'In a sign of the seriousness with which the crisis is being viewed, U.S. officials say they have quietly warned the Iraqis that there is a real possibility the U.S. and the international community will refuse to accept the elections as legitimate if the ban is upheld, a step that would undermine the entire U.S.-led effort to bring democracy to Iraq and that would potentially deprive the next Iraqi government of international recognition and domestic support.
...Many Iraqis suspect that Iran, at least indirectly, is influencing the process to help ensure that its Shiite Iraqi allies do well in the elections. Chalabi and Lami are also among a slate of candidates fielded by the largest Shiite coalition, the Iraqi National Alliance, which is backed by Iran.
"Iran has a big influence in this," independent Sunni lawmaker Mithal Alusi said. "For its own reasons, Iran doesn't want to see a successful, democratic election in Iraq."
So preoccupied is Iraq's political leadership by the threat posed by Baathists, however, that most Iraqis either genuinely fear their influence or are too afraid of being branded a Baathist to speak out, U.S. officials say.'
--Liz Sly, LAT