Iranian elephant in the Iraqi room
Asia Times online / Sreeram Chaulia

The kerfuffle triggered in Iraq by a government panel's recent disqualification of over 500 candidates from the parliamentary elections in March has engendered a new crisis that threatens to unravel delicate national reconciliation and stabilization goals.

Despite the immediate intervention of United States Vice President Joseph Biden with a peacemaking solution that would allow all the candidates under the scanner to contest the elections and narrow the investigation to victorious ones after the results, the bad blood from the 2005 elections lends a foul air to the whole fracas.

The controversial decision by the Accountability and Justice Commission (AJC) has sent shivers down the spines of Iraq's Sunni minority community, which fears that its leaders have beendeliberately blacklisted to deepen a majoritarian Shi'ite-dominated polity. Among the prominent Sunni politicians who will be barred by the commission's ruling are Saleh al-Mutlaq, a leading light of the secular Iraqiya bloc that is the main competitor to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shi'ite State of Law coalition.

The AJC was created by act of parliament in January 2008 to prevent former members of dethroned dictator Saddam Hussein's predominantly Sunni Ba'ath Party from holding positions of power and influence in the new order. It took over the baton from a Higher National De-Ba'athification Commission (HNDBC), which was initially tasked by the Iraqi Governing Council in 2003 to weed ou... >>>

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