Iraq Spurns Baathists Despite US Prodding

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2009 3:23 PM CDT
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton shakes hands with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Despite entreaties from Washington, Iraq’s majority-Shiite government is hardening its stance against the outlawed Sunni-dominated Baath party, the New York Times reports. Blamed by some for recent bombings of Shiites, Baathists are “filled with hate from head to toe," Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said this week, after rejecting a US-British effort to bring an exiled Baath official back to Iraq. 

The official, a former general of Saddam Hussein, said al-Maliki is “driven by emotions and animosity toward anything related to the past." The prime minister has pushed through a law to ease restrictions on Baathists, and has courted their support, but privately hates them, one politician says. A Baathist operative on the lam says only a Constitutional amendment will empower his party again. “The Constitution is not a holy book,” he said. “It can be amended."