How US handed Iraq to Iran on a platter
N April 3, 2003, as US troops entered Baghdad, I was invited to the BBC's flagship politics show, This Week, presented by Andrew Neil. We had something of a disagreement. My host's view was that the war had been won and that within 18 months, Iraq would be prosperous, a model of democracy and a shining example to the rest of the Middle East. I said I feared that the real war had not even begun, that a long term US occupation would destroy Iraq and that even after 18 years, Iraq would still be completely unstable, if not a failed state.
I challenged Andrew Neil to invite me back in 18 months so that we could compare notes. He did not. By 2006, even US troops were telling the BBC that intervention had created a catastrophic mess. In one interview, an officer told Hugh Sykes why they couldn't withdraw: "We gotta fix what we broke, or we'll be the laughing stock of the world."
In December 2011, the last US soldiers abandoned the country, battered and bruised, to its uncertain future. What did this military exercise, which cost almost 1.5 million Iraqi lives and displaced millions more, achieve? The claim that Saddam Hussain had weapons of mass destruction, which he intended to use against the West, was discredited before the invasion began. Among the real reasons was regime change, and that, of course, was achieved; but with it came a disastrous catalogue of unintended consequences. First of all, Saddam was a tyrant,
Oyes, but a tyrant who presided over a united country, with a good infrastructure and public services for its citizens. The West's choice, Nouri Al Maliki, who has been prime minister since 2006, has been described as "a worse dictator than Saddam" by his predecessor, Eyad Al Allawi and "tyrannical" by the powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr.
Under Al Maliki, the Iraqi people do not have adequate clean water, electricity or sanitation despite $7 billion (Dh25.69 billion) having been spent on the latter. Like all Middle Eastern dictators, Al Maliki retains power by giving his friends, family, tribesmen and loyalists the cream of commercial contracts. Officials admit that either the commissioned sewers were not installed at all or done very badly. Unemployment stands at 30 per cent, and many of those who have a job will have paid an official to secure it. Bribery is endemic from politicians to prison officers. Administratively, the country is paralysed because many top managers, appointed through corruption, lack the talent and experience necessary to get the country back on its feet.
Some claim that Iraqis are now free of censorship, but the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists reported that, in 2012, "central government officials used threats, harassment, attacks, and imprisonment to suppress critical news coverage throughout the year". Journalist Hadi Al Mahdi was assassinated in September 2011, just one of many killed for speaking out.
The coalition which Al Maliki heads is called the ' Rule of Law'. but that does not, apparently, mean that the law should be obeyed; particularly when it comes to international Human Rights legislation. Critics of the regime or political opponents regularly find themselves falsely imprisoned, without the prospect of a fair trial, in jails where torture and rape are common. 'Corruption investigations' are themselves used as a political tool against former friends who have fallen foul of the regime.