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greensideout
01-12-08, 09:58 PM
updated 1:48 p.m. CT, Sat., Jan. 12, 2008
BAGHDAD - Iraq's parliament passed a law on Saturday to let members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party return to public life, winning Washington's swift praise for meeting a benchmark aimed at reconciling warring sects.

Washington had been pressing Iraq's Shiite Islamist-led government to pass the new law as one of a series of steps to draw the minority Sunni Arab community that held sway under Saddam closer into the political process.

"This law preserves the rights of the Iraqi people after the crimes committed by the Baath Party while also benefiting the innocent members of the party. This law provides a balance," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

Mirembe Nantongo, U.S. embassy spokeswoman, said: "We congratulate the Iraqi people on the passage of the bill. It is an important step towards national reconciliation and demonstrates that the political process is working in Iraq."

Iraq's failure to pass the bill last year had been seen as one of the main signs that political progress toward reconciliation was stalled even as security improved.

"The law has been passed. We see it as a very good sign of progress and it will greatly benefit Baathists. It was passed smoothly and opposition was small," said Rasheed al-Azzawi, a Sunni member of the committee which helped draft it.

Baathists purged from public life
The Accountability and Justice bill replaces an existing law that Sunnis had complained amounted to collective punishment against their sect.

Washington had introduced de-Baathification when it administered Iraq in 2003-04. A committee was tasked with purging senior Baath Party members from government and tightly restricted the employment of junior party members.

Thousands of Iraqis, many of them Sunni Arabs, were fired from government jobs after Saddam was toppled in the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, fuelling a long-running insurgency against Iraq's new Shiite rulers and U.S. forces.

U.S. officials later acknowledged that the measures went too far and asked for Iraqi leaders to ease them. But Shiite and Kurdish leaders were reluctant to reward people they blamed for persecuting them under Saddam's regime.

yellowwing
01-12-08, 10:03 PM
Revenge of the Sith?

Seriously, I hope the don't exchange security for political expediency.

jrhd97
01-12-08, 10:59 PM
Somehow this doesn't seem like such a good idea.