Dar al-Hayat: Widespread “preventative” security measures in Baghdad, the government denies taking precautions against a “Military Coup”.


Baghdad – Husayn ‘Ali Dawud

Yesterday Iraqi forces took “preventative” security measures that led to a lockdown of movement in Baghdad after most of the streets and bridges connecting Karkh and Rusafah were closed, not to mention the stopping of traffic and closing of a number of the southern, western, and northern neighborhoods in the capital.

The inhabitants (of Baghdad) were surprised yesterday morning by the Iraqi force’s imposition of the procedures, and they were prevented from going to their work amidst rumors of an uprising or military coup, not to mention a massive armed attack possibly resembling the severe explosions that occurred in Baghdad a few months ago.

The government denied yesterday that the prudent measures were a precaution against an uprising or military coup. In a joint press conference with the government’s spokesperson, ‘Ali al-Dabagh, that was broadcast on some of the media outlets, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense, Muhammad al-‘Askari, described the “coup attempt” as, “Hilarious conjecture. There are no military manuevers in Baghdad that don’t have the permission from the highest levels of authority in the country.”

He said, “There were military forces that had come to Baghdad to put on a military parade in honor of the founding of the Army, they were equivalent to a select representation of their divisions, yet they have all already returned back to their original bases.”

The former British Ambassador to Iraq, John Jenkins, had warned in his testimony last week in front of the British Gulf War investigative committee that Iraq was facing a military coup undertaken by officers in the army that still have allegiance to the Ba’ath part, but he recanted and took back (what he said) in regards to that.

A military (spokesperson) pointed out that, “Intelligence information from various locations and sources that was passed to the Baghdad Operations center about car bombs that were going to enter the capital, as such the (Iraqi Security) Forces undertook what is called a nullification or preservation operation to find those cars and thwart their effect.” He (also) noted that, “The operation wasn’t made known (in advance) so as not to miss the opportunity to (get) the terrorists and surprise them, and prevent them from doing what they want to do.” He indicated that, “So far, we haven’t found the cars or their type yet.”

From his side, al-Dabagh said that the Council of Ministers discussed the applicable security measures in the province of Baghdad and the possible threats and assured that, “The Council of Ministers calls on the citizens to understand the latest security measures demanded the imposition of a partial lockdown, more intense inspection procedures, and monitoring that targetted their security details and entourages, which led to the arrest of terrorists and the cooperation of citizens with the security forces.”

He indicated that, “The measures taken today were a result of important information from one of the citizens about car bomb assembly locations in Baghdad.”

The spokesmen for the Baghdad Operations Command, Major General Qasim ‘Ata described the security measures as, “Preventative and prudent.” He confirmed in a statement to “al-Hayat” that, “Intelligence information that we obtained indicated that terrorist groups intended to detonate car bombs this morning(yesterday).”

Hours after the security measures were rescinded, the Baghdad Operations Command issued a report announcing within it the arrest of, “25 individuals they were planning to undertake terrorist aggressions in the capital.”

The report explained that, “These people were arrested during raid operations undertaken by the security apparatus in various areas.” It added, “There were 200 kilograms of TNT discovered, 200 kilograms of C4, 250 liters of Ammonium Nitrate, and 60 mortar rounds.”