|← Discussion Forum: Television Series||Triad →|
Today the questions on the completion of the prolonged years of the U.S. military campaign in Iraq and the withdrawal of the U.S. troops from this country are among the most fundamental and discussed military-political issues in both the U.S. and Iraq. First, the war in Iraq has been as unpopular as the Bush administration. Barack Obama, the new U.S. President, has promised to withdraw the troops from Iraq, and the rejection of this promise is unacceptable. Second, the U.S. administration gives no guarantee that after the withdrawal of the combat troops from Iraq, the U.S. military situation in that country will remain stable. Third, there is no confidence in the fact that the Iraqi authorities will be able to provide a guaranteed rate of allied relations with the United States, the country's integrity and overall survival in a difficult external environment and the activity of the armed opposition. Taking all these aspects into consideration, the military-political situation in Iraq will not come back to normal soon.
However the question about the reason for the war is still open. In order to find out the real reason the whole period of the U.S. intervention should be taken into consideration. Thus, it is since 1980.
Historical Background To the Conflict
The Iran – Iraq War (1980-88)
The generally accepted date of the beginning of the war is September 22, 1980, when the Iraqi army crossed the Shatt al-Arab, and invaded the Iranian province of Khuzestan. However, in Iraq, it is assumed that the war began on 4th of September, due to the border incidents, provoked by Iran. In November, after the start of the war, Iraq's Foreign Ministry issued a memorandum outlining the Iraqi version of the reasons why the Iraqi leadership has to strike a decisive blow on Irani anmilitary targets. The memorandum contained a statement that only during the last five months (February - July 1980) Irani armed forces has disturbed the land and the sea borders of Iraq and invaded its airspace224 times. During the period of 4-16th September Iraqi troops have occupied about 324 km ² of disputed territories in the region of al-Zein Kaus in limited border clashes (Ricks, 2006, p.64-68) .
However, according to the non-official information, there was another reason for the war. The banks of the Shatt al-Arab (in Persian version - Arvand Rud), formed by the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, are rich in oil deposits. The eastern shore of the Shatt al-Arab belongs Iran, the West one - to Iraq. Throughout the twentieth century, Iraq has claimed the east coast, where there are two major ports - Abadan and Khorramshahr to be the part of Iraq. Iran has also insisted on the demarcation in accordance with the principle of the thalweg, in which the boundary should pass through the middle of the river.
In 1937 there was a contract signed between Iran and Iraq in which the boundary ran along the left (Iranian) bank of the river. In April 19th, 1969, Iran, using the political instability in Iraq, unilaterally withdrew from the treaty. In March 6th, 1975 at the OPEC conference in Algiers Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, and Saddam Hussein, the Vice-President of Iraq, , signed an agreement on the border of the Shatt al-Arab, which was held in the middle of the river, and the agreement of 1937 was finally canceled.
In addition to the uncertainty of the boundary, the relationships between the two countries were complicated by the support of anti-government forces: Iraq condone separatism in Iran's Khuzestan, and Iran has supported the Kurdish rebels operating in the territory of Iraq (Ricks, 2006, p.71-88).
In February 1979 Iran's Islamic revolution brought the power to the Revolutionary Council, led by Imam Khomeini, then - to the interim government, headed by Mehdi Bazargan. In the ensuing revolutionary cleaning Army of Iran was reduced from 240 000 to 180 000 and 250 generals were replaced by inexperienced commanders, junior, or priests, prone to military affairs. As a result, the Iranian army combat readiness has been significantly reduced (Gordon, 2006, p. 18-21).
Ayatollah Khomeini and Iran's top leaders started to implement their ideas of exporting the Islamic revolution to other countries in the region. In April 1980 the Shiite militia, supported by Iran, made an assassination attempt on Tariq Aziz, the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq who was very close to Saddam Hussein (Gordon, 2006, p. 22). Here it should be noted that 60% of the population of Iraq are the Shiites, who oppressed the reign of Saddam Hussein in every way, besides they performed many other military actions against Iraq's ruling Baath Party. The sharply aggravated relations between the two countries led to an increase in border clashes (Ricks, 2006, p.15).
On September 17th, 1980 Saddam Hussein formally denounced the Algiers Agreement in 1975 and declared that the eastern bank of the Shatt al-Arab was the area of Iraq. With direct support of Iran in Iraq, Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution was established, and Iraq began sponsoring and arming anti-Islamic-Iranian Mujahideen Organization of the Iranian people (Gordon, 2006, p. 27).
