First Published: 2013-04-07

 

Iraq cabinet makes concessions on de-Baathification law

 

Cabinet unveils sweeping reforms to law barring members of Baath party from public life as part of moves to placate angry rallies by Sunnis.

 

Middle East Online

By Ammar Karim and Salam Faraj – BAGHDAD

Will Maliki challenge Sunnis’ demands?

Iraq's cabinet unveiled sweeping reforms to a law barring members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party from public life on Sunday as part of moves to placate angry rallies by the country's Sunnis.

The amendment to the De-Baathification law still needs to be approved by parliament, where it is expected to face stiff opposition, but it is among a raft of concessions to demonstrators who have alleged that the Shiite-led authorities unfairly target the Sunni community.

The protests since December lie at the heart of a political dispute that has pitted Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who is Shiite, against several of his erstwhile national unity government partners, in particular those from Sunni and Kurdish parties.

Ministers on Sunday approved a draft amendment that would allow Baath party branch chiefs, or firqa-level members, to rejoin the civil service, and would provide for pension payments for many members of the Fedayeen Saddam, a paramilitary organisation loyal to the now-ousted dictator.

It would also put a time limit on the law, ensuring that only names blacklisted by the end of 2013 would be restricted from public life.

In all, the draft law would allow thousands of people to either enter the civil service or receive pensions.

Cabinet also approved amendments to laws on the use of secret informants and the seizure of property, both of which are major frustrations to the Sunni Arab community.

"Cabinet today approved an important amendment to the law of Justice and Accountability," Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlak said in a statement summarising the reforms, referring to the formal name for Iraq's De-Baathification law.

"This law has excluded many talented people and prevented the country from (benefiting from) their services."

Critics have said the existing rules are too broad-reaching, disproportionately target Sunni Arabs, who were largely in power during Saddam's rule, and could theoretically be applied in perpetuity.

In particular, Sunni Arab protesters have railed against the law during months of protests alleging that anti-terror legislation is used to target their minority.

"This is a step towards moving to a new phase, away from phobia of the Baath party," said Ihsan al-Shammari, a politics professor at Baghdad University. "I think the government made a good move here."

But, Shammari said, the proposal was likely to face opposition in the Shiite-dominated south of Iraq that, along with the northern Kurdish region, faced the brunt of Saddam's wrath.

 

UN Syria peace talks begin in Geneva

Israel to deny Human Rights Watch visas for being ‘biased’

Iraqi forces enter IS-held west Mosul

Suicide bomb attack on rebels kills 51 near Al-Bab

Marrakesh clinches top ranking of African urban life

UN considers Syria sanctions over chemical attacks

Saudi Comic-Con slammed as ‘sin’ in online backlash

Jordanians protest government price hikes

Baghdad coordinated anti-IS airstrikes with Damascus says source

New Hamas Gaza leader makes first public appearance

Palestinian protestors clash with Israeli soldiers in West Bank

Jordanian F-16 crashes in Saudi, pilot survives

Iraqi PM says air force strikes IS targets in Syria

UN slams light sentence for Israeli soldier

Saudi king seeks investment on rare Asia tour

Saudi minister discusses hajj with Iran

136 Turkish diplomats, soldiers seek German asylum since coup

New Hamas ‘strongman’ could spell fresh Israeli conflict

Suicide car bomb kills eight outside Yemen army base

Fired Turkish academics protest ‘unjust’ dismissals

Iraqi forces jovial after Mosul airport entry

Syrian rebels announce capture of flashpoint town from IS

Iraqi forces enter IS-held Mosul airport

Swedish citizen jailed for IS Facebook post

Somalia names new prime minister

Netanyahu backs pardon for Israel soldier who shot Palestinian

UN envoy meets Syrian rivals, hopes of breakthrough slim

Yemeni government forces pin back rebels on coast

Israeli Supreme Court appoints deeply right-wing judges

Hundreds of Australians protest Netanyahu

Yemen rebel fire kills policeman on Saudi border

UN condemns Israel's new West Bank demolition plans

UN envoy says Russia asked Syria to halt bombing during talks

Bahrain arrests 20, approves military trials for civilians

Israel blocks EU lawmakers from Gaza entry

Syrian migrant on trial in Austria over 20 murders

UN says rapes, killings still blight Darfur

Yemen president says Saudi saving $10 bn for reconstruction

Top Yemen commander killed in missile strike

New Somali president says ability to deal with nation's problems 'limited'

Israel lifts ban on basketball team playing in Turkey

Arab League condemns Israeli soldier’s lenient sentence

Turkey lifts ban on Islamic headscarves in army

Israeli ministry orders removal of Haifa ammonia tank

Iraqi forces ready for assault on Mosul airport