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[casi] Whimsical de-Ba'thification




http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2003/648/re13.htm

Whimsical de-Ba'thification

The exclusion of former Ba'ath Party members from new
Iraqi administrative postings may constitute a waste
of human resources, discovers Karim El-Gawhary
---------------------------------------------

"A blow to the heart of the old system," is how
American Civil Administrator Paul Bremer referred to
the official policy of "de- Ba'thification" of Iraq
which began six weeks ago. From that moment on, the
three million former members of the erstwhile
governing Ba'ath Party were prohibited from assuming
positions within the new administration or public
sector organisations. This, said Bremer, is hard
evidence that the occupation forces are acting
decisively against Saddam Hussein's former organs of
power.

It was estimated at the time that between 15,000 and
30,000 people working in state organisations and
ministries were affected by this ruling. Many of the
administrative staff who were given jobs after the war
were subsequently let go. One of those affected was
Mussana Qanaan, the former British-appointed Iraqi
administrator of Basra, Iraq's second largest city.
Qanaan quietly accepted the ruling, although he
maintains he only joined the Ba'ath Party to protect
his tribe, the Tamimi; his brother had been killed by
Saddam's troops. Qanaan sees Bremer's decree as a
"waste of human resources" as most technocrats and
specialists in the country are former members of the
Ba'ath Party.

An American civil servant working in the US Bureau for
the Reconstruction of Iraq agrees. "The decision
serves only to render the state sector even more
ineffective, but this is the price we have to pay to
make sure that members of the Ba'ath are excluded from
the organisation," he explained.

Wamid Omar Nathmi, political scientist at the
Nathmi(?) University, had never been a member of the
Ba'th Party, "which is why I had always been
marginalised," he stated, contradicts at the same time
the theory that one had to be a party member in order
to survive. "The party naturally attracted a lot of
opportunists," he continued, "which is why each case
must now be examined on its own merits." Any Ba'thist
university employees, for example, who informed on
students and may have been responsible for their
arrest, says Nathmi, should now face the consequences,
but not without proper investigation and a trial. He
is against sweeping condemnation of Ba'ath members
saying, "we should spend more time on the screening
process than condemning innocent people."

The US "de-Ba'thification" policy, continues Nathmi,
is anything but consistent, and is implemented to
varying degrees in each ministry. In the Ministry for
Higher Education, for instance, 47 civil servants were
dismissed simply on the grounds of having been party
members. In the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, on the
other hand, not a single senior civil servant was let
go, despite the fact that all are former party
members.

"It's as if each American official has his own set of
rules," is how the political scientist describes the
confusing situation.

Particularly annoying to Nathmi are the countless
reports, over and above the usual rumours, that the
Americans are keeping a section of the old Iraqi
secret service intact. Saddam's own secret service
agents, in particular, who were involved with Iran and
Syria, are reported to have been recalled into active
service.

"If the occupiers deem it useful," said Nathmi, "then
they work not only with the Ba'thists, but also with
the Saddam's notorious secret service."


 Copyright Al-Ahram Weekly. All rights reserved




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