Original article: Roskilde University, Papaya Magazine Issue nr 2 : www.thepapayamag.com
Perspectives of an ex Basra resident (identity witheld due to witness protection protocol)
The Case for war The second Gulf war commenced with the all-out invasion of Iraq in 2003 under directives issued by the administration of George W Bush and Tony Blair respectively. The case for war was cited as Iraq’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction, which when contextualized in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks made military and political sense, at least from the point of view of the United states and Britain. Blame needed to be apportioned for the nine-eleven attacks, in themselves a controversial occurrence whose cause and nature continue to attract mixed opinions to this day, and as such, connections were made and conclusions were drawn. Passionate speeches were made to the American senate, mandates were drawn up and ultimately, Iraq was invaded. Saddam Hussein was captured and later tried and killed under the jurisdiction of an interim Iraqi government and the nation was supposedly liberated from years of despotism. Years later, after brutal periods of civil war and disproportionally high rates of casualties to American other coalition forces, the weapons of mass destruction that were the motive for the invasion of Iraq hadn’t been found and they have still not been found today. Iraq was left war-torn, and the high rate of American casualties had spurred negative reactions amongst the American public. Iraq looked to be turning into a second Vietnam. The question is then, is Iraq better off today than it was before the allied invasion ? The Papaya interviewed Amjad Hussein, an ex-Basra resident who was in Iraq at the time of the invasion. For personal reasons, his name is purely fictional as his real identity has been protected. ‘
Photo: popular pics Amjad’s story Amjad was studying to be an engineer when the invasion begun in 2003. Almost immediately, Amjad found himself being forced into stopping his studies due to the intensity of developments in Iraq at the time. Unable to pursue his academic interests, Amjad started work as an engineer and later interpreter for the British and Danish forces occupying Iraq I started by asking Amjad what his thoughts were at the time of the invasion, to which his face lit up. “We had a great future, I thought” Amjad described life under Saddam as being difficult and stifling. “Mobile phone were not permitted.” “Copy machines were also forbidden.” The stranglehold Saddam’s dictatorial regime maintained on pre-2003 Iraq became all the more apparent to me as Amjad talked intensively about life before the invasion. So too, did the satisfaction many Iraqi’s gained from Saddam’s execution following the invasion. “5 % of Iraq weren’t happy about it” Amjad stated, clearly and confidently, adding that only the people of Tikrit, Saddam’s hometown were sad to see him go, mainly because of the power they wielded in Iraqi politics by virtue of being members of his political family. Amjad seemed glad that the allied forces ousted Saddam, whose dictatorship stifled the nation. He also praised the British soldiers for their conduct, despite citing a particular incident during which a number of Iraqi’s praying at a mosque were shot and killed by British intelligence masquerading as local vigilantes. He cited the incident as being pivotal as far as creating distrust of the motives of British forces amongst the local population.
The pandemonium caused shortly after the allied invasion became evident as Amjad’s recollections came flowing out. “At the time cars were stolen, people were kidnapped and Sunni’s and Shia’s fought each other” His vivid depictions of the chaotic scene that Iraq was plunged into correlate quite well with the snippets of smoking buildings, screaming people and blood-drenched pavements that one would see on CNN and TV2 shortly after the invasion of Iraq. According to him, the conflict was one between Shia and Sunni extremists from Saudi Arabia and Iraq respectively, extremists who took advantage of the political instability of within Iraq in order to wage war against each others religious viewpoints. Sincere motives ? Whilst Amjad was quite clear about his distaste for the Saddam regime and the satisfaction his execution brought to Iraq, he was also quick to question the allied motives for the invasion, citing oil as being a central motivation for involvement in Iraq. “It’s not just me who believes it, today everybody does” he added, a wry smile on his face. Amjad went on to describe how American oil companies control the supply and demand of Iraqi oil at present, owing to the fact that they possess the technology required to drill wells, set up rigs and harness oil, technology which is out of the reach of even the most advanced Iraqi companies. Ultimately, when I asked him whether Iraq was better off today, Amjad responded cooly and in an assured manner, praising the present state of affairs whilst lamenting the state of the nation during the invasion and occupation.
Hence, does the final outcome justify the means by which change in Iraq was achieved ? Iraq was rid of Saddam’s despotic reign albeit at an immense humanitarian cost. At the same time, capitalist American corporations gained control of one of the most precious natural resources in the world at present, a commodity whose supply and demand they now wield a significant degree of control over. The very same capitalist corporations are known to have close ties with the republican party the politicians in power at the time in the United States, leaving room for any number of thoughts. Does a means to an end justify the end then, even when that end, that final conclusion is in itself riddled with controversy ? This is the question that needs to be asked of the allied invasion of Iraq. Has democracy prevailed over despotism or has capitalism in the name of liberty merely ousted one domineering power in place of another equally domineering albeit less overt one ?