Updated 12/19 9:45 PM EST
Wednesday night’s breaking story about the arrests of high ranking Interior Ministry officials in Iraq continues to unfold in the press, but exactly what happened still isn’t clear. Even the initial story’s report that General Ahmed Abu Raqeef was among the arrested has been thrown into doubt, as the Interior Ministry now claims that has was an “investigating officer” in the case, not an arrested officer.
So what happened? One guess seems as good as another. What was initially reported as a “Ba’athist coup plot” eventually fell apart due to lack of evidence, and was quickly re-labeled a “terror plot“by supporters of the former regime. Even the support for that claim was shaky, however, and at this point a growing number of Iraqi politicians believe the arrests were actually politically motivated.
Senior Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Abdul-Karim Khalaf disputed every account, and said the investigation was “small and not worthy of mention.” Finally, the Interior Minister called the whole thing “motivated by politics” and “a big lie,” and declared that all arrested have been released. No charges have been filed against any of them, and Minister Bolani says it is “normal” to detain people for national security reasons, though he conceded that there was no evidence any of them were conspiring to restore the Ba’athists to power.
At this point what exactly happened and how it got so blown out of proportion still isn’t known, and may never be known. Whatever it was, the release of all those arrested suggests it is over, for now.