The 20th March marked the 16th anniversary of Iraq’s liberation from Saddam’s genocidal dictatorship. Yes, I call it liberation because Saddam was the Middle Eastern equivalent to Adolf Hitler. His Arab Socialist Baath Party waged wars against countries over territories that he considered part of a greater Iraq, namely Kuwait and Iran. Furthermore, his treatment against his own ethnic minorities led to an estimated 182,000 Kurds murdered in what is known as the Anfal Genocide in the 1980s. Anfal, which included chemical warfare, was the very reason why my family fled, with Kurdish freedom fighters that my father and grandfather were part off also being forced out to Iran where I was born, before we all relocated to London as political refugees.
Everyone was a victim in Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical rule in Iraq. The Shia majority were suppressed for religious reasons and were often see as Iranian infiltrators, and Turkmens and Assyrian Christians were denied ethnic and cultural rights and were also affected by the Anfal Genocide. Even Sunni-Arabs, the community Saddam came from, were oppressed if they called for a different system. Saddam believed in the supremacy and unity of the Arab nation at the expense of the mosaic of ethnic groups in the Middle East, and fascist tendencies like this have no place in the world so why are we still having a debate about whether the war on Iraq was the right thing to do or not?
US policy in Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s overthrow has clearly been a failure, and one that was built on naivety of the political and social structure of the country; this ultimately allowed Iraq to continue being in a condition of state failure. These conditions allowed the rise of civil wars and eventually led to the rise of the biggest terrorist organisation we have seen in modern history, ISIS. These consequences unfortunately led to large scales of fatalities. However, stating these things does not change the fact that Saddam Hussein was a brutal mass murdering dictator who needed to be overthrown, and this should have been done sooner when the US had the chance to in the first Gulf War.
We should be having discussions on where the US went wrong after 2003 instead of why they intervened in the first place. I firmly put it down to the failure to implement the Biden Plan which would have established three federal regions (Kurdistan, Sunni-Arab Central, Shia-Arab South). The likes of ISIS played on Sunni-Arab grievances during the premiership of Nouri al-Maliki, a Shia Islamist, and this would not have happened had they were controlling their own affairs autonomously. The community has traditionally led Iraq since it’s foundation in 1921 (with the exception of Abdul Karim Qasim who was of mixed ancestry), so the demotion to minority status after 2003 was a radical change and a bitter pill many could simply not swallow.
In the UK, a country that played a secondary role in the Iraq War, the far-left and Sunni Islamists played a crucial role in turning public opinion against it. Groups such as Stop the War Coalition were an alliance effectively created by those who had such ideological tendencies, which is not really a surprise. The far-left will oppose any western intervention, even if needed, and the Sunni Islamists will oppose intervention when it suits them. The later was evidently clear as they were supportive of the overthrow of Assad in Syria, showing inconsistencies towards intervention in Muslim-majority countries and aliening themselves to approaches where their sectarian identity is given an opportunity to dominate. I would have liked the vast majority of the British public to understand what it was like under Saddam instead of caving into the ideological tendencies of those who indirectly supported his continued reign.