JFP 2/26: UN paying Haitians less than $5 a day

Just Foreign Policy News
February 26, 2010


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Is the UN Violating Haiti's Minimum Wage Law?
Press reports haven't provided enough detail to be certain, but there seems to be some evidence that the United Nations may be violating, if not the letter, then at least the spirit, of Haiti's minimum wage law with its cash-for-work program.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/496

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) UN peacekeepers in Haiti didn't contribute to disaster relief in the critical 72 hours following the earthquake, Reuters reports. U.N. troops in Haiti have over the years gained a reputation for toughness and abuse more than for easing suffering, Reuters says. "The only time I've seen one of these U.N. troops jump out of the back of a truck was to beat up on somebody or take a shot at them," said a member of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division.

2) Former Taliban fighters in Herat interviewed by the Washington Post said they were promised jobs if they gave up the fight, but for the past four months, the government has honored none of these commitments, the Post reports.

3) The survivors of a Western night raid in eastern Afghanistan in December that left ten people dead, including eight schoolboys from one family, have still not received compensation and investigators are no closer to arresting the gunmen involved, the Times of London reports. No one has admitted responsibility for the operation. Karzai's security chiefs demanded the raiders face trial, while local officials promised to arrest the informants, who fed covert US and Afghan forces false information before the assault."We are following the case," said the provincial police chief. "But we still don't know the exact team of Americans involved, so we can't identify the spy."

4) Despite intense pressure by the Obama administration, China has not yet shown any sign that it will support tougher UN sanctions against Iran, the New York Times reports. Of the 15 countries that now hold seats on the Security Council, 5 are viewed as reluctant: China, Brazil, Turkey, Lebanon and Bosnia. Nine yes votes are needed to adopt a resolution.

5) Jundullah leader Abdul Malik Rigi said the US had offered to provide him with a base, cash and weapons, according to Iranian state television, which showed him purportedly making the admissions, Bloomberg reports. Pentagon officials denied the assertions.

6) Haiti's rice farmers say subsidized U.S. rice is depressing prices, AP reports. Oxfam's Paul O'Brien says the lessons of the harm of flooding a country like Haiti with subsidized rice should have been learned a long time ago. "The question we want asked is what is being done to guarantee long-term food security for Haitians." USAID said it is investigating reports that bags of donated rice are being sold on the market and studying whether its policies in Haiti are having adverse effects on local markets. But USAID would not say what its studies of Haiti had concluded.

7) Official papers show that, for more than a century, the British Foreign Office has had qualms about the merits of Britain's claim to the Falklands, writes Grace Livingstone in the Guardian. Britain should stop behaving like a 19th-century colonial power and heed the call of the UN to discuss the question of sovereignty with Argentina, she writes.

Israel/Palestine
8) Israel has plans to build another 600 homes in Palestinian East Jerusalem, Haaretz reports. Palestinian official Ghassan al-Khatib denounced the decision as "another Israeli violation of international law." The World Court has ruled that all the settlements Israel has built in the Palestinian territories are illegal, Haaretz notes.

Honduras
9) Thousands of supporters of ousted President Zelaya took to the streets of the capital for the first time since President Lobo took office last month, AFP reports. Protesters called for reform of the constitution and denounced corruption and rights abuses since Zelaya was ousted last June. Six teachers' unions backed the protests and called for classes to be suspended nationwide.

Haiti
10) Heavy rains have hit Haiti, swamping makeshift camps that house hundreds of thousands of homeless and raising fears of landslides and disease, Al Jazeera reports. Forecasters warned of a large storm heading in Haiti's direction that could strike over the weekend.

Iraq
11) A top Sunni political party on Thursday announced it would compete in March 7 elections, reversing a boycott pledge, the Wall Street Journal reports. National Dialogue Front leader Saleh al-Mutlaq has come under pressure from other political parties he allied with for the elections. He also received a flood of letters and phone calls from Sunni tribal and community leaders urging him to reverse his decision, he said.

12) The Iraqi government said it would immediately reinstate 20,000 army officers who served under Saddam Hussein, the New York Times reports.

13) The Iraqi commission charged with removing former members of the outlawed Baath Party from office announced a purge of Iraq's security forces, the Los Angeles Times reports. Ali Lami, director of the Accountability and Justice Commission, said he had sent the names of 580 members of the security forces who should be removed to the Ministries of Defense, Interior and National Intelligence. Some on the list are senior officers credited with helping restore security to Iraq over the last few years, including the highly respected Gen. Aboud Qanbar, who oversaw Baghdad during the U.S. troop buildup in 2007-08. Qanbar now is second in command of the army. "Whether he is a success or not, he is still a Baathist," Lami said.

