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The New Baghdad Government

Memo To: Porter Goss, Director, CIA From: Jude Wanniski Re: Iranians in Iraq

We have never met, Mr. Goss, but the CIA has a thick file on me, as I have cooperated with the agency several times over the years, especially during the Cold War. Lately, though, there is a good chance you have been tracking my website because of my writings about the Middle East in general and Iraq in particular. During the years leading up to the intervention in 2003 I played devil’s advocate for the Baghdad regime and publicly and privately argued against the need for invasion and war. I had been persuaded by my own intelligence sources that Saddam Hussein possessed no weapons of mass destruction and was no threat to the U.S. or to the region (including Israel). I passed all my findings on to high officials of the Bush administration, obviously to no avail.

The reason I’m writing now is that I have looked over the new government installed in Baghdad and am frankly amazed that while I once believed it might be a puppet government of ours, it now begins to look like a puppet government of Iran’s. Yes, it may have been carefully screened to assure the U.S. would have a permanent imperial outpost in that part of the world, but I seriously doubt that President Bush realizes what’s going on. Thinking back to the Iran-Iraq war (1980–88), I remember we were somewhat surprised that Iraq won the war, that we fully expected Iran, with three times the population, would prevail, even though weakened by eight years of war. It now seems Tehran has used its diplomatic skills and close friends like Ahmed Chalabi to renew the struggle with the Ba’ath Party and “win the war” with Iraq via the back door, held open by the American armed forces.

In other words, from top to bottom, the new government is clearly “Iranian.” This is not only because it is dominated by Shiites who have long had close ties to Tehran, but because its Kurdish component, which is technically Sunni, fought on the side of Iran during the Iran-Iraq war for political reasons. I’m beginning to think the Iranian mullahs have more than a passing interest in the new government, that they may have a well-thought-out plan to run the show from Tehran.

You may not realize it, being new in your post at the CIA, but Prime Minister Ibhrahim al-Jaafari is an Iraqi only nominally. If you look into his past, you will find he, like a great many Shiites from the south of Iraq, literally considered themselves “Iranians.” It was in 1972 that Saddam, on a visit to Basra, was shocked on a walk through the bazaar to find few of the people there speaking Arabic. They spoke Persian and looked to Tehran with their loyalties. This is when the Ba’ath Party began a crackdown on sectarianism, with many thousands of those Shiites pulling up stakes and emigrating to Iran, where they knit together politically in their new Dawa Party. Dawa undertook what we would have to call “terrorist” activities against the Baghdad regime in the years following, with atrocities galore. The new prime minister, Mr. al-Jaafari, was a leader of Dawa.

Then there is Ahmed Chalabi who “won” a seat in the National Assembly in the January elections by virtue of being placed near the top of the slate of his party, assuring him a seat even if the party got a small vote. Next, Prime Minister al-Jaafari selects Chalabi as one of two deputy prime ministers, which means if something “happens” to Jaafari, Chalabi will be there to take over. And because Jaafari can’t quite decide on whom to make defense minister or oil minister, he names himself acting defense minister and Chalabi acting oil minister!! And Chalabi, a Shi’ite who is more responsible for the United States going to war against Iraq in order to get Saddam out of power so Chalabi could get that power, has for decades been palsy-walsy with the Iranian government. He also was rooting for Iranians during the war with Iraq, has a villa in Tehran where he hangs out at times, and had been accused by our intelligence community (including your CIA) of passing secrets he acquired from his neo-con friends (Perle and Wolfowitz) to the Iranians. How much more “Persian” can you get, huh? Don’t you smell a rat?

Which brings us to the Iraqi interim president Jalal al-Talibani. Yes, I know the American press corps has fallen all over itself pumping him up as a true democrat and longtime foe of Saddam on behalf of the brutalized Kurds. But if you check him out thoroughly, you will find he has a past as checkered as Chalabi’s. Like Chalabi has spent quite a bit of time in Tehran enjoying the hospitality of the mullahs and over the years had an on-again-off-again relationship with Saddam, depending upon which way the winds were blowing in Kurdistan. And of course, during the war with Iran, he was on Iran’s side. Can you see how Iraqi nationalists might view him as another quisling, now their “president”?

How do Iran’s leaders think they can get away with any plan to control Iraq, with it being an almost certainty that the U.S. armed forces will be hanging around indefinitely? Then just last week, I spotted an item on the Bloomberg wire that had me scratching my head:

Iraq’s Mahdi Lobbies Bush Officials on Ministry, Azzaman Says 2005-04-25 04:23 (New York) By Caroline Alexander

April 25 (Bloomberg) – Adel Abdel Mahdi, one of Iraq’s two vice-presidents, spent the past three days in Washington pressing the Bush administration for permission to give the Interior Ministry to a Shiite, Azzaman newspaper said. Mahdi wants a member of his Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, known as Sciri, to get the post, the Iraqi daily said, citing unidentified U.S. officials. Mahdi gave assurances that a member of Sciri won’t adopt policies that contradict the security plans of the U.S. military in Iraq, it said, citing the officials. Mahdi, a member of the United Iraqi Alliance that won the most seats in Iraq’s Jan. 30 vote for a National Assembly, was appointed April 6. Prime Minister-designate Ibhrahim al-Jaafari is struggling to name 31 members of his cabinet before a May 7 deadline.

For one thing, the item made clear the Bush administration does not have the “hands-off” policy toward the nascent “democracy” in Iraq that we are told. For another, it points out an intense interest of the Shiites in getting a member of Sciri to head the Interior Ministry. In the U.S., the Secretary of Interior looks after the environment, Mr. Goss, but in Iraq, it represents the national police and controls the movement of people into and out of the state. I checked this out with my intelligence sources and was told by e-mail:

Sciri’s plans are an Iranian scheme to change the demography of Iraq by bringing in as many Iranians to Iraq as possible. The interior ministry is vital for them so that they can give Iraqi passports to a million Iranians in the coming decades. The new interior minister, Baqir Jab Solagh, was Sciri’s spokesman in Syria in the 1990s. Nobody knows where is he from. His second name, Solagh, is Iranian, and his origin is widely disputed. His connections with the Iranians are deeply rooted. He lied a lot about his origin, because his second name has always faced criticism. On Feb. 29, 2000 he said in an interview with Al Jazeera "I am an Arab despite all rumors surrounding my origin." He claimed to be a member of the well-known Iraqi Arab tribe Zubaid, but here we are seeing him as a Turkman minister.

He claimed that he changed his name when he joined the Iraqi opposition to protect his family in Iraq, and claimed that Saddam secret services managed to reveal his real identity in 1990 and started to kill and torture his family members. Now the question is: If his real identity was revealed in 1990, why does he continue to use the same controversial name that brought him headache?

Now I’m just an ordinary American citizen, living in Morristown, N.J. I’ve never been to Iraq and hardly ever travel at all anymore. But in my youth I worked as a journalist and get the knack of developing sources of information that I could trust, and who could trust me. I kind of acted like a CIA agent, except I came to believe there were not that many imaginative employees of the CIA who had that knack. Which is why I am offering you my assistance in this matter, Director Goss. I would have written this to the new National Intelligence Czar, John Negroponte, but I still worry that he is an extension of the neo-con cabal that has gotten us into this mess in the first place. You might have one foot in that cabal, but it would have more chance of getting to the President if you passed this on to Negroponte than if I did.