Politics seems to trump all, even in a newly formed “democratic” government:
In an illustration of its growing muscle in Iraq as U.S. influence wanes, anti-American cleric Muqtada Sadr‘s movement has won pardons for at least 50 prisoners jailed for crimes including murder, kidnapping and attacks on U.S. troops.
The amnesties come at a time when U.S. forces remaining in Iraq have faced an increased number of attacks, many by Shiite Muslim militias associated with the Sadr movement. And they have angered some senior Iraqi officials, who charge that the law is being applied selectively and bent to fit a hidden political agenda.
Among those freed are prisoners who were convicted under anti-terrorism laws, crimes for which the Iraqi Constitution specifically forbids granting a pardon. At least three prisoners were serving life sentences; some were arrested during U.S. military operations.
There are a couple of issues that are troubling about Maliki requesting these pardons.
First, just the act of asking for pardons for prisoners not officially eligible for them shows just how low Maliki has sunk. His willingness to bend the law in order to gain political backing stinks of a corrupt politician willing to do whatever he can to save his own skin.
Second, where will Maliki’s willingness to do favors for the Sadr movement end? If he cooperates with these requests from the Sadr movement, which has backing from Iran, how much more will be asked of him at Sadr’s, and perhaps Iran’s, behest? And will Maliki refuse if he thinks his political life is on the line? Judging by his actions so far, the answer to this last question seems to be, “No.”