Contents:
U.S./Top News
1) Haiti aid effort marred by slow U.N. response
Reuters, 26 Feb 2010 12:00:44 GMT
- Peacekeepers offered little immediate help to Haitians
- First responders handled security but gave no relief
- Juggling competing needs of law enforcement and aid Tom Brown, Reuters, Feb 26
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N25200825.htm

Port-au-Prince - Clutching automatic assault rifles, truckloads of U.N. troops patrolled the streets of Haiti's shattered capital on the day after the earthquake hit last month, seemingly oblivious to the misery around them. Cries for help from people digging for survivors in collapsed buildings were drowned out by the roar of heavy-duty engines as the troops plowed through Port-au-Prince without stopping to join rescue efforts, much less lead them. A common sight since they were deployed in 2004, the U.N. troops huddled in the shade of their canopied vehicles.

There were about 9,000 uniformed U.N. peacekeepers stationed in Haiti when the quake struck on Jan. 12 and they were the logical "first responders" to the disaster in the impoverished Caribbean country, whose notoriously weak central government was overwhelmed by the scale of the tragedy.

Initially, however, none of the peacekeepers appeared to be involved in hands-on humanitarian relief in what emergency medical experts describe as the critical first 72 hours after a devastating earthquake strikes.

Their response to the appalling suffering was limited to handling security and looking for looters after the magnitude 7.0 quake leveled much of the capital and took what Haitian President Rene Preval says could be as many as 300,000 lives. There was looting in the capital, but it paled in comparison with the severity of the humanitarian crisis.
[...]
Scores of U.N. personnel died in the quake, including Hedi Annabi, head of the U.N. mission that was set up in 2004. That helps explain what many have criticized as a glacially slow kickoff of relief operations after one of history's worst natural disasters.
But in the days and weeks that followed it often seemed that lessons from other disasters were ignored in Haiti as fears of rioting or lawlessness overshadowed concerns about getting aid out quickly.
[...]
Edmond Mulet, acting head of the U.N. mission, acknowledged in an interview that it played a limited humanitarian role in the first few days after the earthquake since its operations were effectively decapitated.
[...]
Mulet gained notoriety for wielding an iron fist during a previous stint as head of the U.N. mission when he led mostly Brazilian "blue helmet" troops in a successful crackdown on Haiti's heavily armed gangs. And he has made no secret about juggling the competing needs of relief operations with law enforcement, in his bid to track down the more than 3,000 inmates who took advantage of the earthquake to escape from its main prison.

"We are here also to provide security," he said when asked about the failure of convoys of rifle-wielding U.N. troops to search for people trapped in the rubble of the ruined capital. "I still have to patrol, I still have to go after all these criminals and bandits that escaped from the national penitentiary, the gang leaders, the criminals, the killers, the kidnappers. I cannot really distract myself from doing that."
[...]
Unfortunately, U.N. troops in Haiti have over the years gained a reputation for toughness and abuse more than for easing suffering in the poorest country in the Americas. "The only time I've seen one of these U.N. troops jump out of the back of a truck was to beat up on somebody or take a shot at them," said a member of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division, as he worked security during a recent aid handout. "These guys have given all of us in uniform a bad reputation here," he said, asking not to be identified.

2) Switching Sides In Afghanistan
Taliban defectors accept U.S. approach but wait for promises to be kept
Joshua Partlow, Washington Post, Friday, February 26, 2010; A01
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/25/AR2010022506237.html

Herat, Afghanistan - As the Taliban commander in the Pusht-e-Zargon district of western Afghanistan, Abdul Wahab considered himself the law. A stolen sheep? He would choose the thief's punishment: often a gunshot to the forearm or calf muscle. He was careful to avoid the bone. When salaries arrived from the Taliban leadership in Pakistan - $100 a month per man - he doled them out. Thirty fighters moved at his command. "If I asked them to jump in a river and drown, they would," he said.

