Global Policy Forum

Occupation and Rule in Iraq


Picture Credit:
Associated Press

Having defeated and overthrown the government of Saddam Hussein in March 2003, the US assumed control over Iraq as the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). While the CPA maintained a near-monopoly of political authority for the first year, unrest and resistance pressed the occupiers to cede more power, at least symbolically, to the Iraqis. In June 2004, the US announced that it had "transferred sovereignty" to a newly-formed Interim Government. This was followed by elections in January 2005, in which some 8 million Iraqis voted. The vote, however, was criticized for its lack of Sunni participation and an absence of international observers, and the Iraqi insurgency shows no signs of dying down. Though nominally a "sovereign" state, the presence of 150,000 US troops leaves little question as to who controls the country.

The occupation has proven extremely violent, with thousands of US casualties and as many as 600,000 or more Iraqis dead and wounded. It has been stained by torture, massive use of force against civilian neighborhoods and other cruel and despotic methods that recall some of the worst moments of Western colonialism in the region.

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As US troops were invading Iraq in March 2003, President George Bush announced that "our forces will be coming home as soon as their work is done." But long afterwards, large numbers of US troops remain in Iraq and the president has not set a timetable or criteria for withdrawal, saying only that the troops will leave once they "complete the mission."

Permanent Bases
Since 2003 the US military has been quietly constructing bases in Iraq . Government officials, including President George Bush, refuse to state publicly that the US has no plans to station troops in Iraq over the long term. This has led some analysts to speculate that the US wants to maintain a permanent military presence in Iraq for geo-strategic reasons, even if the number of US troops in Iraq decreases significantly.

Many nations comprising the original “coalition of the willing” have either withdrawn their troops or drawn down their numbers, in response to their citizens’ opposition to the war.

US and UK occupation tactics have emphasized the divisions between Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq. These tactics worsen sectarian tensions and call to mind the classic “divide and conquer” strategies of colonial powers.

Torture and Prison Abuse
Occupation forces have mistreated, abused and tortured hundreds of prisoners and a number of detainees have died under interrogation or in custody.

Siege Tactics and Attacks on Population Centers
Occupation forces have repeatedly targeted heavily-populated civilian centers in Iraq, including Fallujah, Ramadi, Tal Afar, Samarra, and Najaf, resulting in many civilian casualties and massive destruction of the urban physical infrastructure. During these operations, the US-led Coalition forces have used siege tactics, such as cut off vital necessities, including water and medical supplies, in violation of numerous articles of the Geneva Conventions (1949).

Atrocities and Criminal Homicides
US-led occupation forces have committed numerous atrocities in Iraq since the invasion of 2003. Haditha, Hamandiya, Sadr City, Samarra and Ishaqi have become synonymous with murder, rape and the multiple killing of civilians.

A very large number of Iraqis have died under the occupation and the rate of mortality has risen sharply. Demographic surveys, body counts using daily news reports, data from morgues and hospitals, and epidemiological studies all show that Iraq's population has paid - and continues to pay - a steep price.

Indiscriminate and Especially Injurious Weapons
This section provides information about the use of indiscriminate and especially injurious weapons by Coalition Forces in Iraq.

Resistance to the Occupation
This section looks at the nature of the resistance, its tactics, support and success, and whether the occupation forces can prevail or will be forced to withdraw.

Iraqi Public Opinion Polls and the Occupation
Polling organizations have carried out many opinion surveys in Iraq since March 2003. These polls, including those sponsored by the US and UK governments, have clearly shown that Iraqis are very critical of the presence of foreign forces in their country.

General Articles on the Occupation and Rule in Iraq
This page collects articles and analyses on various aspects of the Occupation in Iraq.

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