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The Occupation of Iraq

The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace

Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 544
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  • Book Info
    The Occupation of Iraq
    Book Description:

    Involved for over thirty years in the politics of Iraq, Ali A. Allawi was a long-time opposition leader against the Baathist regime. In the post-Saddam years he has held important government positions and participated in crucial national decisions and events. In this book, the former Minister of Defense and Finance draws on his unique personal experience, extensive relationships with members of the main political groups and parties in Iraq, and deep understanding of the history and society of his country to answer the baffling questions that persist about its current crises. What really led the United States to invade Iraq, and why have events failed to unfold as planned?

    The Occupation of Iraqexamines what the United States did and didn't know at the time of the invasion, the reasons for the confused and contradictory policies that were enacted, and the emergence of the Iraqi political class during the difficult transition process. The book tracks the growth of the insurgency and illuminates the complex relationships among Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds. Bringing the discussion forward to the reconfiguration of political forces in 2006, Allawi provides in these pages the clearest view to date of the modern history of Iraq and the invasion that changed its course in unpredicted ways.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13537-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiii)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
  6. People who Appear in this Book
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xix-xxi)
  8. Glossary of Arabic Terms
    (pp. xxii-xxiv)
  9. [Illustrations]
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  10. Prologue
    (pp. 1-16)

    In the history of conflicts and wars, there are few instances that match the invasion and occupation of Iraq for complexity of motive and ambiguity of purpose. A seemingly endless chain of causal events have been put forward to explain this most extraordinary episode in contemporary times, but none, it would seem, has provided a satisfying and comprehensive answer. Why did the world’s only superpower see fit to marshal its huge military and financial resources, cross the oceans, and overthrow a tyrant and his brutal system of rule, in the teeth of overwhelming international hostility?

    The overthrow of the regime...

  11. 1 The Great Divides
    (pp. 17-38)

    Conflicts and wars fought on its territory have always been the lot of Iraq. It has had the geographic misfortune of lying across the fault lines of civilisations and empires, and its peoples have suffered the waves of conquerors and battles fought over its lands. The ebb and flow of powers that controlled its destiny always left behind a residue that helped to form the profile of the modern Iraqi. But these were not accretions that melded together to form a common sense of nationhood. The shared history and experiences of Iraqis did not give rise to unifying national myths....

  12. 2 The Rise of the Opposition
    (pp. 39-61)

    The end of the Iran–Iraq War masked the true conditions inside Iraq. Both outside the country and within the regime’s own propaganda, it appeared to have emerged triumphant from a titanic struggle that had lasted eight years. During the last few months of the war, a number of events began to turn what seemed an endless stalemate into a decisive Iraqi advantage. The Iraqi forces’ recovery in April 1988 of the Fao peninsula at the southern tip of the country; the recapture of most of the strips of territory that had been seized by Iran during the summer of...

  13. 3 The Build-up to War
    (pp. 62-76)

    The collapse of the INC-led offensive, the debacle of the intra-Kurdish war that brought Saddam back into Kurdistan, albeit temporarily, and the subsequent destruction of the INC’s presence in northern Iraq, drove the exile opposition into a cul-de-sac. The momentum that had been established at the Salahudin conference, and the high hopes attached to the formation of the first-ever broad opposition front, dissipated into mutual recrimination and bloody fighting. The INC was never able to institutionalise its efforts, and Chalabi was accused by many of his collaborators of being quirky and uncontrollable. Although he had good working relationships with all...

  14. 4 The Invasion
    (pp. 77-95)

    The attempt to create a united opposition was short-lived. The largest Islamist groups had boycotted the New York Conference, and the INA’s covert whispering campaign against Chalabi, orchestrated through the CIA, was matched by the INC’s open undermining of the INA. Tensions had reached boiling point. The INC’s allies amongst the Washington rightward-leaning power brokers were publicly denouncing the INA, and repeating the charge that Saddam’s agents had infiltrated the latter organisation. This mutual antipathy between the two ‘secular’ liberal stalwarts of the opposition was mirrored in Washington by the increasing polarisation of opinion on Iraq in two antagonistic camps....

