Sharan Grewal berichtet in der Washington Post vom 21.05.2019 über eine Befragung von 72 ausgedienten höheren tunesischen Militärs. Warum verbrüderten sich 2011 tunesische Soldaten mit den Protestierenden und weigerten sich, auf diese zu schießen?

Grewal nennt zwei Gründe. Zum einen werden die meisten Militärs, insbesondere die unteren Ränge, im Innern des Landes rekrutiert.

These regions have for decades been neglected relative to the coast, and therefore produce or initiate many of the protests, such as in Sidi Bouzid in 2010-2011 and Tataouine in 2017. Coming from the same interior regions, the Tunisian military tends to sympathize with the demands of their protesting brethren. In the survey, officers who were from the interior regions were almost twice as likely to side with protesters as officers from the coast. […] Military personnel are unlikely to repress members of their own group – be it an ethnic, regional or ideological group – and conversely, are more likely to repress the out-group. While the existing literature focuses exclusively on ethnicity, a similar logic should affect any identity group.

Als zweiten Grund nennt Grewal die korporativen Interessen des Militärs im staatlichen Machtgefüge:

The Tunisian military was historically marginalized relative to the Ministry of Interior, suffering from lower wages, dilapidated equipment and little influence over policy. While much has improved after the revolution, officers continue to seek greater influence over national security policy. In the survey, officers who were not satisfied with the level of political influence afforded to them by the government were significantly more supportive of defection. These results suggest that military officers care not just about their material interests, but also about their political power – in this case, their policy influence.

Diese Befunde seien günstig für die tunesische Demokratie, denn auch in Zukunft könne sich kein Präsident auf die Loyalität des Militärs bei der Repression der Bevölkerung verlassen. Die Zusammensetzung des Militärs sei schwer zu verändern, und so lange die Soldaten im Innern des Landes rekrutiert würden, wäre eine gewaltsames Zurückdrehen der Geschichte durch die Elite der Küstenregionen kaum wahrscheinlich.

Was bedeutet das für Algerien?

These findings also help us to better understand other cases of military defection. Consider neighboring Algeria, where the military last month abandoned President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in the face of mass protests against his rule. This defection was somewhat surprising, as Bouteflika had largely satisfied the military’s corporate interests. Politically, the military had ruled from behind the scenes and materially profited from a swelling budget and corruption.

As I’ve argued before, the Algerian military’s composition relative to the protesters can help to explain its behavior. The Algerian military has historically leaned secular and Arab, allowing it to repress out-groups: Islamists in the 1990s and Kabyle Berbers in the 2000s. But today’s protesters are a cross-section of society – Arabs and Berbers, Islamists and secularists. The Algerian military finds it much more difficult to repress such protests when their brothers and sisters may be in the crowd.

The challenge now for Algeria is the path forward. So long as the pro-democracy movement remains unified and mobilized, the military will continue to find it difficult to repress such large, crosscutting protests. But if the pro-democracy movement fragments, perhaps as the result of elections, the regime may be able to paint the protesters as primarily a narrower out-group – say, Islamists or Berbers. It will then become much more likely that the military will repress.

Protestbewegung und Militär in Tunesien und Algerien