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Ooops!

Via Robert Farley, it seems Nuri al-Maliki’s attempted purge of the Interior Ministry has backfired:

Iraq’s interior minister said all 24 of his officers who had been arrested in a security crackdown this week would be released. And in a bold gesture of defiance, he publicly condemned his own government’s investigation, calling the accusations false and motivated purely by politics.

The minister, Jawad al-Bolani, in a series of interviews and at a news conference on Friday, insisted on the innocence of the officials detained on charges of aiding terrorism and having inappropriate ties with political parties, including Al Awda, an illegal party that is a descendant of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party.

“It’s because of the competition of the provincial elections,” Mr. Bolani, who arrived in the country on Friday after a week away, said of the arrests in an interview. “It’s just electoral propaganda, and that’s playing with fire.”

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If you come at the king, you’d best not miss. So I suspect this won’t be the last of Bolani-Maliki tensions or of troubles between the Interior Ministry and Maliki’s double-special elite counterterrorism squad.