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As Hussein sentenced to death, US pushes to rehabilitate his functionaries
Twenty-four hours after Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death for crimes committed against the Iraqi people during his rule, the US-created De-Baathification Commission proposed that over 28,000 mid-level functionaries of Hussein’s regime be permitted to return to positions in the Iraqi state apparatus. The head of the commission, Shiite politician Ali al-Lami, told the media: “We are going to deliver these proposals to parliament in the next few days.”
The Baath Party—whose membership of 1.5 million was at least 75 percent comprised of Sunni Arabs—was declared illegal shortly after the US invasion in 2003 and more than 30,000 top Baathist officials were barred from holding any government post. The De-Baathification Commission draft law proposes reducing that number to just 1,500.
The policy is a key element of the “course correction” being pushed by Washington: a deal with sections of the Sunni elite to undermine the largely Sunni insurgency at the expense of the Shiite fundamentalist parties that dominate the current US puppet government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The legislation would rehabilitate many of the people who directed the day-to-day operations of the Baathist state.
Right at the point when the Hussein is sentenced to hang in order to meet Bush’s immediate domestic political needs, the White House is attempting to resurrect the very officials on which his dictatorial regime rested. The US purpose is similar to that of Hussein: to violently suppress the opposition to its rule over Iraq.
The tactical shift toward former Baathists and the Sunni elite was outlined on October 24 by US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and General George Casey, and further elaborated by Bush himself at a press conference several days later. As well as the rehabilitation of Baathist officials, the US is pressing for an amnesty offer to a significant element of the Sunni insurgents fighting a guerilla war against the American military.