Monday, March 05, 2007

Perspective: Chalabi Back in the Political Limelight

Ahmed Chalabi was responsible for many of the false reports fed to Washington of Saddam's WMDs and connections to al-Qaeda. Once dubbed the "George Washington of Iraq" by neocons, he fell out of favor over allegations of feeding American intelligence to Iran. Chalabi was convicted and sentenced in absentia for bank fraud by a Jordanian military tribunal. He faces seventeen years in prison, should he again enter Jordan.

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Dignitaries gathered last month for a gesture of reconciliation _ reopening a Sunni mosque in Shiite Sadr City. As the cameras panned the robes and turbans, there stood Ahmad Chalabi, elegantly attired in an expensive Western suit.

The ceremony was largely symbolic. Most of Sadr City's few Sunnis had fled Shiite militiamen. But the coverage gave Chalabi a chance to promote an image of a healer.

That may seem a minor role for a man who was once the Pentagon's favorite to lead Iraq after Saddam Hussein. Chalabi's star fell after his assurances that Saddam was hiding weapons of mass destruction proved false.

In his new post as head of a committee to build public support for the U.S.-Iraqi security operation, Chalabi reports directly to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. There's already talk of a Cabinet position later.

Read the rest at the Washington Post