Power and respect, this is what the Taliban meant for Wahab. A government job and protection from U.S. raids are what he thought he was getting when he agreed to lay down his weapons in November. The United States, along with its NATO and Afghan allies, is trying to "reintegrate" militants like Wahab, offering them jobs on the assumption that they would rather earn a salary than spend their days fighting. The effort is a central pillar of the Obama administration's Afghan war strategy.
[...]
After Akbari's death and a purging of several top police and intelligence officials, the insurgency began to fray. Nearly 300 fighters surrendered to the provincial government, many drawn in by incentives offered by the local reconciliation office.

All of the former fighters interviewed said they were promised jobs if they gave up the fight, but for the past four months, the government has honored none of these commitments. Among the aid available are some food rations and the limited supply of USAID-funded "winterization kits" - sacks of blankets and coal.

Many former fighters have taken up residence in downtown Herat, afraid enough of Taliban reprisals that they do not return to their villages. They idle away the days debating whether to return to the insurgency, as some already have.

Amiri, the former militia commander, has been offered a position as a district police chief, but the approval from Kabul has not come. He shares a house with dozens of his men who have no work and grow more anxious by the day. "I pay for 80 people out of my own pocket," he said. For now, he is prepared to wait. "We will not leave the government until they say, 'We have nothing for you,' " he said. "If I have no choice, I have to become a Talib."

The prospects for Wahab, the former Taliban district commander who joined the insurgency after being fired from his job as a major in the police department, look no better. He rents a decrepit mud hut in a slum on the outskirts of Herat. On rainy days, the dirt floors turn to mud; on cold ones, to frozen earth. He must borrow money to medicate his five sniffling children. He can rarely offer hot food to his guests.

For the first three weeks after he left the insurgency in November, the Taliban's "shadow governor" in Herat called Wahab on his cellphone. He was a traitor, an infidel, no different from an American soldier, he was told: "As we kill them, we will kill you."

As a fighter for most of his life, Wahab does not feel qualified for a civilian job, but the Afghan security forces have offered him nothing. He refuses to go back to farming in his village of Salimi, unwilling to endure the jeers of his neighbors for falling so low. He might leave Afghanistan. In the complex calculus of Afghan politics, he is one of many who have fought both against and with the Taliban. At least as a Taliban leader, he had respect. Now, he said, "we have nothing."

3) Hunt Down The Spy Behind Deaths Of Our Children, Say Afghan Night Raid Survivors
Jerome Starkey, Times of London, February 26, 2010
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/afghanistan/article7041941.ece

Kabul - The survivors of a night raid in eastern Afghanistan in December that left ten people dead, including eight schoolboys from one family, have still not received compensation and investigators are no closer to arresting the gunmen involved.

President Karzai's security chiefs demanded that the raiders face trial, while local officials promised to arrest the informant, or informants, who fed covert US and Afghan forces false information before the assault. "We are following the case," said the provincial police chief, Khalilullah Zaiea. "But we still don't know the exact team of Americans involved, so we can't identify the spy."

The pre-dawn raid, on December 27, prompted angry protests across Afghanistan. Children as young as 10 burned effigies of President Obama and chanted "death to America". Samiullah Miakhel, 60, one of the organisers, said: "Afghan blood is human blood. The Americans are just all the time killing civilians."

No one has admitted responsibility for the operation. US forces stationed near by denied any knowledge or involvement. Nato's top legal adviser told The Times that US forces were present but not leading the operation.
[...]
"We still haven't received any money," said Farooq Abul Ajan, who lost two sons, two brothers, three nephews and a cousin in the raid. "But we don't want any money. We want the Government to arrest the spy and to arrest the people who killed our sons."

An Afghan man was sentenced to death for spying in 2009, after giving American Special Forces information that led to an air strike in which nearly 100 civilians were killed, but no foreign troops have ever faced trial under Hamid Karzai's rule.
[...]

4) Despite Pressure, China Still Resists Iran Sanctions
Mark Landler, New York Times, February 25, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/26/world/asia/26diplo.html

Washington - Despite intense public and private pressure by the Obama administration, China has not yet shown any sign that it will support tougher sanctions against Iran, leaving a stubborn barrier before President Obama's efforts to constrain Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Diplomats from two major European allies said this week that China had refused even to "engage substantively" on the issue of sanctions, preferring to continue diplomatic efforts with Tehran. And one senior diplomat said he believed that the most likely outcome might be a decision by China to abstain from voting on a resolution in the United Nations Security Council. "An abstention is better than a veto," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the delicacy of the matter.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed optimism this week that China was edging toward the American view that the time had come for tougher measures against Iran. But other administration officials acknowledged that her optimism was based less on tangible evidence than on a belief that China would not want to end up diplomatically isolated.
[...]
Mrs. Clinton's sales pitch is not limited to China. Next week, she is scheduled to travel to Brazil, which currently holds a rotating seat on the Security Council and which has said it opposes sanctions. Officials said she would pressure the Brazilian government to fall in line.

