Iraq Arrests 35 Officials From the Interior Ministry
Later this morning, I’ll be on a conference call with the deputy U.S. commander in charge of training Iraqi security forces. It’d be interesting to get his reaction to this:
Up to 35 officials in the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior ranking as high as general have been arrested over the past three days with some of them accused of quietly working to reconstitute Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party, according to senior security officials in Baghdad.
The arrests, confirmed by officials from the Ministries of the Interior and National Security as well as the prime minister’s office, included four generals. The officials also said that the arrests had come at the hand of an elite counterterrorism force that reports directly to the office of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.
The New York Times reports that the officials were planning a coup. That’s, of course, extremely serious. But given the sectarianism of the Maliki government, it’s worth wondering to whether this was a sectarian purge. At the least, Sunnis in Iraq are likely to see it as such; and those arrested have every incentive to portray this incident that way.