:: Thursday, May 06, 2004 ::
Off to California...
:: Wednesday, May 05, 2004 ::
...until next Tuesday.
It is the Middle East, you know
I just read this widely linked article about Chalabi and his US connections. Apparently one former fan is a bit disgruntled:
"Ahmed Chalabi is a treacherous, spineless turncoat," says L. Marc Zell, a former law partner of Douglas Feith, now the undersecretary of defense for policy, and a former friend and supporter of Chalabi and his aspirations to lead Iraq. "He had one set of friends before he was in power, and now he's got another." While Zell's disaffection with Chalabi has been a long time in the making, his remarks to Salon represent his first public break with the would-be Iraqi leader, and are likely to ripple throughout Washington in the days to come.
Not that I hadn't heard of this connection before, but it really points out the level of naivete and delusion that was at work here. If you want someone to govern Iraq democratically, they're going to need to pay attention to what the people want. What were/are the chances that a majority of the people in Iraq, an Arab country, would willingly acquiesce to their government conducting a sweetheart business deal with Israel in the midst of the bloodshed with the Palestinians? Would an Iraqi government that tried to pull that off have any chance of staying in power? Obviously not. It wasn't wrong to assume that most Iraqis would be appreciative of America for liberating them from Saddam, although it was clearly naive to hope that the inevitable tensions of occupying the country would be completely overcome by that. But it was some kind of hallucination that must have led anyone to believe that any newly installed Iraqi government could be both democratic and openly pro-Israel.
Zell, a Jerusalem attorney, continues to be a partner in the firm that Feith left in 2001 to take the Pentagon job. He also helped Ahmed Chalabi's nephew Salem set up a new law office in Baghdad in late 2003. Chalabi met with Zell and other neoconservatives many times from the mid-1990s on in London, Turkey, and the U.S. Zell outlines what Chalabi was promising the neocons before the Iraq war: "He said he would end Iraq's boycott of trade with Israel, and would allow Israeli companies to do business there. He said [the new Iraqi government] would agree to rebuild the pipeline from Mosul [in the northern Iraqi oil fields] to Haifa [the Israeli port, and the location of a major refinery]." But Chalabi, Zell says, has delivered on none of them. The bitter ex-Chalabi backer believes his former friend's moves were a deliberate bait and switch designed to win support for his designs to return to Iraq and run the country.
Update: Was that some other Marc Zell? The denial is denied, as well. Anyway, it's not like that story depended on Zell's quote. Anyone who's still defending Chalabi clearly has blinders on.