Iraq’s Sunni protesters see Egypt’s coup this week as a reason for optimism, with protest organizer Adnan al-Muhanna expressing hope that the protests against the Maliki government, being carried out for months, could eventually change a regime the way “neither elections nor weapons can.”
Muhanna’s hopes may embolden protests in Iraq, but a stark difference in the situation makes an Egypt-style regime change extremely unlikely. Iraq’s military isn’t on their side.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is under criticism for centralizing power, but as the prime minister, defense minister, interior minister and head of the armed forces, he controls materially all of the government’s security forces, and has used them to regularly crack down on the Sunni protesters.
Even beyond Maliki’s role as titular head of the military, Iraq’s military is virtually brand new, with the previous armed force dismantled during the US occupation, and the new military has no history of operating independently to suggest a coup is at all likely.