Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the country was already facing a difficult time coupled with totalitarian rule, weak democracy, and constant in-fights between Shia and Sunni extremist groups. The two separatist wings fought for a long time over the Kurds. When the Old Ottoman Empire broke up, it marked a very important historical journey for the contemporary Iraq. The period ushered the defeat of Britain by Turkey when the Central powers were the key rivals. However, Baghdad was later captured when the British troops reorganized their armies.1 Thereafter, Iraq was created as a nation after it was seceded from the Ottoman Empire following the pact signed by both the French and British regimes. By 1916, the pact had already become inclusive. In addition, the territory that was curved out from the Ottoman Empire was later renamed as the state of Iraq and put under the full control of Britain.2
Although a Hashimite monarchy was established by the British in the state of Iraq, some factors were never put into consideration. For example, Britain failed to weigh the impact of various religious groups that had been politicized in the state of Iraq. There were also other ethnic groups with opposing view points. As a result, the Kurds and Shiites initiated a master plan to seek for their autonomy.3 Worse still, the Basra and Baghdad regions that were established by the UK were major political and religious hotspots in the state of Iraq.
Although Iraq was granted independence in 1932 by Britain, it’s political, religious and ethic challenges never came to an end. For instance, the country experienced a number of coup de tats and uncountable social strife before the 2003 invasion by the United States. This paper explores the 2003 invasion of Iraq by discussing the possible causes of the invasion and the aftermath of the political turmoil.
Before the reign of President Saddam Hussein was brought to a tumultuous end in 2003, the Ba’ath party had been in power for quite a long time.4 This political party was largely perceived by the United States as the major powerhouse through which all the atrocities were carried out. Before Iraq was invaded in 2003, serous claims were leveled against President Saddam Hussein by the Bush administration.The September 11, 2001 terror attack in the United States was closely linked with terror groups from Iraq.
However, Iraq was invaded because the US and its allies believed that Saddam Hussein was cordoning terrorism by funding acts of terror in the western world. President Saddam Hussein was also accused of being a key architect in the manufacture of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). Hence, President Bush justified the 2003 invasion based on the close link between terror activities and the reign of Saddam Hussein. Therefore, it was necessary for the US government to bring down the breeding ground for terror in Iraq.
The Al Qaeda terror group under the leadership of Osama Bin Laden had a very safe haven in Iraq according to the allegations made by the Bush administration. The United States teemed up with other international allies to claim that President Saddam Hussein was not ready to cooperate in weeding out all elements of terror emanating from his country. In fact, he was directly accused of being a terror master. Although critics of the Bush administration condemned the intended 2003 invasion of Iraq, the United States of America went ahead and executed its attack against Saddam’s regime.
Saddam had a long period of poor political leadership in Iraq. Civilian strife in the country was the order of the day especially after sanctions were leveled against Iraq for almost one full decade. President Saddam Hussein was also accused by the international community of advancing terror against civilians especially in regions that did not support his political ambitions. Saddam Hussein failed to safeguard peace in his country as demonstrated by the nine years of war with the neighboring Iran. During the conflict years with Iran, the United States government largely supported Iraq even though this support ended after the 9/11 incidence. It can be recalled that President Hussein’s government was claimed to have used Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) to attack Iran.5 Such an initiative by the Iraq government was presumed as an act of terror bearing in mind that thousands of innocent civilians lost their lives.
Another track record of poor leadership of Saddam Hussein was witnessed shortly after the conflict with Iran was concluded. Kuwait was attacked in what was referred to as the Gulf war. Millions of civilians were displaced and several others lost their lives. Massive political and economic losses were encountered by both Iraq and Kuwait.6
Thereafter, the United Nations Security Council enacted more than 16 resolutions for peace. These resolutions were meant to usher in a period of lasting peace between Iraq and her neighbors. Altho bugh the peace resolutions were mutually signed between the UN Security Council and the warring nations, Iraq failed to honor the resolutions. When the Saddam Hussein’s regime officials were questioned, they mentioned that the government was harboring experts of WMDs. The non-committal habit towards peace by Saddam Hussein was also witnessed during the Gulf War period. It is vital to mention that Saddam’s regime took hostage of several foreign civilians. During the Persian Gulf War, the United States was also threatened by Saddam Hussein.
