(photo: Iraqis put up election posters in Basra as a soldier provides security.)
I previously wrote about a major crisis unfolding in Iraq for FrontPage Magazine on January 22 (click here to read it) after the Independent High Election Commission sided with the Justice and Accountability Commission in banning 500 politicians from the March parliamentary elections for allegedly being tied to the Baath Party. Among those banned were key Sunni leaders allied with the Iyad Allawi, the former Prime Minister and secular Shiite. Original reports said the report banned mostly Sunnis but more Shiites were actually listed. This move was aimed more at the secular forces and was based more on ideology than sectarian identity.
Luckily, an Iraqi court has overturned the ban, averting large boycotts, possibly violence, and the biggest threat to Iraq’s stability since the surge was launched in 2007.
The evidence against the banned candidates was never presented and they never had an opportunity to offer a defense, so it was clearly a major violation of their rights. This event immediately reinforced the belief in some that Iraq, and the Arab world as a whole, was incapable of having democratic governance but seeing these checks-and-balances working just as they should is actually just as meaningful as the ban that prompted it.
The political crisis isn’t quite over yet, though. The court ruled that the case against each banned candidate should be assessed after the election. The parliamentary elections, originally scheduled for March 7, have been delayed by five days as the parliament holds an emergency session to discuss the issue and the Supreme Court becomes involved.
In related news, the term “migraine” has been deleted from the dictionary and replaced with “Middle Eastern politics.”