Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Ahmad Chalabi, the Neocons' Man in Baghdad

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Ahmad Chalabi, the Neocons' Man in Baghdad

Article excerpt

EVEN IF THE UNITED STATES did not go to war in Iraq to defend Israel, nevertheless the thumbprints of Israel and its allies in the Bush administration are all over that war and its aftermath. Senior policymakers such as Deputy Defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Under secretary of Defense Douglas Feith, former CIA head James Woolsey, and top State Department officials David Wurmser (now Vice President Dick Cheney's Mideast adviser) and John Bolton (soon to be/nominated to be this country's U.N. ambassador?) had been urging action against Saddam Hussain since the 199Os. all of them are ardent supporters of Israel, and especially its right-wing Likud party.

Several of these officials, including Vice President Cheney, have served on the board of the Jewish Institute for National security Affairs (JINSA), which lobbies for regime change not only in Iraq but in Syria and Iran as well. Wurmser and Feith wrote a policy paper for former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in 1996 that advised him to reassert Israel's claim to the West Bank and Gaza and concentrate on getting rid of Saddam Hussain. On May 4 of this year a Pentagon associate of Feith and Wolfowitz, Lawrence A. Franklin, was indicted for passing classified information concerning U.S. policy in Iraq and Iran to two employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

A favorite of the pro-Israel hawks was Ahmed Chalabi, former head of the Iraqi National Congress, a London-based exile group that for years lobbied for a U.S. invasion of Iraq. Chalabi, a close friend and ally of Wolfowitz, over the years has built a strong following in the organized Jewish community, especially with JINSA and AIPAC. In October 2002 he told a JINSA audience that ousting Saddam would change the dynamic of the whole region to the benefit of the United States and Israel. he has proposed that a pipeline be built to send oil from Basra to Haifa.

Until now it seemed unlikely that Chalabi could make good on his promises. Although the Pentagon relied on him for the fake intelligence that bolstered the case for going to war, he is far less popular in other circles. he was convicted of bank fraud in Jordan, the State Department considered his intelligence unreliable, and the C.I.A. stopped payments to Chalabi's organization in 1996 because of financial mismanagement. …

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