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Dec 13, 2005

Iraqi Poster Wars: Chalabi's Crude Strategy

Chalabiposter.2-2

If you're an American politician and you've got an interest in (or designs on) big oil, you certainly would not play it up -- especially during the closing days of a campaign.  In Iraq, on the other hand, it seems the opposite is true.

Consider this flier for the Chalabi campaign (courtesy of iraqivote).  The photo was taken on May 29, 2005, on a daylong tour of Kirkuk area military bases and oil installations by Deputy Prime Ministers Ahmed Chalabi, Abed Multluq-Al-Jibouri, Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr-Ul-Ulloum and Chief of the Iraqi Army General Staff, General Babkar Zebari.

The most interesting thing about this piece of campaign literature is that it was graphically manipulated.  It was not done so, however, to include or exclude any particular figures.  It was also not altered to play down the oil setting.  Instead, it was cosmetically combined with the image of another oil or industrial facility to creating the impression Mr. Chalabi was touring a much larger (or, at least, more impressive looking) petrol installation.

How do I know this?  Because the original photo was taken by photographer and BAGnewNotes contributor Alan Chin.  For comparison sake, you can inspect the original shot below.

Chin-Chalabi-Oil-A-2

When you combine the flier above with the billboard just below, it seems clear candidate Chalabi is trying to associate himself in the minds of Iraqi voters with the oil industry. The questions is, how come?

Chalabi-Oil-Poster-2-1

On the western side of the fence, the association makes perfect sense.

According to Global Policy Forum, Giant U.S. and U.K. oil companies have been shut out of the Iraqi oil market since 1972.  According to provisions of the U.S. scripted constitution, however, Production Sharing Agreements can be offered to these companies after the election allowing foreign companies to gain control of dozens of Iraqi oil fields, some that are quite large.   It also should be noted that Chalabi -- who, up until a few months ago, had been serving as Iraq's interim Oil Minister  (although there was nothing in his background that lent him expertise in that area) -- has recently renewed ties with the Bush Administration.  In his trip to Washington a few weeks ago, Chalabi met with the likes of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice.  Details of the discussions were not disclosed, but a defense official was quoted as saying that talks included protection of Iraq's oil and electricity infrastructure.

Even if Chalabi is part of a U.S. - Iraqi oil play, however, that still doesn't explain the campaign strategy.

Although it's unclear what his real intentions are, the election material seems to relate to Chalabi's promotion of an Alaska-style plan in which oil revenue would be distributed directly the the Iraqi people.  As Dermot Cole, a journalist in Fairbanks, Alaska writes, there is actually only one line in the Iraqi constitution which alludes to such a plan.  Nonetheless, it seems that Chalabi -- having paid lip service to the concept for years -- now seems to be pumping it for all it's worth.


image 1: courtesy iraqvote.blogspot.com. image 3: Ali al-Saadi/AFP. December 3, 2005. Baghdad. Via YahooNews.

(Image #2 by Alan Chin/Gamma.  May 29, 2005. Near Kirkuk, Iraq.  Posted by permission. For more on Alan Chin, see: Portfolio. Kosovo Diary. Contact: alanschin@yahoo.com)

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El conejito de Duracell tendrá que hacer sitio a Ahmed Chalabi. El líder del Congreso Nacional Iraquí ha visto estrellarse su carrera política en varias ocasiones, pero se resiste a tirar la toalla. En las recientes elecciones, recibió el tiro... [Read More]

» Chalabi, incombustible from Guerra Eterna
El conejito de Duracell tendrá que hacer sitio a Ahmed Chalabi. El líder del Congreso Nacional Iraquí ha visto estrellarse su carrera política en varias oportunidades, pero se resiste a tirar la toalla. En las recientes elecciones, recibió el tiro... [Read More]

Comments

This is nothing more that the old confidence trick played by Margaret Thatcher in the 80's and the Russian bureaucrats in the 90's. Give away state assets to the people who will then sell it to big capital at 10 times the price.

The posters promise everyone will be happy - and they will be. You get something for nothing and then sell it for real money (probably through one of Chalabi's many companies). You can pay off the loans - buy a new car - go on holiday - invest in some pyramid money-making schemes. But look again there is a false message behind the first poster and darkness behind the second.

What happens when the windfall money is spent and big-oil is creaming all the profits? hmmm...

The second photo. Is that man in the bottom right a midget or is everyone else really big?

Gives new meaning to the concept of "photoshopping."

Maybe more work from the boy-wonder propaganda machine? (Lincoln Group?)

"It was not done so, however, to include or exclude any particular figures".

It does exclude the bodyguards, though. (And what is with that "midget" man?)

Did they stretch it, too? Because he looks chubbier in the new picture. For that matter, the Iraqi flag looks like it's been stretched horizontally, too.

Even after the picture's been manipulated, it still doesn't look that impressive. No real equipment can be seen, except rusty old pipes and storage tanks.

He seems to be saying to the Iraq people that the oil belongs to you, and I'm going to get it back for you. And if they believe that... I guess he's trying to tap into the anger of people who know that they have all this oil, but have to line up for hours at the gas station to fill their cars up.

Interesting that he doesn't even put his name on these posters, as far as I can see. I guess he's (in)famous enough.

By the way, I wonder who really is getting the assitance from the "experts" for these posters, because I don't find Chalabi's all that impressive. The colors and design of this one showing Al-Sistani look more appealing, to me (not that I'm a fan of his). Although now that I look at it more, it's weird because it says "Akbar Allah" instead of "Allah Akbar". I guess they have two flags put together, and one half of each is hidden, cutting off the words.

Is walking on pipes some sort of reality show contest? If they make it all the way to the end, they get immunity?

The poster Chalabi is sure footed, fearless as he forges ahead, a leader. Iraq looks a lot hotter and drier in the photo than in the poster.

The Iraq flags in both the poster and the billboard look wider than the typical golden rectangle-esqe dimensions of the American flag.

Re: the 'midget'. It looks to me like the pipes are laid on a steep sloping hill, and he's standing at the bottom/further down. The guy wearing the hat in the center is watching his footing as he makes his way along.

the little man's arm is infront to the big man's leg, so it looks like this too is a manipulated photo. Let's please get this straight!!

the little man's arm is infront to the big man's leg, so it looks like this too is a manipulated photo. Let's please get this straight!!

A straight line another balanced performance by Ahmed Chalabi humming away to:

"I walk the line because..I've promised a piece of the action to all I have, may, or will con in the future. With a PhD in mathematics however my primary hypothesis remains that bullshit baffles brains, every time.

"...I keep a close watch on this heart of mine/ I keep my eyes wide open all the time...."

"I fell into a burnin' ring of fire..."

It's a good optical illusion, but the Little Guy (in the light checked shirt) in the right foreground of Alan Chin's original shot has not been photoshopped in.

The illusion is caused by several things:

  • The image was taken with a fairly wide-angle lens, and the normal perspective of the shot is exaggerated.
  • The photographer's POV and timing just happened to match the outline of Little Guy's shoulder and arm with the legs of the Big Guy (dark suit, blue shirt, dark glasses) walking on the pipe in the foreground. If you look closely at the Big Guy's knee, it slightly overlaps Little Guy's forearm.
  • Little Guy also looks shorter than the dark-suited Half-Man walking on the pipe at the right edge of the frame. However, Little Guy's leg has been cropped off by the bottom edge of the frame. If you add on a reasonable amount for his ankle and foot, Little Guy is actually taller than Half-Man, as our eyes would expect.

The overall effect is somewhat like an Impossible Crate: what you see all depends on your point of view.

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