The powerful Republican lobbying group of Barbour Griffith & Rogers is plotting an effort to displace Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and supplant him with former interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. IraqSlogger reported:
BGR’s work for Allawi includes the August 17 purchase of the Web site domain Allawi-for-Iraq.com.
In recent days, BGR sent hundreds of e-mail messages in Allawi’s name from the e-mail address DrAyadAllawi@Allawi-for-Iraq.com.
BGR’s staff is stacked with conservative operatives with extremely close ties to the White House. Its president is Bush’s former envoy to Iraq, Ambassador Robert Blackwill. Philip Zelikow, a former Counselor to Condoleezza Rice, serves as a senior adviser to the firm. Lanny Griffith, chief executive officer, is a Bush Ranger having raised at least $200,000 for Bush in the 2004 presidential election. And Ed Rogers, chairman and founder of the firm, has been a reliable political ally for the Bush White House.
The right-wing has long had a fascination with Allawi, largely because he has proved to be compliant with the Bush administration’s agenda. Allawi was ceremonially anointed Iraq’s leader in June 2004 by then-Coalition Provisional Authority chief administrator Paul Bremer.
While serving as interim Prime Minister, Allawi repeatedly rejected calls for U.S. troop withdrawals. During the height of the 2004 presidential election campaign, Allawi delivered a strong defense of Bush’s “stay the course” strategy in much-hyped Rose Garden appearance. Later, media reports revealed that Allawi had been “coached” by the administration prior to his appearance:
[A]dministration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the prime minister was coached and aided by the U.S. government, its allies and friends of the administration. Among them was Dan Senor, former spokesman for the CPA who has more recently represented the Bush campaign in media appearances. Senor, who has denied writing the speech, sent Allawi recommended phrases. He also helped Allawi rehearse in New York last week, officials said. Senor declined to comment.
Allawi has been described as “Saddam lite.” In 2004, he handcuffed and blindfolded suspected terrorists and shot them in the head with a pistol. Now, with frustrations mounting against current prime minister Maliki, the administration may be using that as an opportunity to usher in its reliable ally Allawi. In a Washington Post op-ed last week, Allawi wrote a piece that seemed to be an effort to curry favor with the White House.
After long claiming Maliki was “the right guy for Iraq,” Bush this week said, “If the government doesn’t respond to the demands of the people, they will replace the government.” Despite Bush’s assurance that it’s “up to the Iraqis to make that decision, not American politicians,” it appears conservative operatives are plotting to override the will of Iraqis and institute their own.
UPDATE: Spencer Ackerman has more.