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[casi] De-Baathification and 28,000 fired Iraqi teachers


A week ago, UPI reported that 28,000 Iraqi teachers had been fired in a
de-Baathification maneuver.  The story has now been given credence by the
Economist (though they lay the decision on the al-Dawa-affiliated Education
Minister, not on Ambassador Bremer as the UPI had it).

As always, the appearance of Ahmed Chalabi thickens the plot. Chalabi has been
appointed the head of the IGC's de-Baathification committee (or Star Chamber, as
the Economist would have it).

Following is a conversation between Chalabi and US Maj. General Petraeus (a
division commander at Mosul) as reported in the NYT (story below):

" 'I'm not saying that all these people by any means should be kept, but if you
are going to tell people that they're never going to work again, you might as
well throw them in jail,' General Petreaus told Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the
Governing Council's de-Baathification committee, last week.

Mr. Chalabi was less than sympathetic. 'At least they can eat there,' he said. "

So the transition to democracy's in good hands, then.  Following are stories on
de-Baathification from the Economist, UPI, and the New York Times.

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA


Dangers of the inquisition

Nov 27th 2003 | BAGHDAD
>From The Economist print edition

How deBaathification is helping the rebels

WHEN Iraq's republicans overthrew the monarchy in 1958, they killed the king and
some of his relations and courtiers, declared martial law for a day, and,
according to legend, had the theatres open again by the following afternoon.
American-run Iraq has not been so smooth. Paul Bremer, the American
administrator, arrived in Iraq intent on applying the methods of deNazification,
used in Germany after the second world war, to the 2m-strong Baath party, which
ruled through terror for 35 years. Some observers fear that it has turned into
an inquisition, alienating Iraqis not previously opposed to the occupying force.

Under Mr Bremer's decree of May 16th, some 20,000 alleged members of the party's
three senior ranks were summarily sacked from their posts. The information and
defence ministries were scrapped, along with their hundreds of thousands of
workers. The education minister, a member of al-Dawa, a Shia party banned by the
former regime, has reportedly sacked 28,000 teachers on top of those already
purged by Mr Bremer. A swathe of technocrats who had supported the regime were
cast off. DeBaathification appears to have gone some way towards dismantling a
state that had been left largely intact by the unexpectedly swift war.

But some of Iraq's returning exiles, who dominate the American-appointed
Governing Council, say Mr Bremer's edict was too soft. Many Baathists still hide
in the woodwork, says the council's committee for deBaathification, which has
proclaimed round two of the purge. “They changed their identities and fiddled
their files on the eve of war,” says the telecommunications minister, Haider
Abadi, whose family still lives in London. The committee wants to expropriate
the wealth of Baath cronies “for the Iraqi people”, and ban businessmen believed
to have links with the former regime from being awarded contracts.

Baathists are not obvious magnets of sympathy. Some are thugs; all enjoyed
privileges denied to ordinary Iraqis. The tens of thousands of them now losing
their jobs pale into comparison with the millions that Saddam Hussein and his
cohorts pushed into exile. Nevertheless, pragmatists fear the Governing Council
has embarked on a witch hunt.

Its deBaathification committee has assumed the powers of a Star Chamber. By
hearing appeals not only of Iraqis stripped of their jobs, but of businessmen
divested of their contracts, it is feared the process could be used to stifle
competition. Under the chairmanship of Ahmed Chalabi, a prominent businessman
and darling of Pentagon hawks, the committee has begun an investigation into
Nadhmi Auchi, an Iraqi-born British businessmen who accumulated much of his
wealth under the former regime.

“All those who benefited from the previous regime have to be prevented from
gaining any more business,” says Mudhar Shawqat, Mr Chalabi's leading
strategist. Mr Shawqat is a shareholder in a consortium awarded a contract to
provide a mobile phone service to southern Iraq, and a rival of Orascom, which
holds the tender for central Iraq and in which Mr Auchi is believed to hold
shares (see article).

Victims of deBaathification complain of rough justice, and American army
commanders fear the policy is deepening a cleavage between the newly dominant
exiles and Iraqis who found a way of surviving under Saddam. Jobless and
humiliated Baathist technocrats have found succour in the arms of the
anti-American opposition, say commanders, and are passing information on the
most vulnerable pipelines and power cables to the rebels.

>From his marble palace in Mosul, a northern Sunni city whence many Baathists
hail, America's independent-minded General David Petraeus has circumvented the
rules by making dismissals probationary. “You can't fire 900 of 22,000 teachers
and give them no incentive to support the interim government,” he says. Last
week Mr Chalabi paid him a visit.

