Gulf Futures

The US-led coalition against Saddam Hussein following his invasion of Kuwait in 1990 saw a stronger bond emerge between states in the Middle East and the West. While this invasion resulted in great success for the Coalition forces, the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 brought about a series of great divides in the region which destabilized many nations and strained relations. With the toppling of Saddam Hussein by the “Coalition of the Willing”, a new government was hastily created in Iraq, which saw elections take place in the country. The holding of elections is seen as a great positive throughout most of the world, but this system placed an even greater emphasis on the sectarian divides in Iraq between the Shia and Sunni Muslims who make up the overwhelming majority of the population. The Shiite majority government has since seen influence creeping in from Iran, which had been a great enemy of Iraq under Saddam, as well as rising influence from other nations such as the Saudis due to the weakened state the country has been left in since the American invasion. Furthermore, many former members of the Iraqi army, who now found themselves out of work, began to fall into rising extremist groups such as the Islamic State which arose in the power vacuum. The rise of these extremist groups further prolonged American involvement in the region despite its unpopularity among both Americans themselves and citizens of states in the Middle East.

Separate from the competition for influence between Iran and the Saudis, the Islamic State eventually spread its influence into neighboring Syria in the wake of their own Civil War, which would not have been made possible without the US invasion. Furthermore, Iran has used the weakened state of Iraq to transfer supplies through their territory, and into Syria where it reaches both the Assad regime fighters and forces of Hezbollah’s military wing in Lebanon, which Iran has been supporting since its inception. Ultimately, the 2003 invasion of Iraq had a series of widespread consequences across the entire Middle East, changing the face of the power politics at play between states, with the unforeseen consequences being more far reaching than any of the positives which came from the removal of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party.

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