The Iraq War in its twentieth year: Why did it start and what happened?

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The Iraq War in its twentieth year: Why did it start and what happened?

March 20, 2003, exactly 20 years ago, is recorded as the start date of one of the most interesting events of modern times. Allied nations led by the United States invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003, ending Saddam Hussein’s regime. The United States argued that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, which threatened world peace. However, a large part of the international community opposed and protested the US-led invasion. So what really happened? Let’s look at the details of what happened 20 years ago, how the Iraq war began.

The United States led a coalition that expelled Iraqi forces from Kuwait in the 1990-1991 Gulf War.

American soldiers during the Gulf War

Later, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 687, which provided for the destruction of weapons in Iraq. Within the scope of the resolution, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and long-range ballistic missiles were defined as weapons of mass destruction. However, Iraq did not allow UN weapons inspectors in 1998. The United States and Britain responded to this decision of Iraq with air strikes.

Why did the United States invade Iraq?

Towards the first decade of the 21st century, relations between the United States and Iraq were strained enough. However, September 11, 2001 will be a new turning point in relations between the two countries.

After the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 by the terrorist organization Al Qaeda, US President George Bush began making plans to invade Iraq.

George Bush argued that Iraq is part of an “axis of evil” along with Iran and North Korea.

On the other hand, he repeatedly stated that Saddam Hussein produced and hid weapons of mass destruction, and reiterated his argument that Iraq was the most important threat to international peace. Based on these developments, the US Congress authorized a military operation against Iraq in October 2002.

In February 2003, then US Secretary of State Colin Powell asked the UN Security Council to approve military action against Iraq. Powell claimed that Iraq had violated previous resolutions on the weapons of mass destruction program. However, he failed to convince the United Nations. The majority of members believe that “more evidence should be found in Iraq”. It was then that the United States announced that it would not wait for inspection reports and formed a “coalition of volunteers” against Iraq …

A US-led coalition of volunteers invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003.

The Iraq war has officially begun. The coalition included 30 countries, including the USA, UK, Australia, Poland, Kuwait, Spain and Italy. Britain, Australia and Poland in the coalition already participated in the invasion of Iraq. Britain joined the occupation with 45,000 soldiers, and Australia with 2,000 soldiers. Poland supported the invasion with 194 Special Forces.

The United States of America and England claimed that Iraq produced weapons of mass destruction and that the country was occupied for this reason.

Iraq war

For example, in his speech at the United Nations in 2003, Colin Powell stated that Iraq had developed “mobile laboratories” for the production of biological weapons. In 2004, Powell admitted that the evidence for his earlier allegations “didn’t seem very strong”.

Similar to the United States, Britain also portrayed Iraq as the home of lethal weapons. The British government shared with the public an intelligence file claiming that Iraq would be ready to strike British targets in the eastern Mediterranean with its missiles within 45 minutes. So, what is the basis for Iraq’s allegations that it is producing weapons of mass destruction?

The American and British rhetoric that Iraq was producing weapons of mass destruction was based largely on allegations of Iraqi refugees.

Iraq war

The United States and Britain based their argument, repeatedly expressed in international public opinion, that a weapon of mass destruction was being produced in Iraq on a chemical engineer named Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Qanbi and an intelligence officer named Major Muhammad Harith. However, in the following years, these two names admitted that they created false evidence because the Allied Powers wanted to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

The United States and Britain failed to obtain the support of the international community in the Iraq war.

Iraq war

For example, the border neighbors of the United States, Canada and Mexico, refused to support the invasion. Germany and France, two important allies of the United States in Europe, also left the United States’ call for support unanswered.

In addition, Turkey, which may have had an important position during the Iraq war, did not become a party to the war. Turkey refused the US request to use its air bases in Turkey. The proposal to deploy Turkish soldiers to Iraq was rejected in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Finally, not nearly all countries in the Middle East supported the US invasion of Iraq.

The Iraq war killed 461,000 people.

Iraq war

On the morning of March 20, 2003, 295,000 American and allied troops entered Iraq by crossing the Kuwaiti border in the invasion that began as Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Iraqi army was defeated at the beginning of May, Saddam Hussein’s regime was overthrown, and Saddam Hussein was arrested, tried and executed. However, the US-led occupation forces failed to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Despite this, American soldiers literally ended the occupation that they began in 2003 only in 2011. After the end of the Iraq war, a civil war broke out in the country. Between 2003 and 2011, 461,000 people lost their lives in Iraq from war-related causes. The financial cost of the war is estimated at $3 trillion.

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