The United States has said it wants international solidarity in the campaign against Iran's nuclear ambitions. But of the 15 countries that now hold seats on the Council, 5 are viewed as reluctant: China, Brazil, Turkey, Lebanon and Bosnia. Nine yes votes are needed to adopt a resolution.

5) Rebel Chief Allegedly Tells Of U.S. Aid Offer
Bloomberg News, February 26, 2010
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/25/AR2010022505727.html

Sunni Muslim rebel leader Abdul Malik Rigi, arrested Tuesday by Iran, said the United States had offered to provide him with a base, cash and weapons, according to Iranian state television, which showed him purportedly making the admissions.

Iranian authorities said Rigi's group, Jundallah, was responsible for several deadly attacks in southeastern Iran and is backed by the United States. They said he was provided with an Afghan passport and had been at a U.S. base in Afghanistan 24 hours before the arrest. Pentagon officials denied the assertions.

6) US rice doesn't help struggling Haitian farmers
Paisley Dodds, Associated Press, Friday, February 26, 2010; 4:24 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/26/AR2010022601486.html

Pond-Sonde, Haiti - Haiti's rice farmers are dismayed. It's nearly harvest time in this fertile valley where the bulk of Haiti's food is grown, and they're competing once again with cheap U.S. imported rice.

Just down the road, vendors are undercutting them, selling the far less expensive grain. Subsidized U.S. rice has flooded Haiti for decades. Now, after the Jan. 12 quake, 15,000 metric tons of donated U.S. rice have arrived. "I can't make any money off my rice with all the foreign rice there is now," said Renan Reynold, a 37-year-old farmer who makes an average of about $600 a year. "If I can't make any money, I can't feed my family."

Last month's catastrophic earthquake that killed an estimated 200,000 people and spurred emergency food needs for more than 4 million has raised a familiar predicament for aid organizations - how to help without undermining Haiti's fragile economy.
[...]
Since the quake, aid groups have spearheaded cash-for-work programs, some of which intend to help struggling farmers pay for seed. They're also helping with irrigation and crop diversification projects and working with Haiti's government to analyze soil.

But little is being done to change endemic problems, according to Jean Andre Victor, a Haitian agronomist. He is among analysts who believe Haiti needs radical agricultural reforms - not constant food aid. "There's a long history in Haiti of groups like USAID flooding the market with rice and other imports," said Victor. "This is not what we need. We need real help and that means completely changing the agricultural system."

Agricultural production accounted for nearly half of gross domestic product in the 1970s. It now amounts to less than a third. And U.S. rice imports have long eclipsed Haitian production, due in part to smaller local yields because of environmental degradation and the lowest rice import tariffs in the Caribbean community.
[...]
But U.S. farmers also stand to benefit from the earthquake. Last year, Washington paid farmers some $12.9 billion in subsidies, which critics say have unfairly deflated international prices. That makes it harder for poorer nations to develop their economies by expanding markets abroad.

Paul O'Brien of Oxfam America says the lessons of the harm of flooding a country like Haiti with subsidized rice should have been learned a long time ago. "The days are gone when we can throw up our hands in terms of unintended consequences; we know now what these injections can do to markets," he said. "The question we want asked is what is being done to guarantee long-term food security for Haitians."
[...]
Some 2.4 million Haitians - out of a population of nearly 10 million - cannot afford the minimum daily calories recommended by the World Health Organization.

With planting season just weeks away for crops including beans and spinach, the Haitian government is looking at ways to boost agricultural production. But donors often sink more money into emergency aid than such long-term projects. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has warned only 8 percent of a $23 million appeal to help Haiti revive food production has been funded.
[...]
USAID said it is investigating reports that bags of donated rice are being sold on the market and studying whether its policies in Haiti are having adverse effects on local markets. "USAID conducts regular analyses in Haiti and across the world to make sure that our food aid does not serve as a disincentive to local production," Moira Whelan, a spokeswoman for USAID in Washington, D.C., said in an interview Thursday.

Whelan would not respond, however, when asked what the analyses had determined in Haiti.

