Fools rush in: What the hell is going on? (Part II)

I’m a bit astonished about the lack of speculation about what’s going on in Iraq, the CIA, the State Department, the Bush Administration, etc. Probably it’s a sign that nobody really knows, and it’s so messy that no one is willing to take a chance. So fools rush in, etc.

What are the relationships between Chalabi’s disgrace, Allawi’s nomination as Prime Minister, and Tenet’s resignation? The only people who seem to be talking are Chalabi’s neocon defenders, who blame the liberals, but fail to mention that the raids on Chalabi seemingly had President Bush’s support.

The fact that Chalabi’s “security chief” Aras Karim Habib has apparently taken refuge in Iran makes Chalabi’s guilt seem pretty probable. While the U.S. always knew that Chalabi was in contact with Iran, his willingness to compromise American security the way he did apparently went beyond what we were willing to accept. There were already good reasons not to want Chalabi is the Iraqi head of state, and raiding his office and accusing him of spying had the added advantage of putting the neocons on the spot. So my theory is that the anti-Chalabi activity comes from the CIA, who got Bremer’s and possibly Bush’s support (though it might also be possible that Bremer simply presented Bush with a fait accompli.)

Meanwhile Brahimi of the UN, seemingly with US approval (probably by Powell’s State Department), had selected Adnan Pachachi, a moderate, secular Sunni, as the first Prime Minister of the new Iraq. The IGC, however, which was not really supposed to play a big role in the process (a process which had been devised specifically for the purpose of freezing the IGC out) refused to accept Pachachi (after smearing him as an American tool) and instead nominated one of their own members, Iyad Allawi.

Allawi has a rather unsavory reputation as a former Ba’athist who worked with Western intelligence services while in exile from Iraq. He is a political rival of Chalabi, but also his nephew, and it’s most reasonable to guess that their clan hedged their bets by placing members in more than one faction. Chalabi himself is now cultivating the Shia leader Sistani and has declared his support for Allawi. Both Chalabi and Allawi are making anti-American nationalist noises from time to time, though Allawi has asked the American troops to stay to protect him (though at least he didn’t call them “blond slaves” the way the Saudis do). One issue between Chalabi and Allawi is that Allawi opposed Chalabi’s de-Ba’athification campaign, and Ba’ath people are increasingly being rehabilitated and taken into government service.

My interpetation here is that Chalabi was ultimately behind the IGC’s initiative, and that the CIA and State Department endorsed it, willingly or not, at the cost of alienating the U.N. one more time and also of making the State Department look like idiots. (And Bush too, since he’s been talking about the U.N.’s role for over a month). So the CIA is in the driver’s seat so far, and we can look forward to a tough, old-fashioned Iraqi police state which the Chalabis will loot as fast as possible (given the precariousness of their mandate). “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.’

So why did Tenet quit? Well, the rest of the CIA thought he was too close to Bush and didn’t fight hard enough against the neocon deceptions, so they wanted him out. And the CIA is going to be heavily-criticized in the 9/11 report, and he can be the fall guy for that. And the neocons all hate him too, for completely different reasons. So even though the CIA is winning, Tenet isn’t.

The Bush goal, seemingly, is to neutralize the Iraq situation in any way whatever, regardless of who it is that ends up holding nominal Iraqi sovereignty. An election looms, and Bush will accuse the naysayers of treason, etc.

And meanwhile, the Plame affair grinds on. What’s with that?

My previous post.

Chalabi is probably the smartest guy in the game

William Beeman: “The choice of Iyad Allawi as prime minister designate of Iraq further cements Ahmad Chalabi’s hold on power — virtually guaranteeing that he and his family will be the future rulers of Iraq.”

(Subscription)

[Allawi] ran the IGC’s security committee, which is responsible for training the new Iraqi police, army and intelligence services. However, an overall impression within informed circles in Iraq is that his excessive focus on security will push him in the direction of building strong security at the expense of even stymieing efforts to build democracy.

Adnan Pachachi, the man who turned down the Iraqi presidency earlier this week, accused rivals on the now defunct Governing Council of indulging in “dirty politics at its worst” in organising a smear campaign against him.

Put another way, the demand to bring U.S. troops home will be presented by the president – at the Security Council and in the campaign – as aid and comfort to the terrorist enemies of Iraq and America.

“Short-term expediency to get George Bush re-elected” is the verdict on the new transitional Iraqi administration from leading Iraqi expert Toby Dodge.

Chalabi cultivates Sistani

Sistani’s support for the new government is conditional

Vincent Cannistero on Aras Karim Habib