Chalabi is Prevailed upon to Withdraw
It turns out that the other members of the United Iraqi Alliance prevailed on Ahmad Chalabi to drop his bid to become candidate for prime minister. It is not clear if Jaafari, the winner, promised him anything in return for stepping down. AP suggests he might be a deputy prime minister for security and economic affairs. I’d say, keep that man away from money and security!
Personally, I think all the talk of withdrawing for the sake of unity is bunkum, and that Chalabi toted up his votes and did not have anywhere near 71, so he withdrew in time to save face and also in time to be offered some sort of consolation prize.
Charles Clover of the Financial Times, who has done some excellent reporting from Iraq, points to a cloud on the horizon. He says that Jaafari is committed to a vigorous de-baathification program, despite his commitment to reaching out to Sunni Arabs, and that the prospective prime minister may not understand the contradiction in his stances. I had assumed that Jaafari’s opposition to the Fallujah campaign indicated he was less of a wild man on the issue than Chalabi, but maybe not. The Dawa Party certainly has reason for a grudge against Baathists, given all those mass graves the latter filled with Dawa Party members.
The press keeps saying that the crackdown on Dawa came in 1982. It was 1980, with the execution of Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, and I believe it is 1980 when Jaafari escaped to Tehran, where he stayed until 1989.