14 years on, where’s Iraq’s democracy?

The invasion failed to introduce the democracy, freedom and liberty.


2017/03/19 Issue: 98 Page: 7


The Arab Weekly
Tallha Abdulrazaq



March 20th marks the 14th anniver­sary of the beginning of the US-led military campaign to invade Iraq and to topple Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist regime.

2003 was a fateful year for Ira­qis, with some hoping that there would be a new era of freedom and democracy and others sceptical about American intentions. After all, then-president George W. Bush was the son of former US president George H.W. Bush, who started the process of the destruction of Iraq during the 1990-91 Gulf War, so it was unlikely that his son would be more generous to Iraq.

By the time the Americans and their allies invaded Iraq illegally, Saddam had been president for 24 years since 1979, though he was in de facto control years before then.

The invasion failed to intro­duce the democracy, freedom and liberty from tyranny that the Iraqi people were promised. Not only did Iraqis fail to see any real positive change in their circum­stances but the opposite occurred, with the Iraqi people looking on as their country was torn apart, its constituent peoples each pulled in different directions and within the orbits of foreign powers meddling in Iraqi affairs.

It is as though the preceding years of sanctions, death and de­struction wrought by American air power before the invasion was not bad enough. Iraq was subjected to sanctions and the controversial UN-administered oil-for-food pro­gramme, which saw Iraqis get no real payment for exporting their oil but would instead receive food, medicine and other humanitarian aid. While on paper this seems a humane way of slapping sanctions on a dictatorship without harming the people, the reality is that Iraqis were given substandard products that were in some cases harmful to consumers.

Apart from that, more than 500,000 Iraqi children died as a direct result of sanctions by 1995, with probably hundreds of thousands more in the ensuing years up to 2003, not to men­tion the other innocent men and women caught up in the inhuman sanctions regime. Did the invasion alleviate their suffering? Did the rate at which the Iraqi people were being systematically killed drop?

The answer to that can only be an emphatic “No”. In the first three years after the invasion, a British medical publication, the Lancet, recorded that 654,965 Iraqis had lost their lives by June 2006 as a direct consequence of the invasion. If we take just the 1995 and the 2006 figures, that is more than 1 million people who have had their lives snuffed out of existence.

Of course, the Iraq war con­tinued officially until the United States under Barack Obama withdrew in December 2011 but its effects, such as the creation of a hyper-sectarian environment that allowed Iran to exert ever greater control over extremist Shia mili­tants, who in turn provided a fer­tile ground for al-Qaeda to evolve into the rabid terrorist threat of the Islamic State (ISIS).

Now, 14 years on, it is doubtful that ISIS’s defeat in Mosul will herald a new beginning for Iraq, as the core symptoms of corruption, sectarianism and foreign med­dling have yet to be dealt with.

The circumstances and conse­quences of the 2003 invasion have created a ripple effect of misery that, tragically, will not be ending any time soon.


Tallha Abdulrazaq is a researcher at the University of Exeter’s Strategy and Security Institute in England.


As Printed
MENA Now
Editors' Picks

The Arab Weekly Newspaper reaches Western & Arabic audience that are influential as well as being affluent.

From Europe to the Middle East,and North America, The Arab Weekly talks to opinion formers and influential figures, providing insight and comment on national, international and regional news through the focus of Arabic countries and community.

Published by Al Arab Publishing House

Publisher and Group Executive Editor: Haitham El-Zobaidi, PhD

Editor-in-Chief: Oussama Romdhani

Managing Editor: Iman Zayat

Deputy Managing Editor and Online Editor: Mamoon Alabbasi

Senior Editor: John Hendel

Chief Copy Editor: Richard Pretorius

Copy Editor: Stephen Quillen

Analysis Section Editor: Ed Blanche

East/West Section Editor: Mark Habeeb

Gulf Section Editor: Mohammed Alkhereiji

Society and Travel Sections Editor: Samar Kadi

Syria and Lebanon Sections Editor: Simon Speakman Cordall

Contributing Editor: Rashmee Roshan Lall

Senior Correspondents: Mahmud el-Shafey (London) & Lamine Ghanmi (Tunis)

Regular Columnists

Claude Salhani

Yavuz Baydar

Correspondents

Saad Guerraoui (Casablanca)

Dunia El-Zobaidi (London)

Roua Khlifi (Tunis)

Thomas Seibert (Washington)

Chief Designer: Marwen Hmedi

Designers

Ibrahim Ben Bechir

Hanen Jebali

Published by Al Arab Publishing House

Contact editor at:editor@thearabweekly.com

Subscription & Advertising: Ads@alarab.co.uk

Tel 020 3667 7249

Mohamed Al Mufti

Marketing & Advertising Manager

Tel (Main) +44 20 6702 3999

Direct: +44 20 8742 9262

www.alarab.co.uk

Al Arab Publishing House

Kensington Centre

177-179 Hammersmith Road

London W6 8BS , UK

Tel: (+44) 20 7602 3999

Fax: (+44) 20 7602 8778

Follow Us
© The Arab Weekly, All rights reserved