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Ahmed Chalabi

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Ahmed Chalabi

Dr. Ahmed Chalabi (also spelled "Ahmad") is part of a three-man leadership council for the Iraqi opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress (INC), which was created at the behest of the U.S. government for the purpose of fomenting the overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Chalabi, a secular Iraqi Shiite Muslim and mathematician by training, previously served as chairman of the Petra Bank in Jordan, where he engaged in various cloak-and-dagger operations that ended abruptly in August 1989 when he fled the country "under mysterious circumstances" and in 1992 was convicted in absentia for embezzlement, fraud and currency-trading irregularities, sentencing him to 22 years' hard labour. [1],[2]

In August 2003 a petition was circulating among Jordanian deputies to hold a special session soon in the 110-member house to demand the government take legal steps to seek Chalabi's extradition from Iraq. [3]

During 2004 Chalabi's influence with the U.S. has waned to the point where government funding for him is likely to be discontinued.

History

In March 2002, Seymour Hersh reported in The New Yorker that "A dispute over Chalabi's potential usefulness preoccupies the bureaucracy" within the U.S. government, "as the civilian leadership in the Pentagon continues to insist that only the INC can lead the opposition. At the same time, a former Administration official told me, 'Everybody but the Pentagon and the office of the Vice-President wants to ditch the INC.' The INC's critics note that Chalabi, despite years of effort and millions of dollars in American aid, is intensely unpopular today among many elements in Iraq. 'If Chalabi is the guy, there could be a civil war after Saddam's overthrow,' one former CIA operative told me. A former high-level Pentagon official added, 'There are some things that a President can't order up, and an internal opposition is one.'" [4]

Notwithstanding these concerns, Hersh reported that "INC supporters in and around the Administration, including Paul Dundes Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, believe, like Chalabi, that any show of force would immediately trigger a revolt against Saddam within Iraq, and that it would quickly expand." In December 2002, Robert Dreyfuss reported that the administration of George Walker Bush actually preferred INC-supplied analyses of Iraq over analyses provided by long-standing analysts within the CIA. "Even as it prepares for war against Iraq, the Pentagon is already engaged on a second front: its war against the Central Intelligence Agency.," he wrote.

"The Pentagon is bringing relentless pressure to bear on the agency to produce intelligence reports more supportive of war with Iraq. ... Morale inside the U.S. national-security apparatus is said to be low, with career staffers feeling intimidated and pressured to justify the push for war." Much of the pro-war faction's information came from the INC, even though "most Iraq hands with long experience in dealing with that country's tumultuous politics consider the INC's intelligence-gathering abilities to be nearly nil. ... The Pentagon's critics are appalled that intelligence provided by the INC might shape U.S. decisions about going to war against Baghdad. At the CIA and at the State Department, Ahmed Chalabi, the INC's leader, is viewed as the ineffectual head of a self-inflated and corrupt organization skilled at lobbying and public relations, but not much else." [5]

"The [INC's] intelligence isn't reliable at all," said Vincent Cannistraro, a former senior CIA official and counterterrorism expert. "Much of it is propaganda. Much of it is telling the Defense Department what they want to hear. And much of it is used to support Chalabi's own presidential ambitions. They make no distinction between intelligence and propaganda, using alleged informants and defectors who say what Chalabi wants them to say, [creating] cooked information that goes right into presidential and vice-presidential speeches." [6]

In February 2003, as the Bush administration neared the end of its preparations for war, an internal fight erupted over INC's plan to actually become the government of Iraq after the U.S. invasion. Chalabi wanted to "declare a provisional government when the war starts," a plan that "alienated some of Mr Chalabi's most enthusiastic backers in the Pentagon and in Congress, who fear the announcement of a provisional government made up of exiles would split anti-Saddam sentiment inside Iraq." [7]

"What he did was pander to the dreams of a group of powerful men, centered in the Pentagon, the Defense Policy Board, the vice president's office, and various think tanks scattered around Washington,² according to Thomas Engelhardt, a New York writer who produces a daily web log on the war.
The thing that needs to be grasped here is that since 1991 these men have been dreaming up a storm about reconfiguring the Middle East, while scaling the heavens (via various Star Wars programs for the militarization of space), and so nailing down an American earth for eternity. Their dreams were utopian and so, by definition, unrealizable. Theirs were lava dreams, and they were dreamt, like all such burning dreams, without much reference to the world out there. They were perfect pickings for a Chalabi.
Of course, the fact that Chalabi is now scarcely mentioned as a possible political force in Iraq is barely acknowledged by the hawks who still insist, albeit with less conviction, that things are going their way and that there is no reason to panic.
--Jim Lobe, 11 July 2003 [8]

In July 2003 Chalabi was one of nine Iraqi Governing Council members chosen to serve as president for a month of the U.S.- backed, self-rule body. [9]

Chalabi even participated in a secret Defense Policy Board meeting just a few days after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and the Pentagon in which the main topic of discussion, according to the 'Wall Street Journal', was how 9/11 could be used as a pretext for attacking Iraq. [10]

Jim Lobe reports on 20 Februrary 2004 to IPS  that "It appears that Chalabi, whose family, it was reported this week, has extensive interests in a company that has already been awarded more than 400 million dollars in reconstruction contracts, is signalling his willingness to take all of the blame, or credit, for the faulty intelligence." [11]

"in April, 2003, Jay Garner let it slip to some of his staff that his charge was to turn Iraq over to Ahmad Chalabi within six months." [12]

During the occupation, he became Deputy Prime Minister.

In the December 15, 2005 election Chalabi won only 0.5% of the vote. Once hailed by U.S. neoconservatives as the "George Washington of Iraq," Chalabi's humiliating defeat at the polls makes him something of an embarrasment now. "The election results in Iraq may present Chalabi’s ardent U.S. supporters with a quandary: Chalabi, as well as other losing candidates, is alleging fraud in the election, even though the Bush administration hailed the vote as a historic step for democracy in Iraq," reports Aram Roston. [13]

Electoral humiliation, however, did not end Chalabi's political career. In December 2005 "the government" discharged the the Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum for criticism and installed Chalabi into the post. [14]

SourceWatch Resources

External links

Speeches by Chalabi

Articles about Chalabi

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Resources