CNN Editor’s note: Ten years ago the war in Iraq began. This week we focus on the people involved in the war, and the lives that changed forever. Hans Blix was the head of U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq (UNMOVIC) in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion.
Text: Hans Blix | Photo. Wikimedia Commons Thuresson
(CNN) — On March 19, 2003, Iraq was invaded by an “alliance of willing states” headed by the U.S. and UK. My U.N. inspection team and I had seen it coming — and I felt an emptiness when, three days before the invasion, an American official called me to “ask” that we withdraw from the country.
While we were sad to be ushered out in the midst of a job entrusted to us by the U.N. Security Council — one that we were doing well — there was a certain relief in knowing we had all made it out safely. We had worried that our inspectors might be taken hostage, but as it turned out the Iraqis had been very helpful during our time there.
So it was that a few hundred unarmed U.N. inspectors left Iraq, to be replaced by hundreds of thousands of soldiers who began an occupation that would have a horrendous cost in lives, suffering and resources.