Friday, December 23, 2005

Our friend Ahmad Chalabi (Abu 0.36%)

While it seems that the Iraqi elections were largely rigged, it is interesting to know how our friend Ahmad Chalabi did anyway.

Chalabi has an interesting history with Jordan. In 1977 he founded the Petra Bank in Amman, which became one of the leading banks in the country. With the economic boom of the early 1980's, and with the help of highly placed friends, things went well.

This began to change as Jordan's economy grew sour in the late 80's. When Petra bank was required to deposit a portion of its dollar assets in the Central Bank of Jordan, things began to fall apart. 1989, Chalabi fled the country in the trunk of a car (which was not searched at the frontier), and in 1992 he was convicted of embezzling 200 million dollars, as well as other counts of fraud and currency exchange crimes. Details are in the Guardian here. He was sentenced in absentia for 22 years.

Chalabi has denied wrongdoing, and has consistently asserted that the collapse of the bank and the charges against him were politically motivated, as a result of pressure from Saddam Hussein. There are a number of lines of circumstantial evidence which make his assertions questionable:

  1. In the late 80's, Saddam was too busy worrying about the war with Iran to worry about Chalabi.
  2. The collapse of the Petra bank was an embarrassment to the Jordanian regime, given the close ties between Chalabi and the royal family. Why would somebody embarrass themselves that way?
  3. A Chalabi bank in Switzerland also collapsed in 1990, along with a number of affiliated institutions outside of Jordan. Were these due to Saddam conspiracies as well?
  4. Subsequent dealings between the CIA and Chalabi revealed financial "improprieties".

After fleeing Jordan, Chalabi remade himself as an opposition figure bent on removing Saddam Hussein from power. He became a favorite of the Neocons who relied on him to tell them what they wanted to hear. Many believe that is was misinformation given by Chalabi which led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

After becoming a key figure in the new regime in Iraq, Chalabi tried to extort Jordan into exonerating him from the crimes that he was convicted of. He filed suit in 2004 in the US against the government of Jordan for ruining his good name. The fact that he waited 12 years to do this suggests that the suit is politically motivated, and designed to assure Iraqis that he is not a crook. He refused a royal pardon, insisting that the charges be abrogated. This didn't happen. His smug confidence in his position in the new Iraq gave him the petulance to make such demands. So, how does he stand now?

In the elections last spring, Chalabi was assured a position by running on the Hakim-Jaafari slate endorsed by Sistani. He became the deputy prime minister of Iraq. However, it looks like his overconfidence has finally done him in. He ran on his own slate this time, and it looks like he won't make it up to the 0.5% mark. One of his slogans bragged that he "liberated Iraq". So, he expected the Iraqi people to be thankful for his role in this mess, and his self confession that he is a traitor. While other candidates are claiming vote fraud, he is claiming that there was no fraud, probably to ingratiate himself with Jaafari and Hakim. In any case, I doubt that he will find much of a standing no matter what he does.

So, I know that it would be immature and childish to rub it in, but here it goes:

Na na nya nya! Pthththth!


At 12:41 AM, Blogger jameed, RPh, MS said...

Khalaf bring immature and childish?! Another sign of the end of times. Although sometimes i questions your reading seeing that you link onm the sidebar ;-)

Nice summary of Chalabi's life in the last 20 years by the way

At 5:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

dammit man, i was planning to post something very similar this weekend. ah well. good stuff

At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalaf, can you tell me what is your religion/religious affiliation? Are you a Shia, a Sunni, or a Greek Orthodox?

I am just curious as I need to know your religious background to judge your opinions' truth or falsehood.

Do you dare to tell the public what religion/faith/sect do you adhere by?


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