Lobbyists Hired to Press Maliki, Former Premier Says

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 27, 2007

Former interim Iraqi prime minister Ayad Allawi, who is trying to put together a new coalition to replace the current Baghdad government headed by Nouri al-Maliki, said yesterday that a powerful Washington lobbying firm is working on his behalf, funded by an Iraqi whom he cannot identify.

Allawi confirmed on CNN's "Late Edition" yesterday that Barbour Griffith & Rogers had been hired "to help us advocate our views, the views of the nationalistic Iraqis, the nonsectarian Iraqis."

Allawi said reports that Barbour Griffith is to receive $300,000 over six months are accurate, "but that these figures are really much less than the figures that are being paid by others, our adversaries."

Asked the source of the funds, Allawi said, "I cannot unfortunately divulge his name," adding: "He is a supporter of our program."

Allawi, who is Shiite and a former Baathist, said he "wouldn't frankly be willing to become a prime minister in a sectarian regime . . . but I would play my role in Iraq in whatever capacity is required to change Iraq into a nonsectarian country."

Allawi was appointed interim prime minister in June 2004 -- reportedly at the urging of Robert D. Blackwill, President Bush's special envoy to Iraq, and others -- and was replaced in April 2005, after the Iraqi elections. Five months after Allawi's appointment, Blackwill left the government to join Barbour Griffith.

Allawi's hiring of the firm was first reported last week by IraqSlogger.com. A senior adviser to the firm is Philip D. Zelikow, who resigned as counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in December.

Another of Barbour Griffith's clients is the Kurdistan Regional Government, according to the company's Web site.

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