Labeled the “Powder Keg of the late 20th and early 21st centuries”, the Middle East in the recent past has grown to be one of the most crucial hot points of debate for the international community. Through a brief examination of the history of the conflict zones, a look at the conflicts themselves, and the effects of possible actions, one can see that it is imperative to discuss the Iraqi conflict in an international forum.
Iraq and its people are rich in cultures, violence, and conflict. The early 20th century Middle East was controlled by Great Britain and had much European influence in the political spectrum. Britain ceded the lands back to the people in 1914. The method by which land was divided was, on most levels, arbitrary. Many country borders were drawn, dividing and joining groups of people. Iraq was set up around the ancient city of Babylon. It contains two main groups of warring factions. The north holds a group of people called the Kurds, whom most middle-eastern countries persecute. The Shiites and Sunnis are Muslim factions in the south warring both against each other and against the Kurds. Arabs—those who speak the language Arabic—make up 75% of the population. In 1918, the remaining British military support left. Few relevant events occurred for the next 40 years. 1958 brought about political change; a violent military coup removed the current leaders—the King, the Crown Prince, and the Prime Minister—and replaced them with their own general, Karim Kassem. This government lasted, quasi-democratically, until Saddam Hussein, the Vice-President, militarily ousted the President, took power, and set up a new style of government in 1978.
Saddam Hussein has acted controversially since he took power in 1978. To maintain his power, it is believed that he killed over 400 members of the Iraqi national congress and other political leaders. In 1981, Iraq re-ignited a long-standing dispute with the Iran. War between the Iraqis and the Iranians lasted for a number of years. The United States and Britain supported the Iraqis, giving weapons and monetary assistance. Soon after a cease-fire was negotiated between the warring countries in 1988, Saddam Hussein continued aggressions in his own territory. Hussein tested chemical and biological weapons upon the Kurdish groups in the north of Iraq during the 1980’s. In 1990, Iraq renewed a long-standing border dispute with Kuwait. Kuwait is a country with large oil reserves, but more importantly, an access port to the Persian Gulf. Iraq is a landlocked country, and has to pipeline out, or negotiate with Kuwait to sell its oil. It claimed that Kuwait had taken too much of the shared oil reserves in the border area. Due to Iraqi threats and actions against Israel, the United States built defensive and offensive forces, and struck major military sites in Iraq. In addition to protecting its allies and economic interests, the United States hoped to halt any Iraqi buildup of weapons of mass destruction. These events are known as the Gulf War.
Following the Gulf War, the United Nations attempted to prevent Iraq from gaining a weapons stockpile to enable a strike upon its own people or another country. United Nations Security Council placed economic sanctions upon Iraq.
Resolution 687, April 3, 1991, did the following:
The need for weapons inspectors became evident to the Security Council; and on August 15th, 1991, the Council passed Resolution 707, allowing weapons inspectors to search the country for weapons of mass destruction.
In 1994, Iraq moved against the Kuwaiti people and the United Nations yet again condemned this action. The Iraqis then retreated. Fearing that sanctions force many Iraqi citizens to do without proper nutrition or medical care, the United Nations initiated an "oil-for-food" program. The program allows Iraq to buy medicine and food using proceeds from oil exports—an enterprise banned under the embargo—to alleviate the humanitarian crisis inside Iraq. Since this time, weapons inspectors had been allowed into, and then removed from Iraq, in a fashion that told the world Iraq holds a stance of compliance with resistance. More recently, Iraq has completely disallowed weapons inspectors into the country. Growing fears of the presence of weapons of mass destruction have heightened the debate in the United Nations and the international community regarding relations with Iraq. A situation of the highest concern is Israeli-Iraqi tensions. Some say that were United States to strike upon Iraq, then Iraq would in turn strike Israel. Israeli politicians have declared that if Iraq were to strike, they would strike back. To many, this implies that Israel will use their nuclear weapons against aggressors. The United States’ stance of the need for regime change is met with much dissent, because Saddam Hussein may be preferable to any replacements. The French, Chinese, and Russians all support increased diplomacy with Iraq, furthering the time frame for Iraqi compliance.
The United States wishes to move in as soon as possible to overthrow the “axis of evil”. Unless working diplomacy can be established between countries, serious consequences may take place. Winston Churchill’s belief that “It is always better to Jaw-Jaw than to War-War” is the current stance of the United Nations.
This will be good for keeping up on the current events in the realm of the debate, actions, and positions of countries.
This is a good resource for writing your country’s backgrounder. It’s all in factual format, so DO NOT COPY AND PASTE IT.
A GREAT overview of Iraqi happenings, recent updates, and overall fun stuff. Click on it’s link on the right side called “Map: World Stances on Iraq” to help find your country’s stance.
Daily briefings are useful to find recent updates and occurrences, along with publications of speeches and documents.
This is where to find the texts of all previous resolutions through the Security Council.