Iraq

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Posted by sonny 04/03/2009 @ 08:16

Tags : iraq, asia, world

News headlines
Obama Moves to Bar Release of Detainee Abuse Photos - New York Times
By JEFF ZELENY and THOM SHANKER WASHINGTON — President Obama said Wednesday that he would fight to prevent the release of photographs documenting abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan by United States military personnel, reversing his position on...
US House backs $96.7 bln bill for Iraq, Afghan wars - Reuters
WASHINGTON, May 14 (Reuters) - The US House of Representatives on Thursday approved a $96.7 billion measure to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through Sept. 30 as well as rush critical economic and security aid to Pakistan....
Even in custody, Abu Omar al Baghdadi proves elusive - Los Angeles Times
For the last three weeks, the Iraqi government has been trumpeting its capture of Baghdadi, the leader of Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and one of the country's most wanted terrorists. But it turns out there may be at least two people using...
Did Doctors Deny Iraq Shooter's Stress? - CBS News
Wilburn Russell, the father of the US soldier accused of killing five fellow troops in Iraq says he believes counselors in a military stress center "broke" his son before the shootings. Wilburn Russell spoke with reporters Tuesday, May 12, 2009....
60-year-old Army soldier is oldest killed in Iraq - msnbc.com
PHOENIX - A 60-year-old Vietnam War veteran who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq has become the oldest Army soldier to die in that conflict, the military said Thursday. An Associated Press database of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan shows...
Counseling Was Ordered for Soldier in Iraq Shooting - New York Times
Now, just weeks from finishing his third tour in Iraq, Sgt. John M. Russell was in trouble with his commanding officer, who ordered him to turn in his gun and receive psychological counseling. John Michael Russell and Wilburn Russell, the son and the...
Combat Medal Awarded for Frenzied Iraq Battle - Washington Post
By Ann Scott Tyson Assaulting from a helicopter onto a cluster of farm houses outside Samarra, Iraq, at 2 am, his team of Army Green Berets and Iraqi police were set down unexpectedly in the open, blinded by dust, and immediately came under heavy...
Annan unfairly tainted by Iraq scandal - ex-aide - Reuters
By Stephanie Nebehay GENEVA, May 14 (Reuters) - Former United Nations chief Kofi Annan was unfairly tainted by the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal, which was whipped up by right-wing media in countries that backed the US-led invasion of Iraq,...
In Iraq, an exodus of Christians - The Associated Press
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq has lost more than half the Christians who once called it home, mostly since the war began, and few who fled have plans to return, The Associated Press has learned. Pope Benedict XVI called attention to their plight during a Mideast...

Opposition to the Iraq War

Iraq Veterans Against the War demonstrate in Washington, D.C. on September 15, 2007. The U.S. flag is displayed upside-down, which under the flag code is a distress signal.

There has been significant opposition to the Iraq War across the world, both before and during the initial 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States (backed by the United Kingdom and smaller contingents from other nations), and throughout the subsequent occupation. People and groups opposing the war include the governments of many nations which did not take part in the invasion, and significant sections of the populace in those which did.

Rationales for opposition include the belief that the war is illegal according to the United Nations Charter, or would contribute to instability both within Iraq and the wider Middle East. Critics have also questioned the validity of the war's stated objectives, such as a supposed link between the country's Ba'athist government and the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and its possession of weapons of mass destruction. The latter was claimed by the United States during the run-up to the war, but no such weapons have since been found.

Within the United States, popular opinion on the war has varied significantly with time. Although there was significant opposition to the idea in the months preceding the attack, polls taken during the invasion showed that a majority of Americans supported their country's action. However, public opinion had shifted by 2004 to a majority believing that the invasion was a mistake, and has remained so since then. There has also been significant criticism of the war from American politicians and national security and military personnel, including Generals who served in the war and have since spoken out against its handling.

Worldwide, the war and occupation have been officially condemned by 54 countries. Popular anti-war feeling is strong in these and other countries, including America's allies in the conflict, and many have experienced huge protests totaling some millions of participants. There is some disagreement within the anti-war movement as to whether the cause of armed insurgents within Iraq is a worthy one for which they can express solidarity.

The opposition to the war manifested itself most visibly in a series of global protests against the Iraq War during February 2003, just before the Iraq invasion starting on March 20, 2003.

Critics of the invasion claimed that it would lead to the deaths of thousands of Coalition soldiers and Iraqi soldiers and civilians, and that it would moreover damage peace and stability throughout the region and the World.

Another oft-stated reason for opposition is the Westphalian concept that foreign governments should never possess a right to intervene in another sovereign nation's internal affairs (including terrorism or any other non-international affair). Giorgio Agamben, the Italian philosopher, has also offered a critique of the logic of preemptive war.

Others did accept a limited right for military intervention in foreign countries, but nevertheless opposed the invasion on the basis that it was conducted without United Nations' approval and was hence a violation of international law. According to this position, adherence by the United States and the other great powers to the UN Charter and to other international treaties to which they are legally bound is not a choice but a legal obligation; exercising military power in violation of the UN Charter undermines the rule of law and is illegal vigilantism on an international scale. Benjamin B. Ferencz, who served as the U.S.'s Chief Prosecutor of Nazi war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials following World War II, has denounced the Iraq War as an aggressive war (named at Nuremberg as "the supreme international crime") and stated his belief that George W. Bush, as the war's "initiator", should be tried for war crimes.

There was also skepticism of U.S. claims that Iraq's secular government had any links to Al-Qaeda, the Islamic fundamentalist terrorist group considered responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Some expressed puzzlement that the United States would consider military action against Iraq and not against North Korea, which claimed it already had nuclear weapons and had announced that it was willing to contemplate war with the United States. This criticism intensified when North Korea reportedly conducted a nuclear weapons test on October 9, 2006.

