Chalabi’s Back

If you want to understand how tangled Iraqi politics have become now that Americans are paying attention once again, the must-read is a piece in Foreign Policy by Jane Arraf suggesting that Ahmad Chalabi–yes, that Ahmad Chalabi–is a good bet to succeed the failed Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister of that country. Seems he’s close to Iran, has some credibility (at least more than does al-Maliki) with Sunnis, and still has some, though not many, boosters in the U.S., presumably not including his former CIA handlers back in the days when he was making the case for a U.S. invasion of his country, using and/or abusing any evidence in sight of Saddam Hussein’s alleged threat to world peace.

This reaction from Firedoglake‘s DSWright is pretty typical of the sentiments we’ll hear from veterans of the antiwar movement if Chalabi’s “resurrection” achieves its goal:

Call in the clowns. If the disgraced so-called “journalists” who peddled Ahmad Chalabi’s lies are still allowed in the debate over the future of Iraq, why not Chalabi himself? This is a question Chalabi seems to be asking as he makes yet another attempt at becoming the leader of Iraq….

Is this a joke or a sad commentary on how desperately chaotic things are in Iraq? Making Ahmad Chalabi Prime Minister of Iraq would be the equivalent of making Bernie Madoff head of the SEC.

Is there a stronger argument for the dissolution of Iraq than the possibility that Ahmad Chalabi might end up running it?

It’s not really all that clear how much say Americans will have over Chalabi’s fate, whether they hate him or tolerate him. But it’s sure jarring to see his name in the headlines again.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.