Like many in the city, I awoke this morning in Baghdad to rumors of a coup. The city, an Iraqi friend told me on the phone at around 8 am, was under curfew, a lock down. Various theories were floating around as to why: a coup, an attempted coup, a warning about car bombs, maybe a prominent Sunni figure had been assassinated… I then heard that an Iraqi Army Brigade had moved, accidentally it seems, without orders in the city, which set off the alarm bells. It turned out, it was, well…No really knows, though it seems that there was some kind of security threat that prompted the unusual temporary measures.
As I mentioned on my post the other day about this subject, I don’t think a coup is likely to happen anytime soon. (The British Ambassador had called it ‘a real possibility’ that the country had to worry about in the future.) But what are we to make of the fact that it didn’t take much to trigger the fears that a coup was taking place?
I would say three things.
1.) The Iraqi government is very paranoid of the threat of a Baathist return
2.) There is a sense, despite the security gains, of an underlying fragility to the Iraqi government.
3.) I think there is actually a hidden desire for a strongman to return to Iraq and restore order here. (It’s not even that hidden, really. Many Iraqis I’ve interviewed have always said they would prefer Saddam to what the instability they have now.) I would even go so far as to suggest that a coup by a benevolent dictator-type would even be welcomed by a good chunk of the population. But I think it’s more wishful thinking than anything else–there are just too many competing factions. I don’t think anyone has the power to actually pull a coup off, and won’t for some time.
UPDATE: The wires are reporting that 25 suspects have been detained and a multiple car bomb plot foiled, according to the GoI.