The Iraqi war started on March 20th, 2003 when president George Bush commandeered the US-led invasion to wage war against Saddam Hussein’s then dictatorial regime. Under the backing of the US-led invasion was a multinational confederacy comprising the UK troops and Australia, Poland, and Denmark among others forming the lesser contingents. To George Bush, the war was simply “an Operational Iraq freedom”, while to Tony Blair and his proteges, the war was “Operation Tell”. Albeit, all the proponents of the war called it the “Occupation of Iraq”. All these epithets were hatched to underscore the fact that at the time of the invasion, Bush and his team assumed that the military intervention in Iraq to topple the autocratic Saddam government was the only panacea to the socio-economic problems that were bedeviling Iraq at the time (Fawn and Hinnebusch, 110).
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To George Bush, the war was expedience since people in high echelons in Iraqi administration possessed in actuality Weapons of Mass Destruction or at least possessed esoteric knowledge about the manufacturing of the same, in contravention to the 1991 accord. In addition to this, it was reported that there was a high likelihood that Saddam and Osama bin Laden were bedfellows in instigating terrorist activities. As if this catalog of suspicions was not enough, cases of human rights abuses and the Iraqi government funding Palestinian suicide bombers’ families were cited also. It is on this backdrop, that Bush maintained that Iraq posed a serious threat to America, her allies, and the interests and the citizens falling within this rubric. Other political science pundits posit the rich Iraqi oil reserve as one of the reasons that propelled the invasion of Iraq.
Four years down the line, Saddam has been captured and was executed in December 2007, an event which was quickly followed by the attempt by the US to introduce a democratic government. The primary aim of the US and the Coalition was to establish an interim democratic state that could at least defend itself, eradicate insurgency, and severe internal divisions that were then perceived to be threatening to tear the state apart. Divisions began to emerge on the type of methodology that was to be adapted to this end (Murray and Scales, 250). America and the Coalition wanted to handpick interim leaders while political groups with religious leanings under the leadership of the Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, wanted elections. Cracks continued to widen when immediately after these developments, there occurred a fresh upsurge of violence against the coalition forces under the aegis of the newly formed and restructured sectarian groups (Keegan, 55). Up to now, this has birthed asymmetric battle with Iraq posing the two main rival groups against each other- the Sunni and the Shia. For this, the battle had been dubbed the Sunni and the Shia civil war. However, myriads of groups began to emerge to form the Iraqi insurgency in dribs and drabs as a way of backlashing against the local events, after the realization that the US had failed to contain the Iraqi crisis, and still could not achieve this feat.
This crisis that emerges in this period is known as the Post Invasion Phase Crisis since it continues after the invasion by America and the coalition and persists even after the exiting by Saddam Hussein. The estimates of the war are moving with the war being reported to have claimed between one hundred and fifty thousand and a million (150,000- 1,000,000) lives. The financial cost has also been staggering having cost 9 billion dollars to the UK and 845 billion dollars to the US. To the overall US economy, it has been reported to have cost 3-5 trillion dollars (Famighetti, 600). The spates of violence have soared following the member nation’s withdrawal of their troops from Iraq due to public outcry. This current state of affairs has given laissez fare to militants in Iraq who have taken sundry shapes and modi operandi. It is on this basis that it is believed that America and the coalition must seek to reach a long-lasting solution to the Iraqi crisis before its deterioration into the international spectrum. To reach any meaningful solution, there will have to be an American effort to identify these rag-tag bandits who fuel the war in Iraq. These groups are normally formed along with ethno-sectarian groupings and religious groupings.
The ethno-sectarian groupings comprise the Sunni insurgency which for survival, normally preys on the Sunni fear of the zealous Shia majority. Other ethnic strands which may at times represent ideological standpoints include the Arabs who are the main bulk of the nation, forming about 70 % – 80% of that population. However, this group is also further sub-divided along the religious lines of Islam. The Kurdish come after the Arabs and form about 15% – 20% of the Iraqi population (Wright, 543). It also comprises the secular Sunni, the Yazidi some secular Shiite, and other far-fetched elements. The Kurdish possess a highly secular government. The Assyrian form only 3% of the total population and therefore the role it plays in the current affair is very minimal. The last and the smallest ethnic grouping in Iraq is the Turkoman which forms 2% of the nation’s population and therefore may not be considered as a serious quid pro quo by America.
The two main ethnic rivals are the Sunni and the Shia. The Shia are the majority while the Sunni are compensated by the fact that they enjoyed lucrative relations with Saddam’s government. On the other end, both the Kurds and the Shia both shared in Saddam’s persecution though the former’s case was more protracted and fully-fledged. The Kurds in addition to this although caught between the Sunni- Shiite rivalry, abhor the Sunni Arabs since the Sunni, under Saddam’s Arabization policy, settled in Iraqi Kurdistan. However, the Kurdish and the Shia are divided along with economic, social, political, and geographical realities. America can manipulate this by working at bringing the Kurdish and the Shia to come up with a bigger number against the Sunni to come up with a feasible divide and rule stratagem. This is also possible because both the Kurdish and the Shia have a propensity to hate any form of dictatorship since they suffered its wrath at the hands of Saddam. The Sunnis’ trust on the other hand is hard to come by since they were once Saddam’s loyalists and would therefore not want to unsettle the status quo. America can best work this out by using her funds to attenuate the social and the economic inconsistencies that exist among the Shia, the Kurds, the Assyrian, and the Turkoman- although the last two are negligible.
