The de-Baathification law recently approved in Iraq has been heralded by war supporters as the political progress we've all been waiting for.
I wish it were, but reality shows otherwise. As Josh Marshall noted, the law is widely seen as a "sham": "The people to be reconciled, the Sunnis, were against it; the Shi'a, the folks forced to do the reconciling, voted for it. And the most likely result of the new law seems to be a new and more thorough purge of ex-Baathists rather than their reintegration into the state and military bureaucracy."
In case there were any doubts, the Washington Post makes it clear today.
Maj. Gen. Hussein al-Awadi, a former official in Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, became the commander of the Iraqi National Police despite a 2003 law barring the party from government.
But now, under new legislation promoted as way to return former Baathists to public life, the 56-year-old and thousands like him could be forced out of jobs they have been allowed to hold, according to Iraqi lawmakers and the government agency that oversees ex-Baathists.
"This new law is very confusing," Awadi said. "I don't really know what it means for me."
He is not alone. More than a dozen Iraqi lawmakers, U.S. officials and former Baathists here and in exile expressed concern in interviews that the law could set off a new purge of ex-Baathists, the opposite of U.S. hopes for the legislation.
So much for the "breakthrough."