The appointment of Haider al-Abadi as Iraqi prime minister is the culmination of a decade long political ascent that was unheralded but nonetheless remarkable.
Driven into exile by the murder of his father and two brothers by the Baath party, Abadi spent two decades in England acquiring an advanced degree in electrical engineering and becoming a consulting engineer for building elevators.
At the same time he became an active Dawa party organizer in the expatriate Iraqi community and the protégé of Ibrahim al-Jafari, who became a Dawa leader.
At the fall of Saddam Hussein he returned to Baghdad and was rewarded for his longtime Dawa support by being appointed Minister of Communications.
The legacy of the Coalition Provisional Authority is one of epic unchecked corruption.
Haider al-Abadi was not appointed as Communications Minister because of any telecommunication expertise, but because he would be decisive in assuring Dawa control of the projected cellular phone contracts for Iraq, and more important, the control of the $3 billion to be awarded with the contracts and the significant ongoing cash flow as Iraq built out a cell phone capability.
In the middle of the Iraq telecom lawless “gold rush” was the British based Iraqi exile, the shadowy billionaire Nadmi Auchi.
NBC accurately reported Auchi’s actions in the Coalition Provisional Authority , “NBC News has learned that one man who allegedly did business with Saddam Hussein may benefit from one of the richest new reconstruction contracts.”
Abadi claimed correctly that the decision to award the contracts preceded his appointment as minister, but that was a convenience and courtesy accorded by Jafari, Auchi, and Auchi’s agents in the ministry and the Coalition Provisional Authority to becloud and introduce confusion in the award process.
Auchi had spent well over a decade buying influence in Britain across the political spectrum there and in the United States through a series of administrations, culminating with the Clinton and George W. Bush White Houses .
Auchi bragged that he had been “a visitor to two White Houses:” a combination of charitable and political donations had assured his access, particularly in the Clinton years.
In the Bush years he became the darling of the Pentagon because of his partnership with Ahmed Chalabi, the secular Shia who appeared to straddle the Iraqi political spectrum, and who had been groomed by his supporters in Washington to become the George Washington of Iraq.
By 2006, after only a year and a half in power, Jafari had created so many problems as prime minister that both the US and British governments gave up on him and sent Secretary of State Condelezza Rice and Foreign Minister Jack Straw to Baghdad to try to force him out.
Corruption had continued unabated.
While Abadi had been among Jafray’s most prominent defenders the political sands had shifted in Baghdad. He stepped aside and bided his time.
The Shia power and money train, however, had not stopped.
Nouri al-Malaki had become the new focus of Shia and Dawa power, and Abadi quickly adapted his allegiance to accommodate the new Dawa coalition and used that allegiance to rise to become Deputy Speaker of the parliament.
He became a quiet part of the Dawa machine, made accommodations with the subsets of the coalition, and made no waves.
By 2014, after eight years in power, the tides of corruption and dissention rose again to take out Maliki in his turn.
At this stage there appeared to be only two contenders to replace him:
Jafari and Chalabi, the failed candidates of yesteryear, themselves so tarnished that they dissuaded would be kingmakers from returning to them.
What was needed in a new prime minister was sufficient experience to suggest competence, sufficient Dawa credentials to assure core Shia support, and a profile low enough to limit detractors.
His corruption coefficient was sufficiently old that it was forgotten and its magnitude was lost in the shared participation in the telecom billions.
But he was a critical player in one of the biggest rip offs of the entire Iraqi reconstruction debacle, a scam that has been quietly covered up for a decade.
Haider al-Abadi thus became, in Iraqi terms, the new and honest political figure, the new face for the year 2014.
But what we have is only the old wine in a new bottle, the taste has not improved with age.
The French got it right: Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.
Notes on the effort to uncover Iraq corruption by the Honorable John A. “Jack” Shaw.
In a previous Administration Jack Shaw had been an Inspector General at State, and in President George W. Bush’s Administration at DoD was dual hatted at the Pentagon: he was a Deputy Undersecretary tasked with tracking exported US technology and weaponry around the world and simultaneously made the action officer at DoD for problems in Iraq in the transportation and communications areas.
Ed Timperlake’s editorial note: Serving as the Director of Technology Assessment under DUSD Jack Shaw in ITS/OSD, and also traveling to Iraq I experienced firsthand everything Jack is reporting.
He is exactly right about both issues CPA corruption and his total exoneration. In fact I was the co-author with James Adams, founding Chair of National Security Agency’s Technology Advisory Board of the investigation reported out as “Preliminary Findings: Report to the Inspector General into Mobile Telecommunications Licenses in Iraq” May 11, 2004.
It covered the corruption on the process of licensing telecom companies throughout all of Iraq.