There was also criticism of Coalition policy by those who did not believe that military actions would help to fight terror, with some believing that it would actually help Al-Qaeda's recruitment efforts; others believed that the war and immediate post-war period would lead to a greatly increased risk that weapons of mass destruction would fall into the wrong hands (including Al-Qaeda).

Both inside and outside of the U.S., some argued that the Bush Administration's rationale for war was to gain control over Iraqi natural resources (primarily petroleum). These critics felt that the war would not help to reduce the threat of WMD proliferation, and that the real reason for the war was to secure control over the Iraqi oil fields at a time when US links with Saudi Arabia were seen to be at risk. "No blood for oil" was a popular protest cry prior to the invasion in March 2003.

Some opponents of the war also believed that there would be no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and thus there was little reason for an invasion. Prominent among these was Scott Ritter, a former U.S. military intelligence officer and then a United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq, and who in 1998 had been hawkish enough toward Iraq as to be admonished by U.S. Senator Joe Biden, "The decision of whether or not the country should go to war is slightly above your pay grade." Investigations after the invasion failed to produce evidence of WMDs in Iraq (apart from a very small number of degraded chemical weapons shells located after the Iran–Iraq War ended in 1988). Generally, however, very few opponents of the Iraq invasion publicly expressed doubt as to whether the Saddam Hussein regime possessed weapons of mass destruction.

During the occupation, some opponents accused President Bush of being indifferent to the suffering caused by the invasion. In 2006 for example he opined that when the history of Iraq is written the period would "look like just a comma", prompting criticism that he took the more than 2,700 US troop deaths lightly.

The Iraq War has met with considerable popular opposition in the United States, beginning during the planning stages and continuing through the invasion subsequent occupation of Iraq. The months leading up to the war saw protests across the United States, the largest of which, held on February 15, 2003 involved between 300,000 - 400,000 protesters in New York City, with smaller numbers protesting in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and other cities.

Consistent with the anti-war sentiment of the protests, in the months leading up to the Iraq War, American public opinion heavily favored a diplomatic solution over immediate military intervention. A January 2003 CBS News/New York Times poll found that 63% of Americans wanted President Bush to find a diplomatic solution to the Iraq situation, compared with 31% who favored immediate military intervention. That poll also found, however, that if diplomacy failed, support for military action to remove Saddam Hussein was above 60 percent.

Days before the March 20 invasion, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll found support for the war was related to UN approval. Nearly six in 10 said they were ready for such an invasion "in the next week or two." But that support dropped off if the U.N. backing was not first obtained. If the U.N. Security Council were to reject a resolution paving the way for military action, only 54% of Americans favored a U.S. invasion. And if the Bush administration did not seek a final Security Council vote, support for a war dropped to 47%.

Immediately after the 2003 invasion most polls within the United States showed a substantial majority of Americans supporting war, but that trend began to shift less than a year after the war began. Beginning in December 2004, polls have consistently shown that a majority thinks the invasion was a mistake. As of 2006, opinion on what the U.S. should do in Iraq is split, with a slight majority generally favoring setting a timetable for withdrawal, but against withdrawing immediately. However, in this area responses vary widely with the exact wording of the question.

Since the invasion of Iraq, one of the most visible leaders of popular opposition in the U.S. has been Cindy Sheehan, the mother of Casey Sheehan, a soldier killed in Iraq. Sheehan's role as an anti-war leader began with her camping out near President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, and continued with a nationwide tour and trips to Europe and South America.

Several prominent members of the military and national security communities, particularly those who favor a more realist approach to international relations, have been critical of both the decision to invade Iraq and the prosecution of the War.

On July 28, 2002, eight months before the invasion of Iraq, the Washington Post reported that “many senior U.S. military officers” including members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff opposed an invasion on the grounds that the policy of containment was working.

A few days later, Gen. Joseph P. Hoar (Ret.) warned the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the invasion was risky and perhaps unnecessary.

Morton Halperin, a foreign policy expert with the Council on Foreign Relations and Center for American Progress warned that an invasion would increase the terrorist threat.

In a 2002 book, Scott Ritter, a Nuclear Weapons Inspector in Iraq from 1991-98, argued against an invasion and expressed doubts about the Bush Administration’s claims that Saddam Hussein had a WMD capability.

Brent Scowcroft, who served as National Security Adviser to President George H.W. Bush was an early critic. He wrote an August 15, 2002 editorial in The Wall Street Journal entitled "Don't attack Saddam," arguing that the war would distract from the broader fight against terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which should be the U.S.'s highest priority in the Middle East. The next month, Gen. Hugh Shelton, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed that war in Iraq would distract from the War on Terrorism.

Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former head of Central Command for U.S. forces in the Middle East and State Department's envoy to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, echoed many of Scowcroft's concerns in an October 2002 speech at the Middle East Institute. In a follow-up interview with Salon, Zinni said he was "not convinced we need to do this now," arguing that deposing Saddam Hussein was only the sixth or seventh top priority in the Middle East, behind the Middle East peace process, reforming Iran, our commitments in Afghanistan, and several others.

On February 13, 2003 Ambassador Joseph Wilson, former charge d'affaires in Baghdad, resigned from the Foreign Service and publicly questioned the need for another war in Iraq. After the War started, he wrote an editorial in the New York Times titled What I Didn't Find in Africa that claimed to discredit a Bush Administration claim that Iraq had attempted to procure uranium from Niger.

John Brady Kiesling, another career diplomat with similar reservations, resigned in a public letter in the New York Times on February 27. He was followed on March 10 by John H. Brown, a career diplomat with 22 years of service, and on March 19 by Mary Ann Wright, a diplomat with 15 years of service in the State Department following a military career of 29 years. The war started the next day.

Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski (Ret.) was political/military desk officer at the Defense Department’s office for Near East South Asia (NESA) in the months before the war. In December 2003 she began to write an anonymous column that described the disrupting influence of the Office of Special Plans on the analysis that led to the decision to go to war.

Richard Clarke, former chief counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council for both the latter part of the Clinton Administration and early part of the George W. Bush Administration, criticized the Iraq war along similar lines in his 2004 book Against All Enemies and during his testimony before the 9/11 Commission. In addition to diverting funds from the fight against al-Qaeda, Clarke argued that the invasion of Iraq would actually bolster the efforts of Osama bin Laden and other Islamic radicals, who had long predicted that the U.S. planned to invade an oil-rich Middle Eastern country.

Similar arguments were made in a May 2004 interview and an August 2005 article by Lt. Gen. William Odom, former Director of the National Security Agency.

On September 12, 2007, two retired U.S. Army generals, Lt. Gen. Robert Gard and Brig. Gen. John Johns, joined former Sen. Gary Hart in publishing a statement calling for withdrawal from Iraq. Robert Gard is the Senior Military Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, John Johns is on the board of directors for the Council for a Livable World, and Gary Hart is the Council's chairman.

In October 2007, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, former commander of coalition forces in Iraq, called the 2007 "surge" a "flawed strategy", and suggested that the political leadership in the US would have been court martialed for their actions, had they been military personnel.

There have been several individual refusals to ship (e.g., Pablo Paredes, and 1st Lt. Ehren Watada) or to carry out missions (e.g. 343rd Quartermasters). Soon after the war began, 67% of surveyed US soldiers in Iraq told Stars and Stripes that the invasion was worthwhile, though half described their units' morale as "low." A Zogby poll in March 2006 found that 72% of US soldiers in Iraq say the war should be ended within a year, and a quarter say that all troops should be withdrawn immediately.

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) was formed in 2004 to help antiwar soldiers network and seek solidarity from one another. IVAW held a Winter Soldier event, from March 13 through March 16, 2008, in which U.S. veterans spoke of their experiences during the Iraq War. The Pacifica Radio network is broadcasting the proceedings live, and streaming audio and video of the event is also available.

Opinion in the U.S. Congress leading up to the Iraq War generally favored a diplomatic solution, while supporting military intervention should diplomacy fail. The October 11, 2002 resolution that authorized President Bush to use force in Iraq passed the Senate by a vote of 77 to 23, and the House by 296 to 133. Leading opponents of the resolution included Senators Russ Feingold and Edward Kennedy.

As the war progressed and the insurgency began to develop into what many believe is a civil war in Iraq, Congressional support for the Iraq campaign began to wane. A flashpoint came on November 17, 2005, when Representative John Murtha, a Vietnam combat veteran who voted to authorize the war and is widely regarded as an ardent supporter of the military, introduced a resolution calling for U.S. forces in Iraq to be "redeployed at the earliest practicable date" to stand as a quick-reaction force in U.S. bases in neighboring countries such as Kuwait.

Since the introduction of the Murtha resolution, many members of Congress, particularly in the Democratic Party, have rallied around the strategy of a phased troop withdrawal. In the 2007 Congressional session, critics of the war have sought to tie additional war appropriations to a specific timetable for withdrawal. On March 23, 2007, the House of Representatives passed an Iraq spending bill that requires that troops begin withdrawing in March 2008 and that most US forces be out of Iraq by August 31, 2008. This bill is still under debate in the U.S. Senate.

The Iraq War was the defining issue of the 2004 U.S. presidential campaign. All of the Republican candidates and most of the Democratic candidates supported the war, although most of the Democrats also criticized the war's prosecution.

Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, was notable for his opposition to the war, in particular because his early lead in the polls was largely attributed to his anti-war position. Dennis Kucinich, another candidate for the Democratic nomination, favored replacement of the U.S. occupation force with one sponsored by the UN, as did Ralph Nader's independent presidential candidacy.

In the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, candidates Representative Ron Paul, then-Senator Barack Obama (Now President of the United States), Senator Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton, Dennis Kucinich, and Mike Gravel were some of the most outspoken critics of the Iraq War. Ron Paul has said that "The war in Iraq was sold to us with false information. The area is more dangerous now than when we entered it. We destroyed a regime hated by our direct enemies, the jihadists, and created thousands of new recruits for them. This war has cost more than 3,000 American lives, thousands of seriously wounded, and hundreds of billions of dollars." Barack Obama (who went on to win the election) was not a senator at the time of the voting of the Iraq War Resolution, but has repeatedly voiced his disapproval of it both before and during his senatorship, saying at an anti war rally in Chicago on October 2, 2002: "I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars." He also spoke of the "undetermined length... undetermined cost, undetermined consequences" which even a successful war would bring. Dodd voted in favor of the Iraq War Resolution in 2002, but Dodd has since become an opponent of the war. Dodd has said the Iraq War has been waged “for all the wrong reasons” and that it is eroding both the nation's security and its moral leadership.

Benjamin B. Ferencz has suggested in an interview given on August 25, 2006, that not only Saddam Hussein should be tried, but also George W. Bush because the Iraq War had been begun by the U.S. without permission by the UN Security Council. Benjamin B. Ferencz wrote the foreword for Michael Haas's book, George W. Bush, War Criminal?: The Bush Administration's Liability for 269 War Crimes.

Benjamin B. Ferencz, an American lawyer, was an investigator of Nazi war crimes after World War II and the Chief Prosecutor for the United States Army at the Einsatzgruppen Trial, one of the twelve military trials held by the U.S. authorities at Nuremberg, Germany. Later, he became a vocal advocate of the establishment of an international rule of law and of an International Criminal Court. From 1985 to 1996, he was Adjunct Professor of International Law at Pace University.

