GSN in 2003 - the PDF archive

Ten years after the Iraq invasion

To mark the tenth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq, and to give wider public access to examples of our reporting and analysis, GSN has unlocked the archive of its newsletters published in 2003.   Other elements of the GSN archive, going back to 1974, remain restricted to subscribers, as is usual for a publication that depends on subscription revenue to fund its research.

The tenth anniversary of the US led invasion of Iraq inevitably presents an opportunity to re-examine the events of 2003, both within Iraq and in the countries directly involved.  A substantial body of information about the conflict is already available, but much has yet to become public – not only those resources in government archives, but also those from post-war exercises in public accountability such as the UK’s Chilcot inquiry.

GSN followed Iraq closely, in the newsletter and in a series of special supplements - below you will find links to download all the issues from 2003. 

A reading of pre-2003 GSN shows just how inevitable conflict was.  ‘Global terrorism’ was high on the agenda as the George W Bush administration came to power.  Although 2001 started with a “Bush team caught between interventionist temptations and isolationist urges” (GSN 652/3), it was soon apparent that an attempt to remove Saddam would not be avoided, whatever the opinion of allies. (“USA gears up for Iraq conflict without regional support”, GSN 682/3).

The broad lines of policy-making sprang from a small group of neo-conservatives (the Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Pearle cluster, who had been closely linked to Israeli politician Binyamin Netanyahu).  Meanwhile key moments like George W Bush’s famous “Axis of Evil” State of the Union speech and claims that Iraq was sourcing uranium for bomb-making in Niger seemed all too often to be improvised, rather than logically thought out or based on solid evidence (GSN 680/2).
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Moving on from Iraq: Where are key players now?

GSN has been looking at the fortunes of some of the protagonists in the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Many have remained connected to Iraq, setting up or investing in Iraq-linked businesses, working as consultants or taking positions on boards of companies requiring Iraq expertise. Those profiled include Lewis Paul (‘Jerry’) Bremer III, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, Lieutenant General Jay Garner, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Lakhdar Brahimi, Patrick Kennedy, Zalmay Khalilzad, Colonel Harry Schute, Bernie Kerik and Marek Belka.
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Gulf States Newsletter (GSN) 2003 PDFs

Monarchies squeezed by international pressures

War or no war with Iraq, the Gulf coast Arabian monarchies find themselves confronted with the impossibility of escaping regional change over the coming year. That will be decided for them by Washington, Baghdad and the United Nations Security Council in events that will shape the smaller states domestic arrangements, local inter-governmental relationships and Gulf Co-operation Council efforts to find enhanced strength and security.
Issue 701, 10 January 2003. Download the issue

‘Smoking gun’ may rise out of the underworld

European opposition to early military action  against Iraq appears to be hardening, as many of the EU s leading political figures refuse to be persuaded of the need for war by the discovery of 11 empty chemical warheads and thousands of new documents, and public opinion appears solidly against a war launched on US President George W Bush's terms.
Issue 702, 24 January 2003. Download the issue

Arab leaders manoeuvre ahead of talks about action

Stung by their impotence in the face of the US-led confrontation with Iraq, Arab governments have moved forward their summit, scheduled for 24 March in Bahrain, to Cairo earlier in the month. While the summit promised much from an Arab policy perspective, the timetable established by an apparently impatient President George W Bush, meant war may have been declared by then League of Arab States officials said the meeting had been transferred to Egypt at Bahrain’s request.
Issue 703, 7 February 2003. Download the issue

Kuwait prepares uncomfortable front row seat

As US and UK forces build up for a new Gulf war, no country other than Iraq has more at stake in this stage of the conflict than Kuwait. In Kuwait City the sense of waiting, almost of expectation, is palpable. The usual turf wars and political sniping continue, but there is also an admirable sense of national purpose, with civil society groups playing an important role.
Issue 704, 21 February 2003. Download the issue

Western expatriates are the weakest link

Al-Qaeda’s Kuwaiti operations commander Khaled Sheikh Mohammed may be in Afghanistan following the war on terror’s biggest arrest to date, but the jihad continues, and intelligence sources suggest that suicide bombings and other assaults against Western and ruling family targets could follow in coming weeks.
Issue 705, 7 March 2003. Download the issue

