Apr. 29, 2005 – After Iraqâ€™s new government failed to name a permanent oil minister Thursday, the coveted post was given on a temporary basis to Ahmed Chalabi, the repatriated former exile who admitted giving the Bush administration and members of the media false information about Saddam Husseinâ€™s weapons programs before the 2003 invasion.
Chalabi, who was also named as a deputy prime minister by Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, the countryâ€™s new prime minister, told Reuters he might be oil minister for only a short time, but one of his aides suggested that political disagreements over the selection of permanent ministry leaders might leave Chalabi in the position indefinitely.
Chalabi, a financier by trade, has no experience in the oil industry. An unnamed Iraqi oil executive told Reuters, "Chalabi won't let go of the oil ministry that easily -- now that he's finally got what he wants."
Chalabiâ€™s checkered past includes a 1992 conviction in absentia for fraud by a Jordanian military court. He denied the charges and fled the country. In the same decade, Chalabi established the Iraqi National Congress, an exile group funded by the US that advocated the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. He reportedly experienced a falling out with senior US officials last year. Though unpopular among most Iraqis, Chalabi has worked recently to win favor with newly influential Iraqi leaders and senior Shiâ€™ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani.