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Patreaus and Al Lami and the Scandal of Integrity! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Ali al Lami heads the Iraqi Justice and Accountability Commission, an institution with a resonant name and whose own integrity and accountability is being challenged before it calls candidates of the parliamentary elections to account. It was only natural that al Lami would cause widespread controversy after banning a larger number of candidates [from running in the elections] based on the pretext of being Baathists or sympathizing with Baathists or promoting Baathism, in addition to other obstacles such as lack of education or criminal records.

For the first time since the fall of the Saddam regime, al Lami has become the man to fear in Iraq; the Prime Minister and the Ministers of Defense and Interior are no comparison to him. He shows his claws at anyone who dares oppose him and he accuses his opponents of Baathism even General Petraeus, who has fought the Baathists the most and if it weren’t for him, al Lami would not be able to reach his home in one piece. Al Lami accused Petraeus of Baathism (nobody has ever spoken such nonsense) and said that if General Petraeus was Iraqi he would have been charged under the Debathification law. It is a threat that clearly shows the transformation from an era of trying to convince the Iraqis to take part in the elections to a time of scaring and intimidating whoever opposes them. It is clear that this al Lami is either unstable or has been given a non-Iraqi task; Petraeus said that the Justice and Accountability Council that al Lami runs is receiving instructions from an Iranian corps.

Petraeus knows al Lami very well because in August 2008 the US forces arrested him on charges of having ties to particular groups linked to Iran. Two years before that he was arrested on charges of blowing up a police station in Sadr City and was imprisoned for one year. How does a man linked to such serious charges and security prosecutions become head of one of the most important committees that decides who has good or bad conduct and who has or does not have the right to participate in the elections. Above all it is scandalous that al Lami has entered himself in the elections! How can he be an arbitrator and competitor to other candidates at the same time?

Iraq is in no need of such suspicious decisions and al Lami and the Justice and Accountability team will succeed at destroying everything that the Iraqis built over the past bloody years to transform Iraq. In the eyes of the Iraqis and the world, [it is] another Baathist regime permitting and prohibiting based on political not legal accounts. Opposition forces have failed in the past in contesting the elections, but today, local and international contesting of the organization and impartiality of the elections has real justifications. What a man like al Lami, with his bad past record, is doing is exposing Iraq to new danger and that we all thought we had left behind after the Iraqis were successful at containing the disputes and their electoral arena became the most democratic out of the Arab states. This is what Human Rights Watch said and it accused the Justice and Accountability Commission of “seeking to undermine faith in the electoral process.”

Because of the Justice and Accountability Commission, Iraq will become like the rest of the Arab democratic circuses where a committee decides on the winner before voting begins.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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