This year marked 15 years since the US invasion of Iraq, said to be the most destructive invasion in modern history, carried out by the George W. Bush US administration. Bush gained the general support of the US populace, giving his well-known speech ‘operation Iraqi freedom,’ telling Iraqis that their freedom is to come. But what came was not freedom, or even democracy, Iraq was destroyed. The reason the Bush administration gave for invading Iraq was that the country holds weapons of mass destruction (WMD). At the time, Saddam Hussein was the vice president of Iraq and described by many as a dictator. He originally came to power by carrying out a huge purge and since then had Iraq under an authoritarian regime.
Sinan Antoon, an well-known Iraqi author, recalls in his recent article how he imagined Saddam’s fall, but he did not support the invasion. Due to this, prior to the invasion, Antoon and 500 other Iraqis in the US signed a petition: “No to war on Iraq. No to dictatorship.” This petition affirmed that those Iraqis were against the dictatorship but at the same time did not want an invasion, a war that would cause further suffering and lose of life. He also notes that this petition was not given any attention in the mainstream media, the media only portrayed what the government said and wanted, which was primarily pro-war Iraqi-Americans.
The public reason given for the invasion of Iraq was that the country holds weapons of mass destruction, but there are documents from credible sources which highlight otherwise.
Regarding the document, the Sunday Herald reported: Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century. This document was commissioned by James Baker, the former US Secretary of State under Bush, and was given to the Vice-president five months prior to 9/11. It emphasizes the reasons the Bush administration went to war with Iraq and removed Saddam Hussein. The document explains how America is facing the biggest energy crisis in history, pointing out Saddam as a threat to America due to his control of the Iraqi oilfields and recommending a military intervention to fix the energy crisis. This would ultimately provide the US with access and control over the Middle Eastern oil fields.
In 2011, the Independent reported on the exploitation of Iraq’s oil reserves. It mentioned that before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, the government ministers and the world’s largest oil companies discussed the exploitation of the oil reserves in Iraq. In the wake of the invasion, 20-year contracts were signed in the oil industry, which covered half of Iraq’s oil reserves. It has always been all about the oil, as Time Magazine in 1990, during Gulf war, reported a US official saying “Even a dolt understands the principle, we need the oil. It’s nice to talk about standing up for freedom, but Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are not exactly democracies, and if their principal export were oranges, a mid-level State Department official would have issued a statement and we would have closed Washington down for August.”
The Syrian war, much like the Iraq war, is also about oil and gas. In 2013, the International Business Times noted that Syria controls one of the largest conventional hydrocarbon resources, as well as the largest reserve of crude oil in the eastern Mediterranean. When we look at all the key players in this war, they all have one thing in common, and that is a billion-dollar gas pipeline deal. There is the pipeline deal that is backed by the US, running from Qatar through Saudi Arabia and Jordan and Syria. The other pipeline deal is backed by Russia, that will go from Iran via Iraq to Syria.
The Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, rejected the US-backed plan. This allowed the Russian plan to ensure Europe’s reliance on Russia for gas. Russia supplies a quarter of Europe’s gas and thus became the main ally of Syria, leaving the US government to become strongly in opposition with Assad. On the other side, there is also the debate that the US is against Assad due to its power interests in the US war state and it is not all about the oil. Guardian in 2013 reported that leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, included details about US and UK planning to overthrow the Assad government by creating and training Syrian opposition forces. Harvard professor Mitchell A. Orenstein, who recently wrote on Russia’s involvement in the war on Foreign Affairs, believes it’s more of a ‘free for all,’ with natural gas acting as another fuel.
It is well-known that all wars cause destruction. However, those who create and fund these wars may not be affected in this way. After the invasion of Iraq, no weapons of mass destruction were found. This largely eliminates the chance of there having been any broad threat against the foreign powers prior to the invasion. However, in the wake of this invasion, the terrorist groups of al Qaeda and ISIL appeared and prospered. For now, it is the Syrian war that holds the world’s attention. It is again a war that has killed many innocents, but the governments involved show no sign of stopping because trillions of dollars in oil and gas revenues are at stake.