Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Ahmad Chalabi: Iraq's 'Comeback Kid'

According to this AP story, Ahmad Chalabi may have been the big winner in the recent Iraqi elections. Although dumped by the US government in favor of CIA-State Department-MI6 favorite Iyad Allawi, then indicted on trumped up charges of money laundering, Chalabi achieved a political comeback when his Shi'ite party, the United Iraqi Alliance, took the majority of votes, with the blessing of Ayatollah al-Sistani (by contrast, interim leader Allawi took 3rd place--bye, bye...). Given Chalabi's insulting treatment by the US, look for a more independent-minded approach to geopolitics from any new Shi'ite government, a balancing act with Iran, and possible recognition of Israel. America's abandonment of Chalabi strengthened his credentials at home with the Shi'ites, with what US politicians call "the base". Result: Chalabi doesn't owe the US for his victory, and can deal with America somewhat independently.

A whle back, I saw Chalabi speak at the American Enterprise Institute (there were tears in Danielle Pletka's eyes as she made the introduction), and Chalabi was open to peace and trade with what Saddam Hussein used to call "the Zionist entity." It would be interesting if the Shi'ites pulled this off, as Baghdad used to have a flourishing Jewish community, and an Israeli-Iraqi alliance might do wonders for Middle East peace and development. So, stay tuned.