October 02, 2006

Not The Nine O'Clock News

Baghdad was suddenly placed under curfew on Saturday. Why?

The Middle East Online cites a rumoured military coup:
Anti-government insurgents are spreading false rumors about an attempted coup in Baghdad, the government said Saturday, as the city was placed under curfew.

"This is a rumor that takfiris (Sunni extremists) and terrorists are spreading," said Brigadier General Qassim Mussawi, the prime minister's military spokesman, when asked about rumors of an impending military coup.

"This is not true, our forces will continue chasing terrorists in all sectors," he said on state television.

The all-day curfew was put in place Saturday "as a precautionary measure" said Mussawi, in response to intelligence tips about possible suicide attacks.

Two months ago rumors swirled about dissatisfaction in the Iraqi army leadership, and on Friday night the US television network NBC cited one of Iraq's deputy prime ministers as saying the military was planning a coup.

Interior ministry spokesman Brigadier General Abdel Karim Khalaf laughed off the possibility of a coup.

"Who would be overthrowing whom? If you gave Baghdad to the army, they would say 'no, please keep it!'," he said.

"What would they do? Go down to the Green Zone and arrest (US Ambassador Zalmay) Khalilzad in the presence of a hundred thousand US soldiers?"
Juan Cole cites Al-Hayat and WaPo stories alleging the curfew was in response to suicide bomb threats aimed at "sensitive sites" including the Green Zone.
The US military arrested a close associate of Adnan al-Dulaimi (a leader of the Iraqi Accord Front, the Sunni fundamentalist coalition in parliament)... The US military said that Dulaimi himself was not suspected of involvement. No, only his bodyguards. How likely is that?


That's the story. But I have questions. Severe questions. Isn't it odd that such a major plot was foiled by the arrest of seven or eight people? Wouldn't it have needed hundreds? Seven or eight people could have done some damage inside the Green Zone, but not really significant damage. So the rumors that it was a coup attempt make no sense given the scale of the arrests.
Credibility is such a bitch.


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