Outcomes of US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003: Regional Politics

The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a significant event that has impacted the Middle East, leaving severe consequences. The initial goal of USA invading Iraq was to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s regime due to various reasons; weapons of mass destructions, links to terrorism, and promote democracy through the MENA region. These concerns increased after September 11; the Bush administration was concerned that Saddam Hussein was link to the attack and had possession of weapons of mass destructions. There are various significant outcomes for regional politics of the USA led invasion of Iraq in 2003 such as destabilization in Iraq, Iran rose to power using Sunni-Shia, and decrease in trust and alliance with the USA.

Outcome 1: Destabilization in Iraq: After the USA led invasion in Iraq in 2003, it has led to overthrow Saddam Hussein. This has created chaos because there was solid plan on what happens next. There was no immediate leader placed after removing Saddam Hussein from power – no post war plan created severe consequences. One of the consequences is the creation of ISIS. Due to a destabilize government, terrorist groups such as ISIS was able to find a chance to grow – which today, we see ISIS as one of the most powerful terrorist group that has killed over thousands of innocent lives. According to the Human Rights Watch, ISIS was able to successfully pull of terrorist attacks in 20 countries. After the 2003 invasion in Iraq, ISIS was able to become powerful with no one to control them. Another consequence from not having a post war plan set after the invasion is conflict between Sunni and Shia increased. Even though, there was already conflict between the groups from the start — after the invasion, became severe resulting to violence. When Saddam Hussein was in power, Sunni was “powerful” but after the invasion, Shia had become more power creating threaten environment for Sunni. Both of these consequences, not only impact Iraq signficantly but also outside actors such as neighboring countries. 

Why matters? This outcome matters because USA led invasion in 2003 has created even more chaos. When Bush administration was planning the invasion, it was planned for the USA benefits which are to stop events like September 11 from occurring again. The Bush administration did not plan a post war plan which led to unstable government resulting to ISIS and violent conflict between Sunni and Shia. The USA has “opened” more chaos because current day, ISIS is still powerful more than ever and conflict between Sunni and Shia is worse — other countries have been and are impacted. 


Outcome 2: Iran rising to power: As discussed previously, Iraq was destabilized and in chaos after the US led invasion in Iraq. This has given an opportunity for Iran become more powerful resulting in Iran becoming influential in the MENA region. As mentioned in class, Iran is a Shia country — when Sunni and Shia conflict start getting violent, Iran aided Shia groups in Iraq to fight against enemies which are Sunnis. In addition, aiding the Shia group gave an opportunity to Iran to take control over Iraq politics and security. This was the first act of power for Iran, showing other nations such as Saudi Arabia (Sunni country) that they are powerful. However, Saudi Arabia saw Iran as a competitor — the tensions were high because Iran continuous influence in the region challenged Saudi Arabia’s power in the region as well. In addition, this caused Iran to challenge US as well. 

Why matters? This outcome matters because not only did the US led invasion impact Iraq significantly but also take away its power. This led to Iran taking over the power and become ​​influential in the MENA region. In addition, Iran being a Shia country created a hostile environment for Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia, which led to increase in competition, making conflicts in Syria and Yemen worse. In regards to the United States, Iran and Iraq both have a conflict with the USA but after the invasion, it has became worse – USA became a target for both nations. 


Outcome 3: Decline in alliance and trust with United States: The main reason why the US led invasion in Iraq because of the concern that Iraq was holding weapons of mass destruction, the USA wanted to get rid of them to benefit its allies as well themselves. After the invasion, when the USA did not find any weapons, this resulted in distrust in the USA and it allies by other nations. 

Why matters? This outcome matters because it shows the impact the invasion has on USA. When USA invaded Iraq with no plan and evidence of mass destructions, this had led many nations to lose trust in USA because they invaded a country with no good reasons. Writing out the outcomes and its impact of the invasions shows that the USA has created significant damage for Iraq but also themselves, which are permanent. My opinion on the invasion is that it should have not happen because it has created an increase in conflict for the MENA region and the USA but also impacted all nations globally in some way. I understand that the USA wanted to protect themselves and its allies but invasion was not a good decision, especially with no plan afterwards. 



“ISIS.” Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch, 2023, www.hrw.org/tag/isis#:~:text=ISIS%20has%20also%20claimed%20responsibility,impact%20on%20the%20general%20population. Accessed May 06, 2024.







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