London – In March 2003, the United States and its allies unleashed a devastating attack on Iraq, sparking a brutal decade-long war that claimed countless lives and reshaped the political landscape of the region. Today marks the 20th anniversary of this fateful event.
The war represents a systematic failure across all western institutions for many reasons. Clear now, the war was built on false claims that the regime of Saddam Hussein colluded with Al Qaeda, possessed weapons of mass destruction and infamously, could launch nuclear attacks on British soil within 45 minutes in the ‘dodgy dossier’. The war-hungry vanguards of the neocon administration, responsible for the first Gulf War and with strong financial interests in the military industrial complex, hijacked national policy and stood to gain handsomely from the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Influential press organisations played a pivotal role in disseminating the lies propagated by pro-war leaders in their push for war. UK Parliament and US Congress- mandated to scrutinise government policies- not only failed in their duty but instead amplified the calls for war. The Judiciary was unable to protect the rule of law and prevent the deaths of millions. Democratic mandates were disregarded as governments acted in an authoritarian fashion, in defiance of historic global protests against the war and occupation of Iraq.
In reality, the invasion of Iraq remains an act of aggression that violated international law and destroyed the lives of countless innocent people. Despite overwhelming evidence that exposed the falsity of the war, leaders responsible for this brutal conflict have yet to be held accountable. During the decade-long occupation by Western forces, Iraq was systematically exploited, with multinational corporations making record-breaking profits from the country’s natural resources at the expense of its people. The US-led coalition’s overthrow of Saddam Hussein also triggered terminal sectarian violence. This has not only destabilised Iraq, but hastened the rise of Daesh and played an important role in the fragmentation of the region we witness today.
Moreover, the war in Iraq was sold under the umbrella of the ‘War on Terror’, a project that has amplified and perpetuated flagrant and institutional oppression against Muslims globally, creating prejudice and discrimination worldwide. The WoT has seen countless innocent Muslims kidnapped, tortured and abused in black sites run by the US and its allies. Across Europe, Muslim communities face increasing securitisation and state surveillance. The rise of right-wing governments and their allies in the press has created a febrile environment for Muslims who face entrenched Islamophobia and discrimination.
The catastrophic impact the invasion of Iraq had on the country, the region and world at large must be recognised.
Anas Mustapha, Head of Public Advocacy at CAGE said:
‘We call for the prosecution of all those responsible for this catastrophic invasion, to ensure justice is delivered to those affected by the devastation brought on by the Iraq war. It is the highest moral imperative to ensure those who led us into this disastrous conflict are called to account for the millions across the Middle East who have and continue to suffer from its aftermath.’
White House photo by Paul Morse courtesy of Wikimedia
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