THE UNITED NATIONS and the Iraqi people as well as the United States have major stakes in free and fair elections in Iraq, however, the electoral process there is in disarray.
The efforts of Vice President Joseph Biden to allow excluded candidates to participate in the elections have not succeeded. The leadership of the Iraqi government continued to intervene in the work of the Judicial Committee established by the Parliament to consider the legality of such exclusion.
The Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament expressed serious concern regarding the decision of the Iraqi Election Commission to exclude 511 candidates and the inability of the Judicial Committee to resolve the crisis.
The crux of the matter is that the prime minister of Iraq and his allies represented by the Shiite political parties are insisting on banning active Sunni Arab and secular candidates on the pretext that they were sympathizing with the Arab Baath Party, which had ruled Iraq before the change of the regime in 2003.
Banning these candidates would be a major blow to the transformation of Iraq into a peaceful and democratic state. The preposterous accusation of linkage to the Arab Baath Party could not stand in any real court of law. Some of these candidates are present members of Parliament and have been deeply involved in the political process in the last five years, including writing the present constitution.
The list included the present defense minister who is supposed to be responsible for ending violence. Furthermore, as stated by these candidates their relations were severed with the Baath Party even before 2003.
It must be brought to the attention of the readers that the Baath Party ruled Iraq for 35 years. Many politicians who stayed in Iraq might have dealt with the party, or others were forced to join the party to maintain their jobs, notwithstanding that the governments in many Middle Eastern states are the main employers.
The only viable and convincing issue for exclusion relates to those who committed murder or participated in the decisions to do so. A legitimate question raised by many Iraqis is: Why have the courts in Iraq been idle during the last seven years if these candidates did commit a crime?
Establishing committees to screen candidates for participation in the election is a replica of that followed in Iran since the beginning of the revolution, i.e., to exclude those candidates who are disagreeing with the policies of the regime.
It should be pointed out to the Iraqi government that the same policy failed in Iran, as demonstrated by the strong opposition to the intervention of the government in the recent elections there.
The United States administration has not been able to influence the Iraqi government to allow these candidates to participate in the election and thus conduct a free and fair election in Iraq.
The Iraqi government is increasingly depending on and coordinating its policies with Iran, which would be concerned if Iraq is able to conduct a free, fair and transparent election. Therefore, the Obama administration should request the intervention of the United Nations Security Council to ensure the conduct of Iraqi elections in accordance with democratic principles recognized by civilized nations.
This is the way for true democracy, stability and progress in Iraq as well as for the withdrawal of United States forces from that country without leaving it in chaos.
Amer Araim is an adjunct professor at Diablo Valley College and is a former senior political affairs officer of the United Nations and an Iraqi diplomat. He is a resident of Walnut Creek.