Najaf, Asharq Al-Awsat- Baathists said that they feel like they are heading towards an increase in “stability and security” thanks to a number of [political] lists that will participate in the upcoming legislative elections scheduled for March 2010. These [electoral] lists will work to “return the rights of Baathists who were wronged by some political parties” following the collapse of the previous Iraqi regime. For his part, Iraqi Virtue party MP Sabah al-Saadi said “there are 30 thousand Baathists included in the Debathification [program] who hold sensitive [political] positions in the Iraqi state today.
Abu Ahmed, a former member of the dissolved Baathist party told Asharq Al-Awsat that “following the occupying forces control of Iraq, we felt panic and fear, but despite all of this we still had hope, especially as the President Saddam Hussein was still alive, but after his death there was severe fear and loss of hope for the majority of Baathists with regards to living a decent life.”
Abu Ahmed added “most of us [Baathists] wanted to live in peace with a new life away from arrests and surveillance, and subpoenaing by security men. We suffered a lot as a result of political parties, and they asked a lot from us, we even surrendered our personal weapons to them but to no avail.”
Former US Administrator of Iraq, Paul Bremer, initiated the Debathification committee in the wake of the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime in April 2003, to pursue the Baathists [and prevent them from holding political positions]. The committee’s name was later changed to the “Accountability and Justice” committee, and the Iraqi parliament voted to enact a special law [on former Baathist members].
A former member of the Baathist party who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity said “the smile has returned to our faces after almost 7 years, and we expect good [to come from] the nomination of individuals and [political] lists to stand at the forthcoming elections and return to us what has been lost, especially as most of us have faced injustice and have not committed any crime.”
This former Baathist party member, who joined the party in the 1980s, said “we have been waiting for these candidate lists to stand for election for several years, and [we expect] them to have a comfortable majority in the forthcoming Council of Representatives in order to defend our rights.”
He added “we will vote for the list that is closest to us and will achieve our ambitions.”
Prominent Iraqi MP, Saleh al-Mutlaq, previously predicted that the Baathists would hold 40 seats in the forthcoming parliament. The Iraqi Prime Minister has warned on a number of occasions against the entry of Baathists to parliament, and he vowed to activate the “Accountability and Justice” committee to oversee the names of the electoral candidates and prevent the Baathists from running [for election].
For his part, Iraqi MP Sheikh Sabah al-Saadi said “there are more than 30 thousand Baathists who are included in Debathification [program] who have returned via the politics of al-Maliki’s government to sensitive positions in the security agencies or other important state institutes.”
Al-Saadi told Asharq Al-Awsat “These Baathists have the power to overthrow the regime…especially as they have experience in military coups.” He also confirmed “if this Baathist march to the joints of the state is not stopped, then they [the Baathists] will represent a major threat to the country in the future, especially if they have external support.”