Twenty years later, however, the results are decidedly mixed, say Iraqi experts, with gains coming at a huge expense. Estimates of war-related deaths vary but the Iraqi Body Count has estimated around 200,000 civilians killed following the invasion.
"Iraq is doing better than it was 20 years ago. But there's two caveats to that," said Hamzeh Hadad, an Iraqi Canadian and an adjunct fellow with the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, in a telephone interview from Baghdad. "It's not up to where we want it to be or what. Many had their hopes up in 2003 at the removal of a dictator.
"And two, it came out of big cost. The price that was paid, was enormous."
Certainly before the invasion, Iraqis were being jailed, tortured and killed by Saddam's regime. And many Iraqis were dying because of the UN sanctions, Hadad said.
But "from the invasion, from the insurgencies, from the sectarian civil war, from fighting ISIS, there were so many lives lost," he said.
Hadad noted that with all that strife, Iraq hasn't had time to "really breathe."
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