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February 12, 2011

Comments

ajay

No, I don't think so. Previous outbreaks of protest against saddam ended up less tahrir and more tabun. He was a much nastier piece of work than Mubarak.

skidmarx

Nastiness may not be the key vector. Pissing off more and more of the general population, plus culling those who support the regime can leave a dictator without any way to enforce his authority.

ejh

I sort of agree with ajay, but on the other hand, there comes a point with dictators where the people they need to do their dirty work won't do it any more, and that's when they fall. If that wasn't the case, the only time they'd ever fall is when they died.

Would that moment have come in Iraq? Dunno. We'll never know.

Simstim

Wouldn't a Decent say you've got it the wrong way round: without the liberation of Iraq you wouldn't have got the last couple of weeks in Egypt. We'll leave to one side the 7 year gap, the Western support of Mubarak, and, well, I can't think of a third anomaly right now.

David

Tunisia may have reached the point when willingness to massacre wasn't enough, but in Egypt the problem was foreign relations and lack of certainty the troops would be loyal (and conceivably scruples among some in the regime).

Saddam was more brutal, but more importantly the army was sunni. The sunni-shiite split could have saved him if nothing else.

Themarpleleaf.blogspot.com

Another way of looking at it - Saddam's demise, however it may have come about, would have been bloody. Iranian opportunism, a thuggish backlash from Saddam's sons and his cronies.
It remains to be seen if Egypt provides the latest rallying point for AQ that Iraq did.

Alex

I can't see how it would. AQ exists on the following proposition: the solution to our problems is Wahhabism inwardly, and terrorism against the far enemy externally. Once the far enemy exhausts itself like the Russians, the near enemies will collapse, and we'll be in charge.

The Egyptians and Tunisians just demonstrated that you can get rid of your local tyrant without Wahhabis, terrorists, or Americans. I can't think of anyone who's less relevant right now than OBL.

Regarding Iraq, the big question is whether he would have finally pissed off his own people, the Sunnis of Baghdad and Mosul. While his problems were out in Kurdistan or Basra, using extreme violence was much easier. Right there in downtown Baghdad, against the same people who formed the backbone of his government? Much harder. Also, look what happened when those people stopped cooperating with government in 2003...

ajay

David: the officer corpse was predominantly Sunni. The army was conscripted and therefore was fairly representative of the country, which was 55% Shia. This pushes the problem down from "will the army obey the dictator" to "will the soldiers obey their officers".

chris y

I can't think of a third anomaly right now.

The point that food shortages in Iraq could plausibly be blamed on western sanctions, but in Egypt not so much?

If the neocons hadn't decided to invade Iraq in 2003, wouldn't he have reverted by now to being our loyal and trusted ally against Iranian expansionism? I'm not sure how this would have played out in terms of revolutionary potential, but I can't see it ending well.

ajay

"Officer corpse"? Good grief. Sorry about that. Too much blood in my coffeestream this morning.

If the neocons hadn't decided to invade Iraq in 2003, wouldn't he have reverted by now to being our loyal and trusted ally against Iranian expansionism?

Thinking back to the early 80s, it's difficult to imagine Gaddafi becoming our best buddy again, but yet here he is. With any luck Blair will cosy up to him just in time for him to be overthrown.

Bahrain and Algeria seem to have kicked off over the weekend, by the way.

dsquared

Well, I've put my cards on the table in terms of a theory of these things and so I end up saying no - Saddam still had a functioning civilian militia, so he stays. If you look at really durable dictatorships they're nearly always mass membership political parties.

Myles

If you look at really durable dictatorships they're nearly always mass membership political parties.

Depends on whether you count Dubai as a dictatorship, or count the entire Arab population of Dubai as the Inner Party.

Chris Williams

Yes to both.

David

Ajay, weren't the republican guards and maybe other units close the capital predominantly sunni? At least these people? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Republican_Guard_(Iraq)

ajay

SRG was mainly Sunni, yes, and Tikriti Sunni at that. But it wasn't more than a big division in size IIRC. You couldn't have used it to hold down Baghdad and Mosul and Basra and Fallujah and Najaf simultaneously. At some point you'd have to pull in the non-special Republican Guard or the regular army.

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