The first American raid on Iraq began on March 20, 2003, and the fall of Baghdad and President Saddam Hussein’s regime ended on April 9 of that year, amid hopes of a new, democratic and prosperous Iraq, so what happened after 15 years?
Although the declared pretext for the military invasion by the United States and its allies was that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction between chemical, biological and even nuclear, it was later revealed that none of this existed.
After a series of violent airstrikes, an American infantry division began its first battle against Iraqi Republican Guard units near Karbala in southern Iraq, then continued its path towards the capital, Baghdad, until it took control of its airport on April 4, and entered the capital on the seventh of the same month, then American tanks arrived in central Baghdad, and a huge bronze statue of Saddam Hussein was uprooted, indicating the demise of his authority.
In the following days, looting was widespread and the occupying American forces turned a blind eye to entering Iraq in weeks of complete chaos, while the American forces were busy continuing to march north until they took control of Kirkuk and Mosul, after which they honored Saddam Hussein’s stronghold and hometown.
Nevertheless, Saddam’s obsession remained in control of the Iraqi arena, which he ruled for the past 24 years, until he was found in late 2003, and he remained imprisoned until he was executed in late 2006.
What has changed in Iraq in the years after the invasion?
The Ba’ath party is over
On the political level, the page of the Ba’ath Party, which was dominant in political life, involved Iraq, but Iraq replaced this secular party with a rule dominated by Shiite sectarianism under American hegemony, where the American ruler Paul Bremer and then the American ambassador remained the final command from their fortified positions in what was known as the Green Zone. Highly fortified in Baghdad.
According to Agence France-Presse, although the political custom provided for the distribution of the three highest powers among the most prominent sects and ethnicities, namely Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, the Shiites now control all political and military institutions.
Over time, Iranian influence in Iraq has escalated, and despite the presence of about 7,000 American soldiers, this influence is evident in many Iraqi decisions and positions.
In the north, the Kurds benefited from the departure of Saddam Hussein, and the post-invasion constitution strengthened their autonomy, but the constitution left many questions unanswered, and they entered into negotiations with Baghdad for independence that resulted in nothing, until they ended up trying to independence through force. By organizing a referendum in September 2017, he strongly supported separation, ending up with military intervention by Baghdad, backed by regional and international positions, to block the project of the Kurdish state.
The rise of Sistani
On the religious level, the Shiites have gained greater freedoms, especially with regard to visiting their religious thresholds, and the views of the greatest Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, have gained a lot of weight as if Saddam’s dictatorship had replaced it with the clout of the clerics.
Through al-Sistani’s fatwa in what is known as “the Kafai jihad”, the popular crowd was established, which supported the Iraqi army and police in the face of the Islamic State. As for Christians in Iraq, Agence France-Presse indicates that their number, which was estimated at about one million, has now decreased to almost a third.
As far as the economy is concerned, the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime ended 12 years of international embargoes, and opened the door to increasing oil exports whose prices doubled. Prices rose, but this did not improve the conditions of all Iraqis, as the United Nations figures indicate that about eight million Iraqis live. Currently, an average income of no more than $ 2.2 a day.
The French Press Agency quotes a report by the Center for “success” of economic development, that Iraq received more than 800 billion dollars since 2003, but corruption wasted about 312 billion dollars.
The agency also quotes testimonies of Iraqi citizens for the post-invasion period, where the taxi driver Abu Ali says that he lost two of his sons due to bombings in Baghdad, while Qais al-Shara says that he felt like many young people with joy and hope after the fall of Saddam’s statue, but he later found no He was hoping for it.
In turn, Kurdish politician Mahmoud Othman, who was a member of the Governing Council (the first Iraqi political leadership after the fall of the previous regime), says that “the Americans had a plan to topple Saddam, but they had no plan to implement it after them,” as another Kurdish politician Raouf says. Othman, “After Saddam we expected a national system and a parliament away from sectarianism (…) Unfortunately, sectarian tendencies emerged.