The Iraq war in 2003 was viewed by many Iraqis as the continuation of its colonial past which it had endured under western occupation. Pre-war there was many nations across the world which came out with the biggest anti-war demonstrations since Vietnam. This didn’t change the result. The US and Uk went to war.
Prior to 2006 both Sunni and Shia muslims in Iraq were not at in conflict with each other, for the most part. Once Saddam was topple, both Sunni and Shia were pushing for the occupation to leave and let Iraqs decide the country’s future for itself – something which took Paul Bremer and his neo-conservative team months to realise.
Notable Shia clerics and public figures pushed very hard for an early election when Saddam fell. This could let islamists as well as secularists maintain their dignity and potentially sectarian conflict which was to follow by producing an Iraqi government for its people. This however, did not develop and US and British troops maintained their presence indefinitely.
UN Resolution 1483 gave the occupation the power to do so. According to Johnathan Steele:
“There was also no date for the establishment of an Iraqi government. Under international law, occupying powers are supposed to confine themselves to preserving law and order and to take care of the populations humanitarian needs. They are not supposed to govern or change a governments system. Resolution 1483 gave the USA and the UK that right. “
As the US supported its best friend, Aywad Allawi in the creation of a interim government it confirmed what many already felt about the occupation; a pro western government to established and secure and control Middle-Eastern oil. This resulted in an understandable growing dissatisfaction among Shia majority. One well known Shia – Moqtada Al Sadr’s support sharply rose among the disenfranchised disadvantaged Shias who viewed Allawi as another western puppet in colonial game in the middle east. Sunni’s were also tired of occupation and preferred Saddam – even though he was a terrible dictator – he was viewed as Iraqi dictator. Something which many Iraqi’s preferred than another occupation in the country.
Although it has been announced that US troops will be pulled out somewhat unexpectedly from Syria and Afghanistan in the coming months, it has highlighted US continuation of the post 9/11 policy in the Middle East of clandestine involvement. This has been for the most part unchanged for the last two decades.
Many also feel the US withdrawal will also be detrimental to the Kurdish populations in Turkey, Syria and Iraq who are battling against Erodgan’s army as well as Islamic State. Under Saddam they were treated horribly to the extent of genocide. Potentially, this will leave a vacuum open for the resurgence of such groups as the civil war continues in Syria. What would a resurgence mean for Trump or a new US president in the coming years? More clandestine operations? More drone attacks? Troops on the ground? This is something which Trump will surely have to clarify in the election run up to 2020.
Obama wanted to leave Afghanistan – he couldn’t. Trump calls to leave Iraq – but can he? Nonetheless, typically western occupation in foreign lands are the prime motivation in the next wave of anti-western radicalisation and terror groups.
As seen in Iraq, the longer the occupation (or foreign troops) remains there, the larger the resentment will grow. Support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen continues from its western allies it will surely produce the next generation of anti-western extremists. Therefore, it should not difficult to answer – “why do they hate us?” as George Bush innocently asked on Thursday September 20th, 2001.