On Monday, world activists remember the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a military action that prompted an eight-year-long war that left about 655,000 civilians dead.
On March 20, 2003, U.S. troops entered Iraqi territory to “liberate” this oil-rich country from the administration of President Saddam Hussein, whom the United States allegedly accused of keeping ties with the al-Qaeda terrorist organization and holding a mass destruction weapon arsenal (chemical, biological and nuclear armament), which was never found.
On April 9, the Hussein administration was overthrown, and U.S. President George W. Bush declared his country’s victory. The U.S. military, however, did not leave this Arab country to “fight” the rise of fundamentalist armed groups.
During the war, U.S. soldiers committed wrongdoings and human rights violations. In Abu Ghraib prison, for instance, they deprived Iraqis of sleep, exposed them to loud music and brilliant light, and coerced them into extremely painful postures.
In April 2004, journalist Seymour M. Hersh published in The New Yorker impact photographs proving these wrongdoings. One of the most impactful images showed a convict standing in a box and holding electrical wires in his hands.
Julian Assange: “The Iraq War was the result of lies..it’s lies by the big media machine..the various institutions that get too comfortable and too close to the table of power, the very table that they are meant to be reporting on and policing & getting into the historic record” pic.twitter.com/foORMxlMdN
— Defend Assange Campaign (@DefendAssange) March 19, 2023
Another picture showed naked detainees stacked on each other, forming a human pyramid, forced to simulate sexual acts and adopt humiliating postures. Six years later, about 400,000 secret documents released by the Wikileaks portal proved that former U.S. Army officials encouraged that these crimes were not investigated.
The U.S. invasion highly destabilized Iraq. Twenty years after, some 2,500 American troops remain in this Arab country to “assist” the Iraqi army’s fight against fundamentalist groups attempting to take power over the country.
The war has also destroyed national health, electricity, and water infrastructure, leaving many Iraqi citizens without access to these services.
An immense cultural heritage has been also lost. After the U.S. took control of Baghdad, looters entered museums, libraries, and archaeological sites to destroy and steal valuable cultural property left unprotected by the American army. Many goods also disappeared by the irregularities in the antiquities inventories.