There is a fascinating article out right now from the The New York Sun about the possibility that Ahmad Chalabi might be the adviser behind Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki’s seeming agreement with Barack Hussein Obama’s troop withdrawal plan.
Here is an excerpt:
In throwing his support behind Senator Obama’s plan for a 16-month timetable for an American withdrawal from Iraq, Prime Minister al-Maliki is calculating that Mr. Obama may well be the next president of America, and betting that a successful visit by Mr. Obama to Baghdad will advance Iraqi interests in a new administration.
It was a move aimed at ingratiating the Shiite ruling majority in Baghdad with the man they expect to win the November presidential election, American and Iraqi officials said. If it works, it could be a stroke of brilliance, putting Mr. Obama in debt to the Iraqi leader for saving what could have been a disastrous trip to Iraq and defusing what could have been a troubling campaign issue. It could also backfire if a President McCain gets the idea that the Iraqi government is betraying the American politician who, after President Bush, has risked the most on a successful Iraq.
The matter was taken up at a meeting of Iraq’s National Security Council on Thursday on the recommendation of Mr. Maliki, who had been advised by the Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi to express public support for the Obama withdrawal plan. Asked for a comment yesterday, Mr. Chalabi, an old hand at working the American political process to the advantage of Iraq, conveyed a statement via his Washington representative, Francis Brooke: “This is an honor I will not claim and a rumor I will not deny.”
So who is Ahmad Chalabi? The name probably sounds familiar, but in case you’ve forgotten here’s a reminder:
The role of Mr. Chalabi, whose party failed to gain any seats in the 2005 federal parliamentary elections, should be of interest to close watchers of the Bush administration. While Mr. Chalabi has clashed with both the American embassy and at times with Mr. Maliki, he nonetheless is still regarded among the Shiite political class as knowledgeable of American politics from his days lobbying for the Iraq Liberation Act in Washington. At the time, in the late 1990s, Senator McCain was one of Mr. Chalabi’s biggest supporters.
That’s right. Mr. Chalabi is one of the major reasons we went to war with Iraq. If I’m not mistaken he was one of the ones in Bush’s ears telling him that we would be greeted by the majority of Iraqis as liberators. In other words, he was hell-bent on getting us involved.
Now it appears he’s ready to kick us out in 16 months. He’s certainly not denying this at least.
There are some trying to excuse-make for Nouri al-Maliki:
A scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and one of the architects of the surge, Fred Kagan, said that Mr. Maliki has come under some political pressure to oppose a status of forces agreement from the Iranians, who he said have launched an information operation.
Prime Minister Maliki might want to be a little more concerned with us than with the Iranians. After all, if it weren’t for us his country would still be ruled with the torture chambers and mass graves of Saddam Hussein.
But thankfully I am not the only one frustrated with Maliki. Byron York has written a wonderful piece outlining the problems McCain faces from Maliki’s agreement with Obama on a 16 month timetable.