NEWS: Chalabi returns

Chalabi returns to prominence and power

Three years ago when the U.S. military came calling on the onetime darling of Washington’s neoconservatives, it raided 11 of his properties and left his compound in ruins.Chalabi, who helped the Bush administration make the case for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq,denounced the American occupation of Iraq. It was the denouement to an increasingly fractured relationship between Washington and Chalabi, the Iraqi exile who provided intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction program that proved to be false.

The Pentagon, which had provided millions of dollars to Chalabi’s group, the Iraqi National Congress, cut off funding and accused him of passing sensitive U.S. secrets to Iran. His prospects appeared to reach a nadir last year, after his party failed to win a single seat in Iraq’s 2005 parliamentary elections and he was later excluded from the government.

Now the 63-year-old Chalabi, ever the political chameleon, has maneuvered back into prominence and power. Prime Minister Nouri Maliki appointed him to a pivotal position last month overseeing the restoration of vital services to Baghdad residents such as electricity, potable water, healthcare and education. The U.S. and Iraqi governments say the job is crucial to cement security gains of recent months — and that failure could cause the country to backslide into chaos. [complete article]

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