  15. 5 Occupation Authorities
    (pp. 96-113)

    The United States had invaded Iraq with no plan as to how to actually administer the country, even though the issue of the post-war governance of Iraq had been discussed well before the invasion. The Iraqi opposition were divided on the problem, with some groups advocating the formation of a provisional government that would assume power immediately after the overthrow of the regime. But the reality was that Iraqi exiles had been mainly concerned with the political arrangements and structures through which they would assume or inherit power, not with the actual task of running the country on a day-to-day...

  16. 6 A Collapsed State — a Ruined Economy — a Damaged Society
    (pp. 114-131)

    The country that the Coalition occupied was in an advanced state of decay. A fifth of its territory and population had been outside central government control for over a decade. Huge swathes of the South had been deliberately starved of funds for development and basic services, and the standard of living had precipitously crashed. The 1990s had seen a dramatic fall in incomes and quality of life throughout Iraq. Although Baghdad and the western and northern provinces had been kept supplied with resources to maintain a modicum of services, they were only marginally better off. Since the end of the...

  17. 7 Deepening Rifts in a Brittle Society
    (pp. 132-146)

    For the first time in modern history, the fall of the regime confronted Iraqis with the question of where their true loyalties and identities lay. The public airing of community differences and grievances had previously been taboo. Any mention of them, or any suggestion that the state was institutionally biased against certain communities, was drowned in a sea of vituperative condemnation, and was equated with treasonous talk that aimed at undermining national unity.¹ Even a casual acknowledgement of sectarian and ethnic grievances would open the country to the dreaded threat offitna(sedition). This would inevitably lead to partition. The...

  18. 8 Dismantling the Ba’athist State
    (pp. 147-162)

    It was broadly accepted that the new Iraq had to be built on a democratic platform, where individual and civil rights would be protected and where the relationships between state and society would be decisively shifted away from an overweening, authoritarian government. The treatment of former Ba’athists caused much bitter recrimination within the new Iraqi political class. The arguments in favour of a drastic ‘cleansing’ of Ba’athists from Iraq were countered by the assertion that most of its members had been coerced into joining, and collectively could not be held responsible for the crimes of the former regime. By and...

  19. 9 The Formation of the Governing Council and the Rise of the Insurgency
    (pp. 163-189)

    The passage of UN Resolution 1483 opened the way for the re-entry of the UN to the political process in post-war Iraq. The acrimonious disagreements in the Security Council, between the American-led Coalition and the anti-war front led by France, Russia and Germany, seemed on the way to being papered over. The Resolution was preceded by swift and generally cooperative negotiations between all the major powers, with concessions being made by all the concerned groups. The USA agreed to an enhanced UN role in the political process, by accepting the creation of the post of a Special Representative of the...

  20. 10 The Shadow of Real Power
    (pp. 190-203)

    The power of the CPA was now acknowledged in international law, but the slapped-together administration that Bremer had set up was unsure of what its tasks and objectives were. It veered uncomfortably between considering itself a caretaker administration to being a benign tutor for Iraq’s induction into the democratic camp. It sought a radical overhaul of the country’s laws, institutions and political culture. It combined the elements of imperial ‘indirect rule’, by officially ceding some power to the Governing Council, but ensuring that the Governing Council was shorn of resources and legal authority, rendering it dependent on the CPA, which...

  21. 11 The Enigma of Ayatollah Sistani
    (pp. 204-218)

    The passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1511 placed a framework on the process of transferring power and sovereignty back into Iraqi hands. The Resolution specified the date by which the details of the matter were to be presented to the Security Council – and it was assumed the CPA would manage it. The Resolution also seemed to put paid to the argument proposed by many in the Arab world and in Europe that the USA was planning a longterm occupation, although suspicions of CPA micromanagement remained. The struggle for controlling the pathways to the constitution under which an Iraqi government...

  22. 12 A Constitution in Waiting
    (pp. 219-232)

    The November 15 Agreement had been drafted in a hurry and addressed the CPA’s two main concerns.¹ First, that the transition process would be governed by a law that would in effect be a crypto-constitution. The CPA had wanted this basic law to deal with substantive constitutional issues, although it was a law that would govern for only a transitional period, because it had calculated that the basic transitional law would set markers for any new permanent constitution, and that any future attempts to challenge the principles established in this law could be thwarted. The Kurds shared this view. Second,...