Indecision and lack of initiative of the Iraqi commanders, the lack of a realistic assessment of the enemy and experience in conducting the large-scale combined arms operations, led to the fact that Iraq has missed the time and was unable to develop the initial success. At the end of October and in November, Iraqi troops tried to move in the direction of Dizfulya and Ahwaz, but they failed. With the advent of the rainy season in December, Saddam Hussein announced the transition of Iraqi forces to the defense.
The US Relations with Iraq
During the Iraq-Iran war, the United States has supported Iraq in order to create a counter balance to the post-revolutionary orientated Iran. This support was expressed in the economic assistance of billions of dollars, the sale of goods, the dual-use technologies, and the supply of arms of the non-US production, the military intelligence, the training and special hostile operations against Iran.
The fact that the U.S. has supported Iraq was obvious and often discussed in the House of Representatives and Senate, public and the media. In 1992, the television presenter Ted Koppel in the program «Nightline» on ABC, said: "Now it becomes clear that George Bush supported financially and initiated informative, military and intelligence aid, which allowed Iraq to force Saddam to close a deal. Administration ... Reagan and Bush provided Iraq with the money and agricultural investments, the dual-usage of technology, weapons and chemicals" (Duffy, & Carney, 2003).
These relationships were severed after the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War, which took place in 1967. Later, after some significant political events, and especially after the Islamic revolution and the takeover of the U.S. diplomatic corps in Iran, Jimmy Carter ordered to review the U.S. policy in Iraq (Duffy, & Carney, 2003).
The changes in the U.S. and Iraq relations were warmly welcomed by Baghdad. The Iraqi leader believed that U.S. recognition of the role of Iraq, as the antagonist of the fundamentalist Iran would promote the growth of its authority, and could, eventually, make him a recognized leader of the Arabs. He couldn`t even imagine that the U.S. would support this war. However, the removal of Khomeini was in American interests, and there were many areas in which the U. S. and Iraq would be helpful to each other. The Iraqi leader believed in it. This was an upgrade of relations with the U.S. and a rapid movement to more complex forms of the strategic cooperation (Michaels, 2010).
Said Aburish, a Palestinian writer and biographer, claimed, that first, the U.S. attempted to prevent the escalation of confrontation in order to prevent further destruction of the world's oil supply. They honor their warranty obligations to Saudi Arabia. As a result of the movement of Soviet troops on the Iranian border, the U.S. responded to the notice of the Soviet Union that the U.S. intended to defend Iran in case of a Soviet invasion. Defending Saudi Arabia, the United States warned neighboring states from the involvement in the conflict. Aburish characterizes the perception of the Middle East as a vital strategic region, along with the Western Europe and the Far East - as a fundamental change in the U.S. strategic policy. Second, the U. S. has figured out how the Iran-Iraq war may affect the resolution of the Iranian hostage crisis between the U.S. and Iran. For this purpose the U.S. provided military support to Iran in exchange for the release of hostages, and "sticked" in the form of promises to reorient Israeli military aid to Iran in favor of Iraq, if the hostages were not released. Third, since the escalation of hostilities continued, the free and safe navigation, particularly through the Strait of Hormuz, was considered a critical priority (Michaels, 2010).
The First Persian Gulf War
The Gulf War (January 17 - February 28, 1991) was the war between the multinational force (MNF) (led by the United States, under a UN mandate), and the liberation of Iraq and restoration of the independence of Kuwait (Lowry, 2003).
Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, again as in the 1960s, presenting a claim to the right to manage the emirate, which is the tradition in the Iraqi part of the former Ottoman Empire, accusing its southern neighbor of stealing the oil from the border fields of Iraq, but also to participate in some kind of international conspiracy. The war had serious environmental consequences for the region. Iraqi forces organized a discharge of oil into the Persian Gulf. Trying to prevent the ingress of oil into the bay, the Multinational Force planes bombed a number of oil pumping stations with the use of precision weapons. During the retreat from Kuwait, the Iraqi army set on fire the oil wells. According to the BBC, as a result of the war, there was one of the worst environmental disasters in history. Kuwait has suffered great economic losses resulting from the occupation and war (Lowry, 2008).
