The revolutions spreading across the Arab world invite a compelling question: If Saddam Hussein "had been in power now, would he too be brought down?" The nonviolent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt succeeded because the military "refused to protect the regimes by cracking down on their own countrymen," says Bobby Ghosh, TIME's former Baghdad bureau chief. The armed forces under Saddam Hussein would have had no such compunction, Ghosh writes. Here, an excerpt:
"Saddam, on the other hand, could always count on two armed groups whose ONLY reason for being was their loyalty to him: the Republican Guard, and the paramilitary Fedayeen Saddam. As they showed while putting down the Shi'ite uprising after the Kuwait war, these forces were perfectly happy to kill tens of thousands of Iraqis on his orders....
Saddam also had the apparatus of the Ba'ath Party, which had officials in every street and neighborhood, and a sizeable secret police. And finally, he allowed his people no cellphones or satellite phones, much less Internet access....
So a revolution in Iraq would probably have been stillborn. Even if young Iraqis had been able to plan protests without the use of Facebook or text messages, they would likely have been betrayed by Ba'athist informers. And if they'd managed to avoid that fate, the Republican Guard and Fedayeen Saddam would have killed or jailed thousands of Iraqis to protect the regime.
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