20 years on from the disastrous US-led invasion of Iraq | Shaheer Choudhury | ISLAM21C | 20 Mar 2023
Today, the world solemnly marked exactly twenty years since the United States, the United Kingdom, and their allies commenced one of the bloodiest and protracted invasions of a Muslim country in recent history. In marking this anniversary, we remember the 1.2 million who have perished, and the hundreds of thousands left with physical and mental wounds to this very day.  
Many will remember clear as day, when on 17 March 2003, the US President, George W. Bush, made an Address to the Nation. In it, he demanded that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his two sons immediately leave the country.
After giving President Hussein and his children 48 hours to comply, the US began its invasion without so much as a declaration of war. Led by US Army General Tommy Franks under the pathetic code-name, Operation Iraqi Freedom, this was to be the beginning of over two decades of needless societal, economic, and natural resources being ransacked or destroyed. 
Excuses for the invasion
Prior to the invasion, the US and its allies – including the United Kingdom under the leadership of Prime Minister Tony Blair – boldly claimed to have found evidence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Indeed, during the State of the Union address on 29 January 2002, Bush told members of Congress,
“The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.” 
Of course, following the invasion, such lies regarding WMD were rapidly debunked and refuted by international entities. 
Crime of the century
Dr. Anas Altikriti, a former hostage negotiator, founder and CEO of the Cordoba Foundation, and key leader in the anti-Iraq war movement, said in exclusive remarks to Islam21c,
“Today, we commemorate the 20th anniversary of, arguably, the crime of the century. An absolute horrendous crime, and I insist on the word ‘crime’, so that what the media pass as a ‘blunder’ is challenged; a crime that was based on a lie, with the complicity of politics and media, in laying the foreground and creating the … public approval for what has evidently become an incredibly horrifying act against an entire nation, arguably even an entire region – one of the most volatile, one of the most difficult regions in the entire world.
“An entire generation of Iraqis have known nothing but sectarianism, hatred, fear, corruption, division, violence, death – they know nothing else; an entire generation of Iraqis. Millions of Iraqis have had to leave their homes, over a million Iraqis have died as a direct result of the invasion and the subsequent occupation of Iraq.
“Billions upon billions, probably in their hundreds of billions, have been siphoned by virtue of corruption, and by virtue of a security sector in Iraq, that is the only booming sector in Iraq. The security sector, simply because politicians taking part in what is a failed political system, have to employ dozens, probably even several dozens of personnel in order to maintain their safety and security. And they move around in convoys of scores of armoured vehicles, each one to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
An indictment and legacy of Bush and Blair
In further blistering remarks, Dr. Altikriti added,
“The situation in Iraq today is an absolute indictment of Tony Blair, George W. Bush, and the world that gave them backing in order to commit their crime against the Iraqi people. The situation in Iraq today, and the squalid conditions politically, from the security point of view, from the social point of view, the squalid conditions that Iraqis must exist and suffer [under], is an absolute indictment of the decision to commit this crime.
“This crime will forever hang round the necks of every single one, of not only the politicians, but also everyone else who clapped them, who encouraged them, who egged them [on], and then went on a campaign to silence any dissenting voices, anyone who dared speak out against this, this crime. And for those who plea innocence because, well they read the reports issued by the intelligence at the time, I state that millions of Brits, including the two million who marched on the streets of London on the 15th of February 2003, they knew better. They knew better.
“And they said this will happen. We said at the time, we wrote at the time, we protested at the time, and said that there will be no good that comes from this war, no good whatsoever. That the Iraqi people will suffer, the country will collapse, and that this will be a scar and a stain on our conscience forever and a day. And it has been.
“Everything that those millions of Britons said will happen, did happen. So why is it, that those who should be smarter, who should be in the know, who should be privy to secrets, evidence, or information, why were they not as smart as the rest of us? What happened in Iraq will be marked down as a war in which, probably militarily, George W. Bush and Tony Blair achieved victory. But one that they set as a condition never ever to be asked about in every single interview they attend, in every single lecture or public appearance that they are present.
“In normal circumstances, military victors should have statues erected in their memory, and in celebration of their feat. But in the case of George Bush and Tony Blair, their legacy is ‘My condition for attending this interview is never ever mention Iraq’. And whatever words they might utter – and they haven’t yet, but whatever words they might utter – in pleading that they only acted upon the intelligence that they were given, the world will condemn them as war criminals, because of whose actions and decisions, millions died. And tens of millions, probably even hundreds of millions, continue to suffer until this very day.
“al-Qaeda in Iraq is the legacy of Tony Blair and George W. Bush. ISIS in Iraq and further afield is the legacy of Tony Blair and George W. Bush. That is something that must be said, time and time and time again, because it is true. Not until the war – this criminal war – was launched, did Iraq ever, ever have even a sign, a smell, of suicide bombings, terrorist attacks, car bombs, let alone criminal organisations such as al-Qaeda or ISIS.
- The Iraq War: 15 years on
- Fallujah, the Gaza of Iraq
- Reflections on a War of Terror
- Khutbah: 20 Years of the War on Terror
- The Bloody Legacy of Western Imperialism in Iraq
- Major scholarly unions demand end to ‘War on Terror’
- CAIR condemns US Navy name choice of “Fallujah” for future ship