Ahmad Chalabi

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Ahmad Chalabi is a formerly secular, now religious Iraqi Shi'a politician who spent decades in exile cultivating a network of foreign and Iraqi exile supporters, but no discernible popular political base among Iraqis.

After being kicked out of Iraq, he fled to Jordan and established the Petra Bank, however he had to flee Jordan after convicted to 22 years of hard labor for bank fraud. [1] After an intermediate failure in Kurdistan, Chalabi and Judith Miller tried to persuade United States that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction. [2]

Chalabi fell from grace with his U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Department of Defense supporters when his information about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction proved to be lies and suspicions were aroused that he was giving intelligence information to the Iranian government. In his Mullahs, Merchants, and Militants, Stephen Glain described Chalabi as a "scorched earth personality," an individual either loved or hated (p. 221).

Although a Deputy Prime Minister mentioned as a possible compromise Prime Minister before the December 15, 2005 Iraqi parliamentary election, Chalabli failed to even win a parliamentary seat with 0.5% of the votes.[3] On December 30, 2005, Chalabi was appointed acting oil minister, replacing the incumbent oil minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum, who opposed a plan to raise Iraq's subsidised domestic gasoline prices.

According to the author of The Assassins' Gate, George Packer, Chalabi found it remarkably easy to manipulate the cabal of neo-conservative political appontees in the second Bush adminsitration simnply by telling them whatever they wanted to hear. What they wanted to hear was that as an oppressed people the Shi'a in Iraq would make common cause with the United States and Israel (p. 109) "They thought that Ahmad's loyalty was to the ideal of the group," an associate of Chabi said. "They were young, bookish, not politically savvy. Ahmad fooled them easily." (p. 110) The Iraqi mathematician and economist trained at MIT who left Iraq at age 12 won the endorsement of the elites associated with the neo-conservative Project for a New American Century.

Backed by the Central Intelligence Agency and Department of Defense, Chalabi was airlifted back into Iraq on April 6, 2003 with his 700 exile militiamen. His arrival at a deserted Iraqi airbase in Nasiriyah failed to generate more than mild interest and no wave of popular support. U.S. forces raided Chalabi's Baghdad office in 2004 because he was suspected of giving U.S. intelligence to Iran. Perhaps the best historical analogy to Chalabi is to the Russian expatriate politician Savinkov, who was capable of winning the support of the British secret services but not the Russian people.

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