Ahmed Chalabi emerges as key player in Iraq election after falling-out with US
Ahead of the March 7 Iraq election, Ahmed Chalabi, who helped convince former President Bush to invade and create a democracy at peace with Israel, is promoting a regional alliance that would include US adversary Iran.
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Odierno also charged that Both Chalabi and and Lami are coordinating their activities with the regime in Tehran. "It is disappointing that somebody like him was in fact put in charge or has been able to run this commission inside of Iraq," Odierno said. Al-Lami and Chalabi "clearly are influenced by Iran. We have direct intelligence that tells us that," Odierno said. "They've had several meetings in Iran, meeting with a man named [Mahdi] Mohandas ... who was on the terrorist watch list for a bombing in Kuwait in the 1980s. They are tied to him. He sits at the right-hand side of the Quds Force commandant, Qassem Soleimani. And we believe they're absolutely involved in influencing the outcome of the election. Chalabi, who you know, has been involved in Iraqi politics in many different ways over the last seven years, mostly bad."Skip to next paragraph
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Chalabi denied Odierno's charges in an interview with McClatchy news service in late February. "I deny that we're under the influence of Iran. I deny that we do Iran's bidding. I confirm that we're friends with Iran, just as we wanted to be friends with the US," he said.
Chalabi calls for closer ties with Iran, Syria
Writing in the Wall Street Journal on Friday, Chalabi took an oblique shot at Odierno, referring to "recent intemperate comments and interventions by some senior American officials," but also outlined a vision for Iraq and its role in the region that is sharply different from the one he painted in 2003, of a post-Hussein Iraq that would trigger a tidal wave of democracy and partnership with the US across the Middle East and that would quickly recognize and normalize relations with Israel.
Today, the rhetoric of friendship with Israel is long gone. Instead, he's calling for closer Iraqi ties with nations like Iran and Syria, the first an Islamist regime that is an avowed enemy of the US, the second a dictatorship also at odds with the US.
"We are proposing the creation of a regional alliance among Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran to bring together our geographic, economic, water, and oil resources into a coherent framework," Chalabi wrote, arguing that's the best chance of peace and stability in the region. "This alliance would be of benefit to the entire Middle East and a strong bastion against Islamic extremism."
He also promised, now as then, that his vision would transform the region. The alliance "could be an effective vehicle in resolving the Iranian nuclear energy issue as well, opening a new phase in international politics that could profoundly change the mindset of Middle East decisionmakers, especially in Iran. It is in the interest of the US to look favorably on such an alliance, despite the fears that some may have of such a structure."
Monitor editorial: Iraq elections on March 7: high stakes, shaky hopes