Unfortunately as often said the lie goes around the world before the truth gets its shoes on.
It is true Jack was asked to leave DOD because he went public on the Russian effort to ex-filtrate chemical and high explosive munitions out of Iraq just before US invasion.
For whatever reason, the Bush NSC wanted to cover this up and to not deal with it as a public issue.
Jack Shaw was proven correct on this and paid a significant price.
But for the total credibility of his article, the FBI/DOJ investigation found nothing against Shaw and was publicly reported in LAT and his Pentagon exit was a totally separate matter.
I was present and saw it all happen as he accurately reports it
In his own words:
At the same time my office had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the DoD IG’s office giving me the investigatory reach and a badge to deal with these problems. With that I got another title, Director of International Armament and Technology Trade, and the authority dig into problems of Iraqi reconstruction. It was in that pursuit that I encountered Haider al-Abadi, Nadhmi Auchi, and their larcenous band.
Looking into the fixing of the Iraq Telecom contracts we discovered a central US role in the fix: It was orchestrated out of the of the Deputy Secretary’s office at DoD and run by the CIA in the person of Charles Allen, then the agency’s guru for technical assistance. Abadi was the ringmaster of the exercise, with three Brits and two Americans, in on the fix in Baghdad. When it was over, $435 million, half in Iraqi funds and half in appropriated US funds, were missing from the ministry account, in addition to the 3 billion payable in the contract, the three Brits had faded away, but the two Americans actions came in clear focus: One had had quickly gone to work for one of the winning companies, and the other, Dan Sudnick, the Director of Communications for the CPA, was fired when Bearing Point, the US auditors, found no trace of the $435 million nor any records, either paper or electronic. The fix was a brilliant ploy designed to provide “walking around money” for the principal Iraqi political groupings, and succeeded in doing that before my office at DoD surfaced the scam in late 2003. The money, however, has never been found or accounted for.
The intelligence connection and its tie to the immediate Office of the Secretary of Defense, however, created seismic tremors of nuclear level magnitude for my office at DoD. The result was that they tried to move me, then discredit me, and then fire me. To accomplish this they created a smear campaign to create the fiction that I, the whistle blower and former IG, had tried to throw a subsequent telecom contract to a friend in Iraq
An internal investigation ordered by Rumsfeld himself showed that I had pursued my authority in Iraq in an appropriate manner. A DoD press release was issued to that effect.
Rumsfeld subsequently ordered everything concerning the phony allegations to be sent to the FBI. After an FBI full field global investigation was concluded, which spent several hundred thousand dollars on three continents, they reported that I had not only done nothing criminal, I had done nothing wrong. In the PR media attacks after a series of hothouse bogus allegations reported by T Christian Miller in the LA Times the paper after FBI and DOJ finding absolutely no evidence of any personal wrong doing finally had to admit my innocence. But as a final insult they buried the story on my total exoneration.
The phony allegations were a red herring and important only in that it had the effect of diverting all the attention off Abadi, Jafari, and Auchi, allowing them to cash in their gains and move on: Jafray became prime minister, and Abadi became his principal aide, essentially his deputy, and was elected as a member of parliament from Baghdad. Auchi, as is his wont, continued to milk the business prospects in Iraq and the region for millions of dollars and continued to build up his influence and political clout in the United States. The three and a half billion dollar scam was officially swept under the rug by US authorities.
The rest of the Auchi saga continues, this time with President Obama: Auchi continues his influence peddling using the Chicago Way, as reported by Human Events.
For additional stories on Iraq and relevant policy options for the United States, see the following:
Backing the Baghdad Government: A Viable Option?
08/13/2014 – Can the Baghdad government play a serious role in reconciliation or is it simply about maintaining the power of the governing faction?.
Can the new Prime Minister do anything other than continue the legacy of the post-occupation government which has spawned ISIS in the first place?.
Iraq 2014 is Not Iraq 2003: The Allied Dimension
08/13/2014 – There is allied support for the Kurds in their struggle against ISIS.
This provides a significant opportunity for recrafting US Iraq policy, an opportunity which would be thrown away by prematurely funding and arming the Baghdad government. ..
Iraq 2014: Crafting Strategic Maneuver Space
08/12/2014 – Focusing upon what is needed to pulverize military capabilities of ISIS to move rapidly and lethally, can buy some strategic maneuver space for the US and allies to sort out what kind of aid the Kurds might really need to protect their augmented territory within a fragmenting Iraq. …
Iraq 2014: Not Repeating COIN
08/10/2014 – Iraq 2014 is not Iraq 2003.
It is not about yet again trying a COIN strategy; it is about shaping one that fits the real situation.