Consequences of the War
According to the official figures, only in 1999 there were more than 16 thousand sorties, during which more than a thousand od missiles and guided bombs were used for the ground 180 targets. Blows were inflicted on the points of control and communication centers of the armed forces of Iraq's air defense, storage of fuels and lubricants, industrial facilities, oil and gas pipelines, urban neighborhoods in Mosul, Kirkuk, Erbil, Nasiriyah, Basra. There were many casualties among the civilians. From August to November 1999 in the Iraqi provinces of Nineveh, Dohuk, Muthanna, Zi Qar, Basra by bombs and guided missiles 18 hospitals, 12 schools, 74 houses were hit, many of which were completely destroyed. As a result, in the city of Mosul 10 children were killed. In May 12, 1999, the same area was destroyed by two plant materials. In general, for the period from December 1998 to April 2002 the U.S. and Britain have made 299 air strikes against the targets in Iraq, one north of 36 degrees north latitude - 165, south of 33 degrees north latitude - 134 (Larson, 2010).
According to incomplete data for 1998 - 2002 years, about 300 Iraqis, including 200 of civilians were killed as the result of bombing attacks. The U.S. explained their actions for the purpose of the self-defense in response to the Iraqi radar vectoring for the U.S. Air Force aircraft, carrying out the patrols of the exclusion zones. As a result of a protracted military confrontation with the U.S.economic blockade, Iraq had critical socio-economic status. Country's economy lacked of the financial resources, raw materials, spare parts and equipment located in a state was also critical. At the end of the last century the external debt of Iraq increased dramatically. However, its capabilities in the quenching of the debt was very limited.
The conclusion is that such a great number of people would not have been killed if the U.S. aim had not destroyed the Al-Qaid group. It is obvious, that the reason was more internal.
Sanctions and UN Resolution Implementation
On August 2, 1990 Iraqi troops occupied Kuwait and Baghdad, at the same time the Security Council resolutions introduced comprehensive economic and trade sanctions, that refered to a sea, land and air blockade of Iraq.
After the liberation of Kuwait, the troops of the anti-Iraq coalition adopted 686 and 687 UN Security Council resolutions on the conditions of the armistice and general parameters of the postwar settlement. Iraq has officially announced the recognition of these resolutions and cancellation of all the decisions taken against Kuwait after August 2,1990. On December 17, 1999 the UN Security Council adopted Resolution1284, which provided for the suspension of sanctions in exchange for a resumption of Iraq's cooperation with the control and monitoring bodies of UN. In the demilitarized zone along the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border operates a group of the UN observers (Laurence, 2012).
Sanctions and UN Resolution Restrictions
The current regime of sanctions bans the import of any goods out of Iraq, all kinds of transfers of the funds back (excluding destined for humanitarian purposes),and any military cooperation. Only the supply of food and medicine is allowed to the notice of the Sanctions Committee, as well as the supplies to meet "the basic needs of the civilian population" - only with the permission of the committee. However, as a result of the UN humanitarian program in Iraq, the range of the goods shipped back, has been significantly expanded, including the export of the mechanical and electrical products and equipment for the energy, petroleum, transportation and other sectors of the Iraqi economy. In 1996 the UN Security Council resolution 1051 adopted an export-import mechanism for controlling the supply of the dual-use goods to Iraq (Laurence, 2012).
Sanctions and Resolution Cancellation
The experts of the Institute of Financial Studies called Iraq as one of the factors that could significantly alter the balance of the supply and demand in the oil market. As part of the 'oil for food' Iraq could sell oil worth up to $ 5.2 billion every six months. Before the introduction of the international sanctions, Iraq was producing 3.6 million barrels of oil per day. To the date, its production is about 2-2.4 million barrels per day, which corresponds to the price of $ 12-14 per barrel. In the case of lifting the embargo, Iraq would quickly increase the production to 2.85 million barrels per day, which in 6-10 years could reach 6 million barrels per day. Currently, Iraq produces about 120 million tons per year (about 2-2.4 million barrels per day), according to the quota provided by the UN. Prior to the imposition of the sanctions, Iraq was producing 138 million tons per year. All in all, this country can produce about 180 million tons per year (up to 2.85 million barrels per day). Within 6-10 years, oil production in Iraq could reach 6 million barrels per day. According to Yuri Shafranik, the head of the Central Fuel Company, the risk of increasing Iraq's oil production could dramatically shake the world oil market (Kenneth, 2011).