Around the 2003 Invasion of Iraq and subsequent occupation of Iraq, polling data indicated that opposition to military action against Iraq was widespread in Europe.

After the first UN resolution, the US and the UK pushed for a second resolution authorizing an invasion. The French and German governments, amongst others, took the position that the UN inspection process should be allowed to be completed. France's then-Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin received loud applause for his speech against the Iraq War at the United Nations on February 14, 2003. Neither of these countries have sent troops to Iraq. However, despite popular opinion in their countries, the governments of Italy and Spain supported the war politically and militarily, although Spain ceased to do so after the election of a Socialist government in 2004.

Our interests are best protected not by unilateral action but by multilateral agreement and a world order governed by rules. Yet tonight the international partnerships most important to us are weakened: the European Union is divided; the Security Council is in stalemate. Those are heavy casualties of a war in which a shot has yet to be fired.

On September 13, 2002, US Catholic bishops signed a letter to President Bush stating that any "preemptive, unilateral use of military force to overthrow the government of Iraq" could not be justified at the time. They came to this position by evaluating whether an attack against Iraq would satisfy the criteria for a just war as defined by Catholic theology.

Both the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, and his successor, Rowan Williams, spoke out against war with Iraq.

Jim Wallis of Sojourners Magazine has argued that, among both evangelical Christians and Catholics, "most major church bodies around the world" opposed the war.

Across the world popular opposition to the Iraq war has led to thousands of protests since 2002, against the invasion of Iraq. They were held in many cities worldwide, often co-ordinated to occur simultaneously worldwide. After the simultaneous demonstrations, on February 15, 2003, the largest in total turnout, New York Times writer Patrick Tyler claimed that they showed that there were two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion. As the war drew nearer, other groups held candlelight vigils and students walked out of school.

The February 15, 2003, worldwide protests drew millions of people across the world. It is generally estimated that over 3 million people marched in Rome, between one and two million in London, more than 600,000 in Madrid, 300,000 in Berlin, as well as in Damascus, Paris, New York, Oslo, Stockholm, Brussels, Johannesburg, Montreal - more than 600 cities in all, worldwide. This demonstration was listed by the 2004 Guinness Book of Records as the largest mass protest movement in history.

There has been a debate among those opposed to the U.S. invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq in developed countries about how to relate to forces within Iraq.

Prior to the invasion, while it was common to accuse opponents of providing objective, if not intentional, support to Saddam, none of the major antiwar organizations declared any support for him, however limited. After the invasion and the toppling of Saddam's regime, some who had opposed it now supported continuing U.S. occupation, arguing that the U.S.' intervention had given it an obligation to stabilize the country. However, those who remained opposed to the U.S. presence had to determine their approach to the developing armed insurgency and peaceful opposition to the occupation carried out by groups like the Worker-Communist Party of Iraq (WCPI).

The most virulent divide has been about whether to support the insurgency. Of the major Western antiwar organizations, United for Peace and Justice has never supported the insurgency, but Act Now to Stop War and End Racism and the Stop the War Coalition have a more ambivalent stance on this subject. Of the smaller groups which participate in these coalitions, none support suicide bombings of Iraqi civilians, but some support violence against coalition soldiers.

In Britain, positions have ranged from groups including the Socialist Workers Party (Britain) and Workers Power that take a similar line to the ISO as mentioned above, to groups such as the Alliance for Workers Liberty (who identify with the third camp tradition within Trotskyism) which opposes the insurgency, while supporting the democratic, working-class anti-occupation movement in Iraq.

See also Governments' positions pre-2003 invasion of Iraq for pre-war positions.

The following countries have protested formally and officially the prosecution of this war. They oppose the Iraq War in principle, citing in some cases that they believe it is illegal, and in others that it required a United Nations mandate.

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Australian contribution to the 2003 invasion of Iraq

An Australian SAS patrol in western Iraq.

The Howard Government supported the disarmament of Iraq during the Iraq disarmament crisis. Australia later provided one of the four most substantial combat force contingents during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, under the operational codename Operation Falconer.

Part of its contingent were among the first forces to enter Iraq after the official "execute" order.

The initial Australian force consisted of; 3 Royal Australian Navy ships, 500 special forces soldiers, P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft, C-130 Hercules transport aircraft and No. 75 Squadron RAAF (which included 14 F/A-18 Hornet fighters).

Combat forces committed to Operation Falconer for the 2003 Invasion were withdrawn during 2003. Under the name Operation Catalyst, Australian combat troops were redeployed to Iraq in 2005, however, and assumed responsibility for supporting Iraqi security forces in one of Iraq's southern provinces. These troops began withdrawing from Iraq on 1 June 2008.

In keeping with its relatively small size, the Australian force made an important though limited contribution to Coalition operations during the invasion of Iraq. The Australian contribution was also geographically dispersed, with the Australian forces forming part of larger US and British units rather than a concentrated Australian unit. No Australian personnel were killed or taken prisoner during the war.

Prior to the outbreak of war the Australian naval force in the Persian Gulf continued to enforce the sanctions against Iraq. These operations were conducted by boarding parties from the RAN warships and the AP-3 Orion patrol aircraft.

Upon the outbreak of war the RAN's focus shifted to supporting the coalition land forces and clearing the approaches to Iraqi ports. HMAS Anzac provided gunfire support to Royal Marines during fighting on the Al-Faw Peninsula and the Clearance Diving Team took part in clearing the approaches to Umm Qasr. Boarding operations continued during the war, and on 20 March boarding parties from the HMAS Kanimbla seized an Iraqi ship carrying 86 naval mines. Army LCM-8 Landing Craft were used as forward deployment and support platforms for the Navy boarding parties and were the first regular Maritime assets to the port of Umm Qasr, moving as far north as Basara on the inland waterways collecting intelligence for allied forces. LCM-8 Assets were utilised by British and American forces for various cargo transportation duties during the course of the war.

