The worst case scenario for Iraq and the region could be the disintegration of the country, which currently doesn’t seem impossible, argues Iraqi military expert Lt Gen Ra’ad al-Hamdani.
The former General of the Second Unit of the Iraqi Republican Guard saw and participated in the war that ended up in the occupation of Iraq. He is certain the decade-long American presence in the country ended unfavourably for Iraq.
RT: Ten years after the war, could you say what the outcome of the war was – much as the word “outcome” may be slightly inappropriate with all the tragedy Iraq had to go through?
Lt Gen Ra’ad al-Hamdani: This outcome is definitely not in favor of Iraq or the whole region. I believe that this war is still spiraling on and on – like a horrific tsunami. Its future outcome is clearly scary and catastrophic – just like the aftermath of any war.
RT: In other words – even after that massive destruction we’ve seen in Iraq – there is still more to expect?
RAH: While we may not have access to the entire information, we can monitor the situation, analyze it, and predict a new stage, which will begin after Iraq disintegrates – may Allah prevent it – marking a change in the political landscape of the whole Middle East. That will lay the groundwork for fragmentation of Iraq into several small states, which will bring trouble to their neighbors. Strategically speaking, there are two regions around Iraq: the region of influence and the so-called backup region. Iraq borders six states in the region that are directly affected by the occupation of Iraq. There are other states, too, on the outside rim. These include Egypt, Yemen, Oman and other Middle Eastern states and that's what I dubbed the backup region. All these states are affected by the Iraq occupation as well and they all play a role of their own in the region. While others follow the lead, states like Iran and Turkey have a strong say in the region of influence. They are concerned with the problem of Iraq because they need to ensure their own security interests. If a new stakeholder emerges, they will also be after Iraq’s resources and will try to find their own place in the sun.
RT: What about Syria? Is the situation there similar to what’s going on Iraq, with the same power structure? After all, Syria is so close to Iraq.
RAH: Of course. It is a very specific example. We have this situation, because those who planned this war in order to benefit from the geopolitical location of the Middle East, implemented their scenario. Of course, other major states were concerned. So the changes we see in the region today are part of the new world order, which started after the fall of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc with the US becoming an undisputed leader. Now, in this new world order, major world powers, such as Russia and China and some European countries can protect their interests, because they can act independently. As Brzezinski wrote in his latest book Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power, the US will not always take advantage of the situation with the fall of the Soviet Union and dominate in the world. The author says this will end in 2040. Right now this seems like a really long time. Apparently, we are on the verge of some changes in the world order, we are starting a new stage of “power of attorney” wars. And external factors are in conflict with internal, regional factors. We see an example of such conflict in Syria today.
RT: Was it a forced measure to withdraw American troops from Iraq or was there another alternative?
RAH: I personally think that when the US started this war, it had a strategic goal to conquer the region in one way or another, to create a new geopolitical system, which would benefit them. The Middle East is a region with a lot of energy resources, which are a major force in the world economy. That’s why we have the G8 and the G20. And in this sense Iraq is a major element in the process of changing the geopolitical system, which benefits the US and its allies.
RT: Have they been successful?
RAH: Judging by the situation, this hasn’t happened yet. But there are some things that work to their advantage. However I think that they miscalculated, it turns out their opponent on the international arena is not as weak as they thought. I think that at this point they should revise some of the hasty decisions, made during the Iraq campaign. Those decisions caused a lot of problems. I think that many of the people, who contributed to making such decisions, now regret making them…
RT: So the decision on starting the war was not spontaneous, and nether was the decision on the invasion – it was obviously a strategic plan. But why was the decision made on disbanding the Iraqi armed forces which included the army, police and all the security structure bodies? Wasn’t it threatening for them? Aren’t we seeing a total lack of order in the country now?
RAH: We expected various international factors to work. The US Armed Forces is a great army. But this war was actually illegal. Each war has three starting points, i.e. a political situation which enables waging a war, the international law provisions, and means and funds available. The United States had no such political situation neither the legal approval of the Security Council, but they did have the power. They were in the same kind of a situation as Iraq in 1990 when it deployed a war against Kuwait. At that time, the US and the international community opposed Iraq. Now there isn’t anyone openly resisting the US; there’s just the illegality of the war factor. But its results and the form of waging this war caused the division of Iraqi society. It was the main reason of our homeland’s separation. The Iraqi armed forces represented a great power that worked on bringing the Iraqi people into a united community. The Iraqi armed forces belong to the history and to their homeland. The split of the society and the attempts of forming a new army which doesn’t match the preceding one make the objective of achieving the political goals for invading Iraq easier. The decision on disbanding the Iraqi armed forces that had been made by the Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq Paul Bremer on 23 May 2003 was probably the most dangerous one. It was aimed at putting Iraq to an end. Then he also passed a Decree 91 of 7 June 2003 on forming the new armed forces based on a number of militia units related to various political parties, including the opposition ones.
RT: We know that you made attempts and developed materials for building a new Iraqi army which would meet the traditional understanding and reasonable requirements for the armed forces. What was the result of these efforts?
RAH: Unfortunately, the result is quite disastrous. One of the main reasons is that those coming up with proposals represent the previous regime, and are not viewed as Iraqi soldiers who serve Iraq and ensure Iraq’s security. I don’t represent the previous regime, or any other kind of regime. I act as a soldier who values the security of his homeland, Iraq.
RT: We’ve been told that in your message, you criticized the previous regime’s operation in military and strategic sphere as well as in the politics. You’ve crossed many T’s in such areas where the closes circles of the previous regime remained unaware.
RAH: There are a number of reasons for that, including the political benefits. Proposals that have been made on forming the armed forces in such a way are damaging the existing political achievements. The decisions that had been made by Paul Bremer for strengthening that regime and that later resulted in problems were also related to this factor. The main problem was the one of the armed forces. These failures had a catastrophic impact on national security. Now, after ten years of unrest it could blow up anywhere. There are different forces which benefit from it. The confrontation is increasing proportionally to the growth of achievements. So the main struggle is now developing around a possible loss of these achievements.