Iraq’s New Intel Pick Should Scare Us All

( The new Iraqi leader, Mohammad Shi’a al-Sudani, recently won parliamentary approval for his proposed cabinet. And according to reports, it is possible Sudini may select Basam Jawad Ridha al-Husaini as intelligence chief.

Basam, a former Iraqi soccer star, previously served as an advisor for former Iraqi leader Nouri al-Maliki and Maliki’s predecessor Ibrahim Jaafari. He also served as administrator for the trial of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, assigning the judge, arranging the facilities, and getting the US to hand Hussein over despite resistance from the State Department and the US intel community.

According to Michael Rubin, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Basam’s experience and the fact that he long lived in California, may make him someone policymakers in Washington could work with.

What’s more, Rubin writes at, Basam lost two brothers to Saddam Hussein’s executioners which would give him an “understanding of the sacrifices so many Iraqi families have made in the war against dictatorship and terror.”

Rubin concedes that Sudani’s choice to head intelligence hasn’t been finalized nor is it official, however, he suggests that even floating Basam as a choice “is a good sign.”

According to Rubin, simply considering Basam could signal that Sudani’s time in office won’t be “one of meaningless travel and honor guards but rather real stewardship.”

Rubin suggests that if Sudani is like his predecessors, it is likely he will find a way to work around the cabinet picks chosen to appease the powerbrokers by treating his advisors like “shadow ministers” who can address the substance of the issues without enjoying the trappings of an official cabinet position.

Rubin believes that while Basam is not the only candidate for intelligence chief, the fact that his name is being considered is “a hopeful sign that Sudani wants to work cooperatively and productively with Washington.”

Read Rubin’s analysis HERE.