to exclude their rivals from the political process and to consolidate their own control. The true motive, however, is subtler and more dangerous: the board aimed to revive the “Baathist question” in order to terrorize voters with the specter of a Baathist return and intimidate political enemies through an arbitrary process of exclusion. 

This will perpetuate a sectarian political climate, since de-Baathification has tended to follow sectarian lines, as was already seen in the purge of thousands of officials from the Iraqi bureaucracy. Sunnis are typically targeted, whereas Shiite and Kurdish ex-Baathists are silently “un-Baathified” and thus co-opted. Although such a policy is not systematic enough to qualify as outright discrimination, simply keeping the Baathism issue on the agenda for a prolonged period will signal a remarkable resurgence of those who won the previous parliamentary elections in 2005 but lost badly in the local elections last year: the Shiite Islamists with the closest ties to Iran. 

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The New De-Baathification Board?

January 26, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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The New De-Baathification Board?

Posted by Reidar Visser on January 26, 2010

The big news out of Iraq today is of course the passage of the 2010 budget, but since the final document has been a little slow to emerge, we might as well have a look at another interesting item in the meanwhile, published this morning by Sumaria TV.

Sumaria, which was also the first to publish the names of the 511 banned candidates for the 7 March parliamentary elections, claims to have obtained the revised list of candidates for the de-Baathification board that the government is eager to put in place in order to improve the legal façade of its de-Baathification process. According to the sources, the new names are Kamran Rasul and Bakhtiyar Umar from the Kurdistani list, Haydar Hanun of Daawa, Falah al-Shanshal of the Sadrist list (he has lately been the most outspoken parliamentary supporter of Lami/Chalabi’s de-Baathification policy), Muhammad Salim and Mahdi Salih listed as Iraqi National Alliance (presumably ISCI or close to ISCI since the Sadrists are listed separately), and Abd al-Razzaq Hassan of Tawafuq.

The apparent removal of Walid al-Hilli, Maliki’s preferred candidate to head the commission, is interesting. Other than that, it has to be said that with the exception of Shanshal, these aren’t individuals about whom a great deal is known. But if the party affiliations are correct as reported then this is bad news indeed. Blunt, straightforward ethno-sectarian and party-based muhasasa with 4 Shiite Islamists, 2 Kurds, 1 token Sunni Islamist and, as usual, no one representing the secular nationalists. The board was reportedly not voted on today even though Shanshal had pressed for such a vote.


The 511 De-Baathification Cases: Sectarianism or Despotism?

January 22, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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By Reidar Visser (www.historiae.org)

20 January 2010


Late Tuesday night, the Iraqi television station Sumaria published the full list of 511 Iraqis that have been barred from standing as candidates in the 7 March parliamentary elections with reference to the de-Baathification procedures. The list says a good deal about the nature of the recent decision by the de-Baathification board – what it is, what it isn’t, and not least what it means in terms of unexpected complications for the Iraqi elections process at a time when many observers thought the institutional framework had been safely locked in place.

Admittedly, this list presents several analytical challenges. As is standard in Iraqi bureaucracy, individuals are identified not by the names they use normally, but by their own first names followed by the first name of their father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Conversely, in every-day usage, the first name is used normally in combination by maybe one or two of these (and this could be the great-grandfather rather than the father for example), or the patronymics are discarded altogether in favour of a nisba name, indicating tribal or geographical origin. Just to give an example, if one wants to find out whether the Nujayfi brothers of Mosul have been de-Baathified or not, one needs to know that they would appear in this material as “Athil bin Abd al-Aziz bin Muhammad” and “Usama bin Abd al-Aziz bin Muhammad” respectively, without any reference to the Nujayfi nisba. Or for Tariq al-Hashimi, again just for the sake of a hypothetical example: Tariq bin Ahmad bin Bakr bin Ahmad. Further complicating the picture is the fact that this list contains no geographical or party references (which usually facilitates this kind of analysis for example when candidate lists are under consideration). In short, while the Iraqi way of doing this kind of indexing is clearly superior to Western standards in terms of reducing the risk for mix-ups (i.e. there is no John Smith; even in difficult cases there will be four variables, say, Ali Muhammad Hussein Abdallah), it is problematic in terms of analysis because of the sometimes great discrepancies between the formal registers and the names that are familiar from the media. As a result, oversight is almost inevitable in a material of 500 plus candidates.

Continue Reading The 511 De-Baathification Cases: Sectarianism or Despotism?…

Why Ad Hoc De-Baathification Will Derail the Process of Democratisation in Iraq

January 9, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Posted by Reidar Visser on January 8, 2010


 Considerable confusion has erupted after news began leaking yesterday about a move to bar Salih al-Mutlak, a prominent secularist leader of the Hiwar front which is now part of the Iraqiyya movement and coalition, from standing as a candidate in the March parliamentary elections.

Much of the lack of clarity relates to the essentially transitional character of the Iraqi de-Baathification process. The old de-Baathification committee, created on the basis of ideas from Paul Bremer and headed since 2004 by Ali Faysal al-Lami – a Shiite political operator with particularly close ties to Iran – is supposed to be replaced by a new “justice and accountability board” pursuant to the “justice and accountability act” passed in early 2008. However, Iraqi parliamentarians have been wrangling about who should sit on the new board, with a government proposal for a Maliki ally (Walid al-Hilli) to take over its leadership so far having been rejected in parliament, partly due to internal Shiite opposition. In the meanwhile, Lami, apparently in dialogue with the “justice and accountability committee” of the Iraqi parliament, continues to wield considerable influence in issues relating to de-Baathification.

Continue Reading Why Ad Hoc De-Baathification Will Derail the Process of Democratisation in Iraq…

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