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Saturday, January 12, 2008

De-Baathification Reform Passes In Iraq

Since the counterinsurgency strategy implemented by General Petraeus was first started, we heard people like Harry Reid announced a military failure before the full compliment of troops had even arrived.

The war in Iraq "is lost" and a US troop surge is failing to bring peace to the country, the leader of the Democratic majority in the US Congress, Harry Reid, said Thursday.

"I believe ... that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything, as is shown by the extreme violence in Iraq this week," Reid told journalists.

When Democratic politicians and war critics, went to Iraq, started seeing results and coming back to the US and publicly announcing them, the "spin" was that it couldn't last, when it did last and violence stayed at their lowest levels and the bottom up reconciliation continued, it was announced that political reconciliation wasn't and wouldn't occur.

It is hard to argue against the success of the surge in improving security and local political conditions. Iraqi casualties have fallen sharply, shops are reopening, people are returning to their homes from exile aboard. Across Sunni regions of Iraq, grassroots "Awakening Councils" of tribal leaders are taking charge of local security with American help and turning against al-Qaida and other die-hard insurgents.

But some Americans are still not persuaded. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently said, "No amount of White House spin can hide the fact that the escalation's chief objective of political reconciliation remains unmet, Iraqis have not demonstrated any readiness to stand up and take responsibility for their own country and 2007 was the most lethal year yet for American troops."

Harry Reid was wrong yet again.

One of the two most critical benchmarks Congress set up for Iraq, has just been passed.

The De-Baathification reform, officially called the "Accountability of Justice", which will allow the Sunni's to join in running the government and although those that committed the most serious offenses under Saddam Hussein will still be held accountable, being a member of the Ba'ath party no longer will disqualify a Sunni from obtaining a government job.

Iraq's parliament adopted legislation Saturday on the reinstatement of thousands of former supporters of Saddam Hussein's Baath party to government jobs, a key benchmark sought by the United States as a step toward easing sectarian tensions.

As this Associated Press piece makes clear, this is "not a blanket approval for all former Baathists to take government jobs."

The law will allow low-ranking Baathists not involved in past crimes against Iraqis to go back to their jobs. High-ranking Baathists will be sent to compulsory retirement and those involved in crimes will stand trial, though their families will still have the right to pension.

The Baathists who were members in Saddam's security agencies must retire — except for members of Fidayeen Saddam, a feared militia formed by Saddam's eldest son, Oday. They will be entitled to nothing

In Recommendation 27, the Iraq Study Group emphasized the need for United States Government support of reintegration of former Ba’athists and Arab nationalists into civic life. The New Way Forward strategy made de-Ba’athification reform an integral part of the United States Government’s Iraq policy.

On August 26, 2007, the leaders of Iraq’s five major political groups announced an agreement had been reached on a draft of the de-Ba’athification legislation. While the agreed upon draft still had to pass the hurdles of debate and adoption in the Council of Representatives, the work accomplished by the leaders on this legislation was a significant sign of progress, a sign that has been denied by many here in America at the time, but has now been shown to have been important and which has led to this critical benchmark having been met.

Our troops have done a tremendous job, General Petraeus has implemented a counterinsugency strategy along with the much criticized "surge" that has brought about the security necessary to allow for breathing room so that the politicians could make this significant political progress.