The primary role of the Special Forces Task Group was to secure an area of western Iraq from which it was feared that SCUD missiles could be launched. The SAS successfully entered Iraq by vehicle and United States helicopters and secured their area of responsibility after a week of fighting. Following this the SAS patrolled the highways in the area in order to block the escape of members of the Iraqi government and to prevent enemy foreign fighters from entering the country.

On 11 April the SAS Squadron was concentrated to capture the Al Asad air base. While this base proved to be almost undefended, the Australian troops captured over 50 MiG jets and more than 7.9 million kilograms of explosives. After securing the air base the SAS were reinforced by 4 RAR and the IRR elements. The Special Forces Task Group remained at Al Asad until the end of the war, when most of the SAS Squadron and IRR Troop returned home and the 4 RAR platoon (reinforced by elements of the SAS) was deployed to Baghdad to protect Australian diplomats.

No. 75 Squadron's initial role was to escort high-value Coalition aircraft such as tankers and AWACS aircraft. As it became clear that the Iraqi Air Force posed no threat, the role of No. 75 Squadron shifted to providing close air support to Coalition ground forces and air interdiction against Iraqi forces. These missions were initially flown in support of the US Army but the Squadron later switched to supporting the US Marines. As organized Baathist resistance crumbled, the F/A-18s were increasingly tasked to provide 'shows of force' to encourage Iraqi forces to surrender. During the war No. 75 Squadron flew a total of 350 sorties and dropped 122 laser guided bombs.

Reports indicate that the No. 75 Squadron's activities were somewhat restricted in their military role compared to similarly-equipped US forces. Australian aircraft were not permitted to operate in the "Baghdad SuperMEZ" (Missile Exclusion Zone) because of fears that the Hornet's electronic warfare systems were inadequate, though the report indicates that they were identical to American Hornets operating in this area. Furthermore, they were not permitted to conduct close air support missions in urban areas because of fears of collateral damage. These restrictions were in line with the rules of engagement set by the Australian Government, which were reportedly more restrictive than the rules governing the conduct of British and American forces.

The Australian C-130 transports and CH-47 helicopters provided airlift to Coalition forces, including the Australian Special Forces Task Group.

Following the capture of Baghdad Australian C-130 aircraft flew humanitarian supplies into the city. Almost all the forces deployed for the war returned to Australia shortly after the end of major fighting.

Unlike the three other countries which contributed combat forces to the war, Australia did not immediately contribute military forces to the post-war reconstruction of Iraq. Following victory, the Australian force in Iraq was limited to specialists attached to the Coalition headquarters in Baghdad and the search for Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction, a frigate in the Persian Gulf, a party of air traffic controllers at Baghdad International Airport, two C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, two AP-3C Orion aircraft and small Security Detachment (SECDET) consisting of infantry and Airfield Defence Guards protecting the Australian military units and diplomats based in Baghdad. This force was later expanded to include an Army training detachment and a small medical detachment attached to a US Air Force hospital. The Royal Australian Navy has also assumed command of coalition forces in the Persian Gulf on two occasions; Combined Task Force 58 in 2005 and Combined Task Force 158 in 2006.

During 2003 and 2004 the Australian Government was reported to have refused requests from the United States and United Nations to increase Australia's contribution to the Multinational force in Iraq through taking over the responsibility for providing security to a sector of Iraq. In February 2005, however, the Australian government announced that Australian Army would deploy a battlegroup to Al Muthanna Province to provide security for the Japanese engineers deployed to the province as well as to help train Iraqi security forces. This force - approximately 500 strong and equipped with armoured vehicles including ASLAVs and Bushmasters - named the Al Muthanna Task Group, commenced operations in April 2005. Following the withdrawal of the Japanese force and the transition of Al Muthanna to Iraqi control the Australian battlegroup relocated to Tallil Air Base in neighbouring Dhi Qar province in July 2006. The name AMTG was subsequently abandoned in favour of the title Overwatch Battle Group (West), reflecting the unit's new role. Al Muthana and Dhi Qar are the westernmost of the four southern provinces and OBG(W) became the prime coalition intervention force in the western sector of the British Multi-National Division South-East (MND-SE) Area of Operations, with MND-SE based in the southern port city of Basrah. Responsibility for overwatch in Dhi Qar was subsequently assumed from the withdrawing Italian contingent in late October 2006, whilst OBG(W) continued to train Iraqi security forces. By late 2006 overall personnel numbers committed to Operation Catalyst (Iraq) had risen to 1400.

As the Labor Party led by Kevin Rudd pledged in the 2007 election, Australian combat forces began withdrawing from Iraq on 1 June 2008 and the Overwatch Battle Group (West) and Australian Army Training Team formally ceased combat operations on 2 June 2008, having helped train 33,000 Iraqi soldiers. Approximately 200 Australian personnel will remain in Iraq on logistical and air surveillance duties.

To date no Australian servicemen have been killed in action during Operation Falconer or Operation Catalyst, although three have died in accidents or during service with British forces; many more have been wounded. Additionally as many as six Australians have been killed whilst working as private security contractors.

Paul Pardoel, 35, was a Flight Lieutenant serving as a Navigator in the RAF. He died when his C-130 Hercules from No 47 Squadron crashed in Iraq on 30 January 2005 killing all ten crew aboard. He was an Australian citizen serving in the British Armed Forces, having transferred from the RAAF in 2002. He was originally from Victoria.

David Nary, 42, was a Warrant Officer with the Australian Special Air Service Regiment. He was killed on 05 November 2005 after being struck by a vehicle during a training exercise in Kuwait prior to deployment to Iraq.

