8.6.4        An Iraqi Perspective on External Help

(This is an archived extract from the book Patterns of Power: Edition 2)

As already mentioned, Iraq's political problem was internal.  From outside Iraq, there was little pressure that could be brought to bear, either by Iraq's neighbours or by the wider international community, to bring about peaceful political change. 

It would have been possible, though to help an internal uprising.  The Shia majority in Iraq had previously asked for help from America in the 1991 uprising,[1] but help had been refused because America felt that a Shi'ite revolution would place the country more under Iran's influence (Iran being the world's major Shi'ite power, and a neighbour).[2]  Saddam Hussein then brutally crushed the uprising and, as previously noted (8.6.1), proceeded to repress the groups involved: particularly the Marsh Arabs in the south and the Kurds in the north. 

From the perspective of the Iraqi people, it would have been much more acceptable to help them in their own uprising than to invade their country.  There would have been less ambiguity about the motives: it would have been seen to be in support of their human rights rather than either a religious "crusade'' or a grab for their oil.  Invasions are always resisted and invaders are at a disadvantage in a military conflict (

Use of the ICC to remove some particularly abusive individuals would also have been seen as helpful (8.2.3), and would have been unambiguous in its motives.

© PatternsofPower.org, 2014

[1] On 21 August 2007 the BBC published a report entitled Flashback: the 1991 Iraqi revolt.  This was available in April 2014 at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/2888989.stm.

[2] An article entitled Shia Leadership, which was published by GlobalSecurity.org, referred to the American decision not to support the Shia uprising in 1991:

“When the fighters of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), headed by Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, poured over the border from Iran. Fears of Iranian influence over Iraqi Shiites through SCIRI was a decisive factors in the US decision not to support the uprising.”

This article was available in April 2014 at http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/iraq/religion-shia2.htm.

The extent of Iranian influence, though, was possibly overstated: the Shia majority felt more affinity to their country and their Arab identity rather than identifying with the Iranian Shia who, as Persians, were regarded as enemies (8.3.1).