Even some of the exiles fear an excess of deBaathification. Ayad Alaoui, a
member of the Governing Council, says its deBaathification committee is
unwittingly winning the Baathists new recruits. “The party was history,” he
says. “We are bringing it back to life.” In an attempt to let bygones be
bygones, his brother-in-law, Nouri Badran, who runs the interior ministry, hopes
to recruit 200,000 Iraqis, including ex-soldiers and petty Baathists, into the
various security forces.

Had Iraqis really wanted to come to terms with the past, rather than just settle
old scores, it might have been better if the Governing Council had opted for a
“truth and reconciliation” commission, as pioneered in South Africa, rather than
a Shia-led inquisition.

Analysis: Iraqi CPA fires 28,000

UPI - UPI - Friday, November 21, 2003

Date: Friday, November 21, 2003 6:40:58 PM EST By RICHARD SALE, UPI Intelligence

American's top man in Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer, last week fired 28,000 Iraqi
teachers as political punishment for their former membership in the Saddam
Hussein-dominated Baath Party, fueling anti-U.S. resistance on the ground,
administration officials have told United Press International.

A Central Command spokesman, speaking to UPI from Baghdad, acknowledged that the
firings had taken place but said the figure of 28,000 "is too high."

He was unable, however, after two days, to supply UPI with a lower, revised

The Central Command spokesman attributed the firings to "tough, new anti-Baath
Party measures" recently passed by the U.S.-created Iraqi Governing Council,
dominated by Ahmed Chalabi, a favorite of administration hawks in the White
House and Pentagon.

"It's a piece of real stupidity on the part of the neocons to try and equate the
Baath Party with the Nazis," said former CIA official Larry Johnson. "You have
to make a choice: Either you are going to deal with Iraqis who are capable of
rebuilding and running the country or you're going to turn Iraq over to those
who can't."

Facing a spreading insurgency, this was "not the time to turn out into the
street more recruits for the anti-U.S. insurgency," Johnson said.

"It's an incredible error," said former senior CIA official and Middle East
expert Graham Fuller. "In Germany, after World War II, the de-nazification
program was applied with almost surgical precision in order not to antagonize
German public opinion. In the case of Iraq, ideologues don't seem to grasp the
seriousness of their acts."

Administration officials told UPI that from the beginning of Bremer's arrival in
Iraq, the Bush administration has consistently misplayed the issue of Iraq's
former ruling Sunni group, most of whom were members of the Baath, but who are
also the most able and knowledgeable administrators in the country. In addition,
many able government employees joined the Baath Party not out of any special
political sympathies, but simply to attain or retain their jobs.

"The anti-Baath edicts, all of which are ideological nonsense, have been an
outright disaster," a State Department official said. "Whatever happened to
politics as the art of the possible?"

"All we have done is to have alienated one of the most politically important
portions of the Iraqi population," another administration official said.

According to several serving and former U.S. intelligence officials, the latest
firings are only one of a series of what one State Department official called
"disastrous misjudgments." He cites, as one of the first, how senior Pentagon
officials, relying on Chalabi's advice, led the Bush administration to believe
it would inherit the Iraqi government bureaucracy virtually intact at the end of
the war.

This same group ignored warnings from the internal CIA and State Department
studies about looting and general lawlessness in the event of a U.S. victory,
these sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In a long editorial last Sunday, the New York Times said that the lack of U.S.
preparation for a post-war Iraq was "most likely" due to the Defense Department
and the president's security advisers (believing) in the assurance of Mr.
Chalabi and other Iraqi exiles."

Another major and disastrous decision was Bremer's order, on arrival, to disband
without pay the Iraqi military force of 400,000 men, several of these sources

A Pentagon critic of the administration said: "We spent a lot of money on
psychological operations that urged the Iraqi army to remain out of the fight.

"They did, and what did we do? Rewarded them by throwing them out of work and
denying them a living."

What deeply disturbed many U.S. Iraqi experts in the State Department and CIA
was the fact the Iraqi army was a highly respected institution in Iraq, which
Saddam Hussein did not trust and used other organizations like the Republican
Guard to spy on.

But it was disbanded in an effort to sweep aside any viable internal leadership
and to install "democrats" from Chalabi's Iraqi Governing Council, a half-dozen
former U.S. diplomats and serving administration officials said.

"Disbanding the army only alienated the Iraq Sunnis, who could have been useful
in restoring public services and getting the country up and running," a State
Department official said.

