Looking back on fifteen years of Biden’s mistakes in Iraq – Un si Middle East

A staunch supporter of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, Joe Biden even pleaded for the country’s division into three autonomous entities, while stigmatizing France in offensive terms.

Joe Biden in Baghdad, November 29, 2011 (Ahmed Al-Rubaye, AFP)

While Barack Obama courageously opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003, his future vice-president was a strong supporter in the Senate. Joe Biden went even further than most “hawks”, proposing in 2006-2007 that Iraq be divided into three autonomous entities, Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish, which would only have worsened the civil war then. in progress, itself directly caused by the American occupation. It is important to come back to this episode, which is very revealing of the vision of the Middle East of the next tenant of the White House, so that the idealization of the winner of Donald Trump does not lead to new and serious disillusions.


Biden, a Delaware senator since 1973, chaired the powerful Foreign Affairs Committee when, in the summer of 2002, he relays Bush administration propaganda on the ” weapons of mass destruction “That Iraq would hold:” Saddam Hussein must give up these weapons or he must give up power ”. Such support is essential for the White House, which faces a predominantly Democratic Senate. In October 2002, Biden was one of 29 Democratic senators to vote, against the advice of 23 others and alongside 48 elected Republicans, the blank check that allowed George W. Bush to wage the war in Iraq as he pleased. In July 2003, three months after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and despite the failure of 150,000 American troops in Iraq to find any trace of weapons of mass destruction, Biden persists and signs: « I said it last year, and I believe it today, with the billions of dollars at Saddam’s disposal, I have no doubt that after five years he would have gained access to a weapon. nuclear tactical “.

Still Senator Biden actively participates to the campaign to denigrate France, accused of all evils for not having supported the American invasion of Iraq: ” We all know that the French have been anything but cooperative, that they have even been daredevils … » (a pain in the you-know-what). This vilification of the oldest ally of the United States is accompanied by a maneuver by Biden to rewrite its own history on Iraq: in October 2004, he said “ never believed in the possession of weapons of mass destruction By Saddam’s regime. While the constitution of a federal and democratic Iraq was approved by referendum in October 2005, giving broad powers to the regional government of Kurdistan in the north of the country, Biden proposed, six months later, to go even further by dividing Iraq into three Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish entities, the central power of Baghdad being reduced to a minimum. This de facto partition of the country arouses all the more opposition as it would risk offering the jihadists ” Islamic State in Iraq (EII) control over an area emptied of its Shiite population.

Joe Biden in Baghdad, April 28, 2016 (Pool)


In an Iraq that is still largely multi-community, especially in Baghdad, the ” plan Biden Would have helped, had it been adopted, to accelerate the ethnic cleansing perpetrated by sectarian militias. The tripartite logic of the Democratic senator is transposed abruptly from Bosnia-Herzegovina, where it only led to paralyzing the authority of Sarajevo. It is also terrible for minority groups such as Christians, Turkmens or Yazidis, left to the arbitrariness of the dominant group in their respective sector of Iraq. Biden, on the other hand, is opposed to « surge » American forces in Iraq, where the deployed reinforcements rely on Sunni militias, say “Awakening” (Sahwa), to push back, and ultimately defeat the jihadist groups. Biden prefers instead to pursue the mirage of his « plan », approved by a non-binding Senate vote in September 2007, just as a poll conducted by the BBC in Iraq gives 9% responses in favor of a division of Iraq (against 62% in favor of a central government worthy of the name).

Biden’s vision of Iraq is defined by strictly confessional criteria, without taking into account Iraqi national sentiment, nor the consequences for the rest of the Middle East of a break-up of the country. When Obama entrusted, in 2009, the Iraqi file to his vice-president, this one will bet without reserve on the strong man of the Shiite community, Nouri al-Maliki, Prime Minister since 2006. Biden thus brings a decisive support to the continued Maliki in his post in November 2010. Regardless of the increasingly aggressive authoritarianism of the Iraqi head of government, his ever closer cooperation with Iran and his sectarian bitter against the Sunni militias of the “Alarm clock”, The only factor that counts for Biden is the success of the American withdrawal from Iraq in 2011. This very short-sighted American policy favors the return of the fire of the EII which, in 2013, gained a foothold in neighboring Syria and became ” the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ”, known by its Arabic acronym Daesh. It was not until August 2014, two months after the fall of Mosul and one month after the proclamation of the jihadist pseudo-caliphate, that Biden will finally abandon Maliki, forced to leave power. it will nonetheless weigh in favor of air cover from the United States to pro-Iranian militias, which enabled the Revolutionary Guards to expand their networks throughout the country and placed them in a position of strength during of the crisis of last January.

This reminder of Biden’s Iraqi history proves that, whenever he has had to decide, the senator, turned vice-president, has always chosen the riskiest option in terms of international conflict and civil war. And there is no evidence that the future president has learned the slightest lesson from so many past mistakes.

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