Next Iraqi prime minister: Ahmad Chalabi?

Chalabi’s representative in Washington, D.C., Francis Brooke, did not confirm or deny that Chalabi will put his name forward for prime minister. But in an email, he said that candidates other than Maliki “may emerge; may the best man win.”

Before the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, Chalabi, a failed banker and former mathematician who lived in exile, became notorious for his influence in Washington among neoconservatives. Funded by the U.S. government itself, Chalabi’s group lobbied the successive American administrations to topple Saddam Hussein, pitching false stories about Hussein’s purported ties to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. When the U.S. invaded, Chalabi’s neoconservative allies in the administration of President George W. Bush thought Chalabi would sweep into power like an Iraqi Charles de Gaulle. But the Bush administration never put him in charge of Iraq. And as the extent of his ties to Iran became clear, many of his American allies divorced themselves from him.

But even with that history, United States officials have been openly meeting him once again. Recently, it was Deputy Secretary of State Brett McGurk and U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Robert Beecroft, as first reported in the New York Times. A State Department spokeswoman emailed Buzzfeed that after Dr. Chalabi requested the meeting, McGurk and Beecroft met with Chalabi “as they have with other Iraqis to discuss the current situation in the country.” Beecroft, sources tell Buzzfeed, has been meeting Chalabi for months and has dined at his mansion in Baghdad.