Window of Indonesian democracy

20 years post US invasion of Iraq, corruption and sectarianism persist


Bagdad, – Despite 20 years having passed since the fall of the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s regime, Iraq remains far from what former US President George Bush called “liberal democracy,” as the country has suffered from bloody conflicts, corruption, and instability since the US-British invasion in March 2003.

Several reports and journalistic investigations, as well as admissions by American and British officials, have proven that the claims made by then-US Secretary of State Colin Powell about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were not true. However, the declared goal of the US forces and the international coalition forces sent to the Iraqi desert on March 20, 2003, was to seize the alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Instead, what happened was the toppling of the dictator who had been in power in Iraq since 1979, and the analyst Samuel Hellman told Agence France-Presse that Bush promised to “impose liberal democracy” as an alternative to the Iraqi regime, but “the United States knew nothing about Iraq.”

The analyst, who is an assistant professor of strategy and policy at the Naval Postgraduate School in California, added: “They did not understand either the nature of the Iraqi society or the nature of the regime they toppled.”

From 2003 until the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq in 2011, more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed, according to the “Iraq War Victims” organization. In contrast, the United States lost around 4,500 personnel in Iraq.

Iraq suffered its biggest shock after the US-British invasion, when the Islamic State group seized wide areas of the country in the summer of 2014, covering about a third of Iraq’s territory. The group’s control ended in late 2017 when Baghdad declared “victory” over the extremist group after fierce battles and support from an international alliance led by Washington.

The violence of the past two decades has led to a profound change in Iraqi society, which is characterized by its large ethnic and sectarian diversity.

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The numbers of Christians and Yazidis in the country have decreased due to attacks they faced during sectarian wars and violations committed by ISIS, leading to successive waves of migration.

Relations between the federal government and the autonomous Kurdistan Region, which seeks more power, especially regarding the issue of oil exports from the region, have become tense.

Late in 2019, many areas in the country, especially the capital Baghdad, witnessed unprecedented widespread protests against corruption, “mismanagement,” and Iranian interference in Iraq’s affairs.

Following the heavily suppressed protests, early legislative elections were held in October 2021, and it took political parties mired in corruption and sectarianism a year to agree on a new prime minister’s name after bloody clashes between Shia-armed factions.

Today, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi confirms in an interview with AFP that he wants to address corruption “according to legal contexts” in a country where this scourge dominates most of its institutions and ranks 157th out of 180 countries as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, according to Transparency International.

However, this is a difficult task, as “corruption is deeply rooted in Iraq,” according to Canadian-Iraqi political expert Hamza Haddad.

The article discusses the 20th anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and highlights the ongoing challenges faced by the country. The author, Hamza Haddad, notes that while the invasion is often cited as the start of Iraq’s problems, corruption actually began to flourish during the sanctions imposed on Saddam Hussein’s regime in the 1990s.

Despite having vast oil reserves, Iraq suffers from crumbling infrastructure, including frequent power outages and a lack of clean drinking water distribution networks. One-third of Iraq’s population of 42 million people live in poverty.

However, Haddad argues that Iraq is a country in the transition toward democracy. The majority of Iraq’s population is Shia Muslim, and Haddad notes that Shia political parties remain the strongest players in the country’s politics. Despite their differences, Shia factions supported by Iran have managed to maintain a certain level of cohesion to preserve their relationships. Tehran plays a critical role in ensuring this cohesion, particularly as Iran became Iraq’s closest ally after the devastating war between the two countries in the 1980s.

In addition to trade relations and Iraq’s reliance on Iranian gas, Iraq is home to over 150,000 fighters from the Popular Mobilization Forces, armed groups aligned with Iran that have been integrated into the government’s security forces.

Source: Arabi21

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