From the Daily Beast:
On Wednesday, Brett McGurk, the senior State Department official responsible for policy on Iraq, met in Baghdad at the home of Ahmed Chalabi, the former exile leader who was supported by neoconservatives inside the Bush administration before the Iraq war.
I repeat: Ahmed Chalabi? Chalabi is by most accounts an agent of Iranian influence. He is a conman for sure, and in more ways than one. He conned 'cons (neocons) into thinking the shadowy ex-pat would return to Iraq as "our man in Baghdad" by popular demand. Evidence indicates he was really Iran's man in Baghdad, or, rather, one of them.
To reacquaint ourselves with Chalabi, here's a 2007 description of him from Mugged by Reality by John Agresto, a singularly sharp-eyed critic of US policy in Iraq. It captures the futility and insanity of dealing with a character as "patently self-aggrandizing and manipulatively self-interested" as Chalabi was and is.
Chalabi -- friend of America, friend of Iran; defender of liberation, defender of theocracy; ally of Bush, ally of Sistani, ally of Sadr; selfless expatriate abroad, self-serving politico in Iraq, convicted criminal in Jordan -- is a man whose loyalty changes in every regard except in regard to himself.
And that's putting a positive spin on it. Here's another quotation from Agresto:
I remember once when we had a fairly decent interim administrative law that was going to govern the country, and the Ayatollah Sistani immediately said he didn’t like it, he didn’t like it because he thought it gave the Jews back their property in Iran, and immediately, Chalabi changed his vote, and decided that no, now he was going to be on the side of the religious fanatics, not on the side of the secularists. He’s a man who you never know where he’s going to be at any particular time. And I think he serves no one but his own interests.
Which seem ultimately to dovetail with Iran's.
Here is a transcript of an exchange between General Ray Odierno and The Nation's Robert Dreyfuss from February 2010 that sheds more light on Chalabi's nefarious activities.
DREYFUSS "I'm Bob Dreyfuss with The Nation magazine. [I want to ask about] Ali al-Lami, who was arrested by the U.S. a year and a half ago. And I was wondering if you could kind of clear up who this guy is and what his connections to Iran are and why he was arrested and why he was freed."
ODIERNO "Al-Lami is a Sadr'ist by trade. He was arrested after an operation in Sadr City where both Iraqi security forces, U.S. civilians, and U.S. soldiers were leaving a meeting that they had with the local government in Sadr City, and their vehicles were attacked with IEDs as they left the meeting.
"There were some accusations. We had some intelligence that said that al-Lami was the one who directed these attacks on these individuals. He was released in August of '09 as part of the drawdown of our detention facilities because we did not have the actual prosecutorial evidence in order to bring him in front of a court of law in Iraq. All we had was intelligence that linked him to this attack. So, as we had some others, we had to release him. He has been involved in very nefarious activities in Iraq for some time. It is disappointing that somebody like him was in fact put in charge or has been able to run this commission inside of Iraq, in my opinion.
"He is -- him and Chalabi clearly are influenced by Iran. We have direct intelligence that tells us that. They've had several meetings in Iran, meeting with a man named Mohandas, which is an ex-council representative member -- still is a council representative member -- who was on the terrorist watch list for a bombing in Kuwait in the 1980s. They are tied to him. He sits at the right-hand side of the Quds Force commandant, Qassem Soleimani. And we believe they're absolutely involved in influencing the outcome of the election. And it's concerning that they've been able to do that over time.
"Chalabi, who -- you know, has been involved in Iraqi politics in many different ways over the last seven years, mostly bad."
In sum, Not Someone the State Department Should Be "Reaching Out" To.
Back to today's Beast:
The meeting [between McGurk and Chalabi], first reported by The New York Times, was the first time McGurk had traveled to Chalabi’s Baghdad estate, according to Chalabi’s Washington adviser, Francis Brooke. “They discussed the current politics and Dr. Chalabi told him it would be very difficult for (Nouri al) Maliki to continue as prime minister,” Brooke told The Daily Beast.
So sorry it doesn't please Washington, but Maliki does hold office due to the ballot boxes, purple ink and parliamentary office space the US taxpayer via the US soldier provided Iraq. Is regime-change really the "democratic" answer?
The outreach to Chalabi is part of a frantic scramble by U.S. military, diplomatic, and intelligence agencies to respond to the growing violence in Iraq before the country collapses.
How about some frantic scramble by U.S. military, diplomatic, and intelligence agencies to respond to the growing chaos on the southern border before America collapses instead?
On Thursday, Obama announced that he was sending up to 300 U.S. special operations forces to Iraq—in addition to the 275 such troops already in country. Manned and unmanned aircraft are also now in the region. The U.S.S. George H.W. Bush, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, has been dispatched to the Persian Gulf. Senior U.S. military officials say they have the capability to launch airstrikes withina matter of hours against the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), the terror group that has seized control of several key Iraqi cities.
Two questions: Does it have to be the George H.W. Bush? The symbolism is so unfortunately risible.
And: Why aren't the American people in a spade and pitchfork uproar that Washington cares more about Iraq's sovereignty than our own?