by Jamal Hashim
BAGHDAD, April 26 (Xinhua) -- Thirteen years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the country still suffers power struggle, sectarian strife and bloodshed caused by the Islamic State (IS) militant group.
Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state and current Democratic front-runner in the presidential elections, recently stated that voting as then-senator for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 was her "greatest regret," describing the move as "a mistake."
"It did not turn out the way that I thought it would," she told ABC News in an interview on Thursday. "I regret that and I have said that it was a mistake."
Experts here said Clinton's latest move to stay away from the Iraq war, apparently aimed at boosting her presidential campaign, was not at all surprising.
What was surprising, said Sabah al-Sheikh, who teaches politics at Baghdad University, was that she did not express shame as the proper response to her previous judgment.
"She and many other U.S. politicians who defended the invasion should have felt shame long ago, certainly not later than 2006, when reports on Iraq's weapons-of-mass-destruction programs released by U.S. experts said there were no WMD in Iraq," he said, referring to the main justification of invading Iraq that was proved false.
"As for the post-invasion Iraq, the failure of state-building experiment in Iraq has been devastating to the nation," Sheikh said. "Nobody but the intrepid hawk in the U.S. administration would dare say they did the right thing in March 2003."
According to Iraqi government data, hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed in conflicts after the 2003 invasion, while unofficial tallies put the toll from military actions and sectarian strife at over 1 million.
The war also left some 3.4 million people displaced inside Iraq and more than 2 million outside the country, with a population of more than 34 million.
"The U.S. policies have resulted in chaos and instability, with radically sectarian groups using suicide bombings and tit-for-tat atrocities that have pushed Iraq into a full-scale civil war," Sheikh added.
The U.S. policies on Iraq after 2003 created even more problems, local observers say.
President Barack Obama, like his predecessor, also tried to take advantage of the war on Iraq in election campaigns when he pledged to end the war. He said he made a victory and ended the Iraqi war by pulling out troops, reassuring the Americans that the bloodshed was not in vain.
However, observers said the White House made a mistake when it withdrew troops from Iraq at a wrong stage that created a power vacuum exploited by terrorist groups.
"There are some 40 organizations classified by the U.S. as terrorist groups, more than half of them appeared after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq," said Ibrahim al-Ameri, a lecturer of politics in Baghdad.
"The presence of U.S. troops in Iraq from March 2003 to late 2011 gave the terrorists every reason to sneak into the country," Ameri said. "But the withdrawal of the troops was also another mistake by the U.S. because they did not completely end the IS group in Iraq nor left the political process strong enough to lead the country to safety."
IS militants now control large swaths of territories in Iraq, including the second largest city of Mosul, with a population of more than 1 million.
"Hillary Clinton, like other U.S. politicians, should feel remorse for the deteriorated situation in Iraq," Ameri said.