Between a virtuous outcome and catastrophe: three scenarios for an uncertain future

Even before Iraqis are confronted with the awe and terror of an unprecedented US-led bombardment – expected soon after the initial assault on the Baathist establishment and its defences, launched on 20 March as GSN went to press – businesses have been steeling themselves to chase the opportunities that will be offered by a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. Even before the war starts, it seems to be over for Saddam Hussein, with the USA awarding reconstruction contracts – whose legality of which is questionable – and companies already dreaming about the contracts on offer.
Issue 706, 21 March 2003. Download the issue

Basing restrictions channel coalition ‘like toothpaste through a tube’ towards Baghdad

The Iraqi conflict, intensely unpopular in the region, has seen key US allies such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Jordan place the requirements of their own domestic constituencies above those of the US military. The result will be a longer and more costly war for the US in terms of blood and treasure.
Issue 707, 4 April 2003. Download the issue

Coalition flirts with nation-building in Iraq as combat role fades away

With the combat phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) winding down, the Pentagon has been looking ahead to the nation-building work that could prove even more of a challenge than the actual fighting of the war.

Under the coalition’s assault, the Iraqi Republican Guard melted away from the outskirts of Baghdad, coalition forces met little resistance inside the city and Iraqi forces all but collapsed in the north, leading US Joint Chiefs of Staff Director of Operations Major General Stanley McChrystal to state on 14 April that “major combat operations are over”. The coalition’s key task now will be to ensure that its military victory creates an environment conducive to its political objectives.
Issue 708, 18 April 2003. Download the issue

US forces withdraw: Is it to ensure continuity or speed change in the Saudi relationship?

Shifts were expected in the Saudi/US relationship following the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, and in the light of antagonisms generated by the post-9/11 clash between radical Islamism and the global economic and political powers. Even so, Donald Rumsfeld’s 29 April announcement at a joint press conference with Crown Prince Abdallah Bin Abdelaziz had some shock value. The US Defence Secretary said US forces would leave the Kingdom except for some 400-500 troops committed to a longstanding training programme.
Issue 709, 3 May 2003. Download the issue

Saudi bombings fallout could signal a tectonic shift in regional political, strategic thinking

The 12 May attacks on three Western compounds in Riyadh were the Saudi equivalent of 9/11, Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said. The process of combating such terrorism would bring the two countries closer together, a shaken Prince Saud suggested.
Issue 710, 16 May 2003. Download the issue

Regional factors set to slow stabilisation of Iraq

The arrival in Baghdad of L. Paul Bremmer III signalled the start of a revitalised US approach to establishing order in post-war Iraq. US plans call for security to be established across the country, but the new civilian administrator’s team is discovering that great disparities exist between the predominantly Kurdish north, the largely Shiite centre and Najaf-Karbala area, and the southern area around Basra.
Issue 711, 30 May 2003. Download the issue

Saudis could accept roadmap compromise

Saudi Arabia is expected to throw real weight behind the “Roadmap” plan for Middle Eastern peace over coming months – but very much in a behind-the-scenes role, pressuring Arab radicals into line, rather than holding centre stage. Despite their own highly public assertion of the importance of Jerusalem – an issue for which the Roadmap provides no pre-set answer – those close to the government believe Riyadh is “essentially sanguine” about the new US-led peace strategy.
Issue 712, 13 June 2003. Download the issue

Patterns of Iraqi resistance begin to form

British Prime Minister Tony Blair dropped into Basra for an uncomfortable moment, but his new International Development Secretary Baroness Valerie Amos postponed a planned visit in late May because of the threat of attack by “Saddam Hussein loyalists”. US President George W Bush wowed the troops in Qatar during his recent Middle East tour, but avoided setting foot in the country they had just liberated. The travel agents currently lining up visits are corporate security companies such as Risk Advisory Group, taking in small groups of intrepid businessmen – whose companies are increasingly coming to understand that it will be at least 18 months to two years before the majority of big contracts start to flow outside the US Agency for International Development framework.
Issue 713, 27 June 2003. Download the issue

