Iraq War: 14 years on

Evolution of pro-Saddam elements into deadly militia led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi began with invasion of Iraq in 2003


Naveed Ahmad July 14, 2016
Sir John Chilcot presents The Iraq Inquiry Report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster, London, Britain July 6, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

The ISIS or Daesh is losing ground in Iraq and Syria. This is just a half-truth, and not only that, the dreaded militia is activating sleeper cells elsewhere. A viler scenario will emerge after the outfit vanishes in lawless lands of Iraq, Syria and Libya.

The evolution of pro-Saddam elements into a deadly militia led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi began with the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by George W Bush-led America and Tony Blair’s United Kingdom.

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Legality of the invasion

While the world is consumed by the horrors of Daesh, Brexit-marred British people were interrupted by what is commonly known as the Chilcot report which looks into the circumstances surrounding the March 2003 invasion of Iraq and its aftermath. Sir John Chilcot heads the inquest which was announced in June 2009.

Deputy Premier at the time, Lord Prescott, branded the Chilcot report a "damning indictment of how the Blair government handled the war – and I take my fair share of blame". However, saving some grace, the report does not rule on the legality of the military action. It does what Lord Goldsmith, the then attorney general, advised: Opt for the ‘safest’ legal course by taking United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on board. He was neither asked to produce a written statement before the parliament nor the cabinet.

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Contrary to the US and UK, the other three veto-equipped members of the UNSC, including France, believed there was no need for an invasion as long as UN inspectors were allowed in by Saddam Hussain. Moreover, Blair government did not receive an emphatic yes from intelligence agencies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, which of course were never found. The report noted that the Labour government ignored the statement of Saddam Hussain’s son-in-law, Hussein Kemal, who defected to Jordan in 1995. Baghdad’s former head of weapons programme had stated in a CNN interview, “Iraq does not possess any weapons of mass destruction. I am being completely honest about this.”

The aftermath

The question of Tony Blair misleading the parliament and the country has now come to the fore with the investigation which took seven years and cost around $15 million. The former British premier can be prosecuted abroad for crimes of aggression, misconduct in public office, civil claims by military personnel’s families and impeachment.

Britain lost 179 servicemen and women during the six-year Iraq war which ended in April 2009. On the other side, over a half a million Iraqis died from war-related causes during 2003 to mid-2011 according to a research by academics from the US, Canada and Iraq. Relatives of the deceased in Iraq may also move British courts against Tony Blair for manslaughter.

The Chilcot microscope

Researchers from the University of Washington, Johns Hopkins University, Simon Fraser University and Mustansiriya University found total excess deaths attributable to the war to be around 405,000.

No end in sight

The isolation UK opted for by joining in a non-United Nations Security Council sanctioned invasion of Iraq seems to have reached its logical end: Its divorce from Europe. The recklessness of America and Britain, however, never ceased after toppling Saddam’s regime. The same is being repeated in the developing world, mostly Muslim countries. Installing a sectarian regime in Iraq and drone strikes in Pakistan are two of the most obvious rash policies.

Naveed Ahmad is a Pakistani investigative journalist and academic with extensive reporting experience in the Middle East and North Africa. He is based in Doha and Istanbul. He tweets @naveed360

COMMENTS (1)

cautous | 5 years ago | Reply UK only lost 175 people during the entire war .... biggest embarrassment wasn't how they got into the war but how they performed during the war. USA was so disappointed in the battlefield performance of the Brits that the Generals were forced to admit under oath that if they didn't make significant improvements the American's would forever write them off as a dependable ally.
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