It’s been 20 years since the US invaded Iraq. The memories still bring ‘overwhelming pain’

20 years after the US launched its invasion of Iraq, Mohsin* mentioned the reminiscences nonetheless carry him “overwhelming ache”.”What occurred in 2003, I do not need taking place wherever on the earth – not simply Iraq, wherever,” he mentioned.To today, Mohsin, 46, who fled Iraq and located refuge in Australia, mentioned he nonetheless would not perceive what occurred to his nation.However he would not place blame solely on Iraq’s former president, Saddam Hussein, regardless of him being an “extraordinarily harsh ruler”.”Who’s in charge? Simply Saddam? No, the US can also be in charge. It wasn’t simply Saddam who we must always blame – the US handled us the identical manner,” he mentioned.Mohsin fled his house nation 18 years in the past because the battle raged, feeling he had no alternative however to depart as a result of life was not getting higher regardless of US forces ousting Mr Hussein. Iraq’s former president Saddam Hussein was captured in December 2003, and executed three years later after being convicted of crimes in opposition to humanity by the Iraqi Particular Tribunal. Supply: AAP, AP / Darko Bandic”[The US] mentioned they have been going to return and repair the nation, but it surely seems, no. Insurgent teams and the US army have been killing individuals, they have been capturing individuals. Anyone who approached them risked being killed,” he mentioned.Sunday 19 March 2023 marks 20 years since US president , which spiralled right into a battle that lasted till 2011. US marines close to a burning oil effectively on the al-Ratka oilfield in southern Iraq in March 2003. Iraqi troops set fireplace to the oilfield as they fled from coalition forces advancing on Baghdad. Supply: Getty, AFP / Odd AndersenMohsin believed life would return to regular after a few months, however that was not the case.”By 2005, it was destroyed. Sectarianism battle broke out… there was nothing left for us there. How was I going to profit from this nation? That is the purpose the place I knew I needed to depart,” he mentioned.The subsequent yr, Mohsin and his household escaped to Malaysia earlier than travelling to Indonesia. They got here to Australia by boat in 2010 after he was granted a , but it surely was a tragic journey. On the way in which to Christmas Island catastrophe struck, and 91 of the 131 individuals on board drowned, together with his three younger kids.”I attempt to neglect the expertise that I had … If Iraq improved by one million occasions right now, it will nonetheless not be ok and I’ll by no means return there. All I can take into consideration is the expertise that I had. And I do not wish to bear in mind it,” he mentioned.What sparked the invasion?The US-led battle got here in opposition to the backdrop of heightened terrorism fears, in response to Benjamin Isakhan, a professor of worldwide politics at Deakin College.Eighteen months earlier the US had been rocked by the .”The true concern within the US at the moment was {that a} state like Iraq might need weapons of mass destruction and that it may be harbouring terrorists,” Professor Isakhan mentioned.Mourners carry the physique of Iraqi Shamil Nafe, 30, alongside the streets of Baghdad’s Adhamiya space throughout his funeral procession, in December, 2003. He was killed by the US forces when an indication supporting captured former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein came about and ended with clashes with troops. Supply: AAP, AP / Muhammed MuheisenPrior to saying the invasion, Mr Bush claimed that US intelligence had discovered that Iraq had “among the most deadly weapons ever devised”, and that it “harboured terrorists, together with operatives of al-Qaeda” — who had coordinated the September 11 assaults.When the official name had been made, Australia’s then-prime minister and dedicated troops to affix the battle. He mentioned it was in Australia’s nationwide curiosity to “deprive Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction”.However within the early months of the battle, it emerged that the intelligence suggesting Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was not as strong as had been claimed.David Kay, then-head of the CIA’s Iraq Survey Group (ISG), mentioned in October 2003 that no weapons of this sort had been found.A yr later, the ISG delivered a report back to the US Congress following a 15-month search involving 1,200 of its inspectors who had searched websites throughout Iraq. No weapons of mass destruction had been discovered, and the ISG concluded that Mr Hussein destroyed the final of them a decade earlier.It mentioned Mr Hussein had ambitions to restart chemical and nuclear packages as soon as sanctions have been lifted. However as a result of there have been no current indicators of debate or curiosity in establishing a brand new organic warfare (BW) program, Iraq would “have confronted nice tough in re-establishing an efficient BW agent manufacturing functionality”.Claims Mr Hussein had formal hyperlinks with al-Qaeda, which have been used as justification for the invasion, have been additionally being questioned. In 2006, a declassified US Senate report revealed there was no proof of this.’Who may really feel glad a couple of overseas flag being flown of their homeland?’Basim Alansari was already an Iraqi refugee as he watched his nation crumble on stay tv at his scholar lodging in a regional NSW college. Mr Alansari was solely 9 years outdated when he escaped the 1990 Gulf Struggle — sparked by Iraq’s invasion of neighbouring Kuwait — together with his household, and at last got here to Australia by boat when he was 17. He felt giddy with pleasure after watching US troops drape an American flag over a statue of Mr Hussein. “I bear in mind calling my dad and I’m going Saddam is gone!,” he mentioned. He was met with heavy weeping by his father, who had narrowly escaped loss of life row beneath Mr Hussein’s rule. Basim Alansari. Supply: SuppliedWhen Basim thought his dad’s uncommon crying was because of happiness, he mentioned his dad screamed at him. “Who may see a overseas flag being flown in their very own homeland, and really feel glad in such a second?” Mr Alansari recollects his dad saying. Mr Hussein went into hiding after US troops seized the capital, Baghdad, lower than a month into the invasion. He was captured in December 2003, and executed three years later after being convicted of crimes in opposition to humanity by the Iraqi Particular Tribunal.After his overthrow, which ended a brutal 24-year rule, extra violence adopted. Al-Qaeda’s chief in Iraq, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, who was killed by US forces in 2006, began waging bloody assaults designed to show majority Shi’ite Muslims in opposition to minority Sunnis in a civil battle. It will definitely transpired and engulfed Iraq from 2006 to 2008.Basim Alansari (centre) and his two brothers in Iraq earlier than they travelled to Australia. Supply: SuppliedHuge protests in Australia and across the worldAs it grew to become more and more obvious that the US would invade Iraq, tens of millions of individuals took to the streets calling for a peaceable answer.Between six and 10 million individuals demonstrated the world over on 15 and 16 February, 2003, in response to a BBC report on the time. Some have labelled it the biggest single coordinated protest in historical past, with the Guinness World Information recognising Italy as having the most important anti-war turnout at three million individuals.Mohammad Awad was among the many a whole lot of 1000’s of people that rallied throughout Australia that weekend.Mr Awad remembers heading out together with his household to shops in Bankstown, western Sydney, the place they purchased markers, paint, and glitter to design posters.He recalled his mother and father explaining that they have been going to the demonstration as a result of what was taking place was “unfair”.Mohammad Awad attended the anti-war rally in Sydney as a younger boy. Supply: Equipped / Mohammad Awad”It was our first schooling on imperialism and every thing happening within the Center East; why American intervention by no means works, all that type of stuff,” Mr Awad, now 23, mentioned.”I bear in mind [chanting], ‘John Howard is a coward’.”I had by no means been to a protest earlier than, I had by no means seen such a giant demonstration of individuals earlier than.”Protesters in Sydney referred to as for no battle in Iraq on 16 February, 2003. Supply: AAP, AP / Dan PeledMany distinguished Australians have been additionally vocal of their opposition to the battle, with the late Heath Ledger becoming a member of fellow actors Joel Edgerton, Naomi Watts, and 1000’s of others at a rally in Melbourne after the invasion was introduced.And in January of that yr, Toni Collette and Judy Davis have been amongst anti-war activists who tried to current Mr Howard with an software for US citizenship as a result of he had aligned Australia with Washington’s hardline stance in opposition to Iraq.”He’s blindly following Bush, like a sheep, right into a pit and who is aware of what the repercussions could also be,″ Collette mentioned on the time.Heath Ledger (proper) and Joel Edgerton at a protest in entrance of Victorian State Library in Melbourne on 20 March, 2003, following the announcement of the Iraq invasion. Supply: AAP / Julian SmithThe battle’s tollIn 2008, Mr Bush agreed to withdraw US troops from Iraq, a course of that was accomplished beneath President Barack Obama in 2011 — the identical yr Britain’s remaining forces left.Australia ended its operations in 2009.The variety of civilians that died throughout the battle is tough to establish. In 2009, three years earlier than the battle ended, 110,600 Iraqis had been killed.In 2008, Mr Bush agreed to withdraw US troops from Iraq, a course of that was accomplished beneath President Barack Obama in 2011. Supply: AAP, AP / Anja NiedringhausWhen saying the invasion, Mr Bush mentioned the US would assist “construct new Iraq that’s affluent and free”.Professor Isakhan mentioned that promise had not but been fulfilled, and given Australia was a participant, the federal government ought to do extra to make sure it’s.He mentioned “easy issues” like offering change and scholarship packages for Iraqi college students would go a way in serving to obtain this.Professor Isakhan believes the West has realized “plenty of arduous classes” within the wake of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.”You may’t go into these very advanced and conflict-ridden societies and repair them in 5 years and switch them into strong democracies in 10 or 20 years,” he mentioned.”There isn’t a easy repair, and I feel that is actually a giant downside for overseas coverage for the time being… as a result of staying away is an issue, and getting in is an issue.”*Title has been modified.