The obsession with the legitimacy, legality and value of the invasion of Iraq and the ousting of Saddam Hussein from power in 2003 was renewed with the release of the Chilcot Report.
The much anticipated report by John Chilcot gave fresh fuel to sceptics of the invasion in the UK and the West with mass media focus on the anarchy and mass suffering unleashed by the decision to remove Saddam by George W. Bush and Tony Blair.
However, the war is been viewed with narrow lens and without any real perspective.
Can the numerous fires raging across Iraq and the Middle East really be ascribed to the downfall of Saddam and were Iraqis better off under Saddam’s rule?
It is often overlooked why Iraq enjoyed relative stability under Saddam. It was not due to charismatic and popular leadership but owed to his iron-fisted rule and zero tolerance to the various uprisings launched by the Kurds and Shiites.
This week, US presidential candidate, Donald Trump, even went as far as praising Saddam for his stance against terrorists. Yet, these same “terrorists” were Kurds who were battling decades of repression, campaigns of genocide and even chemical attacks.
Saddam was not in power for a year or two by the time he was toppled, he had ruled since 1979. Mass graves from Saddam’s tenure are still been unearthed. These graves did not discriminate between men, women or children – it was all the same to the Baathist regime.
Regardless of flawed Western intelligence on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) capability at time of invasion, Saddam had already expressed his ease in deploying such weapons in Halabja as well as on Iranian forces.
Moreover, anyone who can raze thousands of villages, murder thousands of civilians and repress and torture en-mass does more damage than any WMD could ever do. Dictators such as Saddam are no different to any WMD.
Then there is the notion that the overthrow of Saddam started the anarchy that is rife across the Middle East and even led to the rise of the Islamic State (IS). An invasion of a country cannot be attributed to centuries of sectarian animosity or ethnic strife. Western and regional foreign policy mistakes since 2003 such as those that led to IS, cannot be masked every time by the Iraq invasion.
The seeds of discontent were sown in the Middle East long before Saddam was even born. The Sykes-Picot agreement that selfishly carved the Middle East was the real precursor to the flames of today.
Just because the effects of such arbitrary borders were masked by successive dictators across the Middle East does not justify the methods for the so-called stability of those regimes.
Sooner or later dictators fall and the injustice of the Middle Eastern landscape was always going to bite with or without Saddam.
One of those nations chained by history were the Kurds who have flourished under post-Saddam rule. Does the iron-fisted “stability” provided by Saddam justify holding a nation hostage to their human rights and freedoms?
First Published: Kurdish Globe
Other Publication Sources: Various Misc