EU approaches test of influence in Gulf

Coming months will put the European Union to the test in the Gulf, as it seeks to demonstrate to what extent it can operate as a counterweight to US influence there. In practice, the EU already has a stronger hand than the US in its dealings with Iran, and it has begun mobilising resources to take a more prominent role in Iraq. With a more flexible view of the region than US policy-makers and more willingness to engage, the EU has a very real opportunity to strengthen its hand in the region. But the region has had similar hopes dashed before. By autumn it should become apparent whether Europe’s willingness is matched by enough diplomatic muscle to make a difference.
Issue 714, 11 July 2003. Download the issue

With new governing council, Iraq starts to shrug off provisional administration

With the installation of a new Governing Council in Baghdad representing all of Iraq’s ethnic groups and a diversity of political tendencies, post-conflict “normality” at last beckons for Iraq. With Uday and Qusay Hussein lying on mortuary slabs, an encouraging report from United Nations envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello, and talk of a fresh UN resolution that would open the way to a more multi-national military presence and new sources of foreign aid, it is now just possible to glimpse a stable future in which an Iraqi administration is no longer provisional, and includes local actors.
Issue 715, 25 July 2003. Download the Issue

USA still needs subtle hand after tactical successes in Iraq

Guarded optimism over the security situation in Iraq has surfaced in Washington for the first time since May, with some signs of improvement seen after the killing of Uday and Qusay Hussein. The discovery and death of Saddam Hussein’s sons was seen as the crowning achievement in a series of steady tactical victories and innovative counter-insurgency operations, prompting influential US correspondents to make cautiously optimistic predictions about the evolving security environment in Iraq.
Issue 716, 8 August 2003. Download the issue

Iran seeks release of pressures building over nuclear programme, terrorist ties

The summer’s slow accumulation of pressures on President Mohammad Khatami is causing his government to begin sacrificing some of the cards it has kept up its sleeve throughout the year in the standoff with the USA, ostensibly over alleged weapons of mass destruction plans (WMD). The pressures will come to a head this autumn, when Iran will have to make key decisions on issues such as nuclear inspections and trade talks with Europe (GSN 713/11).
Issue 717, 5 September 2003. Download the issue.

Al-Sauds defend against terrorism charges with strong counter-terrorism offence

The second anniversary of the 9/11 attacks was guaranteed to draw yet more attention to the issue of Saudi-US relations, but contrary to most expectations, the House of Saud maintained a somewhat indignant tone throughout the anniversary period. Saudi Aramco is loading large amounts of crude for delivery to US buyers, but otherwise these are very difficult times for the Saudi-American relationship.
Issue 718, 19 September 2003. Download the issue

UAE moves toward greater transparency, helped by the IMF

In the wake of the IMF/World Bank annual meetings in Dubai, several recent moves by the United Arab Emirates indicate a shift toward greater financial transparency and accountability – at least for the time being.
Issue 719, 3 October 2003. Download the issue

Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed takes on tough government role

Often seen as an autocratic leader, Sheikh Mohammed occupies a complicated position in the UAE’s subtle power mix and may now be ready for political reform to promote Dubai’s global ambitions.
Issue 720, 17 October 2003. Download the issue

Facing extremists, Saudi Arabia seeks middle ground

Squeezed between liberal critics and threats from the Islamist underground, the Kingdom is attempting to re-brand itself as a moderate state.
Issue 721, 31 October 2003. Download the issue

Exiles and Al-Sauds seek to outflank Saudi jihadis

Al-Sauds and their critics have been edging towards political reforms and a new social compact, but exiled opponents want more. They want to outflank the Jihadi insurgency with a peaceful protest movement.
Issue 722, 14 November 2003. Download the issue

The pipeline boom: Great game, shame about the players

New pipeline projects beg a number of critical geo-strategic questions, with the prospect of Russian and Caspian crudes competing in markets where Gulf exporters have reigned supreme. In the process, Israel is emerging as a player in complex political/business games.
Issue 723, 28 November 2003. Download the issue

With MBZ’s promotion, Sheikha Fatima sons take centre stage

By promoting his favourite wife’s sons, Sheikh Zayed has moved to clarify the long-term succession line in Abu Dhabi, in the process shaping the future direction of UAE politics.
Issue 724, 12 December 2003. Download the issue



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