Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Out Damned Spot!

It doesn't look like the NY Times puff piece about Allawi and Chalabi that I mentioned earlier has done much good. At least, it hasn't done much good for Ahmed Chalabi, not that anyone should have expected it to.

Iraqi citizens have, in large numbers, voted neither for Chalabi nor his party and, with 95% of the vote counted, it appears that he will be denied a seat in the new parliament, having registered as little more than a blip -- 0.89% -- on voting radar screen.

Which is not to say that Chalabi won't worm his way into government somehow. Even before the vote count is complete, Ahmed is already working the line, glad-hand smiling his way into the whatever good graces the Kurds might possess. As his spokesman assures us:
What I can say is Dr. Chalabi will have an important role, whether in the government or outside.
This sounds like more of a warning than a warm promise.

Ironically enough, Chalabi withdrew from the ruling Shiite party, which is likely to have the plurality in an expected coalition government, when the party failed to promise to make him prime minister. Now, he is struggling just to get into parliament.

Of course, Chalabi's role in bringing the US into Iraq in the first place is now well known, his disinformation having been piped directly into the White House and onto the front pages of the NY Times via the equally complicit agitprop conduit, Judith Miller. In fact, the Pentagon had bought -- literally -- the Iraqi exile's tales of WMD stockpiles and up until quite recently, Chalabi was receiving a rather generous stipend from the Pentagon of $340,000 a month as just reward for all that first rate intel he had provided: mushroom clouds, rose petals and the like.

US support for Chalabi has been toggled a number of times and it was not so long ago that Chalabi's Baghdad office had been raided by Iraqi police and US forces after he was suspected of supplying Iran with US state secrets. Double, super-duper secrets. Considering the row the White House is now having with Iran, this should hardly have endeared Chalabi further and, indeed, it appeared that he was to be cast out of any future Iraqi government considerations.

Perhaps Chalabi's phoenix-like rise is a testament to his deal-making abilities, because no sooner did he meet with the scorn of CENTCOM and the CPA for allegedly passing Iraq operations details to Iranians, than he was back on top of the nascent Iraq democracy heap, having made it first as interim Minister of Oil and then as Deputy Prime Minister. But now he finds himself in danger of being shut out of the government, which one can only assume, he originally had encouraged the US to help establish with the removal of Hussein. I am probably overstating things here a bit and I expect that Chalabi will live up to the above stated promise to -- somehow -- exert his influence on Iraqi policy. In Chalabi's case, this could mean anything from afternoon chats with the PM over tea to another regime-changing invasion, though I suspect that the Pentagon will be encouraging the tea-time chat approach for the foreseeable future.

Interestingly enough, back in May of 2004, Chalabi was nonplussed by the prospect that an actual democratic and free election in Iraq would yield a government the US could sorely do without and
he has dismissed fears that a hard-line Shiite regime might emerge in Iraq.
While such a result may have seemed obvious to any number of semi-conscious people, Chalabi is still probably wondering where all the rose petals have gotten to. Acutally, that is a complete load. He knows and we know that it was all damnable ruse to get the US into Iraq: he wanted it and the White House wanted it. Theirs was, to say the least, a sympathic relationship.

Despite his equivocal, self-interested posturing, I can't help thinking that Chalabi's Pentagon stipend will get a kick start again because contrary to what Chalabi and the White House wanted, it does indeed look like the US government will start to have to deal with at least a semi-hard line Islamic theocracy. And now that his break-out party's hopes look doomed, look for Chalabi to begin to exert his influence in ways that may, yet again, be as opaque as they have been in past.


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