Friday, December 19, 2008

A familiar phrase

The spokesman for the Baghdad military leadership General Qasem Atta set out the new government spin on the arrests, in a statement released Thursday evening, correcting the initial NYT-inspired stories about a coup-attempt from within the Interior Ministry. First, he corrected the idea that this was one ministry against others. He said those arrested included people not only in the Interior Ministry, but also in the Defense Ministry; moreover, the director of operations in the Interior Ministry was not one of those arrested, as had been reported, but rather is the official in charge of the program of arrests. That part of his remarks was to erase the idea that this was part of some kind of an institutional struggle.

But the more interesting part of his remarks had to do with what sort of people were being arrested. He said there was no attempt at a coup. Rather this was an assortment of different kinds of bad people. He put it this way, in a statement released Thursday evening, (according to AlHayat):
"The general directorate of the armed forces announces the arrest of 24 officers in the Ministries of the Interior and Defence, having no relationship to any attempted coup". Rather, the statement said, the arrests were "based on intelligence about some of the officers' facilitating activities of terrorism, and assistance to outlaws and to the remnants of the former regime."
If that sounds vaguely familiar, it is because that trio of "terror, outlaws and the remnants of the former regime," is the centerpiece of the new security agreement, which in Article 4 "Missions", section 1 (official White House version, pdf) says this: "The government of Iraq requests the temporary assistance of the United States for the purposes of supporting Iraq in its efforts to maintain security and stability in Iraq, including cooperation in the conduct of operations against AlQaeda and other terrorist groups, outlaw groups, and the remnants of the former regime."

And sources on all sides of this ( the "coup" and the "no-coup" interpretations) are reporting that the American forces are cooperating in this program of arrests. AlHayat, which reports from the no-coup angle, says
High-level sources in the Iraqi army said yesterday that the American side has joined in the program of investigation", explaining that "American officers met [Thursday] with senior security officials and studied with them the latest developments in the investigation."
Sadrist news-site Nahrainnet, which dismisses the no-coup theory, says:
News circulated in the Interior Ministry that two of the arrested officers had been among those who worked with the American officers during an earlier stage, and carried out joint operations with the American officers in security operations in Baghdad and other cities. But the existence of the current role of the Americans in supporting this organization [the coup-plotters] has not yet been confirmed.
The question posed here is the role of the Americans, who until the signing of the agreement were keen proponents of incorporating Sunni groups into the government (Sons of Iraq openly, and according to some, ex-Baathist officers less openly) and are now, having achieved the signing of the agreement, seen to be cooperating in a program, not of reconciliation, but of arrests aimed at "terrorists, outlaws and the remnants of the former regime"--political enemies, as it seems to many.

Which just goes to show that in order to promote the tearing up of the country politically as well as militarily, it isn't necessary to always carry around a sign that says "I support the Biden plan".


Anonymous Anonymous said...

First seen at Roads to Iraq, the latest from AP is that all the arested are released:
Iraqi authorities released without charge the nearly two dozen security officials who had been accused this week of conspiring to revive Saddam Hussein's banned political party, the interior minister said.

Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani told The Associated Press that an investigating judge ordered the officials released "because they are innocent" and that there was no evidence that they attempted to restore the Baath party, whose exiled leaders staunchly oppose the current government.

He said 19 were freed from custody and that charges were to be dismissed against the remaining four who were not in custody. Earlier in the day, al-Bolani told reporters that the charges were politically motivated by those trying to undermine the interior ministry.

Sounds like internal politicking, but weren't there quite a bit more than two dozen?

I am wondering if this is an unwritten clause of the Reconciliation Program - "take them in for now, later you can dispose of them in tens and twenties with all kinds of excuses"... Let's see if the arrested can return to their jobs.

3:23 PM  
Blogger badger said...

never a dull moment

6:16 PM  
Blogger badger said...

thanks for the AP link, by the way. I have some comments in the next post.

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