Socialist Worker

The rise and fall of Bush's favourite Iraqi

Issue No. 1903

WITH EACH day the brutality and violence of the occupation of Iraq gets worse. But so too does the utter disarray of the warmongers. Nothing symbolises this better than the raid on the villa of Ahmed Chalabi, the man once tipped to run Iraq.

"Just five months ago," writes Iraq expert Alexander Cockburn in the US web magazine Counterpunch, "Chalabi was a guest of honour sitting right behind Laura Bush at George Bush's annual State of the Union address." Successive US governments have given him $27 million. In return his self styled Iraqi National Congress (INC) has provided a stream of propaganda to justify US military action.

The notorious fake pictures claiming to show two mobile biological weapons labs came courtesy of the INC. Chalabi's outfit also had a hand in faking documents purporting to show Iraq had a nuclear programme.

Chalabi is a crook who was sentenced in his absence in 1992 by the Jordanian authorities to a 22-year jail term for 31 counts of embezzlement and theft from the Petra bank, which he ran.

Eight years later his brothers Jawad and Hazem were convicted and sentenced by a Geneva court for creating fake documents. Chalabi owns the Al Mada paper that claims it has documents "proving" that virtually every high profile opponent of sanctions on Iraq-from Nelson Mandela to the pope-was somehow in the pay of Saddam Hussein. Respect MP George Galloway was among those libelled.

The Sun newspaper, which repeated the lie, was strangely muted on Chalabi's fall from grace. The US has now turned on Chalabi, writes Cockburn, because he has tried to build up a personal militia after he was dumped as the favourite to run Iraq's puppet government.

His organisation is also accused of fraud at the new Iraqi ministry of finance, with forged banknotes laundered through the ministry when the occupation authority replaced the Saddam-era currency.

The INC and Chalabi have served the US well in the past. For most Iraqis it will come as no surprise to see the US government build up a monster only for them to fall out-it mirrors exactly their relationship with Saddam Hussein.


'Those who died in Iraq did not die in vain'

RADICAL US film director Michael Moore won the prestigious Palme d'Or prize at the Cannes film festival last week. His new movie, Fahrenheit 9/11, exposes the connections between the Bush clan and Osama Bin Laden's family.

Moore is fighting a battle just to get his film out. Miramax were set to distribute the film to cinemas. However, the Disney corporation, which owns Miramax, blocked the distribution of Moore's film. Michael Moore welcomed the prize, seeing it as part of his battle against corporate censorship.

In his acceptance speech he said, "What you have done here will assure that the American people will see this film. I can't thank you enough for that. I dedicate this Palme d'Or to my daughter, to the children of Americans and to Iraq and to all those in the world who suffer from our actions. I want to make sure if I do nothing else for the rest of this year that those who died in Iraq have not died in vain."


Insult to Deepcut families

ARMED FORCES minister Adam Ingram and defence secretary Geoff Hoon have repaid top army chiefs for their support over Iraq. Ingram has refused to allow a public inquiry into the deaths of the Deepcut soldiers. Privates Sean Benton, Cheryl James, Geoff Gray and James Collinson were all found dead in suspicious circumstances at the Deepcut barracks in Surrey between 1995 and 2002.

The army claimed that all the deaths were suicides, but an independent inquiry by ballistics expert Frank Swann found it "highly unlikely" in three of the cases that they took their own lives. Geoff Gray, the father of Private Gray, told Socialist Worker, "The level of media coverage we've had shows the level of support we have got. The only person in the country who doesn't support us is Adam Ingram.

"A major told us we would never know what happened to Geoff the day he died. Adam Ingram had a chance to put that statement right by calling a public inquiry. He didn't do it. "We are going to have to go through the courts now to get a public inquiry, and we'll win."


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Thu 27 May 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1903
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