U.S. intervention in Haitian agricultural policy is not without precedent. In the 1970s, fearing indigenous pigs could spread swine fever, the United States - in conjunction with USAID - moved to replace all of Haiti's hearty Creole pigs with pigs from Iowa. The end result was the fragile U.S. pigs often became sick, preferred expensive feed and had fewer litters.
[...]

7) It's time to talk about the Falklands
Britain should stop behaving like a 19th-century colonial power and start discussing Falkland sovereignty with Argentina
Grace Livingstone, Guardian, Thursday 25 February 2010 14.00 GMT http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/feb/25/falklands-sovereignty-argentina-britain/print

"We have no doubt about our sovereignty over the Falkland Islands," said Foreign Office minister Chris Bryant this week. But official papers show that, for more than a century, the Foreign Office has had qualms about the merits of Britain's claim to the Falklands.

In 1910, a 17,000-word memo was commissioned by the Foreign Office to look at the historical dispute over sovereignty. The study highlighted many weaknesses in the British case and can be seen as our equivalent of the Pentagon Papers, the leaked study of US policy in Vietnam.

The holes in the British case shocked many officials in Whitehall. The head of the Foreign Office's American department, Gerald Spicer, wrote: "From a perusal of this memo it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Argentine government's attitude is not altogether unjustified and that our action has been somewhat high-handed."

An assistant secretary in the same department wrote: "The only question is who did have the best claim at the time when we finally annexed the islands. I think undoubtedly the United Province of Buenos Aires." And the British ambassador in Argentina, Sir Malcolm Robertson, wrote in 1927: "I must confess that, until I received that memorandum myself a few weeks ago, I had no idea of the strength of the Argentine case nor of the weakness of ours."

The study was regarded as so explosive that the British government withdrew it from public view during the Falklands war, but it's now available in the National Archives.
[...]
The British case, in recent times, has focused on its peaceful occupation of the islands for the last 177 years and the self-determination of the Falkland islanders. Argentina maintains that the islands were illegally annexed by Britain in 1833 and remain to this day a colony, an anachronism in the 21st century. A 1965 United Nations resolution backs, to some extent, the Argentine position by ruling that the principle of decolonisation applies to the Falklands.
[...]
Is it not time for Britain to stop behaving like a 19th-century colonial power and heed the call of the United Nations to discuss the question of sovereignty with Argentina?

Israel/Palestine
8) Israel planning to build 600 more homes in East Jerusalem
Nir Hasson, Haaretz, 26/02/2010
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/objects/pages/PrintArticleEn.jhtml?itemNo=1152587

Israel has plans to build another 600 homes in East Jerusalem, Haaretz has learned. The plan approved by a district planning commission could further stymie U.S.-brokered efforts to renew stalled peace talks as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who has insisted on a total settlement freeze including in Jerusalem.
[...]
A similar building plan proposed late last year for elsewhere in the Jerusalem area drew international condemnation. Palestinian official Ghassan al-Khatib denounced the decision as "another Israeli violation of international law".
[...]
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu excluded Jerusalem from a 10-month moratorium in settlement building he ordered in November. The World Court has ruled that all the settlements Israel has built in these territories are illegal.

Honduras
9) Zelaya's Supporters Take To The Streets
AFP, Friday, February 26, 2010
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/protest_7450017

Tegucigalpa, Honduras - Thousands of supporters of ousted Honduras president Manuel Zelaya took to the streets of the capital yesterday for the first time since President Porfirio Lobo took office last month.
[...]
Yesterday's protesters called for reform of the constitution and denounced corruption and rights abuses since Zelaya was ousted last June. Some 10,000 people set off from the capital's main university but were blocked by soldiers from nearing the presidential palace and diverted to the parliament in the city centre instead, according to organisers. Six teachers' unions backed the protests and called for classes to be suspended nationwide.
[...]

Haiti
10) Rains Threaten More Haiti Misery
Al Jazeera, Friday, February 26, 2010
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2010/02/2010226175760223.html

The first heavy rains have hit Haiti since last month's devastating earthquake struck, swamping makeshift camps that house hundreds of thousands of homeless and raising fears of landslides and disease. The rains late on Thursday came as forecasters warned of a large storm heading in Haiti's direction that could strike over the weekend.

