These opposition groups had actively sought regime change in Iraq and tried to enlist the aid of Britain and the United States many years before Operation Iraqi Freedom began. One opposition group even favored the return to a constitutional monarchy. There was also a group that favored communism. Many of these groups were at odds with one another, but the one thing that they all had in common was their desire to rid their homeland of the brutal dictator Saddam Hussein.
Opposing a Brutal Dictator
Although Saddam Hussein was a Sunni, he presided over a secular dictatorship and was not a religious fanatic like Usama bin Laden. Still Saddam’s inhumane rule fostered a strong opposition.
The Iraqi National Coalition (INC) offers a useful overview of the principles of the group and a historical account that enumerates the reasons that this group has been seeking a government based on democratic ideals to replace Saddam's rule.
According to the Iraqi National Coalition, “Saddam Hussein, the nightmare of every Iraqi, has defied the International Community and violated all United Nations ceasefire resolutions including (687) and (688) of 1991. These resolutions demanded the immediate cessation of Saddam’s regime terrorist activities and internal repression as a necessary means to establish regional peace and security.”
In their statement of coalition principles, they remind us of Saddam's brutal gassing of the Kurds and report that his “regime has systematically destroyed Iraq’s civil society, upon which the very Iraqi nationhood is based. It targeted particular national, ethnic, cultural, and religious groups, in order to divide the Iraqi people, and eliminate the natural cohesion of family life and faith.” Nearly a half-million Shi’ites had been denied their rights, their property taken, and many had been exiled.
The coalition states that “[t]o preserve its rule in the face of ever-growing opposition, the Iraqi regime has virtually, ‘legalised’ all that is inhuman in Iraq.”
Asking for Help
In March 2000, a number of Iraqis and exiled Iraqis formed the INC to act as an umbrella group for the fifteen opposition groups in hope of providing a united front to bring their case to Britain, Europe, and the United States. Then March of 2001 they met at their first National Conference in London to “urge the world community to help rid our country of the Weapons of Mass Destruction.”
Remember these are the Iraqi people claiming that their country under Saddam was blighted with “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” Also, we must remember that this was prior to September 11, 2001.
The Iraqi people had described for the world the conditions that President George W. Bush communicated to the American people as he came forward to provide the rationale for military engagement with the Iraqi tyrant.
A Need for Military Support
The INC explains further their position:
Despite the fact, that the future of Iraq will be determined, to a large extent, by the Iraqi people and their political leaders, we still feel that the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and the world community, respectively, have moral responsibilities towards helping the oppressed people of Iraq in their calamity.This was the position of the Iraqi people prior to 9/11/2001.
The Iraqi National Coalition, and in fact the Iraqi people in general, would welcome such American initiative, and would urge the USA to provide essential political, logistical, financial and indeed, military support, to assist the Iraqi people to overthrow Saddam’s regime and to establish the democratic alternative.
Of course, they had hoped that the regime change would be achieved through a peaceful transition, not through bloody confrontations, but the January 30, 2005, elections and voter turnout—eight million of the fourteen million eligible voted—show that the Iraqi people did, in fact, welcome the ousting of Saddam Hussein, and they “urge[d] the USA to provide essential political, logistical, financial and indeed, "military support” to help them achieve that objective.
For more information:
Iraqi National Coalition
(Acknowledgment: A version of this article first appeared on Suite101.com in January 2007.)