The Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi, who played a key role in convincing the United States to invade the country in 2003 by providing false information about the alleged weapons of mass destruction, died Tuesday in Baghdad.
Chalabi is “died of a heart attack” at the age of 71 years, announced the Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. “He has dedicated his life to oppose the dictatorship and has played a crucial role in establishing democracy in Iraq,” he added.
Major Iraqi political leaders went to his home in Baghdad, where he died, to honor him.
Controversial figure, Chalabi had occupied a prominent place before and during the war launched in 2003 by US President George W. Bush to topple Saddam Hussein.
But secular Shiite then quickly lost its influence in the chaotic building the new Iraq, even if held important political positions.
“He never weighed heavily on political (…) after 2003. This was its peak,” says Kirk Sowell, publisher of Inside Iraqi Politics newsletter.
Born in 1944 into a wealthy family in Baghdad, Ahmed Chalabi and his family fled the 1958 revolution that overthrew the monarchy and deposits King Faisal II.
Therefore, this math teacher, graduated from the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will live longer in the United States and London in Iraq.
In 1992, he unites in exile movement several different Iraqi communities, mainly Shiites and Sunni Arabs and Kurds within the Iraqi National Congress (INC).
From pariah to ally
A year later, he moved to Iraqi Kurdistan, which then enjoys a de facto autonomy and supported by the US secret services, organized two years later an offensive against Saddam Hussein. The operation was a failure and releases the CIA. He returned to the United States.
Despite an extensive criminal past with convictions for corruption and embezzlement, including Jordan, Chalabi manages to forge closer relations with the hawks in the Pentagon and Vice President Dick Cheney.
They see him as one of the leading opposition figures in exile. He gives them a lot of information, especially on the supposed possession of weapons of mass destruction by the regime, which will be used to justify going to war.
Several personalities from the administration of President George W. Bush hopes while Chalabi and the INC took power as a transitional government after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
But his party stayed too long abroad, suffers from a poor image and Chalabi became a pariah, referred in 2004 by an arrest warrant for fraud and accused of providing information to Iran.
In Baghdad, Chalabi has held the posts of deputy prime minister between April 2005 and May 2006, and managed the strategic portfolio of Oil. He then became a member of Parliament, where he held the chairmanship of the Finance Committee until his death.
After the US invasion, Chalabi was one of the main supporters of the “de-Baathification” (Baath term, the party in power before the US invasion), which had excluded tens of thousands of civil servants and members of security forces on the grounds that they had supported the regime. Many had then joined the rebellion.
The successive policies have gradually disappointed the Sunni community and helped lay the foundations for the jihadist group Islamic State (EI), who in 2014 conquered large parts of Iraqi territory.