The Iraq war in 2003 was claimed to have been fought in the name of counter-terrorism, to end human rights abuses by a terrible dictator and disarm weapons of mass destruction.
While the reasons for the invasion were long contested the political outcomes for the region were more clear.
There has been much research into the neoconservative mindset in the lead up to the invasion in 2003. A “new world order” developed by Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld and co which sought a US client state in Iraq with preference to US companies accessing and controlling the regions vast oil reserves. While there is still a US troop presence in Iraq today the country has fully felt the effects of US colonial might. However, there were some unintended consequences which should make the Republican party question future invasions so carelessly.
One consequence of the war resulted in a Shia dominated government in Iraq run mainly by exiles who spent time in Iran and wanted to gain more control over their country which they were forced to leave under Saddam. Once the Baathists were ousted by the US a vacuum was created. Many Islamists, Sunnis as well as Al Qaeda had ideas and an image for Iraqi future. While few in the Shia majority sought revenge against Sunni’s and Baathists for years of repression and inequality under Saddam they were the ones who gained power.
This strengthened relations between Iraqi Shias and America’s biggest enemy in the region – Iran as an Islamic republic consisting of a Shia majority.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia opened its doors to Iran for the first time in years. This also meant that the two largest oil producers in the region were controlled by Shias. If you include Azerbaijan that would be three (145 million) amounting to half of the population in the Middle East. Turkey also opened up to other Arab nations including Kuwait, Syria and Iraq who all visited Istanbul. Turkey was initially against the US invasion in 2003 as it didn’t want to let troops into Iraq via its border, therefore Turkey became less dependent on its relationship with the White House. This highlighted a much more Pan Arab Middle East as a direct consequence of the invasion.
US policy failed miserably in Iraq. The war aims continued to change as the years went by. The invasion was doomed to fail from the beginning and to this day Iraq is still under the watchful eye of the US where troops remain.
Moving focus from Iraq the Trump administration and many in the Republican party are calling for a war with Iran. Republican hawks wanted a war with Iran under Obama. They will want a war with Iran when Trump has left office. There were lessons to be learned from British and American colonial rule in the Middle East and the consequences for the native people who live there should have been acknowledged mored honestly and carefully.
Now there are still lessons to be learned from the Iraq war. It is my opinion a US war with Iran and support from the EU will not have new consequences but ones already seen before in the region; a strengthen resentment toward westerners, a more pan Arab Middle East, a weaker American position in the worldview of Arab states and further wave fo new terror recruits.
Its whether these lessons can finally be learned by powerful western nations who want dominate regions loaded with oil. Only then could the idea of peace be actually envisioned there.