More than a million people were made homeless by the deadly January 12 quake, many of them now living in flimsy makeshift shelters that offer little protection from heavy rains. Relief workers say the approaching wet season and the hurricane season later this year will likely add to misery for quake survivors struggling to rebuild their lives.
[...]
Thursday's deluge hit as relief officials changed strategy on dealing with quake
survivors, delaying plans to build big refugee camps outside the capital. Instead, they want the homeless to pack up their tents and return to destroyed neighbourhoods.

Gerald-Emile Brun, an architect with the Haitian government's reconstruction committee, told Reuters that "everything has to be done before the start of the rainy season, and we will not be able to do it". Brun also suggested that Haitians may largely be left to fend for themselves.
[...].

Iraq
11) Iraq Vote Will Have Presence Of Sunnis
Charles Levinson, Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2010
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704479404575087083182051088.html

Baghdad - A top Sunni political party on Thursday announced it would compete in March 7 elections, reversing a boycott pledge made last week by its leader, who was banned from running because of his alleged ties to the outlawed Baath Party.

The announcement by National Dialogue Front leader Saleh al-Mutlaq could ease fears voiced by U.S. officials that a Sunni boycott would sap the vote of legitimacy and possibly lead to violence after the poll, as happened after the previous national elections in December 2005. "We have decided to participate with all our weight in the election, and we call on our supporters to come crawling to the voting booths," Mr. Mutlaq said at a news conference. Mr. Mutlaq is still banned from the running in the election himself, and won't seek a seat in Parliament.
[...]
On Saturday, Mr. Mutlaq announced his party would boycott the vote in response. But since then, Mr. Mutlaq has come under pressure from other political parties he allied with for the elections. He also received a flood of letters and phone calls from Sunni tribal and community leaders urging him to reverse his decision, he said.
[...]

12) Iraq To Rehire 20,000 Hussein-Era Army Officers
Marc Santora, New York Times, February 25, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/26/world/middleeast/26iraq.html

Baghdad - The Iraqi government said Thursday that it would reinstate 20,000 army officers who served under Saddam Hussein, a surprising move given that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has focused his campaign in the coming parliamentary elections around denouncing the former Baath government. Mohammed al-Askari, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, said the prime minister approved the reinstatement of the officers, which he said would begin immediately.

With just over one week before Iraq holds its first national elections since 2005, the announcement, made on state-run television, was greeted with skepticism by Mr. Maliki's rivals. "This is purely a means of trying to gain more votes," said Mayson al-Damalogi, a spokesman for Iraqiya, a coalition of Sunni and secular candidates headed by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

After the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Iraqi Army was disbanded as the governing authority at the time, the American-led Coalition Provisional Authority, instituted a policy of de-Baathification. However, the move is now widely seen as helping fuel an insurgency. In 2004, there were efforts to bring many of the officers from Mr. Hussein's time back into the army and many returned. However, thousands remained outside the fold.

Mr. Askari said that officers from Mr. Hussein's government would be hired back immediately, making them eligible to participate in early voting scheduled for March 4. However, government officials with knowledge of the plan could not be reached for comment. The reinstatement was especially confusing, critics said, because it came on the heels of a government decision to bar hundreds of candidates from the elections, supposedly for supporting the former government.
[...]

13) Iraq Anti-Baath Panel Moves To Purge Security Forces
The panel names 580 security officers alleged to have ties to the former ruling party. The move, after hundreds of election candidates were barred on similar charges, is likely to raise tensions.
Liz Sly, Los Angeles times, February 26, 2010
http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-fg-iraq-sunnis26-2010feb26,0,7455122.story

Baghdad - The Iraqi commission charged with removing former members of the outlawed Baath Party from office announced Thursday a sweeping purge of Iraq's security forces, in a move likely to heighten political tensions before national elections next month.

Ali Lami, executive director of the Accountability and Justice Commission, said he had sent the names of 580 members of the security forces to the Ministries of Defense, Interior and National Intelligence. He said the individuals should be removed from their posts because of alleged ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.

Some on the list are senior officers credited with helping restore security to Iraq over the last few years, including the highly respected Gen. Aboud Qanbar, who oversaw Baghdad during the U.S. troop buildup in 2007-08. Qanbar now is second in command of the army. "Whether he is a success or not, he is still a Baathist," Lami said, adding that any minister that refused to carry out the commission's instructions would face court action.
[...]


-

Robert Naiman
Just Foreign Policy
www.justforeignpolicy.org

Just Foreign Policy is a membership organization devoted to reforming US foreign policy so it reflects the values and interests of the majority of Americans.



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