  23. 13 The Fires of Sectarian Hatreds
    (pp. 233-248)

    On Tuesday, 2 March, 2004 at least five bombs exploded in the shrine cities of Karbala and Kadhimain.² It was the day of ‘Ashoura, the highpoint of the calendar of Shi’a Muslims, commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hussein. Millions of people had congregated in these two cities, mainly in Karbala, home of the twin shrines of Imam Hussein and his brother, al-Abbas. The bombs, carried by suicide bombers, went off in the morning in the middle of huge throngs of people. Nearly 270 people died and 570 were wounded. Barely a month before, suicide bombers had entered the Irbil offices...

  24. 14 A Marshall Plan for Iraq?
    (pp. 249-265)

    The Marshall Plan, officially the ‘European Recovery Program’, was one the most important foreign policy successes of the United States after World War II.¹ It was the yardstick by which all major economic assistance programmes for reconstruction and development had to be measured, as it combined enlightened self-interest with a massive transfer of resources to the warravaged economies of post-war Europe. It was, alongside NATO, the centrepiece of the USA’s strategy to strengthen the western anti-communist alliance and to fight the Cold War.²

    The realisation that Iraq would need massive funds for reconstruction only dawned on the Coalition nearly four...

  25. 15 April 2004 — the Turning Point
    (pp. 266-279)

    Two separate incidents on Wednesday, 31 March, 2004 marked the beginning of the most serious crisis that the Coalition had faced since its arrival in Iraq a year before. As the drama unfolded, it seemed that Iraq was witnessing a nationwide insurrection against the occupation. One part of the crisis was connected to the perennial ‘Moqtada problem’, the other to the evolving insurgency that was growing deadlier and more widespread by the hour, leading to yet another confrontation in the city of Fallujah. For the first time, important constituencies in both the Shi’a and Sunni communities simultaneously rose up in...

  26. 16 The Interim Iraqi Government
    (pp. 280-293)

    The April crises added to the sense that the CPA had effectively run its course and that the formation of a new Iraqi government was not only a formal requirement for the restitution of sovereignty but an essential component for stabilising the country. The CPA itself began to have afin de sièclefeel to it, with a noticeable thinning out of its ranks. A number of senior personnel slipped away to their former jobs, or to new positions on the back of their valuable Iraq experience, while the more junior staff were busily preparing their resumés for graduate and...

  27. 17 Arabs and Persians
    (pp. 294-315)

    The CPA and Washington determined the foreign policy of Iraq during the direct occupation period in all matters of significance. Travel documents of Iraqi officials were clearly stamped with the CPA’s insignia, and on official missions it was the CPA or Washington’s representative who was accorded the status of real decision-makers. Iraqi ministers were treated by and large correctly, but it was clear that their status was subordinate to their CPA ‘minders’. In fact, in many countries the US Embassy doubled up as Iraq’s alternative diplomatic mission and when issues or problems arose that affected Iraq, it was the US...

  28. 18 Showdown at the Shrine
    (pp. 316-333)

    The CPA left the Interim Government with two unresolved crises that were more akin to poisoned chalices. The stand-off in Najaf continued throughout the summer of 2004, with a cat-and-mouse game being played between the Mahdi Army and the MNF, with Iraqi detachments in tow.² Also, once again, Fallujah had become an insurgent stronghold after the complete subversion of the Fallujah Brigade and its ineffectual commander, General Muhammad Latif. The first to break was the Najaf confrontation. It was also the one that was most fraught with risk as its resolution required a firm position by Ayad Allawi on a...

  29. 19 To Hold or Abort an Election
    (pp. 334-347)

    The end of the Najaf crisis and the reaffirmation of Grand Ayatollah Sistani’s dominant role in the Shi’a politics of Iraq focused attention on the crucial milestone of the upcoming constitutional elections. The Interim Government was seen as an unnecessary interlude in the process of restoring Iraq’s sovereignty and establishing constitutional rule. Its behaviour, before and during the Najaf crisis, strayed far from the ideal of a caretaker government concerned mainly with presiding over a successful transition period. It became a party to the elections of January 2005, by positing a specific perspective for Iraq and promoting Ayad Allawi as...

