25 April 2003

Chalabi's Shi'a credentials
Zachary Meares gives Ahmed Chalabi the comprehensive bagging he deserves as the Pentagon's candidate for head of their wholly-owned and -operated Iraq subsidiary. Chalabi's religious credentials are dubious.

He describes himself as a 'secular Shi'ite' although the term is incomprehensible in Shi'a thought and practice. There is no record of Chalabi observing any Shi'a practices or beliefs. he did not, for example, attend the recent Karbala pilgrimage. Chalabi's family were in the highest circles of the old royal dictatorship during the 1950s, when the Sunni monopolised public office.

The Asian Times reports:

Writing the same day in the New York Times, Dilip Hiro, a veteran journalist and commentator on the region wrote, "But contrary to his Pentagon backers, the CIA's longtime assessment of him remains solid: although he is a Shi'ite, he lacks any constituency inside Iraq. Nor is he likely to inspire new followers. Had he joined the hundreds of thousands of Shi'ites who made the pilgrimage to Karbala this week, he might have enhanced his standing. But apparently he couldn't be bothered."

Chalabi calls himself a "secular Shi'ite". But his father was a Sunni, and he is not known for any particular religious devotion in the 45 years that he has spent living outside Iraq. Such subdued religiosity goes down well in the US, but won't win him any popularity with the masses of Shi'ites beginning to emerge on the streets of Iraq after decades of repression under the Sunni-dominated Ba'ath Party.

The only conclusion is that Chalabi's Shi'ite credentials are about as genuine as the twice-discovered and twice disavowed massive terrorist facility in Iraqi Kurdistan.

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