Jake Kovco, 25, was a Private soldier serving in the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment. He was part of the SECDET in Baghdad when he was killed on 21 April 2006 from a gunshot wound to the head that was believed to have been accidentally self-inflicted.

The Australian military contribution was relatively small, around 2,000 personnel in total, which is also smaller than other Coalition commitments in proportional terms. Calculated on the basis of military personnel per head of population, the Australian forces could have been seven times larger and still not have been equal to the per-capita commitments of either the United States or the United Kingdom.

With one obvious exception, the particular forces committed by the Australian Government can be seen by some as modest and to follow past practice closely. Australia committed special forces to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in roughly similar numbers to those above. The two RAN frigates were already on-station for the Afghanistan campaign; Kanimbla was a relatively small addition to the naval force. RAN clearance divers also took part in the Gulf War.

Australia sent Hercules and Orion aircraft to assist in the Afghanistan campaign—but also Boeing 707 tankers, which had not been committed to the Gulf conflict, despite a marked Coalition shortage of probe/drogue capable tanker aircraft. The absence of the 707s was likely caused by technical rather than policy reasons: the RAAF has only four second-hand 707 tankers; all are at the end of their service lives, very difficult to maintain and soon to be replaced.

The commitment of No. 75 Squadron and its supporting personnel, however, was a major change from past practice. Australia did not commit combat aircraft to the 1991 Gulf War, and although a small detachment of Hornets was deployed to Diego Garcia during the Afghanistan campaign to provide airfield defence for the joint United States-United Kingdom military facility present there, this was not a true combat role, however, but simply a precaution against possible suicide attacks by hijacked civil aircraft. The commitment of No. 75 Squadron was the first combat deployment of Australian aircraft since the Vietnam War.

No official statement has been made on the reasons behind the choice of F/A-18 fighters as Australia's primary combat commitment, but it is commonly assumed that the obvious alternative of sending a substantial land force instead was considered to involve an unacceptably high risk of casualties, particularly given the possibility of house-to-house fighting in Iraqi cities. Iraq is largely landlocked, and Australia no longer has a fixed-wing naval aviation component; thus, a larger naval commitment could not be considered particularly helpful. The choice of the F/A-18 deployment rather than of the F-111 tactical bomber may have been due to the higher cost of operation of the F-111, and its use being limited to more politically contentious ground attack missions rather than more uncontentious tasks like combat air patrols.

The overall purpose of the Australian commitment to the Coalition invasion of Iraq was clearly and consistently stated from the outset. In the words of then Prime Minister John Howard's public statements, it was to "deprive Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction" which are a "direct undeniable and lethal threat to Australia", as well as to remove "a dictatorship of a particularly horrific kind".

The notably smaller size of the Australian force in comparison to those of its coalition partners is such that Peter Lalor of The Australian did not regard it as a serious attempt to substantially influence the result of the campaign and described it as a 'token force' to show solidarity with the United States. The same commentator further argued that if a mere token commitment were required, a still smaller force would cost less, reduce the risk of casualties, and serve the political purpose equally well—note that Poland is generally described as one of the belligerents and yet to equal the Polish troop commitment in population-adjusted terms, a reduced contingent of 100 Australian personnel would have sufficed. The Strategic Studies Institute has confirmed that the quality of training, equipment and the military culture of the force allowed it to have a disproportionate influence in Iraq for its size.

Australian media speculated that Australian support for the US was geared towards influencing the US-Australian trade negotiations which were taking place at the time in Melbourne and which provide less restricted access to US markets for Australian agricultural products—a charge the Howard Government has refuted. In 2006 documents from an August 2002 meeting with Prime Minister John Howard in Alexander Downer's Canberra office surfaced whereby it was discussed that Australia would provide military support for the US on the condition its wheat trade with Iraq was protected; a later Foreign Affairs dispatch reported Downer telling Colin Powell that the US could "forget Aussie support in future" if America flooded Iraq with wheat after the war. A Monash University report commissioned by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade argued that military considerations were central to the forging of closer economic ties to the US.

In June 2003, a journalist for The Age newspaper speculated that the Prime Minister was obsessed with the idea of being the "deputy sheriff of the United States." The phrase was applied by journalist Fred Brenchley during an interview with Howard on 29 September 1999 for The Bulletin. Howard initially welcomed the "deputy sheriff" reference and did not contradict its attribution to himself until reports from Australian embassies in Asia that the term was "damaging" led Howard to make statements in Parliament correcting the misconception but by this time the term had stuck and in October 2003 US President George W. Bush in reference to the misquote stated "we do not see it (Australia) as a deputy sheriff. We see it as a sheriff", prompting an outcry from Malaysia which described Australia as a puppet of the US.

One theory put forward is that Australian participation was intended to buy what amounted to an insurance policy against any aggression by Indonesia or any other aggressor in the Asia Pacific region (i.e. China). However, while possibly true of Indonesia, most Australians at that time did not see China as a threat, but as a long-term partner in building and maintaining stability and trade in the Oceania Region. The majority of concerns which arise from China is the United States' apparent hostility towards the Communist state, and fears that US aggression towards China would put Australia into a difficult diplomatic, regional and economic position. Howard's public statements on this, perhaps moderated by the international and domestic outrage produced by the deputy sheriff remark in 1999, were restrained. In the words of his speech to the nation announcing and justifying the war: "There's also another reason and that is our close security alliance with the United States. The Americans have helped us in the past and the United States is very important to Australia's long-term security." According to Howard, "It is critical that we maintain the involvement of the United States in our own region".

