'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, February 17, 2005

And Then There Were Two 

The race to be Iraq's new prime minister ends up as a contest between between interim Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari and -- surprise! surprise! -- Ahmed Chalabi. Here's the AP:

The United Iraqi Alliance, which has provisionally won more than half the seats in the new National Assembly, has been left with two main contenders, interim Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Ahmad Chalabi, former exile leader who once had close ties to the Pentagon but became a vocal critic of U.S. policy in Iraq.

Representatives for both men claimed their candidate was the front-runner.

Hussein al-Mousawi, a spokesman for the Shiite Political Council, an umbrella group for 38 Shiite political parties, said Chalabi would most likely be the next prime minister.

Al-Mousawi said 80 of the estimated 140 alliance members expected to take part in the newly elected National Assembly favored Chalabi, who is believed to be behind much of the information about weapons of mass destruction used to justify the war.

Finance Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi agreed to withdraw as a candidate in return for unspecified concessions, said Humam Hamoudi, a spokesman for the alliance, who said al-Jaafari was most likely to be its candidate.

Juan Cole doubts that Chalabi will win, and in fact doubts that Chalabi is even still in the running. Cole speculates that assertions to contrary are "baseless propaganda coming out of Chalabi's formidable but empty PR apparatus".

We will see...

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