A general views shows Baghdad's al-Fardous (paradise) Square on April 5, 2018.
Fifteen years after the entry of US troop into the Iraqi capital that brought about the fall of former dictator Saddam Hussein, life in Iraq has been transformed as sectarian clashes and jihadist attacks have divided families and killed tens of thousands of people, leaving behind wounds that have yet to heal and a lagging economy. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
Rubble from the plinth of Saddam Hussein's statue lies in Baghdad's Firdous Square on April 5, 2018, almost 15 years after it was toppled during the US invasion of Iraq. Ahmad Al Rubaye / AFP

Fall of Saddam reshaped the Middle East

When Saddam Hussein warned in January 2003 that a modern day version of Hulagu — the grandson of Genghis Khan who sacked Baghdad in 1258 — was approaching, the comment was taken as the last howl of a flailing despot.

Three months later Saddam was on the run and the looting of Iraq had begun. A human tidal wave swept through the Oberoi Hotel on the banks of the Tigris in Mosul to remove every fixture. The ministries in Baghdad were stripped of box files and records. The contents of an artillery factory at Al Walid airbase, which lies close to the border with Jordan, was freighted lock and stock across an Iranian border point from Diyala province.

The regional implications of the fall of Saddam were all-encompassing. As Saddam had stated, the fall of Baghdad would unleash ruinous forces of historic proportions.

Some states, notably Iran, were ready to join the scramble. Others such as Turkey were forced into a defensive crouch that continues to this day. Saudi Arabia built a wall along the border as a cordon sanitaire. Only in recent months has Saudi Arabia reversed its approach, and is now offering a strategic partnership to Baghdad.

Adel Al Jubeir, the Saudi Arabian foreign minister, explained the policy as one designed to ensure that Iraq was not left to align with Iran by default. “We want to co-ordinate with Iraq on all levels, we want to invest in Iraq and its needs to rebuild after a difficult period of time,” he said. “We want to be their partners and put the relationship on a high strategic level. Iran wants to dominate Iraq so it has a different agenda.”

Rory Stewart, a British government minister who worked in Iraq after the invasion, said that the Iranian influence was palpable from the very start. “In the province where I was based, which is just on the outskirts of Basra, we had 52 political parties that suddenly emerged in about two weeks,” he recalled last week.


Read more:

Fifteen years after Saddam fell, where does Iraq stand now?

Beyond the Headlines Podcast: Saddam Hussein's downfall, 15 years on


“To one of them I said ‘How many members have you got’ and the man said ‘I’ve 1,027 members’. I said ‘how do you know the number’ and he said ‘because I’ve given them all Kalashnikovs and we’ve just come across the border from Iran’.”

The driving rationale for the Iraq campaign was that the people who had suffered so much under dictatorship would embrace the conquest and thus align under a pro-western democratic government. Tim Cross, a British general who commanded troops in Iraq, has called that idea “a misconceived — even naive — hope that Iraqi people would unite under their liberators, that they would easily and rapidly put behind them decades of distrust and internecine warfare to provide a stable and working democracy”.

Javier Solana, a former EU foreign policy representative and opponent of the war, sees not just the conflict but the grievances surrounding its botched execution as the source of the subsequent troubles for the coalition. “While the 2003 invasion was a profoundly misguided policy, both in form and in substance, the chaos that consumed Iraq and the rest of the region stem from additional mistakes made by US policymakers after Saddam had been removed from power,” he wrote on Project Syndicate.

“One of the most important lessons of the past 15 years is that military interventions aimed at regime change will almost always lead to disaster, especially in the absence of a sensible plan for what comes next. The Iraq War showed that the cost of unilaterally forsaking diplomatic channels can be enormous.”

For Emile Hokayem, a researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the events of 2003 and the later Syrian conflict have dramatically altered the region, perhaps for good.

“The US invasion of Iraq and the resulting civil war, followed by the Syrian civil war, have fundamentally upended the regional balance and reshaped relationships throughout the Middle East,” he said.

“The weakening of the US-led order has started under Bush out of hubris, continued under Obama out of desired entrenchment and accelerated under Trump out of disarray. This means that regional and local actors are rushing to redefine their relations and position themselves.

“Iran's rise was not inevitable but it was undeniably well positioned to take advantage of the turmoil in Iraq and Syria. Iran's asymmetric strategies are backed by competence and capability developed over four decades.”

This, he said, gave Iran “a considerable head start over its regional competitors” in taking advantage of the chaos that ensued in the wake of Saddam’s fall.


Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

Rafael Nadal's record at the MWTC

2009 Finalist

2010 Champion

Jan 2011 Champion

Dec 2011 Semi-finalist

Dec 2012 Did not play

Dec 2013 Semi-finalist

2015 Semi-finalist

Jan 2016 Champion

Dec 2016 Champion

2017 Did not play


The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo

Power: 268hp at 5,600rpm

Torque: 380Nm at 4,800rpm

Transmission: CVT auto

Fuel consumption: 9.5L/100km

On sale: now

Price: from Dh195,000

Cricket World Cup League 2 Fixtures

Saturday March 5, UAE v Oman, ICC Academy (all matches start at 9.30am)

Sunday March 6, Oman v Namibia, ICC Academy

Tuesday March 8, UAE v Namibia, ICC Academy

Wednesday March 9, UAE v Oman, ICC Academy

Friday March 11, Oman v Namibia, Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Saturday March 12, UAE v Namibia, Sharjah Cricket Stadium

UAE squad

Ahmed Raza (captain), Chirag Suri, Muhammad Waseem, CP Rizwan, Vriitya Aravind, Asif Khan, Basil Hameed, Rohan Mustafa, Kashif Daud, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Karthik Meiyappan, Akif Raja, Rahul Bhatia

Pros and cons of BNPL


  • Easy to use and require less rigorous credit checks than traditional credit options
  • Offers the ability to spread the cost of purchases over time, often interest-free
  • Convenient and can be integrated directly into the checkout process, useful for online shopping
  • Helps facilitate cash flow planning when used wisely


  • The ease of making purchases can lead to overspending and accumulation of debt
  • Missing payments can result in hefty fees and, in some cases, high interest rates after an initial interest-free period
  • Failure to make payments can impact credit score negatively
  • Refunds can be complicated and delayed

Courtesy: Carol Glynn


Name: Shaffra
Started: 2023
Based: DIFC Innovation Hub
Sector: metaverse-as-a-Service (MaaS)
Investment: currently closing $1.5 million seed round
Investment stage: pre-seed
Investors: Flat6Labs Abu Dhabi and different PCs and angel investors from Saudi Arabia
Number of staff: nine

Inside Out 2

Director: Kelsey Mann

Starring: Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Ayo Edebiri

Rating: 4.5/5

The Specs

Engine: 3.6-litre twin turbocharged V6
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Power: 472hp
Torque: 603Nm
Price: from Dh290,000 ($78,9500)
On sale: now


Director: Makoto Shinkai

Stars: Nanoka Hara, Hokuto Matsumura, Eri Fukatsu

Rating: 4/5

The specs: 2018 Nissan Altima

Price, base / as tested: Dh78,000 / Dh97,650

Engine: 2.5-litre in-line four-cylinder

Power: 182hp @ 6,000rpm

Torque: 244Nm @ 4,000rpm

Transmission: Continuously variable tranmission

Fuel consumption, combined: 7.6L / 100km


Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

SPECS: Polestar 3

Engine: Long-range dual motor with 400V battery
Power: 360kW / 483bhp
Torque: 840Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 628km
0-100km/h: 4.7sec
Top speed: 210kph
Price: From Dh360,000
On sale: September

How I connect with my kids when working or travelling

Little notes: My girls often find a letter from me, with a joke, task or some instructions for the afternoon, and saying what I’m excited for when I get home.
Phone call check-in: My kids know that at 3.30pm I’ll be free for a quick chat.
Highs and lows: Instead of a “how was your day?”, at dinner or at bathtime we share three highlights; one thing that didn’t go so well; and something we’re looking forward to.
I start, you next: In the morning, I often start a little Lego project or drawing, and ask them to work on it while I’m gone, then we’ll finish it together.
Bedtime connection: Wake up and sleep time are important moments. A snuggle, some proud words, listening, a story. I can’t be there every night, but I can start the day with them.
Undivided attention: Putting the phone away when I get home often means sitting in the car to send a last email, but leaving it out of sight between home time and bedtime means you can connect properly.
Demystify, don’t demonise your job: Help them understand what you do, where and why. Show them your workplace if you can, then it’s not so abstract when you’re away - they’ll picture you there. Invite them into your “other” world so they know more about the different roles you have.

2020 Oscars winners: in numbers
  • Parasite – 4
  • 1917– 3
  • Ford v Ferrari – 2
  • Joker – 2
  • Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood – 2
  • American Factory – 1
  • Bombshell – 1
  • Hair Love – 1
  • Jojo Rabbit – 1
  • Judy – 1
  • Little Women – 1
  • Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl) – 1
  • Marriage Story – 1
  • Rocketman – 1
  • The Neighbors' Window – 1
  • Toy Story 4 – 1