As reported before, the Accountability and Justice Commission was thinking of banning four winning candidates from Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement after the March 2010 parliamentary election. One of those was Najm Abdullah al-Harbi, a provincial council member in Diyala, who is currently under arrest in Baghdad. The other three may be Sadiq al-Hussein, the head of the city council in Baquba, the provincial capital, Ghydaa Saeed, and Mohammad Osman Qasim al-Khalidi, a former mayor, and the head of the National Movement in Diyala. Two of those three are currently in hiding from the security forces, but it is unclear whether Khalidi is really wanted or not.
The story of the Diyala four was first reported on March 28, 2010 by McClatchy Newspapers, although there seems to be a mix up about one of them. In its story, McClatchy wrote that three candidates from Allawi’s list, Harbi, Hussein, and Khalidi, had arrest warrants issued for them, while one was pending for Saeed. Harbi was arrested by local police in Diyala on February 7, but then the charges were dropped for lack of evidence. Before he could be released, however, a counterterrorism force under control of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took him to Baghdad on February 10. A security official said that Harbi was wanted in connection with a suicide bombing, but U.S. forces in the province said that he had stolen money from government projects. After Harbi’s arrest the other three went into hiding. On March 30 however, Khalidi told Alsumaria News that he was not wanted, and that there was a mix up with another man with a similar name.
Originally, the Accountability and Justice Commission wanted to disqualify Harbi from the March election, and throw out his votes, and perhaps his three other Diyala compatriots in the National Movement as well, for alleged ties to the Baath party. That could’ve taken away Iyad Allawi’s razor thin lead over Prime Minister Maliki’s State of Law list. That controversy was ended when the Election Commission said that it would not throw out the votes for Allawi’s list. Harbi remains in custody however, and at least two other National Movement candidates are still wanted and in hiding. Critics of the government claim that this is just the latest example of Maliki using the security forces to intimidate his rivals. He has a long history of doing that in Diyala. In previous pieces, it was noted that the Maliki used the army and police to try to break up and threaten the Sons of Iraq there, arrest members of the Iraqi Islamic Party and the Accordance Front, and undermine those forces before the 2009 provincial elections. It would seem that the recent events surrounding the National Movement candidates would fit Maliki’s pattern of trying to break up Sunnis organizing in Diyala, which was once a sectarian battlefield between Sunnis and Shiites.
Allam, Hannah and al Dulaimy, Mohammed, “Maliki’s forces move against winning Sunni candidates,” McClatchy Newspapers, 3/28/10
Alsumaria News, “Candidate from the Iraqi list in Diyala denies he has been arrested on charges of “terrorism,”” 3/30/10
Fadel, Leila, “In Iraq, candidates seek an edge with post election maneuvers,”Washington Post, 3/30/10
Fadel, Leila and Mukhtar, Uthman, “In Iraq, 5 die in blasts targeted at Ayad Allawi’s political bloc,” Washington Post, 3/29/10