This is a very alarming op-ed by Fred and Kim Kagan, two of the country’s best-informed and most sober analysts of the Iraq war:
Meanwhile, it is essential to differentiate between the legally sanctioned and internationally monitored mechanisms for Iraqi candidates to challenge election results and the operations of the Accountability and Justice Commission, which reviews candidates’ past ties to the outlawed Baath Party.
Before the election, the AJC sought to ban more than 500 candidates it claimed were Baathists. Iraqi courts disqualified some but allowed each to be replaced by members of the electoral lists to which they belonged (akin to allowing the Democratic Party to replace a disqualified Democratic candidate).
Prime Minister Maliki’s State of Law List requested that the AJC seek to retroactively disqualify parliamentary candidates it claims were affiliated with the Baath Party — and annul all votes cast for them. At the commission’s recommendation, an Iraqi court moved on Monday to exclude 52 candidates, two of whom won seats — one with Allawi’s Iraqiya list, whose lead over Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law List is just two seats. The AJC has put forward more names, including eight who won seats with Allawi’s Iraqiya list.
If upheld, these decisions would give Maliki’s bloc more seats than Allawi’s. If Maliki’s list gained four seats, it could potentially form a government with the other major Shiite bloc, the Iraqi National Alliance, excluding both the Kurds and Sunnis. That result — surely disastrous for U.S. interests — would position Maliki as a potential authoritarian ruler, empower the anti-American Sadrists and their Iranian-backed militias and alienate Sunnis while marginalizing the Kurds. If Sunni seats are transferred to Maliki’s Shiite list this way, Sunni Arabs would justifiably feel that Shiites had stolen the election.