January 25, 2004
Ahmad Chalabi, once the US' hand-picked successor to Saddam Hussein, has now joined Ayatollah Sistani in calling for Iraqi elections.
In yet another sign that the Bush administration is no longer able to drive events in Iraq, Ahmed Chalabi has aligned himself with Ayatollah Sistani's call for near-term elections in Iraq. Chalabi's sudden change of direction is surprising because a year ago, he was going to be the donor for the neocon's head-transplant operation in Baghdad.
Chalabi, the visible leader of the US-funded and London-based Iraqi National Congress, was flown into Iraq by a special military airlift to be on the scene to take charge of the "decapitated" Baathist government once Saddam Hussein was eliminated. That whole plan went out the window when the Baathists declined to wait passively for their new leader and instead began a guerrilla war of resistance.
The whole notion of removing Saddam Hussein and replacing him with Ahmed Chalabi was a joke from the start, but it didn't get nearly the riducule it deserved. This was because the Bush administration had no other plan, but insisted the "head transplant" wasn't in the cards.
As Wolfowitz famously told the US Senate, "We don't have a plan. We have a process." Once the intended installation of Chalabi at the head of an intact Baathist state imploded in the first days of the war, they didn't have a process either.
The muddled occupation policy was more or less played by ear once the initial plan for the invasion and occupation went kerflooey in late April 2003. Since then, the US has cobbled together the Interim Governing Council as a place for Chalabi and other US-selected "poodles." The IGC has been ineffective in assuming power because it lacked legitimacy and the US had little power it was willing to share.
Now that the scheme for a July handoff of power is foundering on the rocks of reality, Chalabi is biting the hand that fed him all these years. In hopes of climbing on board the burgeoning movement around Shiite religious leader Sistani, Chalabi has announced his new allegiance to elections in Iraq. Most amazingly, he made this announcement at the American Enterprise Institute, the Washington DC nesting-box for the neocons.
This would be laughable if it wasn't yet another sign that events in Iraq could be slipping into chaos. When the poodles start jumping ship, it's probably sinking.