Counterpunch Article on the History of British Imperial Domination in Iraq

This is a bit of background information to the current political situation in Iraq, and the report of the Chilcot inquiry damning Tony Blair for taking us into war with that country.

Garikai Chengu’s article in Counterpunch discusses the century or so of British domination of Iraq following the 1912 Cairo conference, convened by Britain and France to define their territories in the Middle East following the dismantlement of the Ottoman Empire. Britain took over what is now Jordan, and Iraq. He notes that the pattern of ethnic violence in the country was set when Britain merged the three separate Ottoman provinces for the Kurds, Sunni and Shia. He describes the brutal methods employed by us to suppress the rebellion against British rule that broke out in 1920. To force Iraq’s Sunnis and Shias into submission, Churchill destroyed whole villages, targeting both civilians, including women and children, as well as soldiers and using poisoned gas. He describes the way Britain saw air power as the decisive instrument for securing their dominance, which prefigured the use of drones in Afghanistan in this century. British continued to hold power in Iraq until long after the Second World War and the formal grant of independence in 1932. He also discusses the establishment of British Petroleum, BP, the British oil company, and its strategic importance exploiting Iraqi oil to fuel the British navy. Despite a revolution in 1958, we and the Americans aided Saddam Hussein’s ascent to power in 1963, and continued backing him both militarily and with intelligence during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. Part of this aid included covert British funding for a chemical plant that the British government knew would be used to manufacture chemical weapons against the wishes and cognizance of the Americans. He also discusses the half a million Iraqis, who perished due to the sanctions imposed by Britain and America, many of them children.

Chengu also remarks on the similarities between the British occupation of Iraq in 1917 and the 2003 invasion, and the way the latter was sold to the public on the basis of non-existent threats. In both invasions, the British posed as liberators, not invaders. He also remarks on the mushrooming of suicide bombings in a nation that previously had none. He also discusses Robin Cook’s explanation of the term al-Qaeda in his resignation speech. It is an Arabic abbreviation of the term for ‘the database’, and refers to the database of Islamist radicals funded and supported by the Americans as mujahidin in the proxy war in Afghanistan with the Russians.

The article concludes with Chengu’s judgement that this may be Britain’s greatest longstanding foreign policy failure.

From Churchill to Blair: How British Leaders Have Destroyed Iraq for Over a Century

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One Response to “Counterpunch Article on the History of British Imperial Domination in Iraq”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Those sanctions were terrible, not only the restriction of vital medicines and supplies but also the deliberate destruction of equipment that kept the Iraqi water supplies safe. E.g. http://fair.org/extra/we-think-the-price-is-worth-it/

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