On March 20, the Valdai Club hosted an expert discussion, titled “Iraq Twenty Years On: What the American Intervention Led to.”
March 20, 2023, marks 20 years since the US invasion of Iraq. The intervention, which was launched on a false pretext amid accusations targeting the Iraqi leadership, came at the peak of the American “unipolar moment”. US actions not only shook the foundations of the regional system in the Middle East, but also influenced transatlantic ties and relations with Russia, as well as the perception of Washington’s policy in various regions of the world. Today it can be said that the US military operation ended in disaster: Iraq lost its state institutions and Islamic armed groups became more active in the region, and later the territory of Iraq and Syria was occupied by the Islamic State terrorist organisation (banned in Russia), which was destroyed largely thanks to the efforts of Russia.
The Iraqi campaign has become one of the biggest reputational losses for the US and the UK, which supported it. As a result, Washington was forced to change its political line and reduce its participation in the affairs of the region. This was also facilitated by the rise of regional centres of power and their struggle to achieve foreign policy independence.
Today, 20 years after the start of the US invasion of Iraq, it is possible to summarise the brief period of aggressive US involvement in the Middle East. According to experts, the echoes of this failed attempt to establish undivided American hegemony are also manifesting today in European affairs, where Washington is desperately trying to maintain its influence through support for the Zelensky administration in Kiev. The strategic consequences of the current American operation can be compared to the results of the US military-political campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq 20 years ago.
How do the events of 20 years ago in Iraq continue to influence the situation in the Middle East? How did the Iraqi campaign transform the American idea of intervention? What is the main result of the American operation in Iraq? What parallels can be drawn between the American campaigns in the Middle East and the Ukrainian crisis? Participants in the expert discussion will try to answer these and other questions.
- Mohammed Ihsan, Visiting Senior Research Fellow, King’s College, London
- Maxim Suchkov, Director of the Institute for International Studies, MGIMO, Russian Foreign Ministry;
- Elbrus Kutrashev, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Iraq.
Working languages: Russian, English.