A nation whose dreams have been destroyed

A nation whose dreams have been destroyed
Comment: Iraq was invaded on a lie, was defiled by its occupiers, and has become the foreword to the darkest chapter of the Middle East's modern history, says Shukri Shewayish.
3 min read
08 Apr, 2015
Twelve years on and no one has been held to account [AFP]

It is 12 years since George W Bush and Tony Blair used the pretext of weapons of mass destruction to invade, occupy and destroy Iraq, home to one of the most sophisticated and advanced civilizations in the world.

But the murderous spree did not start on 20 March 2003,  when US missiles rained on Baghdad and other cities signalling the start of a campaign the Americans flippantly and callosuly referred to as "shock and awe".

The USA and the UK had bullied, cajoled, bribed and intimated the world into imposing a murderous sanctions regime on Iraq in the 1990s.

They did so with the connivance and the explicit support of Arab states as punishment for Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

Its effects were the deaths of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children.

The liberty-loving then-US secretary of state, Madeline Albright, suggested in an interview that these deaths were a price worth paying for containing Saddam Hussein.

The brutality of his Baathist regime is well documented and his iron-fisted rule was often bloody. But the Baath party only managed to get into power in Iraq in 1963, and later in 1968 with the support of Western intelligence agencies, especially the CIA.

Iraqi forces fought the US-led coalition troops until 9 April, 2003, when a giant statue of Saddam was toppled in Baghdad's Firdos square. This was in front of the Palestine hotel, where three journalists had been killed hours earlier in a US attack.

Before the statue was toppled, an American marine climbed a ladder and placed an US flag over the statue's face.

Whether the event was spontaneous or stage-managed, as many have suggested, there is no doubt that the image beamed around the world was meant to send a clear message not only to Iraq but the wider Arab world: resistance is futile.

This was not just the beginning of Iraq's tragedy; it was start of probably the darkest chapter in the modern history of the Arab world and the wider Middle East.

The complicity of many Arab states in this crime is well documented.

Once in control of Iraq, the US and British troops carried out unspeakable acts of torture, extra-judicial killings and rape, not to mention the looting of treasures and the theft of its resources.

Countless accounts by Iraqis and foreign organisations have documented these crimes. But to date no one, least of all the war criminals who ordered the war and the subsequent horrors, have been held to account.

How many children have died? How many generations wiped out? Can anyone put a number on the shattered dreams and hopes of millions of Iraqis?

And when does it all end?

Shukri Shewayish is an Iraqi journalist, and a senior editor at al-Araby al-Jadeed.