During discourse regarding Western precedence in the Middle East, the economic or geopolitical effects are mainly discussed; however, the human cost remains absent. The beginning of the U.S. presence in Iraq began in 1980, with the Iran-Iraq War, which lasted from 1980 to 1988, known as the longest last conventional war in history. The war started when the leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, invaded Iran under the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini leadership. The conflict ensued due to rising tensions to see who would be the superpower in the region.
The U.S. feared that if the Iranians won the war, more states in the region would turn to Islamic fundamentalism, which is anti-western. The United States supplied Iraq with weapons to fight the Iranians, including chemical weapons containing white phosphorus, known to have hazardous and fatal effects on those exposed to it. This war is known as one of the most catastrophic and destructive conventional wars in history. Over five hundred thousand soldiers died, and around a million people, including soldiers and civilian lives, were lost, with many still missing today. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Iranians alike were displaced. In 1988, the nation eventually established a peace deal, with neither the state being victorious.
Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. In January 1990, the United Nations Security Council called for Saddam Hussein to withdraw his troops, but he didn’t. America was allied with Britain, France, Germany, the Soviet Union, Japan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. It leads to the creation of a massive U.S. lead offensive known as Operation Desert Storm. War was made in effect to minimize combat on the ground as much as possible. Over the next four days, coalition forces circled and defeated the Iraqis and liberated Kuwait. After 42 days of air and ground attacks, President Bush declared a ceasefire. Hussein accepted the ceasefire on the following terms; Iraq would recognize Kuwait’s sovereignty and destroy its Weapons of Mass Destruction. Iraq made every effort to adhere to UN weapon inspections. Bush Jr now sponsored a new UN resolution calling for weapon inspectors’ return to Iraq, and they reentered Iraq that November. Bush, without UN approval, declared an end to diplomacy and issued an ultimatum on March 17th, 2003, down from power and leave Iraq within 48 hours, under threat of war—he refused, and the second war began. The ultimatum was issued without UN approval—the UN Security Council didn’t authorize it.
In 2004, the Iraqi city of Fallujah was given evacuation notice by the U.S military. However, military aged-men were forbidden from leaving the city. This attack leftover 300,000 civilians displaced, and all the infrastructure was destroyed. U.S faces then used chemical weapons containing a chemical known as white phosphorus and depleted uranium. Depleted uranium is a byproduct of uranium, which, when employed, its radioactive particles contaminate the surrounding areas. This can produce genetic mutations and congenital birth defects. The legacy of Fallujah is that it now has the highest rate of congenital disabilities in the world, 14 times higher than that of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the first atomic bomb was dropped on them. There are higher rates of congenital disabilities and increased cases of cancer and leukemia after 2004 in Fallujah. Babies are being born with multiple heads, Multiple fingers, cleft palates, and missing limbs, to list a few.
Sanctions have been widely used by Western countries, most prominently by the United States, against so-called “enemy” countries like Iran. This has halted access to critical medical supplies into the country doing the COVID-19 pandemic. Iran has become one of the global epicenters of the pandemic, being the country with the most cases of deaths in all the Middle East.
Since the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan, they imposed sanctions so harsh it can only be defined as economic terrorism. The implications of the United States’ sanctions during the novel coronavirus pandemic is that millions of Iranians are dying due to lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and lack of pharmaceutical and medical equipment. There have been over thirty thousand Iranian deaths because of the pandemic. As of October 2020, Iran has broken its daily death record, with as many as 270 people dying daily in around 80 million people. The Iranian government has not gone into the type of lockdowns countries like Canada have implemented because of fears of devastating their already suffering economy, which is tied to the sanctions imposed by the U.S.