Testifying for the Iraq Inquiry in London, Britain’s ambassador to Iraq, John Jenkins, mentioned that democracy in Iraq is “not a done deal.” He went on to explain:
“If you look at the history of Iraq, the history of military coups in Iraq, you have to think that that is always a possibility – a real possibility – in the future.”
Throughout what I’ll call “Western officialdom”–meaning the diplomats and think tankers and the like that flit about here–the coup scenario is one that gets tossed around. I don’t recall ever seeing anyone do it on the record, but privately it gets mentioned as an actual concern.
The journalist in me certainly likes the idea–coups are undoubtedly sexy. That being said, I don’t quite know if there is a political figure in Iraq who commands that much support from the military who could actually pull a coup off. It’s been theorized that Maliki could do a Nasser-like coup if he loses the election in March–just say, hey, I’m not leaving power, deal with it. But that does feel somewhat far fetched–there are just too many rival factions with political clout, backed by guns, for it to go smoothly.
But Jenkins seems to be getting on the Baathist paranoia train, which many in the Shiite dominated government like to ride. Albeit, the paranoia isn’t too unreasonable–Baathist elements have been trying to kill members of the government, and overthrow them, going on seven years now.