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Lesson we should learn from American invasion of Iraq

Exploiting or creating division within societies is also one of the ways of American penetration of countries to achieve their political or economic interests at the expense of the interest and safety of their people. Writes Saniya Al-Husseini

Two days ago, it was the anniversary of the United States’ invasion of Iraq, which came on March 20, 2003.

Two full decades passed, during which Iraq lived, and still is, a state of suffering and pain, confirmed by the numbers of dead and wounded, and migrants who fled their country in search of security and a decent human life.

The argument of the George W. Bush administration for invading Iraq came at the time, to overthrow the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who was accused of having ties to al-Qaeda, and to eliminate a program of weapons of mass destruction that supposedly existed, and a promise to create a democratic country.

This war, with all its tragedies, can serve as a lesson to the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular, by knowing the way the West thinks about our country and its tools to achieve it, by analyzing some of its details.

The American war on Iraq removed Israel’s main enemy in the region, and it is the only Arab country that posed a threat to Israel at the time, as Iraq struck Israeli targets with Scud missiles during the second Gulf War, and Iraq’s nuclear and chemical weapons programs also aroused Israel’s concern, prompting it to bomb the Osirak reactor in The year 1981. The intentions of the United States were crystallized towards the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime immediately after the Cold War. Although the Iraqi regime was not overthrown after the Iraqi forces were expelled from Kuwait in 1991, the US administration focused on overthrowing it. It encouraged popular uprisings against it at the beginning, and when President Saddam suppressed those Intifadas, US policy directed to impose economic sanctions, no-fly zones and weapons inspections, and deployed its forces in a number of Gulf countries, adopting a policy of double containment directed against Iraq and Iran in the region.

During the era of President Bill Clinton, a number of influential think tanks focused on decision-making in 1997 on the need to change the regime in Iraq, which appeared in the following year as a clear trend in the corridors of decision-making.

After the events of September 11, a group of influential people in American decision-making, such as Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense in the administration of President George W. Bush, and Vice President Paul Wolfowitz, one of its most prominent hawks, began to call for an invasion of Iraq.

Despite US intelligence confirming that Al Qaeda was behind the attack, and US allies from the main Arab countries and Turkey opposing the invasion, Israel and its loyal groups in Washington encouraged it.

After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and the dismantling of the military and civil structure in the country, the army was dissolved and more than 40,000 public employees were dismissed from the civil service, and the American presence focused on the military side, and the United States relied on a specific Iraqi elite to run the country’s affairs.
A decade before the invasion of Iraq, the United States funded an Iraqi opposition group living in the diaspora to work on the scenario of “Post-Saddam Iraq”.

After the American invasion of Iraq, an interim council was established to rule the country, until its situation is in order, most of it was formed by leaders who returned from outside the country, and among all the prime ministers who assumed the duties of this position since 2004, only the last was a resident of the country in Iraq before the invasion.

The members of the ruling coalition drafted a new constitution for Iraq, and prepared for holding the first elections after Saddam’s departure, which focused on establishing a system based on identity and quotas, between Shiites, Sunni Arabs, and Sunni Kurds. The Arab Sunnis were not given the percentage they aspired to, so many of them boycotted the elections.

Politicians focused during those elections on sectarian mobilization slogans. The impact of these policies was exacerbated by the new ruling elite’s tendency towards militarization from outside the official framework. After the dissolution of the army, the Iraqi elites encouraged not to disarm the armed groups affiliated with it, and each party kept a paramilitary group to protect it, which established the phenomenon of the proliferation of weapons outside the official scope, in the absence of a clear direction to rebuild the army. This new system and the elections that resulted from it produced a clear sectarian, social and political division, as job appointments became governed by identity, and a kind of isolation was created between neighborhoods and their roads, which were colored sectarianly, and sectarian strife emerged that had been dormant for centuries, which culminated in a sectarian civil war in 2006.

Iraq did not succeed in building its institutions because of the sectarianism that was planted in the political system that Washington established in the country, and then led it to a civil war, just as it did not succeed in building the democratic system that it claimed its intention to establish, so corruption permeated the joints and pillars of the state, and the Iraqi government practiced violence and repression rightly Iraqi citizens.

Corruption has become rampant over the past twenty years in the Iraqi system of government, and senior Iraqi officials claim that hundreds of billions of dollars have disappeared from the country because of corruption.

Despite the high annual budget of Iraq from oil revenues, the government does not provide the simplest intuitive services to the citizen such as the provision of water and electricity, or the development of the main infrastructure and facilities in the country, and Iraq is not much different from the era of sanctions during the nineties of the last century.

And the Iraqi citizen has become distrustful of the existing system of government, so the percentage of popular participation in the elections decreased every time from the previous one, until it reached its lowest rate in the last elections in 2021.

The government suppressed the popular uprising of Iraqi youth in 2019, known as the October Movement, and denounced the current situation and the sectarian quota system.

The authorities killed hundreds and injured tens of thousands of demonstrators.
Biden last month referred to Russia’s war against Ukraine as the only large-scale invasion the world had seen in eight decades, without noting that his remarks came just a month before the 20th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, which Biden himself voted to launch at the time.

The problem is that the issue of international justice does not exist today in a world of double standards.

While the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin, claiming his responsibility for war crimes, just one year after the Russian attack on Ukraine, in a new farce for the international justice system led by Western countries, the United States was not reciprocated when it invaded Afghanistan. And Iraq after the events of the eleventh of September.

After the International Criminal Court agreed in 2020 to investigate whether US forces had committed war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq more than 18 years after the US invasion, the United States imposed sanctions on senior officials of the International Criminal Court, including the Court’s Prosecutor at the time, Fatu. Bensouda, and the investigation was suspended after that. When the court’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, sought last year to reopen the investigation by the court, he said he intended to focus on crimes committed by the Taliban and an Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State group, that is, not on those of the United States, which is one of the 12 countries that have not Join the court.

Perhaps one of the most important lessons that we have to learn is that preserving the internal national decision of the countries without allowing any foreign interference is a top priority, to preserve the homeland and its safety, because every country knows its people better. And that the illusion of democracy promoted by the United States comes in the context of its interests only, and not because it seeks reform and the good of other countries.

Exploiting or creating division within societies is also one of the ways of American penetration of countries to achieve their political or economic interests at the expense of the interest and safety of their people. Also, the concept of justice through the existing institutions today is not the best way or the main way to achieve true justice, in light of a Western international system.

Translated from Arabic and republished from Al-Ayyam

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