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The Debathification Obituary - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Another fatal error has taken place in Iraq, represented by the ban against Saleh al Mutlaq and his political bloc, the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue, from participating in the forthcoming legislative elections, based upon accusations that he was a member of the now dissolved Baath party.

For with a decision from the so-called Accountability and Justice Commission i.e. the Debathification Commission, prohibiting al Mutlaq and his [political] bloc from participating in the elections, the Debathification process has died, and this death must be announced. This process has completely lost its credibility, and it was already suffering from a lack of credibility, and is [now] being accused of being an institutionalized operation for revenge against a broad spectrum of the Iraqi people. Therefore it is not surprising that al Mutlaq considers what it happening to be an operation to “marginalize” the Arab Sunnis; for it is clear that the Debathification Commission has been transformed into a law to eliminate the Sunnis.

Although it is said that all is fair in love and war, it seems that this now also includes the forthcoming Iraqi elections as well. The issue here is not defending al Mutlaq, or the Sunnis, as much as it is defending Iraq as a whole, and the right of citizenship there, without looking at sectarian, religious, or other details. Iraqi unity is being threatened, and it is enough to recall what happened to Tarik al-Hashimi, for example, against the backdrop of the Iraqi Election Law and [his veto of this] with regards to Iraqis living abroad and prior to this what happened and is still happening with regards to the Iraqi Christian community.

Therefore it is only natural for al Mutlaq to say that the decision to ban him from participating in the elections has come from “parties working to prevent our participation in the forthcoming elections.” He also stressed “this decision is political and linked to a foreign desire” otherwise how else can this change in positions be explained, as al Mutlaq was previously a figure that al-Maliki desired to cooperate with following the local elections, however he is now considered a Baathist and must be banned, along with his bloc.

On 20 March 2009, an article in the American newspaper The Washington Post said “Despite his reputation when he came to the seat of power in 2006 as a hard-line Shiite, al-Maliki renewed the call once again this month, and during his speech he urged the Iraqis to reconcile with the ordinary Baathists, describing them as being ‘at times, coerced and hated, for being on the side of the former regime.'” Al-Maliki added that the time had come “to forget what happened in the past.” Al Mutlaq revealed that in a meeting with al-Maliki two months ago, he informed him that “at one time you stood against me on these issues, to which he [al-Maliki] replied you must be happy that I changed [my mind].” During this interview that I conducted with al Mutlaq, he laughed and joked, and also revealed that in the beginning “the Prime Minister stole the government from us, and he now trying to steal political discourse from us.” Al Mutlaq added that al-Maliki had proposed an alliance for the parliamentary elections [with him] however he said “we are still studying this message.”

Therefore it is difficult to accept the decision banning al Mutlaq and his political bloc from the forthcoming Iraqi elections under the pretext of his [former] membership to the Baathist party, while it has become easy to say that the time has now come to announce the death of the Debathification Commission, regardless of what name it is now under, for it is clear to us that it is not Baathists that some parties want to eliminate, but rather the stability and unity of Iraq.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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