In yet another justification of the 2003 attack, Saddam Hussein was suspected by the United States as a key supporter of terror activities around Palestine.7 For instance, it was claimed that Saddam Hussein was silently offering financial support to suicide bombers.
At this point, it is vital to briefly explore the Kirkuk factor prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. To begin with, Kirkuk city was ravaged by a long period of socio-economic and political strife when Saddam Hussein made every attempt to control the oil fields in this region. Saddam was very keen to gain control of this oil field. In addition, the Arabization policy was carried out in bad taste with the aim of alienating or splitting the Arab population.8 The president even used terror tactics in order to gain control of the oil-rich region. For example, the natives in Kirkuk were compelled to move out from this region. Before the United States government moved in to attack Iraq, the state of peace in Kirkuk was already out of control.
The invasion of Iraq by the Bush administration was supported by 49 nations. Both logistical and troops support were offered by these countries. The attack began on the 19th day of March and was concluded on the first day of May. Major combat operations were carried out within a period of three full weeks. The Ba’athist government was heavily attacked by combined troops drawn from Spain, Poland, Australia, United Kingdom and the US.9 The capital of Iraq was eventually captured by the allied forces. During the startup phase of the attack, four nations took part for a period of about 19 days. During this phase, close to 100,000 troops from the United States were strategically positioned in Kuwait ready for the attack. The Iraqi Kurdistan and Kurdish irregulars also gave a lot of support to the coalition forces.
To begin with, air strikes preceded the invasion. The first spot attacked was Baghdad at the residence of the president. The Basra province was the next target. The region was fully secured by the Special Forces. However, most of the troops traversed the southern region of the country. The Nasiriyah Battle was fiercely fought in this region. The entire country was also attacked by targeted air strikes in order to weaken the resistance ability of the command troops from Iraq. Kirkuk was attacked by the 173rd airborne Brigade on the 26th day of March 2003. The northern portion of Iraq was also secured with the help of Kurdish rebels.
The central region of Iraq was also invaded by the main wing of the coalition troops. At this point, they faced minimal resistance due to their large number. By the 9th day of April, the Iraqi capital was captured and put under the full control of the coalition forces. Several isolated packets of resistance from the Iraqi army were also suppressed by the coalition troops across the country. When it was evident that the coalition forces had weakened most of the army resistances, President Saddam Hussein and the officials of his regime opted to escape in order to avoid being captured. The full military occupation of Iraq began on the 1st day of May, 2003 after all the major combat operations were concluded by the coalition forces.
Poor morale among the Iraqi armies was cited as one of the reasons for their quick defeat by the allied forces.10 The Elite Guards were not spared as well. Most of the elite units were disintegrated immediately after the allied forces emerged. It is also believed that a number of commanding officers from the Iraqi army were easily corrupted by the US intelligence officers.
In terms of the casualties, most of the deaths were recorded among the civilians compared to the military officers on the ground. It was estimated that close to 8,000 civilians died during the invasion period. Although the estimates vary a lot depending on the sources of information, hundreds of civilians lost their lives during the attack. In addition, the country went through an intense period of massive looting. After the war, the international oil prices skyrocketed because most oil wells were not functional during the war period and even several months after the combat was concluded.11
From the above discussion, it can be concluded that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by the US and coalition forces was mainly caused by the 9/11 terror attack in the United States. President Saddam Hussein was accused of harboring terrorists in Iraq and manufacturing Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). He was also directly linked with Osama Bin Laden who was the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 twin terror attacks. Saddam Hussein was unwilling to root out the operations of the Al Qaeda network. He also dishonored the UN peace resolutions at the expense of civilian in Iraq and the neighboring countries.
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