Blacklisted in Baghdad

Can Washington Fix Iraq’s Election Crisis?

Courtesy Reuters

Until recently, the United States viewed Iraq's upcoming parliamentary elections on March 7 as a reflection of the country's stability and self-sufficiency -- the main ingredient needed if Washington is going to successfully end its engagement there. But the legitimacy of the elections was jeopardized earlier this month, when the country's de-Baathification board barred 511 candidates from running, citing their alleged ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. The resulting political crisis has revealed the limits of Iraq's political maturation process, with its failure to move past an atmosphere of sectarianism and a political wing close to Iran poised to cement its power. 

Since many of those targeted by the ruling are either Sunni or secularist, some analysts have suggested that the ban was motivated by the desire of Shiite Islamists to exclude their rivals from the political process and to consolidate their own control. The true motive, however, is subtler and more

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