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The world's biggest thief?
September 20, 2005 1:53 AM   Subscribe

The world's biggest thief? A warrant has been issued against former Iraqi Interim Defense Minister Hazim Shaalan for defrauding Iraq of over $1 billion. In January, I posted to MeFi about Shaalan's possible involvement in a $300 million fraud scheme and the murder of two American arms merchants. What is more troubling, however, is that the U.S. government may have turned a blind eye to this massive defrauding of the Iraqi people. Prior to his role as Defense Minister, Shaalan ran a real estate agency in Britain and had no prior military qualifications. For this reason, Juan Cole believes it likely that Shaalan was a CIA agent, while Ahmed Chalabi accused Sha'alan of spying for Saddam. Meanwhile, the insurgents accused Shaalan of conspiring with the Bush administration to scrap Iraq's heavy weaponry. What does seem clear is that he apparently tried to buy broken Soviet-era armored vehicles and 28-year-old, second-hand Polish helicopters too old to fly at a premium, while pocketing lucrative kickbacks. Which begs the question -- if the U.S. government really wanted a strong, independent Iraqi military, then why doesn't it give Iraq the heavy arms they'll need to defend themselves?
posted by insomnia_lj (17 comments total)

 
Offtopic: You need to learn what "begging the question" means. Because this isn't it. Don't worry, you're not in the minority -- many people don't know how to use this phrase properly.

Normally, I wouldn't point this out, but your post is an egregious example of this.

Ontopic: My outrage sensors were toasted ages ago. Nowadays the best I can muster is apathy. Sorry.
posted by WetherMan at 2:46 AM on September 20, 2005


insomnia_lj, Iraq is the big carve up. And who's doing it? That's right: Polland!
posted by acrobat at 3:02 AM on September 20, 2005


Because many of the Iraqi recruits just end up joining the insurgents. And when they change teams, they take with them their US supplied machine guns, kevlar vests, etc.

Look, in order for the US to arm the Iraqi military, there first has to actually be a military there for them to arm. And it's increasingly evident that there just isn't. I mean, sure, there are guys in uniforms. They recruit and they have officers and so forth. But it doesn't do a damn thing without the US military holding its hand. Even the people organizing it don't expect it to hold together. Everyone who's in it, it seems, wants to get the hell out. And no one - I mean no one - thinks it's actually carrying out the will of the Iraqi people.

Take the other big story of the day, the capture of the British soldiers who beefed with some Iraqi soldiers (or were they police? I can't keep em straight) at a checkpoint. They grab the Brits and toss them in the clink. Everyone is shocked. Why? Well, one of the reasons is, of course, that the Iraqis aren't supposed to do that; they're not supposed to bite the hand that feeds them. The Iraqi forces are Dubya's bitch (Blair's too, though he matters less). And everyone knows it. If they shoot Iraqis, it's not a story; it's business as usual. But if they shoot at Brits - even if they don't kill them - it's an international brouhaha. Because everyone knows they're not allowed to do that. Everyone knows they're Dubya's bitch. (Blair's too, though that's less important).
posted by Clay201 at 3:05 AM on September 20, 2005


Nice post insomnia_lj.
posted by three blind mice at 3:07 AM on September 20, 2005


"Because many of the Iraqi recruits just end up joining the insurgents. And when they change teams, they take with them their US supplied machine guns, kevlar vests, etc."

But we're not talking about machine guns and kevlar vests, some of which are already assigned to elements of the Iraqi army and police force. We're talking about heavy weaponry such as tanks, helicopters, armored personnel carriers... things that don't just walk, and would be hard to supply if they did. That said, I hear it's pretty common to hear of Iraqi soldiers selling their weapons, vests, etc. on the black market.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:20 AM on September 20, 2005


Crap. Sloppy edit on that post. My apologies. I promise to sleep before I post again.
posted by Clay201 at 3:21 AM on September 20, 2005


But we're not talking about machine guns and kevlar vests, some of which are already assigned to elements of the Iraqi army and police force. We're talking about heavy weaponry such as tanks, helicopters, armored personnel carriers... things that don't just walk, and would be hard to supply if they did.

