- By Adnan Khan, Khilafah.com
A decade ago in March 2003, 300,000 foreign troops, overwhelmingly from the US began the invasion of Iraq. A million deaths later and after bombing the nation back to the ‘Stone Age’ US policy makers continue to propagate mission accomplished. A dictator has been removed, democracy has been established and the Iraqi people have been liberated. Since the US began reducing its troops, political infighting and violence has afflicted every aspect of Iraqi life – this is the legacy the people of Iraq have inherited from the Americans.
America’s pre-text for invasion has now been proven to be a myriad of lies. The US continued to change the reasons for its invasion of Iraq, from the moral right to remove Saddam Hussein to Saddam’s possession of WMD’s to the fact that the Muslims of Iraq wanted to be liberated. The real reason the West and its allies went to war in 2003 is candidly described in a 2001 report on “energy security” – commissioned by then US vice-president Dick Cheney, which warned that Iraq posed a risk to the security of global energy supplies. Noam Chomsky, considered the world’s eminent intellectual encapsulated America’s agenda: “Take the US invasion of Iraq, for example. To everyone except a dedicated ideologue, it was pretty obvious that we invaded Iraq not because of our love of democracy but because it’s maybe the second- or third-largest source of oil in the world, and is right in the middle of the major energy-producing region. You’re not supposed to say this. It’s considered a conspiracy theory.”
Within a few months of the invasion, the US quickly became marred in an insurgency that today has greatly affected US prowess around the world. When the Baker-Hamilton report was released to congress in December 2006 the US was well and truly drowning in Iraq and comparisons were being made with Vietnam. It became clear to all that the US had massively underestimated the enemy and whilst it had rapidly removed Iraq’s conventional forces the unconventional elements in Iraq had brought the US army to a stalemate. The Baker-Hamillton report concluded that “the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating” and “U.S. forces seem to be caught in a mission that has no foreseeable end.” America dealt with this in three ways, it enlisted the help of regional surrogates, it divided the insurgency through playing on ethno-sectarian divisions and constructed a political process with the help of various opportunists, corrupt groups and individuals.
When the Baker-Hamilton report was released it proposed engagement with Iran over Iraq in order to contain the insurgency. Iran initiated its proxy the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) a group created in Tehran with full backing in 1982. Abdel Aziz al-Hakim its supreme leader until his death in 2009, gathered the major Shi’ah factions to partake in Iraq’s US constructed government, this left the US with an insurgency around Baghdad only to contend with. Turkey played a central role in ensuring the US constructed architecture came together. Turkey brought the different groups together in forming the governments in the elections that took place. As one analyst put it: “Turkey has long facilitated the political stability in Iraq and hereafter Ankara would play a more critical role in Iraq’s political process because Ankara’s role in Iraqi politics balances the impact of Iran on Iraq.”
The Bush administration planned from the outset to dominate Iraq by pursuing the de facto ethnic partition of the country into three autonomous, ethnically divided territories for Sunnis, Kurds and Shi’ah respectively. Thisdivision is at the heart of the current violence and fracture that has gripped the country. The democratic parliament and legislative assembly the US set up in Iraq turned the nation into a factional state with an everlasting factional infighting becoming a permanent state of affairs. Iraq’s first parliamentary elections in 2005 institutionalised sectarian and ethnic differences. Parliament was split between the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) led by the SCIRI and the Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan (DPAK). This precarious settlement between these two groups meant Sunni resistance was contained and the US argued the elections had credibility due to voter turnout.
The US has replaced a brutal system in Iraq, which was headed by a dictator that the US for so long propped up, with a corrupt system that recognises the ethnic and sectarian breakdown of Iraq. This has kept Iraq divided forever and as the constant jockeying for political power has shown democracy has created fertile ground for polarised politics instead of dictatorial politics. Democracy rather than solve nationalism, tribalism or sectarianism, in reality recognises such corruption and incorporates it into a system of parliamentary politics allowing various factions to fight and jockey for their petty interests. This means in the long run violence will continue as a means to settle ethnic differences.
The current tensions in Iraq have been growing since the 2010 elections where sectarian alliances and divisions were central to the outcome. Whilst the Iraqi National Movement, led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, gained the most seats it was unable to form a coalition government. The State of Law alliance, headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the National Iraqi Alliance, composed of mostly pro-Iran groups formed the government. The ethno-sectarian differences were so strong to overcome it took over 8 months for the fractious government to take its place in Iraq’s leadership. Ever since, al-Maliki has accumulated more power. He appointed those close to him in the oil ministry and military and intelligence services. To further solidify his control, al-Maliki began eliminating potential rivals. In December 2011, al-Maliki reportedly banned Sunni Deputy Prime Minister Salehal-Mutlaq from Cabinet meetings and issued an arrest warrant for Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi; both men were members of the Sunni-backed al-Iraqiya List. Al-Maliki’s consolidation of power is leading to all factions utilising their militia’s in order to gain influence over the central government, which all want to use to enrich their own factions.
What has stopped Iraq from imploding has been the presence of US forces to maintain the tenuous system it constructed. The US maintains as it does in many other countries, large embassies that is staffed by civilians and military personnel overseeing the training and equipping of Iraq’s security forces for an indefinite period. The State Department is expected to have up to 17,000 employees and contractors for this on-going diplomatic presence. Whilst much has been made of the US drawdown in Iraq it plans to remain permanently in the country to protect its interests.
The US has achieved its strategic interests in controlling the flow of Iraqi oil. This was through the nature of the agreements to extract oil in the country. Usually governments and oil companies agree to so-called “Production Sharing Agreements (PSA).” Under a PSA, a government gives the oil company the rights to a certain share of the proven crude oil reserves, in return for pumping up (extracting) crude oil. Governments usually grant oil companies a share of the crude oil in the range of 30 – 70%. The contracts in the case of the Iraqi crude oil, however, are ‘Service Contracts (ST).’ Under the ST an oil company is only contracted by the government to perform the service of pumping up the crude oil. For each barrel it pumps up, the oil company is then awarded a remuneration fee. But ownership of the crude oil remains in the hands of the government. In this way Iraqi oil remained within the control of the US sponsored Iraqi government that is dependent on the US.
The Neocon dream of using regime change to bring democracy to the Middle East was in tatters just a few years in. It should be remembered that the CIA with British intelligence for decades sponsored Saddam Hussein’s regime and stood by as he massacred his own people. The US has been publically implicated by arming both sides in the Iran-Iraq war. The US then switched sides when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, it took the opportunity to snatch the countries coveted oil reserves and spent the next decade ridding the country of any possible opposition. Whilst the Neo-cons have mostly retired into oblivion the nightmare they created is daily life for the people of Iraq.