Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Iraq’s Shiite Parties Turn To Blaming America Before The March Elections

Iraq’s two leading Shiite coalitions, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law and the National Alliance, have increasingly turned to blaming the U.S. for the problems with the March 2010 parliamentary elections. This began last month when on January 27, U.S. commander of the Central Command General David Petraeus claimed the National Alliance run Accountability and Justice Commission’s banning of candidates was done at the behest of Iran. The Commission responded by accusing the general of working with Baathists. The head of the Commission, Ali al-Lami later complained that the United States was interfering in the elections. Later, on February 5, 2010 Prime Minister Maliki accused U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill of doing the same thing. 

When an appeals panel said that the banned candidates could run in the election and that their cases would be dealt with later, the National Alliance said the U.S. was responsible. Ahmad Chalabi of the Accountability and Justice Commission and National Alliance candidate told Iranian TV Al-Alam that this was part of a U.S. conspiracy to bring Baathists back into power. Later, he said that the Commission was under pressure from Vice President Joe Biden and Ambassador Hill, quoting  comments by the two Americans that they hoped that the candidate banning would be resolved.

Not to be out done, the State of Law began organizing protests against Baathists and America. In Baghdad for example, there was a demonstration on February 7 where one person had an American flag with the stars replaced with the word “Baath.”

Blaming America for Iraq’s problems seems a natural progression for the two main Shiite lists. Both have not talked about any real issues facing the country, and instead have focused upon a boogeyman, returning Baathists. Adding the U.S. to the mix seems the logical next step, since it is not a threat to Iraq either. How long this fiasco will continue is not known, but it allows the two largest alliances in the country to avoid dealing with their records, neither of which is that impressive, so it may last all the way up to the day of the election on March 7.

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, “Chalabi accuses US of interfering in Iraq election,” 2/14/10

AK News, “IHEC: more candidates excluded,” 2/2/10
- “’Political blocs working to rehabilitate Baathists,’” 2/6/10

Al Alam, “Al-Chalabi Aide Qanbar Refers To Dirty U.S.-Ba’thist Alliance,” MEMRI Blog, 2/9/10

Alsumaria, “Maliki discusses Iraq appeals panel decision,” 2/5/10
- “Petraeus: Justice and Accountability manipulated by Iranian Quds Force,” 1/27/10

Myers, Steven Lee, “Iraqi Court Given Time to Review Candidates,” New York Times, 2/8/10

Roads To Iraq, “Barred candidates allowed to stand, INA’s emergency meeting … updated,” 2/3/10

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