Seen the post about the SAS guys? They don't have to walk in order to get pointed at you. The catch-22 is that no serious Iraqi would join the army and risk their life without real equipment. So instead they have an army of pay check cashers who go AWOL faster than a NOLA police officer at the first sign of conflict.

The part that amazes me about this is that they actually let an Iraqi touch the money.
posted by srboisvert at 3:33 AM on September 20, 2005


What troubles me more is just how fed up everyone seems to be with this sort of news. Like, I don't care anymore, let the fuckers do what they please. At least that's the attitude. And then since everyone feels so powerless we get Bush II (or is it III?) at next year's Congressional elections and in 2008 its Bush - the Next Generation. Th, th, that's all folks.
posted by donfactor at 3:34 AM on September 20, 2005


Even if Shaalan did loot a cool billion, he can't hold a candle to Ferdinand Marcos or Mohamed Suharto.
posted by deadcowdan at 5:05 AM on September 20, 2005


Because last time we did, we got Saddam Hussein.
posted by Eideteker at 6:25 AM on September 20, 2005


I think donfactor is right. They have gotten away with so much, for so long, that it is commonplace anymore. They are banking on our outrage fatigue. Nobody is going to hold them accountable NOW because we let it slide THEN.
Unless the people grow a pair, and force those responsible to pay for their actions, those in power will become more brazen.

Don't think it'll stop after the next election. This administration is just the litmus test to see what people will let slide by.

When the opposition party gets in control, then we'll see just how much shadenfrude, incompetence, and downright swindlization we can stomach.

Back on topic, it takes tanks, helicopters and airstrikes (and torture chambers) to 'control' the Iraqi's right now. It took tanks, helicopters, torture chambers and scuds to control them under Saddam. If the new authority doesn't have the same tools to work with, they will never become weaned from our government's tit. That's exactly where Bush wants them.
posted by Balisong at 6:28 AM on September 20, 2005


WetherMan, nice derail, but how the expression is used in logic and how it is used in modern everyday language are two different things. Some may not like it, but language is a fluid thing and the "improper" usage moves from "incorrect" to "accepted understanding" by the sheer numbers of people who give it one meaning over the other. Your own comment indicates that your original definition is now in the minority - thus it is now the equivalent of the 2nd definition found in the dictionary (if such a thing existed for phrases).

WetherMan is clearly a proponent of the traditional meaning, but the "correction" given here does not constitute the final word on the subject, but serves as an example of debate over linguistic prescription and description.

I feel for you, as I believe the correct pronunciation of comparable is COMP-ar-able, not com-PARE-able, but alas it seems we've lost that one too. I'm free to continue pronouncing it "correctly" but the time is coming, if it isn't already here, when I will be considered a moron for doing so. See also "extraordinary".
posted by spock at 7:41 AM on September 20, 2005


Of course a realtor is in charge of arming the Iraq defense forces! All the horse lawyers were busy.

The shame of this entire botched post war period lies not only at the feet of Bush and the GOP, but also with Dems like Biden and Lieberman who vote for every single Iraq expenditure and then carp about the mismanagement on tv.

I hope there are Dems willing to run in primaries against people like them because my checkbook is ready.
posted by joseppi7 at 9:53 AM on September 20, 2005


Now is not the time to play the blame game.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:07 AM on September 20, 2005


Aww but I've got this whole deck of race cards.
posted by fleacircus at 11:51 AM on September 20, 2005


This Shalaan guy is probably, like Bush and Chalabi, working for Iran.
posted by neuron at 11:55 PM on September 20, 2005


insomnia_lj posted "Juan Cole believes it likely that Shaalan was a CIA agent"

Which would not be at all unusual in as a US tactic. Giving large sums of money or responsibility to people whose only qualification is that they can be bought by the CIA is par for the course. What you get for your taxpayers' dollars is the 'intel' you wanted from a person who is morally corrupt and will 'provide' what ever 'intel' they are told to, until they get a chance to run off with the family silver in full knowledge that the true extent of the situation is classified and therefor they will never be taken to court over it.
posted by asok at 7:14 AM on September 21, 2005


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