Ahmed Chalabi - Man for All Seasons
The Flaneur File has kept its ever-vigilant eye on Ahmed Chalabi since early 2002, when it became known that Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, an umbrella group of Iraqi exiles working for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, was the principal provider of "intelligence" to the United States in all matters Iraqi. Chalabi is the man who gave us the informant code-named "curve-ball" (we should have wondered at that monniker), who was the Wilt Chamberlain to our slam-dunk assessments of Iraq's possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The Flaneur File confesses that our interest in Chalabi was initially adversarial as we were in opposition to the imminent invasion of Iraq, and Chalabi was one of the international players enabling the United States government to cover the invasion plans with a cloak of legitimacy.
Many times in the past four years, it seemed as if Chalabi was through, suffering political setbacks which would haver buried lesser men. But like some indestructable Titan, Chalabi has shown he is not only in possession of uncommon cunning and ambition, but also has a testicular fortitude that this world has not seen in a leader since the glory days of Grigori Rasputin. The man's uncanny ability to land on his feet, and to even look good doing it, has forced the Flaneur File to a position of grudging admiration; albeit one that is rooted in some form of twisted Machiavellian morality.
While we are in possession of enough background material on Chalabi to run a regular feature in this space (hmmm...there's an idea - The Chalabi File), we write today to gaze in wonder at his latest feat of political prowess: Ahmed Chalabi has today officially been placed in charge of Iraq's Oil Ministry. Sure, he wanted to be King, but when that didn't pan out as he had planned, did he wilt away? Hell no, not our man Ahmed.
The IMF decided that energy subsidies paid to Iraq were getting untenable, so decided to put the pinch on, resulting in a five-fold increase in gas prices over the past six weeks, up to sixteen cents per liter. This may seem quite a low price to us, but consider that the average monthly income in Iraq is thirty-five dollars a month, and thats for the fifty percent of Iraqis who actually have a job. Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr Al-Ulum supported the increase, but only if it was incrementally phased in, so as to lessen the impact on the average Iraqi. The IMF however, would not bend, and neither would Deputy Prime Minister Chalabi. As a result, the price increase went in full effect, and Al-Ulum today resigned in protest. Leaving Chalabi somehow officially in charge of Iraq's oil.
We wonder what effect this development will have on the investigations here in the United States regarding not only Chalabi's provision of fake intelligence to Washington, but of passing U.S. secrets to Iran.
Chalabi is a man to watch, and he's not done yet.