Friday, January 22, 2010

Chalabi is an Iranian agent? Chalabi? Is this funnier if it's true or if it's false?

The fine people of the United States foreign policy establishment from time to time present high quality comedy for your reading enjoyment. In our latest installment, we have Robert Dreyfuss reporting on the attempted purge from politics of over 500 accused Baathists in Iraq. Because Saddam Hussein was, during essentially his entire reign, Iran's most intense opponent, everyone in Iraq who opposed Hussein's Baath party was supported by Iran.

Even further we have a situation today where opposition to Baathism is a decent proxy for closeness to Iranian influence. For this reason, any major purge of Iraqi Baathists is going to relatively favor parties close to Iran. We learn now, that any major purge of Iraqi Baathists will look, to Americans, like a conspiracy to marginalize elements of politics less hostile to Iran.

Maybe the Americans are right and there is a conspiracy, but there is no such thing as a substantial debaathification effort of Iraqi politics that would be perceived in Washington as Iran-neutral. Make a list of 500 or even 300 potential Baathists who are running for office and either that list will disproportionately include parties that are less closely tied to Iran or the list will clearly be a joke with no connection to reality.

Speaking of jokes, part of the fallout of this controversy, that apparently also has Joe Biden in Iraq attempting to reverse the debaathification decisions, is that accusations are coming public that Ahmad Chalabi is an Iranian agent.
Today, Chalabi -- who spends a lot of his time in Iran, and who US military authorities believe is essentially an agent of Tehran -- is still the titular leader of the Justice and Accountability Commission
Got that? Just in case you missed it, Dreyfuss makes sure you see it in quotes the second time:
There's not much clarity about who is behind the nasty maneuver -- but one protagonist appears to be Ahmed Chalabi, the notorious former exile leader and master of political manipulation. Now regarded as an Iranian agent by most U.S. officials, Mr. Chalabi, along with his associates, served Tehran's interests as well as his own by banning the Sunni leaders.
Did you read that? It says Chalabi is an Iranian agent. If you skipped the last sentence, you may be surprised to read that Chalabi is an Iranian agent.

Chalabi as an Iranian agent. Is this funnier if it is true or false? Let's start with false. If Chalabi actually is not an Iranian agent, Dreyfuss is painting a picture of a US foreign policy community so confused by events in the area of its supposed expertise and most intense focus that it is accusing American stooges of being Iranian agents.

Let's remember who Ahmed Chalabi is. Ahmed Chalabi was the US' first choice to be Iraq's Hosni Mubarak. The aim at the time of the invasion was for Chalabi to be installed as President for life so that he could be like Mubarak - an authoritarian dictator that people like Barack Obama would not call an authoritarian dictator because he accomplishes the difficult job in his region of maintaining peace with Israel.

After the invasion, many Iraqi parties combined convinced the US that installing a puppet dictator would not be feasible. In the context of a Sunni insurgency that taxed US forces essentially to their limit, Sistani's threats to call Shiites to the street in disobedience and render the country ungovernable if there were not elections that they would win forced the US to reverse course and abandon Chalabi.

Until the election, Chalabi was one of the most powerful men in Iraq. In the election, if memory serves he got around two votes. Nobody can figure out who voted for him other than himself. This man who had absolutely no indigenous Iraqi support had be propped up in Iraq up to that point entirely by US support. Now the claim is that he's an Iranian agent?

Assuming Chalabi is not actually an agent, this accusation shows that the US foreign policy community has reached a level of paranoia regarding Iraq and Iran that has detached it from any semblance of reality. The United States is in for a rough at least three years in that area. There may be hope that post-Obama, a competent Middle East policy apparatus can be put into place, but there are structural distortions of US perceptions of the region that were there long before Obama and will almost certainly remain after he's gone.

But what if Chalabi is an agent?

I know the claim will be that events after the invasion made it possible for Iran to recruit him. (Wait a second, of everyone in Iraq, why would Iran recruit him?) But the US planned to make him dictator for life of Iraq. Could you imagine the inauguration speech of Ahmad Chalabi, installed by the US when he was really an Iranian agent?

Chalabi might have said something like, "People of Iraq: the last issue I want to talk about is the infidel occupiers. I will not rest until they have all been killed or driven from our country!" The US ambassador and CIA station-chief would look at each other confused. Saying "Hold up one second, that wasn't part of the speech we wrote." Iran's ambassador to Iraq would be nodding in attendance and tell the person next to him, "yeah, that sounds about right."

Seriously, a large amount of insider Middle East reporting consists of messages being sent to specific people. These unnamed US foreign policy experts have asked Dreyfuss to relay a public message to Chalabi and those who support Chalabi that he is no longer seen with favor by the United States.

I don't know one way or another if it is true that he is an Iranian agent. It seems far fetched to me, but US calculations depend on parties hostile to Iran having some amount of power in Iraqi politics. These calculations can be disrupted by debaathification of any significance. This confuses Americans because Americans cannot imagine that the expense of the invasion and occupation of Iraq will not on net prove beneficial to their project of rendering the Middle East safe for five million Jewish people in Palestine to have a majority state there.


lidia said...

Dreyfuss is an absolutely non-reliable source. He was one of the most ardent "green-rev" supporters in USA "leftist" media, and before that he was a bif fan of Shah.

But it makes sence if USA rulers used him for such purpouse as well.

lidia said...

Robert Spirko sounds like garden-veraity Zionist, scaring USA publics by some rubbish "novel" to prop suppport for Israel crimes. Nothing new here.

Anonymous said...

Some people think Chalabi is a complex man. They couldn't be more wrong. He is simply an opportunist par excellence.

That said, he makes for a great gauge for where the balance of power currently favors. Make no mistake, judging by Chalabi, the balance of power is currently heavily tilted toward Iran.

Biden is in Baghdad right now trying desperately to somehow fix that.

It's funny. Altough they'd never admit it were so, there are folks in the Iranian diaspora wishing that Rez Pahlavi could become another 2003 version of Chalabi. Unfortunately for them, Reza Pahlavi cannot compare to the opportunist par excellence.


Arnold Evans said...

Lydia, sorry the context for your comment is gone, but that was just an advertisement that someone pasted in. There is no reason to believe whoever put it there even read the post it was responding to.

lidia said...

Arnold, you do not need to apologize, more than that, you could now delete my comm as well