Sunday, November 15, 2015

Chalabi's Bay of Goats: The Iran Connection // ex Publius

expublius: Chalabi's Bay of Goats: The Iran Connection
by Russ Hoyle

U.S. Gen. Anthony Zinni declared before 9/11 that a flashy Iraqi exile named Ahmed Chalabi was "going to lead us to a Bay of Goats" if Washington bought his plans to depose Saddam Hussein. The outcome, the commander of U.S. forces in the region warned, would be a fiasco that would make the U.S. adventure at the Bay of Pigs look like child's play.

If anything, the reality was far worse. The notorious Shi'ite con man, who died last week in Baghdad of a heart attack, was admired before the Iraq war by a handful of secretive U.S. national security types and exiled neoconservative Republicans in Washington. His stature grew considerably after President George W. Bush's election and the 2003 U.S. invasion. The media postmortems of Chalabi and his legacy have rightly focussed on his critical role in funneling wholesale fictions about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction to gullible -- or manipulative -- U.S. policymakers, who for years financed and fed on his disinformation-spewing Iraqi National Congress.

When later questioned about the non-existent WMD, Chalabi quipped, "We were heroes in error."

False intelligence provided by Chalabi's network was instrumental, if not decisive, in enabling the U.S. decision to go to war. Chalabi couldn't have achieved his aims without powerful backers in Washington. But I'm left wishing more attention had been paid to his connections in Tehran. Even for those familiar with Chalabi's past and his methods, it is striking how much is not known about his record as a member of the Iraqi Parliament and official in the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. What little we do know, however, is consistent with reports of his pre-war relationship to the revolutionary government in Iran.
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