A step toward reconcilliation:
BAGHDAD — Iraq’s parliament adopted legislation Saturday on the reinstatement of thousands of former Baath party supporters to government jobs, a key benchmark sought by the United States as a step toward national reconciliation.
The bill was approved by a unanimous show of hands on each of the law’s 30 clauses. Titled the Accountability and Justice law, it seeks to relax restrictions on the rights of members of Saddam Hussein’s now-dissolved Baath party to fill government posts.
It is also designed to reinstate thousands of Baathists in government jobs from which they had been dismissed because of their ties to the party.
The dismissal of thousands of Baath Party supporters from these jobs after Saddam was toppled in 2003 deepened sectarian tensions between Iraq’s majority Shiites and the once-dominant Sunni Arabs, who saw the de-Baathification process as targeting their community.
The strict implementation of so-called de-Baathification rules also meant that a lot of senior bureaucrats who knew how to run ministries, university departments and state companies ended up out of work in a country where 35 years of Baath party rule and extensive government involvement in the economy had left tens of thousands of party members in key positions.
…..The draft law approved Saturday 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 will also be sent to compulsory retirement except for the members of Fidayeen Saddam, a militia formed by Saddam’s eldest son Oday. Those militia members will be entitled to nothing.
Good luck weeding out the militia from the regular party members. In anycase, this may speed up the restructuring process.