Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, September 6, 2007
A prominent fellow at AEI rebuts.
MORE: Barnett Rubin is essentially live-blogging the Iran war roll-out ...
I get the feeling this is how it's gonna be for the next few weeks: (1.) a think tank issues a report/op-ed/conference on the dangers of Iran, (2.) the White House jumps all over it, (3.) bloggers call bullshit and say it's part of a media campaign design to sell war with Iran, (4.) all involved in said accusation deny it, (5.) the story becomes driven by the selling of the war instead of the preparation of the war itself, (6.) repeat.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon may or may not be preparing for a conflict with Iran and the only person apparently concerned with this slight detail is Seymour Hersh.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Allawi doesn't want to disclose who's paying BGR's $300,000 fee. But since Allawi admitted on CNN that he's not paying the bill himself, BGR has to either disclose to the Justice Department which "agent of a foreign principal" it receives money from or violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Disclosure, however, is for amateurs.
Yesterday, BGR took an anticipated third option: changing its filing with DoJ so that BGR no longer represents Allawi, but rather his political party, the Iraqi National Accord. Christina Davidson reports for IraqSlogger (sub. req.) that since political parties aren't required to disclose their sources of funding under FARA, "BGR has managed to pull an easy sidestep in order to maintain the anonymity of Allawi's backer."
Monday, September 3, 2007
There's no mention of Allawi and his involvement with BGR, but one can't help but get the feeling that the article is slyly winking in that direction by using a proxy to explain a common DC phenomenon.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
The news -- surprise! -- is less than positive. Normally, I'd excerpt a particularly juicy graf or two, but in this case it's best to just read the whole piece by Steve Clemons.
In filing papers with the Department of Justice, required for compliance with [Foreign Agent Registration Act], BGR's Dan Murphy registered Allawi as the sole foreign principal the firm would be representing, checking of the appropriate box to confirm that he was not being “financed by a foreign government, foreign political party, or other foreign principal.” If an Iraqi is indeed paying for Allawi’s US activities, BGR is required by law to disclose the identity of the financier.
Perhaps even more interesting is that Allawi apparently really knows his way around K Street:
Years ago in a similar situation, for example, Allawi revealed the person who would be paying his Washington lobbyist bills. IraqSlogger has acquired a copy of the FARA registration documents concerning Allawi’s 2003-2004 relationship with another DC firm, Theros & Theros.
T & T's FARA filing marks the box indicating that Allawi was being financed by a foreign entity, and later explains that all fees and expenses associated with the contract would be paid by Dr. Mashal Nawab, “a close friend and admirer” of Allawi. Nawab’s total expenditure reached an estimated $340,000.
Nawab is an Iraqi-British physician based in the UK, whose family reportedly acquired wealth through oil investments. IraqSlogger was unable to locate Nawab to inquire about Allawi’s latest financier, but his previous financial contributions make him a plausible candidate.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Between Allawi's column in the Washington Post and his much hyped interview on CNN this weekend it is fairly clear that there was a broad public relations campaign element that was arranged by BGR to correspond with the more personal Washington lobbying effort.
But that PR effort has hit a brick wall in a news cycle that is being dominated by the Alberto Gonzales resignation and a Senator in a sex scandal (seriously, on a normal week, all people would be talking about would be the attempted suicide of a certain movie star). So while the media combs over every public bathroom between Boise and Boston, I'd imagine that Allawi's handlers will focus on the behind the scenes machinations of returning their client to power, holding off until the Petraeus report comes out in few weeks.
Meanwhile, in an entirely unrelated development (wink, wink, nudge nudge), the American Enterprise Institute will be beating the Iran drums during the lead up to the report's release:
The chronological juxtaposition of the Surge panel September 6 and the roll-out of Ledeen’s book September 10 underlines the balance that AEI and other hawks (including the vice president’s office) are trying to achieve between their two top priorities at the moment – sustaining the Surge well into next year and rallying Congress and the public behind an attack on Iraq [sic. - I think Lobe means Iran here -JB] before the end of Bush’s term, if by then “diplomacy” does not achieve the desired results of 1) freezing its nuclear program and/or 2) halting Tehran’s support for its Shi’a allies (including the Maliki government) in Iraq.
Allawi and his hired guns seem to be banking on building the perception that by putting their man back in power the administration will be able to accomplish #2.
In case you missed it, here's Allawi's performance last Sunday on CNN. You have to admit, that he's getting his money's worth just in the "non-denial denial" training alone.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
As we noted yesterday, Allawi's bloc has "left the building" and is no longer participating in Nouri al-Maliki's government, resulting in "political mayhem" or, in the words of CNN's Senior Baghdad Correspondent Michael Ware:
[T]here is no government here and anyone who says there is either delusional or trying to spin a line. There's nothing here for America to work with.
So Allawi's efforts to destabilize the Iraqi national government have apparently succeeded. If Americans are wondering why anarchy hasn't swept over the street of Baghdad yet, it's because most of the basic law and order functions of Iraq are controlled by the sectarian militias, something that says a lot about just how weak the "federal" government is/was.
But Allawi knows damn well he can not rise to power without the imprimatur of Washington. Yesterday we relayed how former Ambassador Robert Blackwill was chauffeuring Allawi around DC and now Blackwill's BGR colleague and former Sec. Rice adviser Philip Zelikow (who also co-authored a book with his ex-boss in the mid-1990s -- the two have a well-known close bond) is doing some TV appearances for the effort.
So BGR has now supplied Allawi with handlers (Blackwill), surrogate spokesmen (Zelikow), a communications apparatus (allawi-for-iraq.com), presumably behind-the-scenes strategists ... as the elements fall into place this looks more and more like a campaign for office. The only thing missing is a rapid response team...
Enter an entirely unrelated development at the Pentagon. From TP:
In advance of the September White House report, the Pentagon is launching “a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week Iraq Communications Desk that will pump out data from Baghdad — serving as what could be considered a campaign war room.” “I would not characterize it as a war room,” Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said. “It’s far less sinister than that. It’s more like a library.”
Now there's not yet any indication that this unit will be working for the sake of Allawi. The order to assemble the Iraq Communications Desk came from Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, who spent a long career as a defense contractor before holding several high-ranking national security-related positions during the current Bush Administration ... though, wouldn't it be interesting if England went on to work for a certain lobbying firm sometime in the not-so-distant future?
But returning to the "war room," which in this case is only part of the story. The bigger picture will be the discussion in the U.S. about Gen. Petraeus' September report on the progress of the surge (which will likely be prepared in some manner by the White House). The current Iraqi government will not be receiving glowing reviews in the report, no matter who writes it, which would put al-Maliki is a position of almost untenable weakness with the power that is propping him up. At that point, presuming there is any government left, he might face a no confidence vote or simply resign all together.
So if I may be allowed to speculate for a moment, I think it is not unreasonable to theorize that the PR blitz being made by BGR has been timed to coincide with the release of Petraeus' report on the progress of the surge in hopes that the inevitable less-than-optimistic news will lead to the ouster of al-Maliki. The resulting power vacuum would then be effortlessly filled by Allawi, who has already been doing what he can to legitimize the current Iraqi government.
Yet here's what amazes me: $300,000 can't get you a decent single family home in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, but it can get you the prime minister's mansion of an oil-rich Middle Eastern country?*
What an absolutely confounding world we live in...
* [I know it's not that simple and will actually take up this matter from a different -- and rather odious -- perspective later today, time and energy willing.]