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How the United States and the United Kingdom tried to justify the invasion of Iraq

On March 20, 2003, the United States led a coalition that launched a full-fledged coalition The invasion of Iraqwith close support from the United Kingdom

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

An Iraqi man watches his mother on a bus being loaded to head to Syria at a bus station in Baghdad, on March 9, 2003. Buses at this station have increased their trips to Syria from 4 to 20 per day, carrying people fleeing the threat of the US-led invasion and others heading To the Shiite shrine of Sayeda Zainab in the Syrian capital [David Guttenfelder/AP Photo]

However, 20 years after its launch Operation Iraqi FreedomThe question of whether the invasion of Iraq was the product of deliberate deception by the United States, the United Kingdom and other voters, or faulty intelligence or strategic calculations, is still a matter of debate.

What seems inevitable is that the Iraq war cast a shadow over the foreign policies of the United States, with repercussions to this day.

Weapons of mass destruction

“Let me start by saying, we were almost all wrong, and I certainly include myself here,” David Kaye, chair of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), told the US Senate on January 29, 2004.

His team – a fact-finding mission set up by the multinational force to find and disable Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction – was ultimately unable to find substantial evidence that Saddam Hussein had an active weapons development programme.

The Bush administration had presented this as a sure thing before the invasion.

Iraq war protest
Anti-war protesters gather in Hyde Park during a demonstration against the war in Iraq on February 15, 2003. [Toby Melville/Reuters]

In a speech delivered in the US city of Cincinnati, Ohio, on October 7, 2002, the US President announced that Iraq “possess and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking to obtain nuclear weapons.”

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

Then British Prime Minister Tony Blair had said the same thing on September 24, 2002, when he presented a British intelligence dossier confirming that Saddam Hussein could activate chemical and biological weapons “within 45 minutes, including against his own Shiite population”.

When the Iraq Study Group presented its findings, one of the main arguments for war collapsed. “We have evidence that they certainly could have produced small quantities [of WMD]But we found no evidence of the stock, Kay said in his testimony.

According to Sanam Wakil, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Chatham House, the decision to invade Iraq was a “major violation of international law” and that the real goal of the Bush administration was a broader transformative effect in the region.

“We know that the intelligence created that [Hussein] An agent told Al-Jazeera.

Egyptian anti-war protesters hold a sign reading “Stop killing” in reference to the US-led war against Iraq during an anti-US demonstration outside Al-Azhar Mosque on March 28, 2003 in Cairo – more than 10,000 protesters march peacefully against the US – 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,” Wakil said.

Some observers pointed to the fact that while the Iraq Study Group did not find an active WMD program, it did gather evidence that Saddam was planning to resume the program once international sanctions against Iraq were lifted.

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

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

Hussein himself led many to believe that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program was active. In an interview with US investigators who compiled the report on the country’s weapons of mass destruction in 2004, he admitted that he had been willfully vague about whether the country still kept biological agents in an effort to deter longtime enemy, Iran.

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

A man in the foreground watches a giant statue fall in the middle of Baghdad
A US Marine watches a statue of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein being overthrown in 2003 [Goran Tomasevic/Reuters]


While Bush was campaigning for the presidency on the promise of a “modest” foreign policy, the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, dragged the United States into a decades-long global military counterterrorism campaign dubbed the “War on Terror.” .

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

“Such countries and their terrorist allies form an axis of evil with the aim of threatening world peace,” he said.

The word went on to define Iraq as one of the pillars of the so-called “axis of evil”.

The US President said that “Iraq continues to boast of hostility to America and support for terrorism.”

He added, “This is a regime that approved 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 made the connection between Saddam’s government and the group behind 9/11, stating that Iraq “aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda.”

Hussein was known to have supported various groups deemed “terrorist” by some countries, including the Iranian splinter group Mujahedin-e Khalq, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and several Palestinian splinter groups, but evidence of links to al-Qaeda proved to be overwhelming. Not found.

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

However, he believes that the sanctions regime against Iraq is collapsing, containment has failed, and once sanctions are lifted, Saddam Hussein will restore his weapons of mass destruction program and “blackmail the United States in the future.”

Exporting democracy

In a speech on October 14, 2002, Bush said that the United States is “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 a new era of hope will begin,” he added.

A few months later, he added that “the new regime in Iraq will serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other countries in the region” and “start a new phase of peace in the Middle East.”

In the end, the attempt to turn Iraq into a “bulwark of democracy” backfired largely, with little evidence of democracy promotion in the broader region.

“Since the war in Iraq, not only has there been a constant threat from Al Qaeda, but there has also been the emergence of ISIS [ISIL] An agent from Chatham House said: “

Far-reaching decision by the United States to ban the ruling Baath Party and dissolution of the Iraqi army They were early mistakes of the Bush administration, according to the analyst.

In 2005, under American occupation and with strong input from experts provided by the United States, Iraq hastily drafted a new constitution, establishing a parliamentary system.

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

According to Marina Ottaway, Middle East Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center, the US invasion has “created a system based on divergent sectarian interests” that is “awash in factional balancing politics to address policies that will improve the lives of Iraqis”.

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

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

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