During WWI, on Nov. 6, 1914, the British began their invasion of Iraq (not involved in the war) which they justified with:
- They needed the Euphrates as a link to India
- They needed to keep the French & Germans from getting Iraq
- By doing 2. they would be protecting their Asian territories
- They could use the Fertile Crescent for agriculture
Ch.4,Revolutionary Iraq -
When the British finally left, there were numerous coups in the Iraqi government. "Democracy" was only understood by Iraqis in terms of British influence and the many Iraqi dictators who promised better times and always failed to deliver.
Baathists - starts as a qawmiyah (also spelled qawmiyya) - a pan-Arab nationality movements founded by the Syrians. Introduced to Iraq in 1951, they allowed army officers and educated professionals to join their membership. They discussed qawmiyah and the social inequalities that stemmed from British policies - Sadam Hussein was a member of this rising political party. In 1968 the Baathists stage a coup and overthrow the Arif monarchy. Hussein grew his base of supporters within the party by actually growing the party. He then began eliminating both real and imagined rivals. He united Iraqis to him by focusing attention on "enemies":
- Shiis - seen as non-Iraqi, Saddam used military forces against all their gatherings and individual leaders were killed off.
- Kurds - were driven out of their territory into Iran and destroyed Kurdish villages along the frontier then moved Suni Arabs into the area.
- Claimed there were spies for Britain and Israel (probably at least some of whom were real) in the country - would uncover "plots" and have everyone supposedly involved executed.
In 1980, things begin falling apart for Saddam with the Iran-Iraq war. Iran incited Iraqi Shiis to revolt, supported attempted coups, and were firing on border villages. Iran had US-trained military while Iraq had US weapons. The USA's official stance was to keep a "level playing field" between the two countries so neither could win and control all that oil. The US had a change in policy once it became known that Saddam was trying to develop nuclear weapons. The war bankrupted Saddam's regime and in order to stay in power, he needed more funds. Oil prices dropped dramatically due to Kuwait flooding the market with its own oil. In addition, Kuwait was demanding repayment of its war debts and was stealing Iraqi oil by slant drilling on border oil fields. Saddam moved troops to the Iraqi-Kuwait border, then asked if the US planned to defend Kuwait. He was twice told by the US they wouldn't, so on August 2, 1990, he invaded Kuwait and in 24 hours and taken over the country.