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Chalabi A ‘Key Figure’ In Iranian Efforts To Scuttle U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement

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Think Progress
Thursday, Oct 30, 2008

The United States and Iraq are currently engaged in “tense” negotiations regarding the future of the U.S. military presence in Iraq after the U.N. mandate expires at the end of the year. Just yesterday, the Iraqi Cabinet proposed changes that the U.S. has yet to approve.

But now, CQ’s Jeff Stein reports that according to NBC investigative reporter Aram Roston, former Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi — the White House’s favorite Iraqi in the run-up to the Iraq war — has been helping the Iranians stand in the way of the agreement:

Roston calls Chalabi a “key figure” in Iranian efforts to scuttle the status-of-forces agreement that is under fierce negotiation between Baghdad and Washington.

“He is seen more and more by the U.S. as a foreign agent, an Iranian agent,” Roston told me by telephone from Mexico, where he is vacationing. What Chalabi says is “equated” with the Iranian position on the status-of-forces agreement, Roston said, which it opposes.

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Chalabi told Iran’s state media last month that the U.S. wants secret military bases in Iraq and Stein notes that yesterday, a Shiite newspaper in Baghdad featured his opposition to the security agreement. In fact, last May, U.S. officials cut off all contact with Chalabi because of “unauthorized” contacts with the Iranian government.

But Chalabi’s renewed meddling puts a spotlight on the fact that he has palled around with some of John McCain’s most senior campaign advisers:

–Randy Scheunamann, top foreign policy adviser: As president of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq before the Iraq invasion, Schuenamann promoted Chalabi as the “new Iraqi Ataturk,” and his Iraqi National Congress (INC) group as a “government in exile.”

–Charlie Black, top political adviser: Black and his lobbying firm BKSH and Associates represented Chalabi and the INC, giving Chalabi access to high-powered officials in Washington.

Just last week, McCain told a local New Hampshire reporter that “we just achieved” a security agreement with the Iraqis, while at the same time, Chalabi — whom McCain once called “a patriot” with Iraq’s “best interests at heart” — was undermining the deal. Indeed, as Roston observed, Chalabi “is a genius at staying relevant.”

This article was posted: Thursday, October 30, 2008 at 11:40 am

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