Sunday, April 22, 2007

Perspective: US pushes reversal of Iraq's Baath purge

BAGHDAD - After the invasion, they were Iraqi pariahs, seen by Americans as remaining too loyal to Saddam Hussein to be trusted.

Members of the ruling Baath party, many of them Sunni Arabs, were purged from the country's ministries and military in an aggressive de-Baathification program initiated by then US administrator Paul Bremer and, later, misconstrued by the new Shiite political elite to serve their ambitions.

But now the Americans are trying to reverse much of the impact of the de-Baathification policies. Analysts and the US itself say that that approach – along with disbanding the former army – polarized Iraqi society and helped fuel the violent Sunni-led insurgency.

Reintegrating many former Baath Party members, as a way to weaken support for the insurgency, has become one of Washington's top priorities and a cornerstone of its new strategy here.

Read the rest at the Christian Science Monitor