Saturday, January 24, 2004

Neocon Boy Toy Bites Back

Key US Iraq ally backs Shia chief's elections demand

Ahmad Chalabi, one of Washington's staunchest allies on Iraq's interim Governing Council, on Friday added to Washington's difficulties with its exit strategy from Baghdad by joining calls for direct elections before the country returns to self-rule.

Speaking in Washington on Friday, Mr Chalabi said: "I believe direct elections are possible. Seek to make them possible and they will be possible. The date of June 30 [by when the US is committed to handing over sovereignty] is firm. We intend to abide by it and President Bush is committed to it."

I think this might be a political manuevar on the part of Chalabi, who has usually been seen (wrongly, I believe) as an American pawn. By challenging the US on this issue, his political fortunes in Iraq can only improve. For American policymakers who see Chalabi as an "ally" or "puppet", this ought to remind them that Ahmed Chalabi is a clever political operator and like all such men, is primarily concerned with his own interests and will not subordinate them to the American agenda. The INC and Ahmed Chalabi have a proven history of jerking the Americans around and really shouldn't be trusted.


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