Ahmed Chalabi's bad showing

The former Iraqi exile fails to win a seat in the Iraqi Assembly.

By Farhad Manjoo

Published December 28, 2005 5:16PM (EST)

Ahmed Chalabi, friends of his had been saying not long ago, is a survivor. The former exile and longtime associate of neocons in the Bush administration faced a bit of trouble -- OK, a lot of trouble -- finding his political legs in his native land shortly after the war began, but in recent months Chalabi looked to be on the rebound, earning praise for his effectiveness in the interim government, and predicted to gain a strong following in the Dec. 15 election. Some analysts even suggested Chalabi would become Iraq's first prime minister.

But 'twas not to be. Results streaming out of Iraq now prove how unpopular a figure Chalabi really is there. With 95 percent of the vote counted, the Washington Post reports, Chalabi's faction looks like a stinker: The party is 8,000 votes short of the 40,000 needed to gain a single seat in the National Assembly. And without any representation in that body, Chalabi could well be shut out from holding any posts in the government.

It's probably premature to call Chalabi out for the count; as Kos notes, "Chalabi is like a horror movie villain -- he keeps coming back every time we think he's been killed good and dead." But as a measure of how profoundly wrong the Bushies were in their prewar assessment of the Iraqi mood, Chalabi's bad showing is as good as it gets.

Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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