I know we don’t talk about Iraq anymore in America, but there’s a sophisticated, slow-motion election theft going on over there, which you’d think would at least merit a passing mention. After the de-Baathification committee disqualified some members of Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya list, now the election commission has ruled for a targeted recount of Baghdad, precisely where Nouri al-Maliki’s coalition would stand most to gain.

Iraq’s election officials said Thursday that a recount of the Baghdad ballots could take up to three weeks — possibly even longer than it took to count the whole country’s ballots after the March 7 election.

The timeline means another delay for an election process that has already dragged on for weeks and threatens to undermine the country’s fragile stability […]

Allawi’s supporters have cried foul and say that al-Maliki is trying to subvert “the will of the people” with his various challenges to the results.

The three-judge committee overseeing election-related disputes will also make a decision on May 10 whether to bar nine winning candidates for alleged ties to Saddam Hussein’s ruling party, al-Haidari said. The names were recommended by the Accountability and Justice Commission that vets all politicians for ties to the Baath Party.

In fact, Allawi’s Iraqiya list may call for a caretaker interim government and new elections rather than watch idly as their narrow victory gets nullified. Since Iraqiya doesn’t hold majority support in the country, this call would probably go unheeded. But at that point, you would see a choice in the Sunni community which largely supported Iraqiya. Do they keep playing in a rigged game, or take the law into their own hands?

The Human Rights Watch report alleging torture by the Maliki government against Sunni prisoners at the Muthana Airport military base will not help this calculus.

David Dayen

David Dayen