Iraqi government officials had to come on state television today to assure the public that no military coup had taken place, following panic throughout Baghdad after the Iraqi security forces launched a massive security crackdown.
Rumors spread throughout the city rapidly, with some claiming the army had seized control, while others claimed the Ba’athist Party of Saddam Hussein had somehow returned and taken over the city in the middle of the night. Still others had Sunni MP Saleh Mutlaq assassinated amid the coup attempt.
The government insisted the crackdown was intended to shore up security in the wake of yesterday’s arrests. They insisted that a coup was impossible, citing the “strong central government” and the “professional” security forces.
Yet while today’s coup may have been greatly exaggerated, the fear appears well-grounded in reality, as only last week Britain’s Ambassador to Iraq John Jenkins said publicly that a coup was “a real possibility.”