Gaddafi Plotted Iraq Coup With Baathists
|October 30, 2011||Filled under Uncategorized|
When the Libyan capital of Tripoli fell, rebel fighters found secret intelligence documents linking Muammar Gaddafi to a plot by former members of Saddam Hussein’s military and Baath Party to overthrow the Iraqi government, according to an Iraqi official who spoke on the condition of anonymity as the matter was supposed to be confidential.
Details of the plot were revealed to Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, this month in a surprise visit to Baghdad by Libya’s interim leader, Mahmoud Jibril, said the official. This week, Iraqi security forces responded, arresting more than 200 suspects in connection with the plot.
In Iraq, the records of Gaddafi‘s plot had special resonance. The Iraqi media celebrated Gaddafi‘s death last week but news Gaddafi may have been backing a Baathist-led coup added another layer of intrigue just as the country was digesting the weekend news that the U.S. President, Barack Obama, had announced the last U.S. soldier would leave by the end of the year.
Some suggested it was a fiction spread just to allow for the arrest of Sunnis, a reflection of the fragile sectarian tensions.
On state television, Hussein Kamal, Iraq’s Deputy Interior Minister, said the plot included agitators spread throughout the country’s south and just north of Baghdad.
The agitators, he said, had been planning ”terrorist operations and sabotage” after the withdrawal of the U.S. military.
In Iraq, memories of the Baath party maintain a psychological hold on the population, even almost nine years after the U.S. invasion that drove the party from power.
The U.S. disbanded the army and banned most party members from any government job, a decision many said contributed to the insurgency and sectarian civil war.
Before last year’s parliamentary elections, a ”de-Baathification” process eliminated many more people from the political process, often based on flimsy evidence. And in Iraq’s zero-sum politics, opponents often accuse one another of being ”Baathies”, the worst kind of insult.
Because the Baath party was dominated by Sunnis and ruled ruthlessly over a Shiite majority for decades, the term also carries sectarian undertones, as was seen on Tuesday in Tikrit, Saddam’s home town north of Baghdad. There, protesters denounced the arrests outside the provincial council building.
In the southern port of Basra, where 40 were arrested, former low-level Baath party members feared they would be next.
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