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20 years after the Iraq war

Twenty years have passed since the 2003 Iraq occupation by the US. Nothing would better tell the difference between the Iraq of then and now than what the BBC's West Asia Correspondent Jeremy Bowen: the begging children who can be seen on almost any street. They are forced to stay on the streets when they should be in school in a country that once had the most modern hospitals and schools of European standard. In the meantime, only one event occurred in the nation. Iraq was invaded by America and Britain, who then completely destroyed the country's infrastructure in the process of winning the war. The cause of the 2003 war was the alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime. Later the world understood that it was a false claim. And so did those who fought the war. The father of George W Bush, George Bush Sr., was not capable of taking control of Baghdad or overthrowing Saddam after Kuwait was liberated by US forces in the first Gulf War in 1991. Bush apparently realized that America would have to bear its consequences and burden. Bush was discouraged by his concern that an extended occupation and a regime change without UN consent would be a never-ending problem. On the other hand, Bush Jr. invaded Baghdad on false intelligence that Saddam's side had Weapons of Mass Destruction without even waiting for UN permission. Except for Britain, no other major allies stood with the US.

The objectives of the attacks were to destroy the weapons of mass destruction, stop Saddam from supporting terrorism, remove him from power, and liberate the Iraqi people. Civilians, including children and women, were the majority that was killed in the process. It is estimated that there were at least one lakh civilian deaths, but many more people are still suffering due to disease, job loss, and loss of livelihood and assets. However, the vacuum of ruling power and chaos that followed the war brought more suffering to the Iraqi people. With war wins at their disposal, the American administration's arrogance and fervour blinded them to the realities of Iraq. The coalition launched its attack by claiming that earlier resolutions were adequate after the United Nations refused to approve the invasion of Iraq. Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General at the time, stated in an interview with the BBC that the invasion was against the UN Charter. The neoconservatives around Bush claimed that with a war they could not only secure the country without much loss of life, but also establish peace and democracy in Iraq, then Syria, Iran, and ultimately the entire Middle East. Later, the doctrine that it is easy to start a war but more difficult to exit from it got proved. Saddam was ousted within weeks, but by then the people were nearly starving due to the UN sanctions already in place. Infant mortality was high due to malnutrition.

US-UK forces were unable to bring peace to the streets. The struggle against occupation turned into a struggle between different sects. The US was unable to hold together the complex Iraqi populist equation of Shia-Sunni sects and Kurds or to create mechanisms of compromise through the democratic process. Armed militias have begun to kill the enemy, their non-nationals, and their own civilians. Elections were held, but the mostly Shia-dominated regimes failed to establish stability or unity. The final legacy of the 2003 war is a broken country, unrest, a weak economy, a shrinking oil industry and revenues, a shortage of schools and hospitals, and the absence of a stable government. Prime Minister Mohammad Shia Al Sudani, who assumed office in October, faces numerous difficulties. Dealing with corruption comes foremost. In his broadcast on television, he sat exhibiting beside him a few bundles of cash that had been seized as bribes. He promises a new beginning. Millions of Iraqis will be praying for it to happen and supporting it, but positive news from Baghdad won't come until guns fall silent.

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TAGS:americaIraq warSyriaUKUnited NationsUS invasionKurdShiaGeorge BushSaddam HusseinWeapons of mass destructionGulf war2003 Iraq invasion
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