Have we come around full circle in Iraq? The Iraqi leader the US State Department vilified and snubbed for over a decade is now, potentially, an alternative to al-Maliki.
If there is a lesson in the rise of Chalabi, it goes along these lines: Do not reject centrism even if you dislike the American environment that bolstered it. Morsi, Assad, and al-Maliki are all of the same extremist ilk who parade as moderates until you ask them to be inclusive of their own people.
It is not hard to witness the destiny of a nation when it loses its compass. Our leaderless nation has been unable to confront Assad or Khamenei, and now we are unable to face some rag tag terrorists establishing an Islamic State. As the saying goes “Those who can, do, and those who cannot, lecture”. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is doing an Islamic State and Barack Obama is still stuck lecturing everyone.
Iraq, unfortunately, is experiencing the same leaderless misfortune as the US. The last eight years of a divisive Prime Minister culminated into a sectarian civil war pegging extremists against each other, and Mr. Obama who left the party too early finds himself in the unenviable position of re-appearing at the doorsteps bearing more gifts and less control. Obama’s mistake is that he left Iraq for Iran to fully control and this is what happens when we let fanatics rule.
Iraq is in dire need for a new leader and although that leader’s governance will be subject to Iranian interference and influence, a highly intelligent individual with cunning political maneuverability will impose a certain order. Do you want to play more Golf Mr. President? Then threaten to withdraw from the talks if Iran stands in the way of a non-sectarian, liberal prime minister in Iraq. The extremists you have been backing are destroying countries along with your legacy.
In 2005, I had the opportunity to visit with Mr. Chalabi in Iraq, and I watched him interact with the Sunni tribes the same way he interacted with the Shia leadership. First on his mind was the well-being of Iraq and its people regardless of their ethnicity or religious sect, which came across to his interlocutors very clearly.
My hope is the US will begin to view him as the solution and not the problem as some in the media have portrayed him in the past; in my opinion, Ahmad Chalabi should have been Iraq’s Prime Minister from day one.
If the US is intent on helping Iraq, then the Obama Administration has no choice but to support a centrist, non-violent leader who will work with everyone instead of excluding America’s friends and allies in Iraq. The day Iran falters, such men will not hesitate to work closely with all of Iraq’s allies in the West.
Al-Maliki was beginning to look more like Saddam Hussein than an elected leader. Time for a new blood.