Chalabi Raid Charade?

There seems to have been a turnaround in Ahmad Chalabi’s convivial relationship with US neocons and the CPA. Or at least you would think so, given this:

BAGHDAD, Iraq — With the U.S. transfer of power to an interim Iraqi government just six weeks away, fresh political turmoil broke out Thursday when Iraqi police backed by American soldiers raided the home and offices of Ahmad Chalabi, a top Iraqi leader and former U.S. adviser who has become a vocal critic of transition plans.Chalabi was not arrested, and officials said they knew of no charges against him.

Hmmm. A few months ago, when it was clear that the Iraqis didn’t trust Cheney’s Golden Boy because they judged (correctly) that he was a power-hungry thief and US puppet (incorrectly; it was the other way around), Chalabi used his month’s worth of rotating IGC chairmanship not to work for Iraqi sovreignity or urge the writing of the constitution but to come to Washington. In public, he testified before Congress (asking for money, naturally, as well as a quick handover), but he also had a number of private meetings with his buddies Wolfowitz, Cheney, Feith, and Libby.

Act II: He goes back to Iraq and suddenly he’s a critic of the US administration on behalf of ‘ordinary Iraqis’.

In recent months, Chalabi has fallen out of favor with Bush administration officials, due partly to his open criticism of the U.S. plan for handing over power on June 30 to an interim Iraqi government, saying the plan will not grant full sovereignty to the Iraqi people.

Well, maybe, but if he cares it would be the first time.

Act III: So Ahmad, who needs desperately to distance himself from the American occupation, is now attacking it, attacking his US sponsors in Washington, and accused of handing sensitive information to another Arab state–Iran–on the US enemies list. For the climax, Iraqi police raid his home and offices–just like they do ordinary Iraqis, except they don’t bulldoze it to rubble–and Ahmad is furious.

“I am America’s best friend in Iraq,” Chalabi said later at a news conference, claiming that he was roused from his bed by armed police during the raid. “If the [coalition] finds it necessary to direct an armed attack against my home, you can see the state of relations between the [coalition] and the Iraqi people.”

Now, I’m not doubting the possibility that Chalabi finally overplayed his hand with the Neocon Wonder Boys, but there’s another explanation that’s at least as likely: that the whole thing is a charade. Chalabi needs credibility as an opponent of the US since no one is going to have real power in Iraq at this point–not after Abu Ghraib, they’re not–who’s an open ally. Conveniently, the Iraqi police, at the order of an Iraqi judge, give him that credibility on what both say were orders from the American authorities, while the Army and the CPA say, ‘Uh-uh. Wasn’t us’, and point their fingers the other way.

From a certain vantage, it’s awfully convenient timing. If the NWB’s wanted to rehabilitate their protege, this would be the only hope they had of doing it.


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