Only 20 percent of the population Iraq's Sunnis are better educated, more
experienced and more unified than the Shiite majority, he said. Since a U.S.
victory would erode their position of dominance, they were very receptive to the
argument that the U.S. government needed to utilize their expertise in order to
ensure a smooth political transition.

This, of course, did not occur, the State Department official said.

Instead, under orders from Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld, Bremer tried to
get rid of former Baathists in the Iraqi government by removing the top six
layers of bureaucracy, U.S. officials said. The decision was made on May 16.

One of its effects of this was to re-energize Islamic militant forces in the
country, this official said, even though, "The Sunnis are a secular force,
hostile to Iran and Shiite influences, not much given to promoting radical
religious causes."

"All you were doing were pissing off people who were armed and had no place to
go," a former senior CIA official said.

But with the Sunnis sidelined, the Shiite, who have strong links to Chalabi,
gained in power even though leading Shiite religious parties such as SCIRI and
al-Dawa closely connected to Iranian security services.

"I think Chalabi's group is permeated with Iranian influence," said former CIA
counterterrorism chief Vince Cannistraro.

A Pentagon official pointed out that Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, Bremer's predecessor,
had a much more "pragmatic" attitude. "Garner was a guy who was willing to deal
with anyone who could get something done. If he was a Baath Party guy, fine. If
he wasn't, fine. The point was could the guy do the job?"

British historian Tom Bower points out in his "The Pledge Betrayed," how the
Allies were forced to abandon many features of their de-nazification programs in
Germany because of the hardships they caused. Even by February 1945, three
months before the end of the war, American and British forces were abandoning
their reluctance to employ Nazis because of the inefficiencies of such policies.
"Armies rely on water, electricity and other civilian services," Bower said.
"The temporary employment of Nazis had to be allowed."

The Americans even decided, "The administrative machinery of dissolved Nazi
organizations may be used when necessary to provide certain essential functions
such as relief, health and sanitation, with de-nazified personnel and
facilities," Bower said.

He concluded: "Any offer to help organize the chaos was gratefully accepted."

But in today's Iraq, in spite of steadily escalating attacks on U.S. forces, the
desire of the IGC to enforce political correctness produced "incoherence, chaos
and disorganization," one Pentagon official said.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld even moved to get rid of 16 of 20 State
Department people because they were seen to be "Arabists" -- overly sympathetic
to Iraqis, U.S. government officials said.

A former Garner team member was quoted in last week's Newsweek as saying the
vetting process for Iraqis "got so bad that even doctors sent to restore medical
services had to be anti-abortion" -- an article of faith in the Bush

When Secretary of State Colin Powell protested directly to Rumsfeld, he ignored
Powell, the Newsweek source said.

"We had no coherent plan or coordinated strategy for post-war Iraq," a former
senior CIA official told UPI. Instead there were "rosy misassumptions, wishful
thinking, ideological blindness."

There is some hope, at least in the case of Iraq's army.

Already there is a full Iraqi brigade, comprised of former Iraqi military men,
working with the U.S. Fourth Infantry Division, with another brigade, quickly
taking shape under its auspices, administration officials said.

With Chalabi continuing to have no internal popular Iraqi support, "The best
thing we could do for Iraq's stability would be to reinstate the Iraqi army," a
State Department official said.

November 22, 2003
Baathists, Once Reviled, Prove Difficult to Remove

AGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 21 — Purging Iraq of the Baath Party, the backbone of Saddam
Hussein's dictatorship, has proved more difficult than many Iraqis had imagined.

In some provinces where the party's roots were deep, high-ranking party members
kept their government jobs because local officials said they were afraid to make
changes. In other cases, American Army commanders have intervened to keep senior
Baathists on the official payroll, reasoning that firing people only feeds
public resentment.

Even when there is the will to dismiss top Baathists, it has sometimes been
difficult to find the way. In the chaotic weeks following the old government's
collapse, computer records in many ministries were stealthily altered to
effectively demote thousands of once privileged party bosses, said officials of
Iraq's interim government.

"A lot of Baath Party members changed their ranks in the files during April and
May, when the institutions of the state were empty," said the new minister of
finance, Kamel al-Keilani, who is the paymaster of the huge public sector.
"You'd think the only active Baathist was Saddam Hussein and all the rest were
low-ranking nobodies."

The Baath Party's tentacles stretched to every university, school, ministry,
hospital and city hall. Members benefited from preferential treatment in work
and education, salary bonuses and a license to humiliate others, according to
Iraqis who lived under its rule.

