'Mr. Chalabi has been accused of opportunism in forging his alliance with Shiite extremists, but he said that was not his intent. “Sectarian politics gets votes in Iraq,” he said. “But sectarian government fails in Iraq.”
THE de-Baathification controversy, which caused an uproar both in the West and among Sunnis, was actually, say some Western diplomats now, a masterstroke by Mr. Chalabi. It cemented his alliance with Shiites, tapping into their still bubbling reservoir of resentment here toward the indignities of living under Mr. Hussein.
“He’s a hero, Chalabi, because he uprooted the Baathists,” said Ahmed Khalaf, 33, who works in a grocery store in Sadr City, a predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad. “Any Baathists he found, he tore them out of the government.”
Another Sadr City resident, Abu Ahmed Hassan, 50, called Mr. Chalabi “beloved.” He said, “The Americans hate him, the Jordanians arrested him. So he must be good.”