Keeping the party out of all sectors of government could make Iraq difficult to govern effectively, analysts warn American officials have invented a new word, 'deBa'athification', and they intend to apply it as extensively as possible to rid Iraq of all vestiges of Saddam Hussein's regime. The problem is the more strenuously the word is applied, the less functional the new Iraq could be. The Ba'ath party ruled Iraq for 35 years and becoming a member was a pre-requisite to getting a government job. It ruled and oversaw daily life and expertise in all sectors of society lay within its ranks. With 1.5 million members among Iraq's 22 million people, its influence was far-reaching and obtrusive, starting from village-level politics and extending through schools to banks and companies. The new US administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, on Friday decreed that senior Ba'athists could not return to government posts, a move that affects between 15,000 and 30,000 people. His written decree said the party's leaders were banned from 'positions of authority and responsibility in Iraqi society' so that 'representative government in Iraq is not threatened'. The order affects civil servants and employees of state-run companies and state institutions such as media organisations, hospitals and universities. If followed to the letter, Mr Bremer's instructions would prevent some of Iraq's key organisations from functioning. Finding the necessary number of appropriately qualified teachers, accountants and administrators would be impossible, observers said. Iraqi-born academic Louay Bahry, an American citizen who is the head of the department of public administration at the University of Qatar in Doha, described the US decision as 'very difficult'. 'They can prevent the most important party from holding office, but to dismantle it is very difficult,' he said. 'This is an underground party - even when it was in power, on the cell and lower levels, it was underground.' Dr Bahry believes Ba'ath members are regrouping and reorganising for a political return. Although they would be prevented form holding the most important jobs, the US would have to soften its policy. Some analysts believe the American order may eventually affect only 2,000 or 3,000 people. But a Middle East analyst with conservative Washington think-tank the American Enterprise Institute, Danielle Pletka, said she believed Mr Bremer's announcement was realistic. 'It has to be assumed that the Ba'ath party is less popular with the Iraqi people than it is with us,' Ms Pletka said. 'While it may have answered the needs of a few thousand people, it destroyed the lives of millions more.' Although she agreed ridding Ba'ath members from all positions in society was not immediately possible, stating it as an objective was an important, first step in the US strategy. 'The beginning of effective policy is articulating it,' Ms Pletka said. 'Bremer's done that and now there will be a slow and sure process.' Democratisation expert Mustafa Malik, a Washington-based journalist, said the Bush's administration was confused about whether it wanted a democracy or pro-American government in Iraq. Eliminating so many people from employment in jobs they were qualified to perform was an undemocratic decision. 'The US says it will give Iraqis democracy and it will have to tolerate people it does not like,' Mr Malik said. 'Any choices made by the interim US administration should be temporary. When Iraqis are allowed to decide their new leadership, I think a lot of people will be from the Ba'ath party.' Mr Malik said comparisons could not be drawn with Germany's Nazi party after the second world war or Japan's war-time leaders. Unlike those countries, Iraq was a multi-ethnic society and did not have centuries of political evolution to call upon. He doubted Iraqis would accept decisions made by people such as Mr Bremer. Unlike the Germans or Japanese, whose countries were politically and financially rebuilt by the US after the war, Iraqis had no sense of guilt about the activities of their former regime. 'Most Iraqis did not like Saddam Hussein, but the people they liked the least were the Americans because of the sanctions they endured after the 1991 Gulf war and the conflict they have just been through,' he said.