HomeMiddle EastHow the US and UK tried to justify the invasion of Iraq

How the US and UK tried to justify the invasion of Iraq

On March 20, 2003, the United States led a coalition that launched a full-fledged campaign invasion of iraqclosely backed by the UK

The case he had made to invade the Middle Eastern nation was based on three basic premises: that Saddam Hussein’s regime had weapons of mass destruction (WMD); that he was developing more of them for the potential benefit of “terrorist” groups; and that the creation of a “friendly and democratic” Iraq would be an example for the region.

An Iraqi man looks at his mother in a bus being loaded to head to Syria at a bus station in Baghdad, March 9, 2003. Buses at this station increased their trips to Syria from 4 to 20 a day, transporting people fleeing the threat. of a US-led invasion and others headed for the Sayeda Zeinab Shiite shrine in the Syrian capital (David Guttenfelder/AP Photo)

However, 20 years after the release of Operation Iraqi FreedomThe question of whether the invasion of Iraq was the product of deliberate misleading of US, UK and other voters, misintelligence, or a strategic calculation remains a matter of debate.

What seems inescapable is that the Iraq war has cast a long shadow over US foreign policy, with repercussions to this day.

Massive destruction weapons

“Let me start by saying that almost all of us were wrong, and I certainly include myself here,” David Kay, head of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), told the United States Senate on January 29, 2004.

His team, a fact-finding mission established by the multinational force to find and disable Iraq’s suspected weapons of mass destruction, ultimately failed to find substantial evidence that Saddam had an active weapons development program.

The Bush administration had presented it as a certainty before the invasion.

Protest against the Iraq war
Anti-war protesters gather in Hyde Park during the demonstration against the war in Iraq on February 15, 2003 (Toby Melville/Reuters)

In a speech in Cincinnati, in the US state of Ohio, on October 7, 2002, the US president declared that Iraq “possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. He’s looking for nuclear weapons.”

Then he concluded that Hussein had to be stopped. “The Iraqi dictator must not be allowed to threaten America and the world with hideous poisons, diseases, gases and atomic weapons,” Bush said.

The then British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, had said the same thing on September 24, 2002, when he produced a British intelligence dossier which claimed that Hussein could activate chemical and biological weapons “within 45 minutes, even against his own Shiite population.”

When the ISG presented its conclusions, one of the main arguments of the war fell apart. “We have evidence that they certainly could have produced small quantities (of weapons of mass destruction), but we have not discovered evidence of any stockpiles,” Kay said in his testimony.

According to Sanam Vakil, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House, the decision to invade Iraq was a “gross violation of international law” and that the real goal of the Bush administration was a broader transformational effect on the region. .

“We know that the intelligence was fabricated and that (Hussein) did not have the weapons,” Vakil told Al Jazeera.

Egyptian anti-war protesters carry a sign reading ‘Stop Killing’ in reference to the US-led war against Iraq during an anti-US protest outside the Al Azhar Mosque March 28, 2003 in Cairo – over 10,000 Protesters peacefully marched against the United States. led the war against Iraq (Mike Nelson/EPA Photo)

“They felt that by overthrowing Saddam Hussein and supposedly bringing democracy to Iraq, there would be a domino effect,” Vakil said.

Some observers have pointed to the fact that while the ISG did not find an active WMD program, it did gather evidence that Hussein planned to resume the program as soon as international sanctions against Iraq were lifted.

According to Melvyn Leffler, author of the book Confronting Saddam Hussein, uncertainty was a determining factor in the months leading up to the invasion.

“There was an overwhelming sense of threat,” Leffler told Al Jazeera. “The intelligence community in the days and weeks after 9/11 developed what they called a ‘threat matrix,’ a daily list of all incoming threats. This list of threats was presented to the president every day.”

Hussein himself had led many to believe that Iraq’s WMD program was active. In an interview conducted by US interrogators who compiled the country’s weapons of mass destruction report in 2004, he admitted to being deliberately ambiguous about whether the country was still withholding biological agents in an attempt to deter Iran, its erstwhile foe.

For years before the invasion, Hussein resisted inspections by the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, established in 1999 with a mandate to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.

A man in the foreground watches a giant statue fall in downtown Baghdad.
A US Marine watches as a statue of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein collapses in 2003 (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)


While Bush was campaigning for the presidency on the promise of a “humble” foreign policy, the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 swept the United States.

In his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002, Bush stated in no uncertain terms that the US would fight “terrorist groups” or any country deemed to be training, equipping, or supporting “terrorism.” .

“States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, with the goal of threatening world peace,” he said.

The speech went on to identify Iraq as a pillar in the so-called “axis of evil.”

“Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward the United States and support terrorism,” the US president said.

“This is a regime that agreed to international inspections and then expelled the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.”

A year later, on January 30, 2003, Vice President Dick Cheney drew a link between the Hussein government and the group believed to be behind 9/11, stating that Iraq “helps and protects terrorists, including terrorists.” al-Qaeda members.

Hussein was known to have supported a number of groups deemed “terrorist” by some states, including the Iranian dissident group Mujahedin-e-Khalq, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and several Palestinian splinter groups, but evidence of links to al-Qaeda has never been found.

According to Leffler, Bush never believed in a direct link between Hussein and al-Qaeda.

However, he believed that the sanctions regime against Iraq was breaking down, that containment was failing, and that as soon as the sanctions were lifted, Hussein would restart his WMD program and “blackmail the United States in the future.”

‘Exporting democracy’

In a speech on October 14, 2002, Bush said that the United States was “a friend of the people of Iraq.”

“Our demands are directed only at the regime that enslaves them and threatens us… Iraq’s long captivity will end and an era of new hope will begin.”

A few months later, he added that “a new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region” and would “begin a new stage for peace in the Middle East.”

Ultimately, the attempt to turn Iraq into a “bulwark for democracy” largely failed, with little evidence of strengthening democracy in the broader region.

“Since the war in Iraq, there has not only been a persistent threat from al-Qaeda, but also the rise of ISIS (ISIL) and the growth of the Iranian state as a regional power, which has been profoundly destabilizing in the region.” Vakil, from Chatham House, said.

The momentous US decision to ban the ruling Baath Party and disband the iraqi army they were early mistakes by the Bush administration, according to the analyst.

In 2005, under US occupation and with strong input from US experts, Iraq hastily formulated a new constitution, establishing a parliamentary system.

Although not written into the constitution, the requirement that the president be Kurdish, the speaker a Sunni, and the prime minister a Shiite became common practice.

According to Marina Ottaway, a Middle East fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center, the US invasion “created a system dependent on divergent sectarian interests” that is “too bogged down in the politics of factional balancing to address policies that would improve the lives of Iraqis. ”.

“The Iraqi constitution was essentially an American product, it was never a negotiated agreement between Iraqis, which is what a successful constitution is,” the analyst added.

“The United States made a huge mistake in trying to impose its own solution on the country.”

Source link

- Advertisment -