According to Simon Crean, who was Opposition Leader before December 2003, Australia's support for US Iraq policy had substantially increased the risk of further terrorist attacks on Australians like the 2002 Bali terrorist bombing which killed 88 Australian tourists and about 120 people from other nations as well. The Howard Government, however, rebutted this claim and no such attacks have occurred in any part of Australia since 2002.

As already stated, Australian troops were sent to Iraq because the Australian government believed that ousting Saddam Hussein and hunting down any nuclear, biological or chemical weapons they may have possessed was a worthy cause and that the more countries that contributed to the efforts, the more legitimate and successful they would be. Australian troops in the Korean War were well regarded and amongst the most effective in that conflict, despite the small size of the commitment (between one and three infantry battalions were deployed, along with some naval and other assets).

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Foreign relations of Iraq

Coat of arms (emblem) of Iraq 2008.svg

Since 1980, the foreign relations of Iraq were influenced by a number of controversial decisions by the Saddam Hussein administration. Hussein had good relations with the Soviet Union and a number of western countries such as France and Germany, who provided him with advanced weapons systems. He also developed a sane relation with the United States, who supported him during the Iran-Iraq war. However, the Invasion of Kuwait that triggered the Gulf War brutally changed Iraq's relations with the Arab world and the West. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and others were among the countries that supported Kuwait in the UN coalition. Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the country has now tried to establish relations with various nations.

In 1988 Iraq maintained cordial relations with Turkey, its non-Arab neighbor to the north. Turkey served as an important transshipment point for both Iraqi oil exports and its commodity imports. A pipeline transported oil from the northern oil fields of Iraq through Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea. Trucks carrying a variety of European manufactured goods used Turkish highways to bring imports into Iraq. There was also trade between Turkey and Iraq, the former selling Iraq small arms, produce, and textiles. In addition, Iraq and Turkey have cooperated in suppressing Kurdish guerrilla activities in their common border area.

Iraq’s relations with the Arab world have been extremely varied. Relations between Iraq and Egypt violently ruptured in 1977, when the two nations broke relations with each other following Iraq's criticism of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s peace initiatives with Israel. In 1978, Baghdad hosted an Arab League summit that condemned and ostracized Egypt for accepting the Camp David accords. However, Egypt’s strong material and diplomatic support for Iraq in the war with Iran led to warmer relations and numerous contacts between senior officials, despite the continued absence of ambassadorial-level representation. Since 1983, Iraq has repeatedly called for restoration of Egypt’s “natural role” among Arab countries. In January 1984, Iraq successfully led Arab efforts within the OIC to restore Egypt’s membership. However, Iraqi-Egyptian relations were broken in 1990 after Egypt joined the UN coalition that forced Iraq out of Kuwait. Relations have steadily improved in recent years, and Egypt is now one of Iraq’s main trade partners (formerly under the Oil-for-Food Programme).

In 1988 Iraq's main foreign policy issue was the war with Iran. This war had begun in September 1980, when Saddam Hussein sent Iraqi forces across the Shatt al Arab into southwestern Iran. Although the reasons for Saddam Husayn's decision to invade Iran were complicated, the leaders of the Baath Party had long resented Iranian hegemony in the Persian Gulf region and had especially resented the perceived Iranian interference in Iraq's internal affairs both before and after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Their objectives were to halt any potential foreign assistance to the Shias and to the Kurdish opponents of the regime and to end Iranian domination of the area. The Baathists believed a weakened Iran would be incapable of posing a security threat and could not undermine Iraq's efforts to exercise the regional influence that had been blocked by non-Arab Iran since the mid-1960s. By early 1982, the Iraqi occupation forces were on the defensive and were being forced to retreat from some of their forward lines. In June 1982, Saddam Hussein ordered most of the Iraqi units to withdraw from Iranian territory; after that time, the Baathist government tried to obtain a cease-fire based on a return of all armed personnel to the international borders that prevailed as of September 21, 1979.

Iran did not accept Iraq's offer to negotiate an end to the war. Similarly, it rejected a July 1982 United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire. Subsequently, Iranian forces invaded Iraq by crossing the Shatt al Arab in the south and by capturing some mountain passes in the north. To discourage Iran's offensive, the Iraqi air force initiated bombing raids over several Iranian cities and towns. The air raids brought Iranian retaliation, which included the aerial bombing of Baghdad. Although Iraq eventually pushed back and contained the Iranian advances, it was not able to force Iranian troops completely out of Iraqi territory. The perceived threat to Iraq in the summer of 1982 thus was serious enough to force Saddam Hussein to request the Nonaligned Movement to change the venue of its scheduled September meeting from Baghdad to India; nevertheless, since the fall of 1982, the ground conflict has generally been a stalemated war of attrition--although Iran made small but demoralizing territorial advances as a result of its massive offensives in the reed marshes north of Basra in 1984 and in 1985, in Al Faw Peninsula in early 1986, and in the outskirts of Basra during January and February 1987. In addition, as of early 1988 the government had lost control of several mountainous districts in Kurdistan where, since 1983, dissident Kurds have cooperated militarily with Iran.

Saddam Hussein's government has maintained consistently since the summer of 1982 that Iraq wants a negotiated end to the war based upon the status quo ante. Iran's stated conditions for ceasing hostilities, namely the removal of Saddam Husayn and the Baath from power, however, have been unacceptable. The main objective of the regime became the extrication of the country from the war with as little additional damage as possible. To further this goal, Iraq has used various diplomatic, economic, and military strategies; none of these had been successful in bringing about a cease-fire as of early 1988.

