Counting the cost: Iraq 10 years after US-led invasion
The 10th anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq falls on March 20.
Ostensibly, the US and UK invaded over fears of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction - or Donald Rumsfeld's 'great unknown's-but it was to also impose regime change after President George Bush put Saddam in his so-called 'Axis of Evil'.
In just over three weeks, coalition forces arrived in Baghdad, after intense aerial bombardment, aka 'shock and awe', an effort to knock key command and control centers of the Iraqi military. As troops reached the capital city, US engineers helped pull down a statue of Saddam Hussein, offering both an enduring image and a misguided feeling of relief in the US that the war was effectively over. Continue reading below »
The war inflicted a huge toll on the civilian population. Estimates on the numbers of deaths during the years of occupation range from 110,000 in a report published in association with the Lancet medical journal and AFP up to 122,000.
Civilians continue to live with effects of munitions used across the country by coalition forces with increased incidents of children born with deformities and cancer. Thousands more suffer emotional trauma that is harder to quantify.
Thousands of Iraqis also sought refuge in neighboring countries Jordan and Syria. Many in Jordan still have no plans to return home as violence, though less common, remains a real danger but those who sought safety in Syria face a tough choice.
After Saddam's fall a number of actors competed to fill the power vacuum. The competition became an increasingly bloody sectarian conflict, with Sunni and Shi'ite's waging armed conflict against each other, which also enabled Al Qa'eda to gain a foothold. Eventually, a Shia government was put in place, representing the majority of the Iraqi population, leaving Sunni muslims feeling marginalized.
The country though has the ability to be one of the wealthiest on earth thanks to its huge oil supplies. The government is hoping to increase oil output to be one of the worlds largest producers, but ongoing trouble between Baghdad and the oil-rich, semiautonomous Kurdish region to the north is concerning the oil companies.
Here, we look at some of the key moments in politics and economics over the last ten years.
Tell us what you think! Should the US-led coalition have invaded Iraq? Did you support it? Have you changed your mind since? Do let us know your thoughts, add a comment and join the conversation.