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    US soldiers stand near the landmark Hands of Victory, built by executed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein to commemorate Iraq's victory in the Iran-Iraq war, inside Baghdad's Green Zone as they prepare to go on a mission on July 5, 2008

    'Monster' Created in Iraq by US Invasion Put Iran's Security at Risk – Diplomat

    © AFP 2018 / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
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    The 2003 US invasion of Iraq had devastating consequences not only Iraq itself, but for the region as a whole. Speaking to Sputnik, Iranian political scientist and diplomat Seyed Hadi Afghani recalled how the US invasion undermined the security of Iraq's eastern neighbor, and set the stage for the rise of Daesh.*

    This week marks the 15th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. US leaders' now-infamous pretexts for the attack included Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's suspected links to al-Qaeda. Carried out by the so-called 'coalition of the willing', which included the US, the UK, Spain, Australia, and a number of other smaller countries, the invasion was condemned by US allies France and Germany, as well as Russia and China.

    In neighboring Iran, the invasion was met with concerns about the creation of another US foothold in the region, along with fears that Iraq's destabilization and destruction could lead to something much worse.

    Speaking to Sputnik Persian, political scientist Seyed Hadi Afghani noted that unfortunately, the latter scenario wound up becoming a reality, giving rise to what he referred to as "the biggest monster of all." 

    Following the invasion, the diplomat recalled, none of the US's claims, from Iraqi WMDs, to Saddam's alleged support for al-Qaeda, to the argument that the US was on a mission to liberate Iraq and overthrow its dictatorship, turned out to be true. "The real US goal was Iraq's occupation, the deployment of US forces and, over the long-run, an attack on Iraq's neighbors," Afghani said. "The goal included an attempt to keep Tehran in fear of a possible blockade and invasion," he added.

    President George W. Bush (C) names Democratic former senator Chuck Robb (L) and former judge Laurence Silberman (R) as co-chairs of an independent commission to examine pre-war intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. February 6, 2004, Washington, DC.
    © AFP 2018 / Paul J. Richards
    President George W. Bush (C) names Democratic former senator Chuck Robb (L) and former judge Laurence Silberman (R) as co-chairs of an independent commission to examine pre-war intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. February 6, 2004, Washington, DC.

    Arguing that the invasion was accompanied by destruction, violence, and crimes against humanity, Afghani stressed that the end result was essentially the destruction of Iraq's infrastructure and economy, as well as its army, which had once been one of the strongest in the Middle East.

    Furthermore, the analyst noted that, as if to rub salt in the wounds, the US first appointed Americans, rather than Iraqi citizens, to govern the country. This included the appointment of Paul Bremer, who served as the head of the so-called Coalition Provisional Authority between 2003 and 2004.

    Afghani recalled that during the occupation, Washington attempted to tie Iraq up into a number of onerous and one-sided agreements, including long-term base agreements, essentially aimed at forcing the country to capitulate. As a result, a number of militia groups were formed to resist the US occupation, including Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, the Badr Organization, and others. 

    "These were trained under the leadership of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, and managed to inflict considerable damage to the American military, their equipment and bases. America could no longer tolerate such losses," and formally withdrew from Iraq in late 2011, the diplomat noted.

    Ultimately, Afghani noted, the sad end result "was the destruction of Iraq's infrastructure, its economy, and the literal fragmentation of the country, resulting in the strengthening of religious and ethnic confrontation."

    A US Marine covers the head of a statue of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein with the US flag before pulling it down in Baghdad's al-Fardous (paradise) square 09 April 2003 as the marines swept into the Iraqi capital and the Iraqi leader's regime collapsed.
    © AFP 2018 / Ramzi Haidar
    A US Marine covers the head of a statue of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein with the US flag before pulling it down in Baghdad's al-Fardous (paradise) square 09 April 2003 as the marines swept into the Iraqi capital and the Iraqi leader's regime collapsed.

    At the same time, he added, "the slogans about Saddam's supposed WMDs, which the Americans used as a pretext for their invasion, turned out to be one big lie. This is a lie that we continue to see to this day: it is the same scenario Washington is actively using in Syria, accusing Bashar Assad's forces of using chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta."

    Finally, Afghani recalled, together with Iraq's division and destruction, the American invasion brought with it "the greatest evil – giving rise to the extremists. Al-Qaeda in Iraq turned into Daesh. After 2011, militants from this group managed to do what the Americans had failed to do during their campaign. Daesh seized broad swatches of Iraq's territory and its oil fields, committed many atrocities and crimes, and held Iraqis in fear over the course of many years. Daesh became a threat not just for the countries of the region, but for Europe and other countries."

    In this undated file photo released by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, militants of the Islamic State group hold up their weapons and wave its flags on their vehicles in a convoy on a road leading to Iraq, while riding in Raqqa city in Syria
    © AP Photo / Militant website via AP, File
    In this undated file photo released by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, militants of the Islamic State group hold up their weapons and wave its flags on their vehicles in a convoy on a road leading to Iraq, while riding in Raqqa city in Syria

    Summing up the Iranian position on the US invasion, Afghani emphasized that "notwithstanding our hostile relationship toward Saddam's dictatorial regime, with which Iran had fought for eight years [during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War], he did not deserve to be executed at the hands of the Americans. They destroyed Iraq, its economy, and plundered its oil resources. If anyone was to bring Saddam to justice for his actions, it should have been the Iraqi people, not US invaders who have brought so much grief and distress to the country."

    *A terrorist group banned in Russia.

    The views and opinions expressed by Seyed Hadi Afghani are those of the expert and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    expert commentary, analysis, Iraq War, Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush, Iran, United States, Iraq
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