In the context of the current international climate of war, we will at the outset, examine the series of historical events that have led Iraq to a point where it is today --- a point of no return. The current situation that has engulfed Iraq in prolonged war has a history of bombardments by foreign forces.
Today, the country is ravaged by war. Blown up into tatters, Iraq is under the siege of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) - the most dreaded terrorist outfit - that has wreaked havoc across the country.
Who is to blame for the current state of violence and chaos in Iraq? Let's take a look at the history of Iraq.
Going back in history, we see that the colonial British in the early 1900s carelessly drew up artificial boundaries for Iraq, forcing the diverse groups to identify themselves under one nation – called Iraq. This was viewed as the part of the bigger divide-and-conquer strategy. The New York Times on March 14, 2013, in an article by Roger Morris had said that the CIA actively supported Saddam Hussein's initial rise to power in the 1960s by staging a coup in an attempt to undermine the challenging power of Abdel Karim Kassem, who, according to Washington's fears was growing in influence and execution of power.
The influence of external forces continued in the region in subsequent years too.
In the 1980s, the US along with Britain supported Saddam in the war against Iran, both militarily and financially. Iraq was provided arms, money, satellite intelligence and chemical weapon precursors in Iraq's war of aggression against Iran. To further complicate the Iran-Iraq war, the US secretly armed the Iranians at the same time.
The policy of foreign intervention continued until 2003 when in a man who unleashed chaos in Iraq in 2003 knew exactly why it would be dangerous to do so a decade prior. Following the first U.S. invasion of Iraq in 1990 and popularly known as the First Gulf War, the US slapped economic sanctions on Iraq that reportedly killed over 500,000 Iraqi children.
The UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, Denis Halliday, resigned in protest, stating, "Four thousand to five thousand children are dying unnecessarily every month due to the impact of sanctions because of the breakdown of water and sanitation, inadequate diet and the bad internal health situation."
In 2003, the US decided to invade Iraq again in 2003, this time with the intention of ousting Saddam Hussein and his entire government. Seen as an act of revenge, the US had capitalized on American fears following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and invaded a country that had no relation to the terror attacks.
In March 2003, the US began its "Shock and Awe" bombing campaign "on a scale that indicate[d] to Iraqis" that Saddam and his leadership were finished.
Incidentally, the Project for the New American Century had released a document in 2001 entitled "Rebuilding America's Defenses Strategy, Forces, and Resources for a New Century." According to this document, the US was called for massive increases in military spending and a much more aggressive foreign policy agenda in order to expand America's dominance worldwide. In this document, Iraq featured heavily.
In the biggest mistake of the wartime, Paul Bremer, leader of the Coalition Provisional Authority and US Presidential Envoy and Administrator in Iraq, disbanded Saddam Hussein's Elite Force, The Republican Guards, and fire 400,000 servicemen simply because of their affiliation with Hussein's Baathist party. This single war blunder directly led to the rise of ISIS.
Almost all the top leaders of ISIS are former army officers in Iraq. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the current leader, reshaped the al-Qaeda in Iraq by recruiting from this disbanded army. In May 2015, Time Magazine ran an article entitled, "How Disbanding the Iraqi Army Fueled ISIS." This is the biggest truth of Iraq.
With the passage of time, ISIS and the other terrorist groups established a foothold in Iraq following the 2003 US invasion of Iraq and had been wreaking havoc across the country. Ben Swann, an investigative journalist, stated, "Before the 2003 US invasion, do you know how many suicide attacks there were in Iraq? None! But since the 2003 invasion, there have been 1,892."
Now enters the war stage, Donald Trump, the fifth US President in succession to bomb Iraq. As American air strikes continue to kill the Iraqi civilians by the hundreds, we remember the words of Dick Cheney who on the question of the US forces invading Iraq in 1994 responded with a resolute "No," adding,
"… Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam Hussein's government, then what are you going to put in its place? That's a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq, you could very easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off. It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq."
Dick Cheney's words hold true even today. Iraq is in tatters with ISIS bleeding the country to death. But the history of intervention too has destroyed the country beyond repair.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in a report titled "A Heavy Price for Children, on July 1, 2016, warned that 3.6 million Iraqi children are at 'serious risk' of death, injury, sexual violence, abduction, and recruitment to armed groups, and has called on warring parties in Iraq to protect their rights. The Report described Iraq as "one of the most dangerous places in the world for children."
As the war enters another year with an uncertain fate, the questions that need to be asked are, Will these children of war – the future of Iraq – ever see the light?