Iraq arrests 50 over coup plot: security official
12 hours ago
BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraq has arrested about 50 interior ministry officials for
plotting a coup against the Shiite-led government, a senior Iraqi security
official said on Thursday.
"Fifty interior ministry civil servants, including senior officials, were
arrested over the past three days for trying to topple the government of Prime
Minister Nuri al-Maliki," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Among those seized was General Ahmad Abul Rif, the ministry's security chief,
"They were linked to the Al-Awda (The Return), a clandestine group that was
working to bring the Baath Party back into power," he said.
Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party were ousted in the US-led
invasion of March 2003.
The New York Times reported that a top interior ministry official said those
arrested with Al-Awda links had paid bribes to be recruited and arresting
officers had found substantial amounts of money in raids.
Maliki's critics have accused the prime minister of arresting political enemies
to consolidate his power ahead of next month's provincial elections, the
Maliki himself was persecuted by Saddam's Sunni-led regime, but five years
after the invasion hundreds of members of the executed dictator's former Baath
party have returned to public life in Iraq.
Earlier this year Iraq's presidential council approved a bill allowing former
Baath Party members to return to government jobs as part of the current
The initiative was seen as a way to unite Iraqi factions, and a means to
reverse what is widely seen as one of the huge blunders committed by US
The initial US decision to disband the Iraqi army and sack all Baathists from
the government to eradicate Saddam's influence led to the rise of a deadly
anti-American insurgency in the aftermath of the invasion.