Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sultan Hashim's Execution and Instability in Iraq

It is interesting that whenever there seems to be a relative lull in the sectarian violence and the political situation begins to head in the right direction there always seems to be a crisis that erupts that keeps Iraq ’s politicians divided. It is uncanny!

During the constitution when people were talking and trying to reach compromises a certain politician announced that he wanted to create a Shia super-region south of Baghdad, inflaming Sunni anger and causing tension.

When the elections occurred and people were looking forward to selecting a new prime minister and negotiations on the government were underway, Samarra happened and the unraveling of Baghdad occurred. More recent events are when the politicians are hard at work to finish important legislation and things seemed to have been calming, the government announced the arrest warrant for one of the Sunni ministers. And most recently when all was quiet on the political landscape with people waiting for the reports of Crocker and Petraeus, the government decides it wants to execute one of Iraq’s most decorated and professional military officers Sultan Hashim, regardless of the constitutional and legal issues barring the execution without a Presidential Decree. It works like clockwork in Baghdad , but I don’t think it is Baghdad’s clock or Washington’s clock which is important in Iraq anymore, it is the clock of certain neighboring countries which actively work to keep Iraq in a state of instability. There were clear constitutional and legal problems with the carrying out of the executions and even more fundamentally there were problems with the verdicts issued especially because some of those sentenced to death were simply officers carrying out orders and their only recourse was resignation, which Saddam would submit once they were six feet under.

Shia and Sunni alike have questioned the verdict meted out to Mr. Hashim, even President Talabani called for amnesty for him. I don’t think anyone wants to protect criminals like Chemical Ali, but the rule of law is the rule of law and either Iraqis respect the constitution they voted on or they completely ignore it, simply returning us to the days of autocratic regimes selectively applying law as it sees fit.

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