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Iraq 10 years on: It is wrong to draw comparisons to the Arab Spring

26/02/2013 13:15 GMT | Updated 27/04/2013 10:12 BST

Ten years have passed since the US and UK invasion of Iraq. Ten years on the debate over the validity of the war is still raging and so on the 7 February, the Huffington Post UK hosted 'Iraq War 10 years on: Was it worth it?' at Goldsmiths University to do just that.

Within the 400 plus gathered in the audience, there was clearly not the same equilibrium as present across the panel. The result of a hands up vote at the start showed the anti war contingent to be in an overwhelming majority. By the end little had changed - despite the efforts of the yes panel, it was clear that few compelling arguments for support of the war remain.

The debate was opened by Tory MP Bernard Jenkin. Arguing that the war was worth it, his was the only presentation which had some quite disturbing points. Jenkin spoke of a "balance sheet" that weighed in the favour of it being worth it - this is something that should never be considered when on one side of the balance is human life.

Also for the war was Dr Ali Latif, who presented a very dramatised speech in which he argued that Iraq was indeed a better place after the war. As an Iraqi man who regularly visits the country it would not be right to argue against him in a blog written from a desk in London: Haifa Zangana, an Iraqi novelist who had been a prisoner of the Ba'ath party, in speaking against the war, provided a more than effective counterbalance to his views. Her focus on human rights abuses that have occurred since the invasion by both US soldiers and the Nouri al-Maliki government presented some hard hitting facts and points.

Throughout the evening many comparisons were drawn to the Arab Spring. David Aaronovitch, in presenting his reasons for supporting war, closed by querying whether ten years from now we might be asking "Syria: Not intervening, was it worth it?"

However, rather than presenting an effective argument in support of the war, it is within this comparison that the most powerful argument against the war can be found. It is an argument that was presented by an Iraqi woman in the audience on the evening: unlike the Arab Spring, the war was not led by the people or Iraq.

There are a vast number of arguments that I could present against the war, a vast number of arguments presented by the opposing panel of Clare Short, Haifa Zangana, Owen Jones and Mehdi Hasan that I could recall: the loss of life; the destruction and destabilisation of a country; the loss of the lives of British soldiers fighting an illegal war; the fact that the war was about regional control and oil; that the main intelligence supporting the war was an incorrect dodgy dossier.

That the war which deposed Saddam Hussein was not an uprising initiated by the people is however, the most compelling of all arguments against the war. It is one that comes even before arguing against the worth of the war - it is the reason an invasion should never have been considered.

It may be the case that Saddam was more evil than Gaddafi and Assad, and, as the pro worth panel argued, he may have attempted worse against his citizens if they led an uprising. If this had been the case, it could have been then, when the citizens had risen up, that the international community, as a block, could have intervened to protect and support the Iraqis.

As much as the panel in support of the war spoke of the questionable advantages to the citizens of Iraq, Iraqis were hardly taken into consideration when the invasion was launched; that is clear from the hopeless situation it created. The war should have never happened. Any move to depose Saddam Hussein should have been initiated by the people, not an invading force seeking control.