Wednesday 21 August 2019

Iraq politician Ahmad Chalabi, leading voice behind 2003 war, dies aged 71

Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi, who has died of a heart attack (AP)
Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi, who has died of a heart attack (AP)

Ahmad Chalabi, a prominent Iraqi politician and leading advocate of the 2003 US-led invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein, has died of a heart attack, state TV has said.

The report said he died in the capital, Baghdad, at the age of 71, but did not give further details on the circumstances of his death.

Mr Chalabi, a secular Shiite politician who lived in exile for decades, was a leading proponent of the invasion to topple Saddam and provided false information indicating that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

He had close ties to many in US president George W Bush's administration, who viewed him as a favourite to lead Iraq after the 2003 intervention.

However, he fell out with the Pentagon following the invasion, and was largely sidelined by other Iraqi leaders, many with close ties to neighbouring Iran.

Mr Chalabi had been serving as the chairman of parliament's finance committee, and was previously a deputy prime minister.

The first deputy speaker of parliament, Sheikh Humam Hamoudi, described Mr Chalabi's death as a "big loss" to Iraq, calling him "an example of perseverance and dedication".

"Our national and political arena has lost a prominent figure who dedicated his life to serve the country," he said in a statement.

Shiite lawmaker Muwaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq's former national security adviser, described Mr Chalabi as a "great politician" who "played by the rules".

"It is a very bad day for Iraq," he told the Associated Press.

"He was one of the most seasoned and pioneering politicians. Chalabi worked for a democratic, liberal Iraq. I am glad he died peacefully."

PA Media

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