This was popped up in the headlines, and details are still sketchy, but something potentially big is afoot in Iraq. (And for once, we’re not talking about their being under attack by ISIS.) We were first tipped off on Twitter as well as a quick draw compilation of tweets from inside Iraq provided at Pundit Press. Here are a few, along with Pundit Press’s summary, keeping in mind that this isn’t confirmed yet:
Iraq’s parliament just chose a new President who refused to rename Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki to a third term. Maliki declared the move unconstitutional and his own State of Law Party pulled support from him. Now his forces are seizing government buildings in Iraq, have closed the airport, and are surrounding the Green Zone.
His speech refusing to step down occurred at midnight and was followed by the military action.
Rumour mill is spinning wildly in baghdad. people are saying that there was just an explosion in president's compound
— Zaid Al-Ali (@zalali) August 10, 2014
Scary reports from Baghdad. Special Forces out in force, Green Zone shut down. Heavy military presence outside Presidential palace & ISCI HQ
— Hayder al-Khoei (@Hayder_alKhoei) August 10, 2014
— Rami (@RamiAlLolah) August 10, 2014
Assuming this is true – and a lot of reporters are picking up on it already – it sounds like somebody wanted al-Maliki out, but he’s not inclined to go. Actually, the WSJ predicted there was trouble afoot in the naming of the new PM earlier this week.
Baghdad’s Political Rifts Lurk Ahead of Deadline to Select Prime Minister
AGHDAD—As Sunni Islamist militants stabbed further into northern Iraq this week, sparking U.S. airstrikes against them, lawmakers in Baghdad appeared as divided as ever in choosing a new prime minister to form a government by Sunday’s deadline.
Iraqi politicians have been meeting in Baghdad this weekend before a constitutional deadline to form a new prime minister and government by midnight on Sunday. And no broadly acceptable alternative to Mr. Maliki appears to have emerged, further complicating the political situation.
If that impasse persists past the weekend, it could force a reassessment of the U.S. military intervention that many Iraqis see as essential to arresting the Islamist militants’ startling advances this year.
Allahpundit was already making some predictions within minutes of the news breaking.
A coup in Iraq would make things easy for the U.S. Abandon Maliki and deal with the Kurds exclusively from now on
— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) August 10, 2014
It’s difficult to imagine a worse time for this (not that there’s a good time, mind you) when the country is under attack from an Islamic terrorist army on several fronts. Having their internal government structure break down just seems to invite more external problems. And if al-Maliki really arrests the new president (a Kurd) as threatened, that may indeed be the excuse the Kurds need to head for the exits.
Stay tuned. I’m sure there will be more coming from one or the other of us as this develops.
UPDATE 1: (Jazz) CNN is finally on the story and has film of tanks in the streets outside the Green Zone.
UPDATE 2: (Jazz) Some of the media is starting to pick up on this now. Looks legitimate.
TROOPS loyal to controversial Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki have sealed off Baghdad’s “Green Zone” in an apparent coup.
“There is a huge security presence, police and army, especially around the Green Zone,” the highly-protected district that houses Iraq’s key institutions, a high-ranking police officer has confirmed to AFP.
He said the deployment started at around 10:30 pm Iraq time, just 90 minutes before Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced on state television he would file a complaint against the president for violating the constitution.
“There is security everywhere in Baghdad, these are very unusual measures that look like those we impose for a state of emergency,” the police official said.
UPDATE 3: (Jazz) Some video from CNN with a bit more analysis and early scenes from the Green Zone.