Although the war was a heavy burden on Iraq politically, economically, and socially, the most profound consequence of the war's prolongation was its impact on the patterns of Iraq's foreign relations. Whereas trends toward a moderation of the Baath Party's ideological approach to foreign affairs were evident before 1980, the war helped to accelerate these trends. Two of the most dramatic changes were in Iraq's relationships with the Soviet Union and with the United States. During the course of the war Iraq moved away from the close friendship with the Soviet Union that had persisted throughout the 1970s, and it initiated a rapprochement with the United States. Iraq also sought to ally itself with Kuwait and with Saudi Arabia, two neighboring countries with which there had been considerable friction during much of the 1970s. The alignment with these countries was accompanied by a more moderate Iraqi approach to other Arab countries, such as Egypt and Jordan, which previously Iraq had perceived as hostile.

Iraqi-Iranian relations have remained cool since the end of the Iraq-Iran War in 1988. Outstanding issues from that war, including prisoner of war exchanges and support of armed opposition parties operating in each other’s territory, remain to be solved.

Relations appear to have improved since March 2008, when Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a two-day visit to Iraq.

Iraq participated in the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973, and traditionally has opposed all attempts to reach a peaceful settlement between Israel and the Arab States. Israel attacked Iraq's nuclear research reactor under construction near Baghdad in July 1981. During the Iran-Iraq war, Iraq moderated its anti-Israel stance considerably. In August 1982 President Hussein stated to a visiting U. S. Congressman that "a secure state is necessary for both Israel and the Palestinians." Iraq did not oppose then President Reagan's September 1, 1982 Arab-Israeli peace initiative, and it supported the moderate Arab position at the Fez summit that same month. Iraq repeatedly stated that it would support whatever settlement is found acceptable by the Palestinians. However, after the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, Iraq reverted to more stridently anti-Israel statements. During the Gulf War, Iraq fired Scud missiles at Israeli civilian targets in an attempt to divide the U. S. coalition, and, since the end of the Gulf War, Iraq has embraced the most extreme Arab hardline anti-Israel position, including periodically calling for the total elimination of Israel.

Iraq’s relations with Jordan have improved significantly since 1980, when Jordan declared its support for Iraq at the outset of the Iran-Iraq war. Jordan’s support for Iraq during the Gulf War resulted in a further improvement of ties. Relations have cooled since the current King of Jordan took office in 2000, but remain good. King Abdullah of Jordan has become the first Arab leader to visit Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, a landmark step towards reducing Baghdad's isolation among its Sunni Arab neighbours. Jordan is one of a small number of Arab countries to have named ambassadors to Iraq.

Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 resulted in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and most Persian Gulf states severing relations with Baghdad and joining the United Nations coalition that forced Iraqi forces out of Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War. Iraq’s refusal to implement UN Security Council Resolutions and continued threats toward Kuwait have resulted in relations remaining cool.

Outside the Middle East, Iraq maintained correct relations with other countries. Iraq identified itself as part of the Nonaligned Movement of primarily African and Asian nations, actively participated in its deliberations during the late 1970s, and successfully lobbied to have Baghdad chosen as the site for its September 1982 conference. Although significant resources were expended to prepare facilities for the conference, and Saddam Hussein would have emerged from the meeting as a recognized leader of the Nonaligned Movement, genuine fears of an Iranian bombing of the capital during the summer of 1982 forced the government reluctantly to request that the venue of the conference be transferred to New Delhi. Since that time, preoccupation with the war against Iran, which also is a member of the Nonaligned Movement, has tended to restrict the scope of Iraqi participation in that organization.

Iraq and Pakistan have had close, friendly, and cooperative relations since the latter's independence in 1947. Issues such as Iraqi support for Pakistan in its' 1971 war with India (which Iraq also has excellent relations with), and Pakistani support for Iraq against Iran in the Iran-Iraq War have forged relations between the two. Relations soured during the Gulf War when Pakistan contributed troops for the UN Coalition, seeing it as a betrayal due to Iraq's constant support for Pakistan in their previous wars with India. In 2002, Saddam Hussein visited India and said he gave his unwavering support to India over the Kashmir dispute. In 2003, Pakistan rejected US's request to send troops for the invasion which have helped soothed relations between the two.

Iraq belongs to the following international organizations: Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, Arab League, Arab Monetary Fund, Council of Arab Economic Unity, Customs Cooperation Council, Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, G-77, International Atomic Energy Agency, International Monetary Fund, International Maritime Organization, Interpol, International Organization for Standardization, International Telecommunication Union, Non-Aligned Movement, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, Organisation of the Islamic Conference, United Nations, Universal Postal Union, World Health Organization and World Bank.

Iraq's relations with other countries and with international organizations are supervised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1988 the minister of foreign affairs was Tariq Aziz, who was an influential leader of the Baath Party and had served in that post since 1983. Aziz, Saddam Hussein, and the other members of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) formulated Iraq's foreign policy, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs bureaucracy implemented RCC directives. The Baath maintained control over the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and over all Iraqi diplomatic missions abroad.

Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Hoshyar Zebari was first appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Iraqi Governing Council in Baghdad on 3rd September 2003. On the 28th June 2004, he was reappointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs by the Iraqi Interim Government, under Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. On 3rd May 2005 he was sworn in as Minister of Foreign Affairs by the Iraqi Transitional Government, under Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. On 20th May 2006, he was delegated in for the fourth consecutive time as Foreign Minister in the government of Nouri Al-Maliki.

Iran and Iraq restored diplomatic relations in 1990 but are still trying to work out written agreements settling outstanding disputes from their eight-year war concerning border demarcation, prisoners-of-war, and freedom of navigation and sovereignty over the Shatt al-Arab waterway; in November 1994, Iraq formally accepted the UN-demarcated border with Kuwait which had been spelled out in Security Council Resolutions 687 (1991), 773 (1993), and 883 (1993); this formally ends earlier claims to Kuwait and to Bubiyan and Warbah islands although the government continues periodic rhetorical challenges; dispute over water development plans by Turkey for the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

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Source : Wikipedia