Saturday, February 24, 2007

Report: U.S. disappointed in Iraq's progress with Baathists

In 2003, following the invasion of Iraq, the first act of the Coalition Provisional Authority under L. Paul Bremer (pictured) had been 'de-Baathification', the elimination from government of members of Saddam's Baath political party, most of whom had joined for the increased pay and benefits which membership in the party offered. They had been the country's administrators, responsible for such things as water, electricity, trash collection, sewage disposal. With de-Baathification, the basics of everyday living began to crumble along with the previous government. The Iraqi army -- 300,000 strong -- had been disbanded as the second act of the CPA. Going home without work and without a future, members had only their tribal and religious loyalties to count on. Many attribute these two acts as the well-spring of the insurgency.

WASHINGTON -- Serious new divisions have emerged between the Bush administration and its Iraqi allies over the Baghdad government's refusal to enact a reform that the White House considers crucial to its new strategy for bringing the country's violence under control.

In spite of a commitment by Iraq's prime minister to its passage, legislation that would ease rules barring former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party from government service has been blocked by the country's Shiite-dominated parliament.

U.S. officials have repeatedly expressed confidence that Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, would work for passage of "de-Baathification" reform. However, they now have begun to express disappointment at the Iraqi stalemate, saying that the reform remains a top political priority and is essential to convince the country's Sunni minority that it can receive fair treatment in the new system.One U.S. official said the reform, far from advancing, as promised, was now "moving backward" and is "almost dead in the water."

Read the rest at the LA Times

Related Link:
Maliki reaches out to members of Saddam's army at reconciliation conference (12/16/06)

Related Link:
Iraqi draft law would reinstate most ex-Baathists (11/07/06)