March 20, 2003, exactly 20 years ago, was recorded as the start date of one of the most interesting events of our time. The allied powers, led by the US, invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003, ending Saddam Hussein’s regime. The United States claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that threatened global peace. However, much of the international community opposed and protested the US-led invasion. So what really happened? Let’s look at the details of what happened 20 years ago when the war in Iraq began.
The United States led the coalition that drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait during the 1990-1991 Gulf War.
Later, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 687, which provided for the destruction of weapons in Iraq. As part of the resolution, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and long-range ballistic missiles were defined as weapons of mass destruction. However, in 1998, Iraq did not allow United Nations weapons inspectors. The US and UK responded to Iraq’s decision with air strikes.
Why did the US invade Iraq?
By the 2000s, relations between the US and Iraq were quite tense. However, September 11, 2001 marked a new turning point in relations between the two countries.
Following the al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, then-US President George W. Bush began making plans to invade Iraq.
George W. Bush claimed that Iraq was part of the “axis of evil” along with Iran and North Korea.
On the other hand, he often claimed that Saddam Hussein produced and concealed weapons of mass destruction and reiterated his argument that Iraq posed the most serious threat to international peace. Following these events, the US Congress authorized a military operation against Iraq in October 2002.
In February 2003, then-US Secretary of State Colin Powell asked the UN Security Council to approve military action against Iraq. Powell argued that Iraq violated previous resolutions with its weapons of mass destruction program. However, he failed to convince the UN. Most members felt that “more evidence should be found in Iraq”. Following this, the United States announced that they would not wait for inspection reports and formed a “coalition of volunteers” against Iraq …
A US-led coalition of volunteers invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003.
The war in Iraq has officially begun. The coalition included 30 countries, including the US, UK, Australia, Poland, Kuwait, Spain and Italy. Great Britain, Australia and Poland, as part of the coalition, actually took part in the invasion of Iraq. Britain joined the occupation with 45,000 soldiers and Australia with 2,000 soldiers. Poland supported the invasion with 194 special groups.
The US and Britain claimed that Iraq produced weapons of mass destruction and that the country was occupied for this reason.
For example, in a 2003 speech to the UN, Colin Powell stated that Iraq had developed “mobile laboratories” for the production of biological weapons. Powell admitted in 2004 that the evidence for his past allegations “doesn’t seem very solid”.
Like the US, the UK also portrayed Iraq as the home of deadly weapons. The British government has released an intelligence dossier to the public that claims Iraq will be ready to hit British targets in the Eastern Mediterranean with its missiles in 45 minutes. So, what was the basis for Iraq’s claims that it produces weapons of mass destruction?
US and British reasoning that Iraq was producing weapons of mass destruction was largely based on the allegations of two Iraqi refugees.
The United States and Britain based their argument, which he frequently made to the international public, that Iraq was producing weapons of mass destruction, on a chemical engineer named Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Senabi and an intelligence officer named Major Mohammed Harith. However, in later years, the two names admitted that they had created false evidence because the allied states wanted Saddam Hussein toppled.
The United States and Britain failed to win the support of the international community in the war in Iraq.
For example, the US border neighbors Canada and Mexico refused to support the invasion. Germany and France, important US allies in Europe, also went unanswered by the US call for support.
In addition, Turkey, which may have had an important position during the war in Iraq, did not become a party to the war. Turkey has rejected a US request to use its air bases in Turkey. The proposal to station Turkish soldiers in Iraq was rejected by the Turkish Grand National Assembly. Finally, almost all countries in the Middle East did not support the US invasion of Iraq.
The war in Iraq claimed the lives of 461,000 people.
On the morning of March 20, 2003, 295,000 US troops and their allies entered Iraq, crossing the Kuwaiti border in an invasion called Operation Iraqi Freedom. In early May, the Iraqi army was defeated, Saddam Hussein’s regime was overthrown, Saddam Hussein was captured, tried and executed. However, the US-led occupying forces failed to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Despite this, American soldiers literally ended the occupation that began in 2003 only in 2011. After the end of the war in Iraq, a civil war broke out in the country. Between 2003 and 2011, 461,000 people died in Iraq from war-related causes. The financial cost of the war is estimated at $3 trillion.
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