Bush has been in full victory-lap mode lately, patting himself on the back for the Administration’s wayward efforts at “democracy promotion.”  Needless to say,  it’s tough to describe the situation in Iraq as “democratic” when you hear about things like this.

BAGHDAD — Up to 35 officials in the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior ranking as high as general have been arrested over the past three days with some of them accused of quietly working to reconstitute Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party, according to senior security officials in Baghdad.

The arrests, confirmed by officials from the Ministries of the Interior and National Security as well as the prime minister’s office, included four generals. The officials also said that the arrests had come at the hand of an elite counterterrorism force that reports directly to the office of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

“Elite counterterrorism force” that arrests 35 political officials, “some” of whom are “accused” of conspiracy. Sounds plausible..

A police officer, who knows several of the detainees but spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said they were innocent, longstanding civil servants and had little in common with one another. Those who once belonged to the Baath Party were lower-level members, he said, insisting that the arrests were politically motivated.

And lest we think this power consolidation a good thing, remember that al-Maliki’s Da’wa Party was exiled in Iran during Saddam’s reign and al-Maliki’s closest political allies come from the ISCI, which was established in Iran.

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