  30. 20 Corruption and the Potemkin State
    (pp. 348-369)

    In a probably apocryphal story, Catherine the Great’s minister, Grigori Potemkin, was said to have erected a series of hollow facades showing prosperous villages along the Empress’s route in the Crimea. The Crimea had been recently added to her empire. These facades were meant to fool the Empress into believing that the country was well-administered and the peasantry happy and thriving.¹ The Iraqi state that the CPA bequeathed to the sovereign Iraqi government was just such a hollow construct. The administrative machinery had been imploding over the past decade-and-a-half, a process further distorted by the CPA hiatus. Nevertheless, the state...

  31. 21 Iraqi Society on the Eve of Free Elections
    (pp. 370-387)

    Eighteen months after the fall of the Ba’athist regime, and as Iraqis were preparing for the elections, the verities that underpinned Iraq’s society and the relationships between its peoples had been violently upended. Every basic tenet of society had been disrupted in ways that would have a profound effect on the electoral outcome. For the first time, the most fundamental questions about who and what an Iraqi was were being seriously asked, behind a backdrop of escalating violence and resistance. The undoubted new liberties and freedoms that the overthrow of the Ba’ath brought had to be set against the accelerating...

  32. 22 The Vote
    (pp. 388-402)

    The election boycott call by the main Sunni parties would obviously have a major influence on the level of participation by the Sunni Arabs. An election for a constituent assembly without significant Sunni Arab involvement might be seen as seriously impaired. At the same time, as the election date approached, the strength of the UIA – the party list ostensibly backed by Sistani – appeared to be gathering momentum and threatened a clean sweep of the Shi’a vote. Alarm bells arose, not only amongst the secular parties but also in Washington.¹ There the administration was caught in a predicament of its own...

  33. 23 Negotiating a Constitution
    (pp. 403-417)

    The writing of a permanent constitution by an elected assembly was the main reason for the creation of a transitional period in the Iraqi political process. It had been Sistani’s key demand, and was infused with extraordinary significance and symbolism. Through a permanent constitution, it was reasoned, the Iraqi state would be refashioned in ways that would reflect the values and aspirations of its myriad communities. The constitution was also the vehicle through which historical wrongs would be redressed and a new democratic dispensation established. Many people subscribed to Sistani’s view, even including parts of the political establishment. But what...

  34. 24 Crises and the Jaafari Government
    (pp. 418-435)

    A range of crises and new, or inherited, problems immediately buffeted the Transitional National Government. Although it had a popular mandate, the terms of the TAL obliged the UIA to seek partners in the process of forming the government. Its main ally, the Kurdistan Alliance, was intensely wary of Jaafari’s true intentions, while Ayad Allawi’sIraqiyyalist had moved into ineffective, but hostile, opposition. The other main power broker, the US Embassy, while concerned about an Islamist-led government, was also sceptical about the prospects for Jaafari’s government. They were, however, pinning their hopes on the permanent government to be installed...

  35. 25 Into Uncharted Waters
    (pp. 436-452)

    The elections on 15 December, 2005 were a watershed in Iraq’s history and the final milestone in the political process that had begun with the transfer of sovereignty in June 2004. Unlike the earlier elections of January, which were Iraq’s first free elections after the war, the December 2005 elections were considered more representative. The January elections had suffered from a near-universal boycott by the Sunni Arabs, but in the December elections, the Sunni community participated enthusiastically and in great numbers. No one could doubt the inclusiveness of these elections. The December elections would not only demonstrate the relative size...

  36. Epilogue
    (pp. 453-460)

    As 2006 drew to a close, the backdrop to the crisis in Iraq began to change. Death squads and the infiltrated police force began to match — and exceed — the insurgents in the scale and viciousness of their attacks on civilians. In terms of the government’s credibility, the Maliki government was called upon to address the lawlessness and violence emanating from the militias as a matter of even greater priority than the counter-insurgency campaign. The USA, the Sunni Arab parties and their regional supporters in the Arab world would all join in demanding that the Maliki government tackle the Mahdi Army...

  37. Notes
    (pp. 461-493)
  38. Index
    (pp. 494-518)