Monday, October 29, 2007

The New Chalabi?

Ayad Allawi, the former interim prime minister of Iraq, hinted in a television interview last weekend at one of the war's least understood turning points: America's decision not to challenge Iranian intervention in Iraq's January 2005 elections.

"Our adversaries in Iraq are heavily supported financially by other quarters. We are not," Allawi told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "We fought the elections with virtually no support whatsoever, except for Iraqis and the Iraqis who support us."[1]

An attempt is being made to develop a campaign to replace the current Iraqi PM, al Maliki with the former Iraqi PM, Allawi. The above quote came from an op-ed piece written by David Ignatius for two purposes. The first is to lay the groundwork for Mr. Allawi’s return and the second is to put some positive spin on Mr. Bush’s floundering record as Commander in Chief. This subtle change is probably orchestrated by the CIA and Neo-Cons who are tired of waiting for the current government to get itself together by Washington standards. I can see a no-confidence challenge being made against Mr. Maliki’s already weak position. Hoping to defy the reality of internal secularism that defines current Iraqi politics there are those who believe we can still control the outcome of this fiasco.

Why would they want to bring back Mr. Allawi? There are many very good reasons for his return to lead the Iraqi government. But first let’s look at his claim about being deserted by the US government during the election in Iraq that brought the current government to power and caused Mr. Allawi’s departure. According to my research this claim is false. The US government spent over 800 million dollars on the elections in Iraq and out of that Mr. Allawi’s government received 41 million.[2] This is from the State departments figures and does not include moneys supplied by the CIA and other “so-called” pro democracy groups. Two of these shadowy groups provided another 80 million dollars for pro-democratic and moderate politicians. The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) are two organizations that sought to provide support to “further America’s foreign policy interests in expanding democracy and free markets while improving the lives of citizens in the developing world.”

So, on the surface for Mr. Allawi to claim that his government received no support during the election process seems disingenuous. The real issue is whether the CIA and the US government should have rigged the election to prevent the Shiites with historical ties to Iran from seizing power. Fortunately at the time the answer was no, today I am not so sure it would be the same result. Mr. Allawi’s main complaint is that we did not subvert the democracy we had just fought a war to secure, how very American of him. Where do they get these guys from? Is there a central casting office for these clowns created in Langley?

It wasn’t enough that Mr. Allawi was handpicked by Paul Bremer, who at the time was the Emperor of Iraq, and given the reins of government to create popular support for his party and his policies. Because he had no popular support and was seen by many Iraqis as the puppet of the occupiers, he had no chance of victory in the election no matter how much was spent on his behalf. Then of course there were the two invasions of Iraqi cities (Najaf and Falluja) which alienated him from both the Sunnis and the Shiites.

And of course there was his history of spying, first for the British and then for the CIA. Mr. Allawi was just another attempt to impose an American strongman with no local support on the Iraqi people. The fact that he is making these claims is merely an attempt by him or his handlers to try and rehabilitate himself, an attempt to distance himself from those handlers, atleast publicly. The end result of course will be an attempt to return to power, but how can this be after his government was repudiated by the Iraqi people in the elections; winning only 14% of the vote? Here is where we get creative, the current government of Mr. Maliki is on life support and without the support of the Kurds and the few Sunnis he was able to marshal support from he cannot continue to govern. If through some backroom deal we were able to get the Kurds to pullout, then the government would collapse and plunge the country into chaos. At that point we could insert Mr. Allawi to once again restore order.

Allawi said he is trying to gather support for a new coalition of Kurds, Sunnis and secular Shiites as an alternative to the Shiite religious coalition that installed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in power. Some commentators see Allawi's recent decision to hire a Washington public relations firm as a sign of the Bush administration's support, but the opposite is probably the case. If Allawi had U.S. government backing, he wouldn't need the lobbyists.

Future historians should record that the Bush administration actually lived by its pro-democracy rhetoric about a new Iraq -- to the point that it scuttled a covert action program aimed at countering Iranian influence. Now the administration says it wants to counter Iranian meddling in Iraq, but it is probably too late.[3]

The PR firm of course is not for the Iraqis, it is for the domestic politics here. Mr. Allawi is about to be repackaged and resold, just like old Coke and new Coke


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