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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 __________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! SiteBuilder - Free, easy-to-use web site design software http://sitebuilder.yahoo.com _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk