Chalabi became the dandy of the US defense establishment and America's neo-con politicians, whose fortunes flourished under former President George Bush. And as time went by, Chalabi proved to be a farce. Today, the wayward politician has remade himself as defender of the Shi’ites in the region and around the world.
Charlatan is the word that best describes Iraqi lawmaker Ahmad Chalabi. From a mathematics professor to a banker who led every enterprise into bankruptcy, Chalabi—best known for pushing America to war in Iraq in 2003—has now emerged as a champion of Shii’tes around the world with visible links to Iran's Republican Guard Corps (IRGC). Throughout his career, Chalabi has become famous for embezzling all kinds of funds, whether it is deposits at his banks or America's intelligence money allocated to depose Saddam Hussein. If stealing is not enough, Chalabi has developed a tactic through which he tries to slander his detractors, always claiming to possess substantiating documents. However, no one has ever seen any of Chalabi's documents, while many have witnessed, instead, his twisted ways in politics.
Surfers of Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC) website may notice a section that stands out: "Files of Administrative Corruption." Underneath the header is a picture of former Iraqi minister of electricity, Ayham Al-Samuraii, with his mouth open and scratching his cheek. A caption reads: "Contracts worth more than $1 billion to improve electricity during Al-Samuraii's tenure... Iraqis only cashed darkness." Another caption reads: "This is the truth behind the journey of the accused, who is at large, Ayham Al-Samuraii." The defamed minister's name is hyperlinked. While a surfer might conclude that the link leads to documents substantiating the INC's allegations against Al-Samuraii, it actually links to a page with a header "Documents and Files." Under the header are two dozens of regular news.
Similar allegations are made against Minister Hazem Al-Shaalen. By clicking on his hyperlinked name, one gets this note: "Sorry, no such page, error."
Such is the ways of Chalabi and his INC against their opponents. Throwing unfounded accusations would have been less of a problem had they come from someone other than Chalabi who, because of his bank-crashing history, is banned from entering a few countries lest the Interpol arrest on different charges in different countries.
Corruption, however, is not what made Chalabi controversial. Deception did. In 2003, during the lead up to the Iraq war, Chalabi provided Washington with information on which US intelligence based its case against Iraq's Saddam Hussein, including reports of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and ties to Al-Qaeda. With the money he received from the US government, Chalabi paid BKSH and Associates, a lobbying powerhouse in Washington, to embellish his image and stir America's media and public opinion into believing his allegations and thus go to war in Iraq.
Chalabi became the dandy of the US defense establishment and America's neo-con politicians, whose fortunes flourished under former President George Bush. Once the marines toppled Saddam's statue in Fardous Square on 9 April 2003, Chalabi positioned himself to become the country's ruler. But despite his personal charm and charisma, Chalabi's following remained slim and restricted to protégés on his payroll. As time went by, Chalabi proved to be a farce. No WMDs were found in Iraq. The presumed Saddam links to Al-Qaeda could never be proven, even after Chalabi and his thugs had confiscated sifted through tons of documents from Saddam's intelligence agencies.
Chalabi's cocky behavior added insult to injury. Nepotism, corruption and bullying characterized the style of the 67-year-old politician, and that of his followers. Even though Chalabi was under several investigations by different US governmental agencies, he was Bush's guest at the 2004 presidential State of the Union address before Congress. It seems that at the time, Chalabi was still the favorite for some influential people inside the Bush administration.
Despite all his troublemaking for Washington, America did not abandon Chalabi until information emerged that Iran's intelligence had decoded US messages inside Iraq. Chalabi, whom the CIA had spotted meeting with IRGC's Southern Area Commander Ahmad Farouzanda, emerged as the primary suspect. In due time, information proved Chalabi spying for the Iranians. Some analysts went as far as suggesting that Chalabi had all along been Iran's guy, and that Iran had used him to convince America to topple Saddam, her staunch enemy.
Chalabi finally fell out of favor with the United States by the end of 2004. In his biography on Chalabi, The Man Who Pushed America to War, Aram Roston argued: "[T]here is no evidence that [Chalabi] ever told US intelligence anything about his contacts in Iran, while there is significant evidence that he told Iranians intelligence about his dealings with the United States."
Since then, Chalabi has reinvented himself as a pro-Iran Shi’ite politician. During the lead up to Iraq's 2010 parliamentary elections, senior American officials—such as the commander of US Forces in Iraq, General Ray Odierno,—accused Chalabi of taking orders from IRGC's Qods force commander, Qassem Suleimani, who instructed Chalabi and his De-Ba’athification committee to ban Iran's Sunni opponents in Iraq from running.
Chalabi was elected for the first time to parliament in 2010 on the all-Shi’ite pro-Iran ticket. Since then, he has been acting as a defender of the Shi’ites in the region and around the world. But that might not be all good news for the Shi’ites. So far, bad things have happened to whichever group Chalabi has sided with.
Monday, May 9, 2011