The following article was published on Saturday by Reidar Visser, an historian of Iraq educated at the University of Oxford and currently based at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. It is reproduced here in full with the author’s permission. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
After a stormy session in the Iraqi parliament today which saw both the lifting of de-Baathification measures against three members of Iraqiyya and the withdrawal of Kurdish deputies in protest against the first reading of the budget, it seems as if Nuri al-Maliki, once more, is on track with his agenda for the next government. One of the least noticed items of important news out of Iraq so far is a statement by Safa al-Din al-Safi that Maliki intends to present his cabinet early next week.
Before he does that, it will be interesting to follow the recalibration of parliamentary factionalism that is necessary in order for the next government to achieve the 163 votes it needs. For Iraqiyya, the outcome of today’s session was a mixed bag. The acquittal of Salih al-Mutlak, Zafir al-Ani and Jamal al-Karbuli was logical in so far that their de-Baathification appeared questionable in the first place; however the way it was done today was decidedly messy. By lifting the sanctions against the three, parliament was acting in an extrajudicial way, reportedly on the basis of signed letters in which the three members disavowed any links with the Baath party (some reports suggest a fourth member, Rasim al-Awwadi, failed to produce this kind of letter). A more proper course of action by parliament would have been to sack the de-Baathification committee, enact legislation under chapter 7 of the constitution, or revise the accountability and justice law of 2008. Conversely, by infringing on the authority of the judiciary, it produced a decision that smacks of cliquishness in its narrow focus on three privileged members of Iraqiyya. What about the thousands of other Iraqis that have been targeted by the de-Baathification committee without due process?