America must also take into stock the fact that this matter of inter-ethnic co-existence in Iraq and any struggle that may blow out of proportion has a high propensity to spilling into international relations. This is because the ethnic groupings that exist in Iraq are the same ones that exist in the neighboring countries such as Kuwait, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. To underscore this fact, the Saudi Arabian king Abdallah informed Dick Cheney in November 2006, that should the US pull out of the Iraqi crisis, the Saudi would move in to protect the minority Sunni (Eur, 99). This statement comes in the wake of a longstanding Iranian’s friendly relations with the Shiite and the Arab nations with the Sunni.
Since this issue runs deep into the diplomatic field, and that America may want to consolidate her longstanding relationship with her friends such as Saudi Arabia, the US is left to carefully decide on the matter.
Apart from the ethnic groupings, other militant factions have taken over the situation. Among these are the Islamic Army in Iraq and the Ansar Al- Sunna which employ the widespread use of religious justification to carry out its activities and Salafism (Salafism entails the portrayal and subsequent condemnation of those who do not participate in militancy as unbelievers) to promote the sectarian violence.
The Badr Organization is also a military organization that was established in exile and its rank and file returned to Iraq after the death of Saddam. The Mahdi Army on the other hand was formed after the collapse of the Iraqi state and is the largest within this category. This army is said to already have in its inventory 60,000 army personnel.
Besides these two, there is the Kurdish Militia group which is known to belong to the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), these two are said to be the most disciplined.
Almost all these militants use the death squad killing style, kidnapping, grievous torture, and also carry out execution-style killings. Often, the main users of this approach are the Shia and the Sunni. In most instances, there is the employment of propaganda where all the actions of violence and torture being carried out are taped for distribution (Study of Conflict Institute, 205). At other times, decapitated bodies are dumped by the roadside. This is always an artifice to make sure that recruitment into the army remains possible. At other times. massacres are also carried out, for example, the Hay al-Jihad massacre which was instigated against the Sunni who lost 40 people to this attack. Strictly speaking, the Shia are always the ones who carry out this approach against the Sunni to avenge the consequences of the war meted out against the US occupation and a government that is highly dominated by the Shia.
Herein, America has two choices of either strengthening the Shia by keeping them supplied with arms and finances, to weaken the Sunni (after all, the Shia are fighting the Sunni who on the other hand are resisting militarily the US occupation in Iraq.)
It is also known that sectarian dissertations run deep in Iraq with some Iraqi service members neglecting the military or the police. Many refuse to serve in areas considered hostile while others decline to work in the neighborhood considered hostile or hosting the rival sects. Specifically, the ethnically grouped northern Iraq Kurdish soldiers up to now have abandoned the delivery of services to Baghdad in the phase of the civil strife (Information Access Company, 201). America has the delicate task of curtailing the fallout from the military and the police since these are the most legitimate forces that aid in the restoration of civil obedience. Once the army gets out of the way, the civil disorder will become more entrenched.
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However, the most precise and feasible option the US can take is to liaise also with the Anbar Awakening, a military organization which was formed in September 2006 with the predominant aim of fighting the Al Qaeda and other racial Islamic combatants groups that are particularly situated in the Anbar Province. This group is headed by Sheikh Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al- Rishani, the chairman of another military group, the Anbar awakening which has over 60,000 troops (Segell, 500). The prospects of working with this group are high since it is considered a potential key ally of the US by officials. Presently, Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary is pushing for its incorporation into a liaison with the US occupation forces to increase formidability against other militant resistants.
Although the Mahdi army was initially an outright US enemy (it was one of the first militant groups to get involved in the insurgency as was witnessed in the battle of Bajaj), the Mahdi Army like the Badr Organization has a huge current Iraq government backing from the present Iraq government, yet it is headed for a massive split. This development comes in the wake of the fact that schisms over leadership have heightened between radical jihad propelled jihad movements (the Reform and Jihad Front) and another wing that enjoys local support and wants to adopt a nationalist outlook in the Iraqi based struggle (Allan and Zelizer, 266). The former is headed by an amalgamation of the Al Qaeda members, the Mujahideen Shura Council, while the latter is headed by locals. This state of affairs makes it possible for the US to woo the local wing since Al Qaeda holds strong resentment against the US. The US can liaise with the aforementioned to ensure that this group splinters, since the group is one of the most powerful militias in Iraq, yet it poses its military stance against America.
Marxist standpoints posit that one of the main ingredients to the Iraqi problem was the dismissal of the Baath Party loyalists from government offices- an act which Marxists pose that it is the primary cause of offense to the Sunni which drove them to the insurgency. Marxists warn against the entrenchment of the civil war and the use of force to effect changes (Schmid and Jongman, 606). They maintain that apart from the huge number of lives the war will claim, the war will cause international instability in Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Syria, and will also lead to increased terrorism and radicalism as was seen in the formation of the libertarians of Tamil Tigers and the Hezbollah (these groups emerged during civil wars).
Instead, Marxists point at economic bargaining as a panacea to sorting out the Iraqi problem. They posit that a law on the oil revenue should be revisited to incorporate all the factions equitably. They continue that negotiations be initiated with all the leaders of these factions that are Iraqi aborigines to ensure that government portfolios are also all-inclusive.
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