Bremer Bars Muqtada from Holding Office
The Guardian reports that US civil administrator Paul Bremer signed an order Monday banning Muqtada al-Sadr and his lieutenants from running for elective office for 3 years because of their membership in an illegal militia. Muqtada and his lieutenants rejected this decree and said that the CPA and the caretaker government had no right to make such decisions.
Ash-Sharq al-Awsat reports that Muqtada’s representative in Baghdad, Shaikh Abdul Hadi al-Darraji, said Monday, “The Mahdi Army does not recognize any decrees or agreements decided on by the transitional Iraqi government, insofar as we do not recognize it, because it is not an Iraqi institution, but rather was formed by Lakhdar Brahimi, who represented the powers of arrogance and the authority of the Occupation.” He said that the Sadrists would never recognize any government until there was an elected one.
Darraji was pessimistic that the current truce in Najaf will hold. So too is the chief of police in that city, Ghalib al-Jaza’iri, who says that if the Mahdi Army in Najaf has not disarmed or departed by Tuesday at midnight, he will gather up 100 policemen and “finish them off.”
Bremer’s action in excluding the Sadrists from parliament is one final piece of stupidity to cap all the other moronic things he has done in Iraq. The whole beauty of parliamentary governance is that it can hope to draw off the energies of groups like the Sadrists. Look at how parliamentary bargaining moderated the Shiite AMAL party in Lebanon, which had a phase as a terrorist group in the 1980s but gradually outgrew it. AMAL is now a pillar of the Lebanese establishment and a big supporter of a separation of religion and state. The only hope for dealing with the Sadrists nonviolently was to entice them into civil politics, as well. Now that they have been excluded from the political process and made outlaws in the near to medium term, we may expect them to act like outlaws and to be spoilers in the new Iraq.
Mr. Bremer is bequeathing to Iraq a large number of poison pills, which will go on contributing to chaos for years after he retires to a comfortable sinecure in Washington, for all the world like Robert Clive and his bought seat in the British parliament. (Clive was the first British governor of Bengal, from 1765).