Intriguingly, though, Khedery does not specify any single juncture or decisive event that made him change his mind about Maliki so radically. There is, however, a crucial little detail in his biography in the introduction that cannot and should not escape notice. Today, Khedery is “chairman and chief executive of the Dubai-based Dragoman Partners… In 2011, as an Executive with Exxon-Mobil, he negotiated the company’s entry into the Kurdistan Region of Iraq”.
Now, that was quick: Khedery’s embrace of some of the most separatist forces among the Iraqi Kurds apparently materialized only months after his own resignation from US government service in Iraq in December 2010. A bit Kurdish separatism, courting the Shiite clergy in Najaf, promoting secularists cum Islamists: Maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised since Khedery already told us that the 11 September 2001 terror attacks played a key role in making him enlist for government service in Iraq, which in actual fact had nothing to do with those attacks?
The alternation between (and sometimes combination of) support for the Iraqi central government and Kurdish separatism is of course nothing new in American approaches to Iraq. In the current political crisis, one can certainly get the impression that Washington is arming all sides at the same time: Nujayfi and Barzani feel boldened by frequent telephone calls from VP Biden, whereas Maliki undeniably gets empowered by US military assistance, regardless of exactly what the packaging says.
Exactly like Khedery, the Obama administration employs a contradictive approach to Iraq based on unhelpful caricatures of the key Iraqi players. Until the underlying methodological issues here are sorted out, these contradictions are likely to persist, with unsatisfactory results accompanying any attempt by the United States to exercise political influence in Iraq.