But membership was also a social passport, they say, a requirement for some
positions as well as a means to demonstrate allegiance to a rule that severely
punished disloyalty. When L. Paul Bremer III, the head of the American
occupation authority, outlawed the party in May, some 2.5 million people, out of
a total population of 25 million, were believed to be Baath Party members.

No one proposed firing all of them, but Mr. Bremer and the Iraqi Governing
Council did decree that Baathists in the top three ranks of the party, an
estimated 120,000 people, be removed from their government jobs. The council's
resolution was issued in September. Two weeks ago, Mr. Bremer set out a
procedure for investigating senior party officials, noting that, "the Iraqi
people have suffered large-scale human rights abuses and deprivations over many
years at the hands of the Baath Party."

But even the most adamant advocates of a purge now say that time, economics and
pragmatic considerations have moderated their ambitions.

"We had hoped there would be a radical shake-up but as time has gone on,
prudence has taken over," said Ali Alawi, the new trade minister and a former
political exile who spent years polishing a plan to de-Baathify Iraq once Saddam
Hussein was gone. "In the context of this country and its various upheavals, one
has to be careful."

A good example of those reduced expectations is Mosul, Iraq's second largest
city and the base of the 82nd Airborne Division, which controls the northern
swath of the country.

The capital of Nineveh Province, Mosul is home to thousands of once senior party
members, including 1,100 former Iraqi Army officers with the rank of brigadier
general and above, according to the American military. At its university, 120
professors and other workers held high ranks in the party. In its public school
system, 937 employees had climbed to Baath's top positions.

"Do you throw 900 teachers out of work and tell them they can never work in
their field again, and then not expect them to turn against you?" asked Maj.
Gen. David H. Petraeus, the division commander.

Throwing people of authority and expertise onto the street, he said, would
negate the mission of the occupation forces to subdue resistance and win
friends. "To beat this you can't just kill the bad guys," the general added.
"You've got to give people jobs."

At the crowded offices of the provincial education department, the new director
general, Said Hamed, was more ambivalent but powerless to buck the American

Mr. Hamed has worked for the school system for 22 years. He never joined the
Baath Party, a choice that he said left him with a salary half that of
subordinates who did join.

Senior party members in the system include teachers, schoolmasters and
high-level bureaucrats. Mr. Hamed has no sympathy for them.

"They didn't get their jobs based on qualifications, but on their political
activities," he said.

But it fell to Mr. Hamed to enforce the orders from the Governing Council and
Mr. Bremer in Baghdad. Faced with firing 937 people and incurring the
displeasure of the American commander, he said he had decided to demote the
senior Baathists but keep them on the payroll.

"They know they made a mistake and they say that now all they want to do is
provide for their families," he said. "Of course, they didn't care in the old
days about other people's families. But now we are letting them work because we
do care about their families — and we worry about what might happen to us. It's
to avoid troubles."

The governor of Nineveh Province, a former Iraqi Army general who fell out of
favor with Saddam Hussein 10 years ago, expressed similar misgivings.

"This just shouldn't hang in the air," said the governor, Ghanem al-Basso. "If
they aren't taken care of, they could join the ranks of the enemies."

General Petraeus, who set up his base in a huge stone palace built by Mr.
Hussein on a hill north of Mosul, has tried to take care of the problem in his
own way. He created job programs for many of the people who were fired by Mr.
Bremer and the council in their efforts to rid Iraq of its old security
apparatus, centered on the army, the secret police and the Information Ministry.
He strongly encouraged the University of Mosul to sort through the cases of
professors who were high-level Baathists and was pleased when the school gave 65
percent of them a reprieve.

"I'm not saying that all these people by any means should be kept, but if you
are going to tell people that they're never going to work again, you might as
well throw them in jail," General Petreaus told Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the
Governing Council's de-Baathification committee, last week.

Mr. Chalabi was less than sympathetic. "At least they can eat there," he said.

"You've made an enemy of their whole family, though," said the general. "If you
could only see the record of the Baath Party," Mr. Chalabi replied. "People need
to see justice done."

"Keep them on the job and you watch them, then," the general told him. "If they
are anti-new Iraq, then you throw them in jail."

Most officials, whether they are eager to fire top Baathists or reluctant, said
the ideal process would examine each individual, case by case, to sort out those
members of the party elite who did harm and those who did not.

It would be a Herculean effort, said Mr. Alawi, the trade minister.

"Obviously those people who are in the top ranks must go," he said. "But the
Baath has percolated so far into the structure of society that it's difficult to
isolate. It's like pouring coffee into a sponge. It becomes intermingled."

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