De-Baathification leaves negative impact
April 12, 2012 at 10:54 pm
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The Kurdish Center to News Analysis has concluded that the De-Baathification process was defective and impacted Iraqi society negatively.
Shortly after the fall of the Saddam regime, in one of his first acts as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), L. Paul Bremer introduced several transitional justice mechanisms that set the course for how Iraqis would confront the legacy of past crimes for years to come.
Most notable (and controversial) was the introduction of a de-Baathification program to remove members of the Ba’ath Party from their positions of authority and to ban them from future employment in the public sector.
Ahmed Chalabi was nominated head of the De-Baathification Committee. The process of De-Baathification has three goals:
First: Prevention of Baath from regaining power.
Second: Avoid retribution against Baathists.
Third: Isolate the vast majority of Baathists from their party leaders.
On May 25, 2003, the CPA issued two additional orders in support of the process of de-Baathification. One directed the forfeiture and seizure of all party assets and property, to be held in trust by the CPA for the use and benefit of the Iraqi people. The second created the Iraqi de-Baathification Council (IDC), composed entirely of Iraqi nationals.
Bremer explains in his book that their intelligence community estimated that only about 1 per cent of all party members or approximately 20,000 people, overwhelmingly Sunni Arabs, will be affected by the order of de-Baathification. The order included the four ranks officially known as “Senior Party Members.” Nevertheless, six months later, Chalabi announced that about 28,000 former government employees with Baath Party ties already had been purged from public employment and estimated that an equal number remained to be sacked.
As a result, a significant number of party members were on the streets with no jobs, no way to sustain their families, and most importantly no reasonable explanation whatsoever for the situation they found themselves in. Many educated Iraqis were unable to perceive de-Baathification policy as anything but “collective punishment.”
Some of these unemployed people played an active role in continuing conflict and insurgency later in Iraq.
The program ran into problems for lack of clear direction. Sometimes CPA was in charge of it. Sometimes it was the Iraqi Governing Council.
In a speech to the Iraqi people on April 23, 2004, Administrator Bremer acknowledged that the hastily adopted, rank-based approach had resulted in many “legitimate” complaints.
This report is an excerpt taken from an inclusive analysis written by Kurdish Center to News Analysis on De-Baathification order.