invasion and occupation of Iraq from three different perspectives. Firstly, the paper provides a historical background pertaining to the interest of energy-hungry countries such as France, America and Britain. The paper also provides a brief background of the relationship of Iraq with its neighbors and how oil has turned out to be a major source of attraction for the imperial powers. Secondly, the paper provides an in-depth perspective of the ongoing war in Iraq from an economic perspective. The paper briefly reveals the unstable relationship of Iraq with its neighbors. The paper also reveals the importance of the Iraqi oil reserves in the war waged on Iraq and how the American and European companies have lobbied with George Bush and Tony Blair to get contracts worth billions of dollars. Thirdly, the paper studies the political aspects of this war. The paper focuses on the impact that democracy and the recent elections in Iraq will have on the wider Arab World and the Middle East. Also, the paper highlights the impact of the insurgents and the internal ethnic conflicts on the stability of Iraq. Lastly, the paper concludes by providing a brief outlook of the opportunities and threats that may emerge for the wider world.
Historical Background on the War in Iraq
Undeniably, one can assert that the motives of the American and the British government to invade Iraq had not been for political or social reforms in Iraq. Their intentions had not been to free or liberate Iraq, but rather to occupy it and exploit the enormous amounts of oil it possesses. In fact, the desire to conquer Iraq and control the oil fields has not been new. Historic trends have shown that all imperial powers, such as America, Britain, Russia, France etc., have cooperated and sometimes confronted with each other depending on the circumstances to gain control over the oil field in Iraq. Abbas Alnasrawi (2001) notes, "It is a historical fact that the home governments of multinational oil corporations (U.S., UK, France) have all played significant roles in enabling their companies to acquire oil concessions, to penetrate markets and to deal with the governments of oil producing countries."
Also, the relationship between the American governments and their U.S.-based oil Multi-National Corporations is worth mentioning, since, these corporations have been extremely proactive and have profound influence in the foreign policy making of these countries. As Abbas Alnasrawi (2001) asserts that this bond between the oil companies and the American government "is abundant and goes way back to the early part of the last century."
Furthermore, Dr. Ferruh Demirmen asserts, "For a good part of the last century, interests of national governments were closely linked with the interests of oil companies, so much so that oil companies were de facto extensions of foreign-office establishments of the governments. The latter actively lobbied on behalf of the oil companies owned by their respective nationals. The oil companies, in return, would guarantee oil supply to respective governments -- preferably at a substantial discount."
During the 1970's, Saddam Hussein had become a major influence in the internal matters of Iraq and by 1979 he had taken over the Iraqi government and became the ultimate leader of the Iraqi people. Saddam Hussein had been an extremely cruel and oppressive ruler not only towards his enemies but also towards his own people. He had waged an unjust war with Iran. This war served the sole purpose of the American Interest (taken from: http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/saddamindex.htm).
It is worth noting here that the Americans along with Britain, France, Russia, Germany and others had supported this Iraqi dictator regime by providing them with arms, ammunition and aid as well. Throughout the Iran-Iraq war, neither had America complained about the use of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons by Saddam Hussein nor had any of its present allies (Britain, Australia etc.) or opponents (France, Germany etc.) raised voice over the barbaric and cruel acts performed by Saddam Hussein against not only his enemies but also against his own people. In fact, it had been Washington, which had encouraged the Saddam regime to wage war against Iran by providing him America's top military advice-givers, satellite intelligence and images and even offered him visual targets to use his chemical and biological weapons against the Iranian army (taken from: http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/saddamindex.htm).
Subsequently, in 1988, Saddam Hussein used chemical and biological weapons against his own people, particularly against the Kurdistan town of Halabja. He did this because the Iraqi government had received intelligence reports that the Kurds had joined hands with the Iranians and that they had been thinking of attacking the Saddam regime. Saddam Hussein continued to deploy and use chemical weapons against the Iranians and the Kurds throughout the Iran-Iraq war. As Michael Dobbs writes, "In late 1987, the Iraqi air force began using chemical agents against Kurdish resistance forces in northern Iraq that had formed a loose alliance with Iran."
And as Dilip Hiro asserts, "Iraq used 100,000 munitions, containing chiefly mustard gas, which produces blisters first on the skin and then inside the lungs, and nerve gas, which attacks the nervous system, but also cyanide gas."
However, it was in 1990, when Saddam Hussein provoked American anger and annoyance by invading Kuwait. Saddam's move to occupy Kuwaiti territory led America and its allies insert economic and political sanctions against Iraq through the United Nation's Security Council. (taken from: http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/saddamindex.htm).
After invading Kuwait Saddam threatened Saudi Arabia. The Saudi establishment called up the Americans to help them out. The American along with the coalition forces soon launched their air strikes against Iraq and destroyed the Iraqi's military infrastructure. However, they had been unable to prevent an attack on Saudi Arabia and Israel as Saddam Hussein, in return, fired scud missiles to both these countries soon after the coalition forces attacked its territory. As an official UK report asserts, "Iraq made Israel a prime target for unprovoked attacks during the Gulf War. Iraq launched 39 Scud missiles at Israel, killing three Israelis and wounding scores."
Since then, the American administration has been promoting Saddam Hussein as an extremely dangerous and aggressive lawbreaker. The sanctions imposed on Iraq had been so severe that it had broken the economic backbone of Iraq and plunged the entire country into a hole of poverty and sickness (taken from: http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/saddamindex.htm).
Economic Perspective on the War in Iraq
Gabriel Kolko (2003) discusses the relationship of Iraq with its neighboring countries. He asserts that Iran has become a major influence in the region. In fact, Saudi Arabia and other countries have been making efforts to promote good relationship with Iran. Therefore, the strategic balance that Iraq had in the region has been lost after decade long sanctions. Turkey has its own interest in Iraq, particularly in controlling the movement of the Kurds in the northern Iraq. In short, the relationship of Iraq with its neighbors has not been healthy, partly due to the actions of Saddam Hussein and partly due to the presence of oil.
All Gulf States are oil producers and have oil as their major source of income. However, unlike Iraq and with the exception of Saudi Arabia they all possess limited oil reserves and that too extremely deep into the earth. The oil fields in Saudi Arabia near the surface of the earth are also about to end. This means that the only heap source of oil left for exploitation is Iraq. This has turned Iraq into a threat for the entire Gulf region since a stable Iraq would unstable the economies of the entire region, which are mainly dependent on oil and has become an attention-grabber for the imperial powers. Sandy Tolan and Jason Felch, (2002) write, "Control of the country's vast oil reserves, the second largest in the world and worth nearly $3 trillion at current prices, would be a huge strategic prize (Sandy Tolan and Jason Felch, 2002)."
The economy of Iraq is not dependent on agriculture or large industrial complexes. The people of Iraq are not highly educated people and as a result very few technology-oriented industries have been set up in Iraq. The main source of income for the people of Iraq has been oil. It is without a shadow of doubt that Iraq's oil reserves have become the source of misery for its people. John Sfakianakis (2003) assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the Iraqi economy with major attention on oil and its impact on Iraq. He writes "Iraq's proven reserves of 110 billion barrels of crude oil are the largest in the world outside Saudi Arabia. Iraq contains oil that is accessible and easy to extract, hence very marketable and attractive (John Sfakianakis 2003)."
In the post-war scenario the importance of the Iraqi oil is noteworthy, since the sanctions on Iraq had been lifted along with almost all trade embargoes. John Sfakianakis asserts, "At current production levels, nearly three million barrels a day, Iraq's oil reserves would last some 128 years, according to 2001 data from British Petroleum. Even if…