Iraq: Unsuccessful Nation-building Projects by the US Part 2

Background to the Process of State-Nation Building in Iraq

The Middle East region, due to its geographical position, is a bridge between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean, and the world’s connecting highway between the three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe. In addition to its geopolitical position, the Middle East has been the birthplace of all divine religions where ideological conflicts have long been prevalent. In recent centuries, the discovery of oil and gas has doubled the strategic importance of this region.

A brief look at the Middle East and its different ethnicities reveals a history of political colonisation, plunder of oil and gas, plunder of antiquities and the domination of its strategic regions. Today, civil, ethnic and religious conflicts in the region are the outcome of unrealistic demarcations. Not all Middle Eastern countries are in a good position in terms of nation-building and one of the most sensitive and noteworthy examples is that of Palestine in the period after 1991 (Madrid Conference), where the peace process aimed to establish an independent Palestinian state, unsuccessfully, as well as Israel or the issue of Iraq. In these societies,

Primary factors such as ethnicity, language and religion, or the formation of territorial identity through factors such as the development of modern oil industries, expansion of cities, emergence of modern armies, Nevertheless, the most important issue in these societies is the nature of their government and the crisis of legitimacy. Due to global and regional political developments in the form of global regimes for democracy and human rights and the emergence of a new generation of non-authoritarian governments in the Middle East, the political structure of authoritarian governments has faced serious challenges. At the same time, these governments are facing the emergence of a large educated middle class who demands participation in politics and power. In other words, they want the nationalisation of political power and its transfer from monarchies and authoritarian governments to the nation. In fact, the most important challenge of Arab governments in the new process of nationalisation comes from the demands of citizenship rights.

Iraq, with Baghdad as the centre of the Islamic world and the Islamic Caliphate for about four centuries until it fell with the Moghul invasion in the mid-7th century, was annexed by the Ottoman Empire after the formation of the Ottoman Caliphate. But what is now known as Iraq today was liberated at the beginning of the third decade of the twentieth century. In the same year, 1920, it came under British tutelage for the next12 years, until this was removed in 1932 and Iraq became officially independent. But this time, too, the military and coup plotters joined forces with European powers, including Britain and France, to take control of the Iraqi people, until Saddam Hussein came to power in 1979 after a period of war. The invasion of Iran and Kuwait finally handed power over the country to the US and its allies in an unequal war in 2003, and a new era of nation-building began in Iraq. Iraq was part of the Ottoman Caliphate before World War I. After separation from the Ottomans under the Ottoman-German alliance, Iraq was ruled by King Faisal I from 1921-1933 with the support of Britain. In 1932, British rule ended and Iraq became officially independent. After the death of King Faisal I, his son Ghazi I ascended to the throne in 1933. King Ghazi died in a car accident in Baghdad in 1938, and his 4-year-old son, Faisal II, ascended the throne. During this period, Iraq, although seemingly independent, was practically under British influence and governed as a semi-colony.

Another very important issue about the British role in delimiting Iraq is Mosul province and the situation of the Kurds. In 1920, the Axis powers and the Ottoman Empire signed a treaty called the Source, Article 62 of which provided for a commission consisting of France, Italy and Britain, to implement the treaty within six months, and the region east of the Euphrates. The southern Armenia, northern Syria and the Mediterranean were to be formed by preserving the minorities within them. After a year, the Kurds could claim independence and Turkey would have to accept this in order to join the UN pact. This issue was reconsidered at the Lausanne Conference in 1923.

The matter was referred to the League of Nations; at its meetings in January and March 1925 and 1926 respectively, the UN arbitration commission placed Mosul under British tutelage. One reason for this was the importance of Kirkuk oil for Britain and the other was the increase in the Sunni population supporting the Sunni king against the Shiite majority. For this reason, Shiite leaders and scholars organised failed The most important of these were the 1914 Revolution against British rule, 1920 Independence Revolution led by Mirza Mohammad Taqi Shirazi, the 1941 uprising led by Ayatollah Seyyed Abul Hassan Isfahani and Mohammad Hussein Kashif al-Ghatta in protest to the British occupation of Iraq, the Jamaat-e-Ulema movement formed in 1958 under the leadership of religious scholars, especially Shiites, in the struggle against the rise and influence of communism, and the formation of Islamic parties and groups, including the Dawa Party, in order to establish an Islamic rule.

Factors impacting the failure of the nation-state in Iraq from the time of separation from the Ottomans to the fall of Saddam Hussein can also be classified as internal and external. The most important of these are the existence of various tribes and clans, religious minorities, militarism, colonialism and imperialism, foreign intervention, disagreements over national interests, and traditional and backward thinking.

