A History of Conflict
By Eleni A., Grade 9, Fredericton High, Fredericton, NB
Iraq has long been a country of war. It has been conquered many times by its neighbors and has fought to gain profit and lands throughout the centuries. Each generation has been raised to hate the opponents and conquerors of Iraq. Many of us know about the enmity between the United States and Iraq, but most of us don't know where it started.
During the 17th century, the British, Dutch and Portuguese started trading in Iraq. This was the first sign of Europeans in Iraq. Two hundred years later, in 1914, Britain invaded Iraq as part of World War I. When the British did not leave the area after defeating the Turks, the Arabs of southern Iraq started military action against them. Deciding they could not control the area, the British ceased military action, but stayed in Iraq to help King Faisal of Hijaz ascend the throne. In 1922, an alliance with Britain was signed and in 1932, Iraq was declared independent and became part of the League of Nations. But in 1941 war between Britain and Iraq began again and lasted for four weeks. A pro-British government was formed but in 1953 a new king took the throne.
On July 22, 1979, Saddam Hussein made himself President of Iraq. He began his reign by executing twenty-two members of Parliament who opposed him. The next year, 1980, he invaded Iran. This led to a fruitless eight-year war that ended in a stalemate. Near the end of the war, Iran used poison gas and killed 5,000 civilians in northern Iraq. This was not the first time chemical warfare was used in this war. Throughout the war, both sides had been using these weapons against each other. The entire war resulted in an estimated 400,000 deaths three-fourths Iranian and almost 750,000 people were injured. This war actually gave Iraq more military manpower and production and created an army force of approximately one million.
On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait for oil. Iraq was not backed by the UN in this war and the UN passed a series of resolutions condemning the invasion. Iraq was backed by the PLO and Jordan but forces from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Britain, France, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the US were gathering in Saudi Arabia to oppose the invasion. At the end of November 1990, Resolution 678 authorized military action against Iraq. Action began on January 17, 1991 and Iraq surrendered on February 23 and 24. A cease-fire was declared on February 28 and the Gulf war was over.
Before the Gulf War, the US and Western Europe had been allies to Iraq. The US gave Iraq financial support, agriculture credits, military technology and intelligence, seed stock for biological weapons and political support. Days before Iraq invaded Kuwait, US ambassador April Glaspie told Saddam Hussein that the US had no opinion on the border disagreement with Kuwait. The US position changed suddenly after the invasion because it was such a large violation of international law.
Since then, relations between the two countries have gone to pieces. Impending war with Iraq is bringing the feelings of hatred out stronger than ever. Without a change in how we deal with Iraq, all that will be left is yet another generation of Iraqis hating the US and these wars will never stop. We must remember that hate breeds hate before we make any more decisions about war.
Sources of Information:
Readers Digest, Mind of a Monster, Mark Bowden
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