The 20th March 2023 marked the twentieth anniversary since the imperialist invasion of the U.S, Britain and their allies in Iraq.
Back then, the so-called “Iraqi Freedom” operation, initiated by the U.S government under George W. Bush, was an advanced sequel of the first imperialist war in Iraq in 1990-91, within the framework of the Gulf War. The aim was the same: The strengthening of the position of the U.S monopolies in the geostrategically significant region of the Middle East.
Since the mid-1990s, the region of the “broader Middle East” was the major focus point of U.S. foreign policy, within the context of the inter-imperialist competition with other powers, including the EU, Russia and China. The September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks and the rise of Al-Qaeda jihadist group, provided the necessary alibi for the U.S administration to launch its new strategy, initiating the so-called “war against terrorism” by defining the “axis of evil” which included Iran and Iraq. Towards this direction, the Bush administration had the loyal support of the British government under Tony Blair, as well as the conservative governments of Spain and Italy.
However, the beginning of every imperialist war needs a pretext. In the case of Iraq, US and Britain falsely asserted that Saddam Hussein possessed “weapons of mass destruction”. On February 2003, during a presentation at the U.N Security Council, the then U.S Secretary of State Colin Powell tried to justify the military invasion by claiming that Iraq's government indeed had in its possession WMD. Two years later, in 2005, CIA's top weapons inspector admitted that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction had “gone as far as feasible” but nothing had been found.
The U.S invasion in Iraq marked an escalation of imperialist aggression that followed the counterrevolutionary events in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The military attack, which began on March 2003, initially had rapid results in achieving key operational objectives. On 9 April 2003 Baghdad had been captured by the U.S forces and on 1 May President George W. Bush delivered a nationally televised “Mission Accomplished” speech declaring the end of major combat operations and the defeat of Iraq's conventional military forces. Shortly after, L. Paul Bremer was appointed chief of the so-called “Coalition Provisional Authority” in the occupied by the U.S army territory. Saddam Hussein himself was captured on 13 December 2003 near Tikrit; he was imprisoned and condemned to death in 2006 following a mock trial by the U.S-created “Iraqi Interim Government”.
In many cases, U.S soldiers committed atrocities against the local population, including murders, rapes, beatings, electrocution, mock executions and looting. Prisons like Abu Ghraib turned into notorious torture camps with a record in human rights violations.
In 2011, the U.S government withdrew its military forces from Iraq, but in June 2014 President Barack Obama announced the return of U.S forces as part of Operation “Inherent Resolve”. The pretext for this decision was the northern Iraq offensive by the Islamic State (ISIS), which had previously a significant contribution in the insurgence against the Bashar Al-Assad government in Syria.
It must be noted that both the activity of Al-Qaeda and ISIS were used as a pretext by the U.S and EU for a series of imperialist interventions in the Middle East, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The relations between such jihadist groups and U.S intelligence services go back to the 1980s, when the Mujahedin were actively supported by the U.S in their war against the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and the Soviet Union. From 1979 to 1992, the United States provided billion worth of financial assistance and weapons to the Mujahedin through Pakistan's intelligence services and Osama Bin Laden himself was trained by U.S Special Forces commandos. Many years later, in 2013, U.S Senator John McCain was secretly meeting with ISIS members, including prominent leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in Syria.
The Iraq War was a heinous imperialist crime, one of the many committed by the United States government and its allies. By the end of 2022, only 900 U.S soldiers had remained in the country, but the people of Iraq are still paying the tragic consequences of the war. Meanwhile, the perpetrators of the imperialist intervention, including former U.S President George W. Bush, former U.S Vice President Dick Cheney and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, were never brought to justice for their crimes.
* Nikos Mottas is the Editor-in-Chief of In Defense of Communism.