Iraq After the Invasion

The course of events greatly changed the political structure of Iraq. During the But as soon as Saddam fell and the Ba’ath Party disintegrated, all the themes of ethnic, sectarian and religious violence re-emerged. Sociological/identity faults dormant under the skin of Iraqi society, as well as the issue of terrorism, provided a good opportunity for implementing extremist thoughts and illusions and forming an Islamic government in central Iraq to revive the greatness of the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates.

while Iraq seeks to move towards modernisation and the establishment of a democratic government and new structure with the adoption of a new constitution, the Takfiri terrorists are a return to the past, reviving the early Islamic governments and seeking to dominate the whole world. This has created a series of various seizures and crises in Iraq, leading to an unstable society brimming with violence and conflict. Also, active ethnographic, demographic, theological and sociological gaps in Iraq automatically lead to increased violence. The engineering, elitist and unpopular process of establishing a new Iraqi constitution can also provide many opportunities as one of the most influential factors in the political structure and future of the

Major powers use a set of policy tools to achieve their goals and dominate other actors, resources and processes. Early in the 21st century, following the events of 11 September 2001, the United States as the only remaining superpower of the previous bipolar system took the opportunity to invade Iraq with the support of other actors and countries who were unique in history. It became a geostrategic region. Gradually, it became clear that having a military base and establishing the desired American order in Iraq and the Middle East region was one of the important goals of the United States in line with the Greater Middle East Plan, as follows:

  1. Changing the policy of countries in the region that oppose the US, especially the process of reconciliation with Israel and its existence
  2. Destroying Iraq’s military capabilities and countering the existing threats against Israel
  3. Completing the policy of setting siege to the Islamic Republic of Iran and completing this security belt
  4. Ensuring and maintaining the dominance and superiority of the United States in the international system
  5. Preventing the emergence of rival powers on the international stage
  6. Emphasising the importance of standing forces in strengthening US internal security
  7. Rebuilding US political and economic power by relying on a large and powerful military presence in various regions, especially the Middle East
  8. Establishing efficient military and defence institutions to provide possible military options for continued US political leadership in the international system
  9. Managing the desired order of the United States in the global system
  10. Prescribing a military policy in the international system for the US government
  11. Hunting independent regimes and enemies of the United States
  12. Adopting an active, interventionist, one-sided diplomacy with the aim of expanding American power and strengthening allies, especially Israel, and dealing militarily with enemies to form the American Empire
  13. Strengthening unilateralism versus international orderliness
  14. Downplaying the role of the United Nations and important powers such as Russia, Europe, and China in the international system

In addition, the American intention seems to be to divide Iraq, change the political geography of the Middle East, restore their prestige after 9/11, stabilise Israel’s position in the Middle East, marginalise the struggles of the Palestinian people, and divert public opinion from the major issue of Israel killing the Palestinian people to other minor issues.

As mentioned previously, state-nation-building is formed from the top down when a central player with inclusive power in the international system has the ability and will to intervene in weak countries and failed governments. For the nation-states in Iraq and Afghanistan, it must be said that the United States has not been able to achieve its goals and the necessary success by establishing its coveted governments in these nations as it had planned. This is due to the fact that, despite the changes and global developments which have taken place in the last century, including in Afghanistan, this country’s political culture is still rooted in its tribal and ethnic origins. Efforts by a number of Afghan leaders to concentrate power in the person ruling the establishment as a whole have met with resistance by the tribal and ethnic structure.

In Iraq, US foreign policy began with the use of military force to overthrow Saddam Hussein. But after the Shiites were able to seize high-ranking government positions, the United States became skeptical of its policies. Therefore, it is now working to revive the strong Ba’athist security establishment in Iraq in order to prevent the Iraqi government from becoming a bankrupt state in the region and to strike a balance between its national and regional roles. In other words, the existence of a weak state (Shiite or a combination of Shiites and Kurds) in Iraq, contrary to the original American idea of ​​turning Iraq into an inspiring model of democratisation throughout the Middle East, will not work. Influence and operations will be regional powers. Due to the great complexity of the entire Middle East region and the Persian Gulf, however, Iraq has a special situation compared with other countries, ranging from Haiti to Kosovo and Afghanistan. It is in this situation that the United States, in the midst of Iraq’s domestic chaos, resistance by paramilitary and quasi-popular forces, and the intervention and general sensitivities of regional governments, does the heavy work of nation-building with the participation of ethnic and governmental entities.

Final Word

Overall, nation-building according to the American model does not seem to have been very successful in Afghanistan and Iraq. Afghanistan and Iraq face challenges and constraints that hinder the nation-state-building process in both countries. There are numerous reasons for the failure of sate-building in Afghanistan and Iraq, but some of these can be enumerated as follows:

In Afghanistan, ethnic and social problems, weak governments, economic problems, educational problems, cultural factors, constant insurgencies, instability, interference by neighbouring countries and, external interference in its internal affairs in general, are the main obstacles to state-nation building.

In Iraq, the stronger groups interests instead of the national interests which led to the popular vote, religious differences and the influence of neighbouring countries on the said groups and ethnicities (in both countries) can be considered as the main obstacles making state-nation-building less successful. Given that the American model of state-nation-building has not been very successful, it may be better to use the European model of state-nation-building to pave the way for success. Among the notable factors which can be effective in improving the process of state-building in these two countries are strengthening the spirit of solidarity, raising awareness among citizens, promoting trust and social capital, working towards sustainable development and providing services to increase the efficiency and legitimacy of the central government.

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