On the other hand, Sergei Shmatko, the former Minister of Fuel and Energy of the Russian Federation, deputy of the State Duma, believed that there will be no significant increase in oil supply from Iraq after the lifting of sanctions. The reason is that Iraq "today doesn’t produce the quotas, which are allowed according to the UN program “oil for food”.
The Second Gulf War
Armed aggression of the United States and Britain against Iraq started in March 2003. This war was waged by the Bush administration, along with Tony Blair, under the pretext of revenge for the alleged support for Iraqi terrorists, who carried out attacks in the United States in September 11, 2001. The war became one of the most scandalous failures in the military and political history of the United States.
These scandalous events are primarily associated with the shameless and brazen lies and deception of the international community to justify its decision to "punish" the Saddam Hussein`s regime for the support of the terrorists, named Al-Qaeda, for the development of the nuclear weapons and for the genocide policy against Iraqi Shiites and Kurds. In fact, the nuclear program in Iraq was not conducted, as well as there were no relations with the terrorists in Baghdad. It was an obvious bluff. There was no more ruthless terrorist than Saddam Hussein himself, who was perfectly aware of the destructive nature of the state for their actions. However, the United States officials were constantly showing considerable acting skills. They manipulated with some cosmic photographs and demonstrated the CIA fabricated evidences of Saddam Hussein guilt before the civilized humanity. All these manipulations were carried out by Washington at a time when the decision to topple Saddam Hussein had already been taken, and the grouping of the invasion force was completing its operational deployment. As later admitted by Alan Greenspan, the former head of the U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman, the U.S. went into Iraq for oil, not to save the world from Saddam Hussein (Austvik, 2005).
Not finding any trace of the Iraq nuclear program and "al-Qaeda" terrorism actions, the Americans have created the situation of chaos and lawlessness in the country , looting the national resources. As the result the country has collapsed into the parts of ethno-religious lines. All these events led to a protest of the population and the desire to resist the aggressor. This situation has contributed to the influx of these terrorists to the Iraqi territory. The U.S. lost more than 4250 people during the aggression in Iraq. Moreover, it was estimated by the U.S. Congressional Research Service that the total appropriations for the Iraq war, which began in March 2003, cost the U.S. up to $1 trillion (Hiro, 2009).
Possible Future Relationships
The U.S. administration has decided not to maintain a military presence in Iraq after 2011. The whole U.S. troops had to be withdrawn from the country by the end of December, according to the declair, made by the U.S. President BarackObama. October 15, Agency AP, citing its own sources, reported that theU.S. abandoned the idea to keep troops in Iraq since 2012 and intended to leave the country after the withdrawal of the troops, however, only about 200 of them. Although, on Sunday, the Fox News broadcaster quoted an anonymous representative of the U.S. administration, which denied the report of the agency. The State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that the White House has not yet made a final decision. This had been stated on in October 17 (Laurence, 2012).
The President noted that he has decided to withdraw the troops due to the previously promulgated policies and campaign promises, made in 2008, which main position was to end the war in Iraq. Obama said, he will continue to provide the assistance and aid Iraq, as well as fulfill all its obligations.
Earlier, White House spokesman told reporters that the Obama administration has decided to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year because it failed to negotiate with the Iraqi authorities to maintain U.S. military presence in that country.
There are about 40,000 U.S. troops in Iraq now.
After the analysis the following conclusions can be made:
Firstly, the rapid fall of the Saddam Hussein regime has created a favorable situation for the United States to continue the strategic offensive invasion in the Iranian and Syrian tracks. It is known that both Iran and Syria have been on the Washington`s radar for a long time as two military-oriented countries that do not meet the U.S. interests. And it seems that such desire was until the American army and Washington's policy seriously stalled in Iraq.
Secondly, the U.S. was the country, who supported Iraq during the Iraq-Iran War. In addition, this has shown the U.S. attitude towards the war, and after it has started the war agains Iraq. In the world politics it can`t be just coincidence. The conclusion can be made that the U.S. government planned their actions, which one more time proved that the true cause is different from the official version.
Thirdly, the change of the direction of the U.S. government after the elections has changed the priorities and strategies of the country. It can be judged from the Obama`s decision to pick up the troops from Iraq. However, we shouldn`t reject the possibility of the another hidden strategy. The situation in Iraq is similar to the one in Lybia: Muammar Caddaffi is dead however, the American troops are still there. That is why, only the time will show whether the troops will be picked up from Iraq or it is only a delay time action.