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History of Iraq

From Academic Kids

This history of Iraq includes an overview from prehistory to the present in the region of the current state of Iraq in Mesopotamia. See also Chronology of the ancient orient, History of the Middle East, and History of Mesopotamia.

Contents

Prehistory

Neandertals lived in Iraq about 60,000 years ago; Neandertal remains include those discovered at the Shanidar cave.

Ancient Times

For most of historic time, the land area now known as modern Iraq was almost equivalent to Mesopotamia. The Mesopotamian plain between the two rivers Tigris and Euphrates (in Arabic, the Dijla and Furat, respectively), is part of the Fertile Crescent. Many dynasties and empires ruled the Mesopotamia region such as Sumer, Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia.

Mesopotamia

It was in Mesopotamia about 4000 BC where the Sumerian culture flourished. The civilized life that emerged at Sumer was shaped by two conflicting factors: the unpredictability of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which at any time could unleash devastating floods that wiped out entire peoples, and the extreme richness of the river valleys, caused by centuries-old deposits of soil.

Eventually, the Sumerians had to battle other peoples. Some of the earliest of these wars were with the Elamites living in what is now western Iran. This frontier has been fought over repeatedly ever since; it is arguably the most fought over frontier in the world. Sumerian dominance was challenged by the Akkadians, who migrated up from the Arabian Peninsula. The Akkadians were a Semitic people, that is, they spoke a language drawn from a family of languages called Semitic languages.

In 2340 BC, the great Akkadian leader Sargon conquered Sumer and built the Akkadian Empire stretching over most of the Sumerian city-states and extending as far away as Lebanon. Sargon based his empire in the city of Akkad, which became the basis of the name of his people.

Sargon's ambitious empire lasted for only short time in the long time spans of Mesopotamian history. In 2125 BC, the Sumerian city of Ur in southern Mesopotamia rose up in revolt, and the Akkadian empire fell before a renewal of Sumerian city-states.

Post-Sumerian civilizations

After the later collapse of the Sumerian civilization, the people were reunited in 1700 BC by King Hammurabi of Babylon (1792-1750 BC), and the country flourished under the name of Babylonia. Babylonian rule encompassed a huge area covering most of the Tigris-Euphrates river valley from Sumer and the Persian Gulf. He extended his empire northward through the Tigris and Euphrates River valleys and westward to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. After consolidating his gains under a central government at Babylon, he devoted his energies to protecting his frontiers and fostering the internal prosperity of the Empire. Hammurabi's dynasty, otherwise referred to as the First Dynasty of Babylon, ruled for about 200 years, until 1530 BC. Under the reign of this dynasty, Babylonia entered into a period of extreme prosperity and relative peace.

On Hammurabi's death, however, a tribe known as the Kassites began to attack Babylonia as early as the period when Hammurabi's son ruled the empire. Over the centuries, Babylonia was weakened by the Kassites. Finally, around 1530 BC (given in some sources as 1570 or 1595 BC), a Kassite Dynasty was set up in Babylonia.

The Mitanni, another culture, were meanwhile building their own powerful empire. They had only temporary importance, they were very powerful, but were around for only about 150 years. Still, the Mitanni were one of the major empires of this area in this time period, and they came to almost completely control and subjugate the Assyrians (who were located directly to the east of Mitanni and to the northwest of Kassite Babylonia).

The Assyrians, after they finally broke free of the Mitanni, were the next major power to assert themselves on Mesopotamia. After defeating and virtually annexing Mitanni, the Assyrians, challenged Babylonia. They weakened Babylonia so much that the Kassite Dynasty fell from power; the Assyrians virtually came to control Babylonia, until revolts in turn deposed them and set up a new dynasty, known as the Second Dynasty of Isin. Nebuchadnezzar I (Nabu-kudurri-usur; c. 1119 BC-c. 1098 BC) was the best known of this dynasty.

Nebuchadnezzar the First added a good deal of land to Babylonia and eventually came to attack Assyria.

Chaldeans

Eventually, during the 800s BC, one of the most powerful tribes outside Babylon, the Chaldeans (Latin Chaldaeus, Greek Khaldaios, Assyrian Kaldu), entered the scene. The Chaldeans rose to power in Babylonia and, by doing so, seem to have increased the stability and power of Babylonia. They fought off many revolts and aggressors. Chaldean influence was so strong that, during this period, Babylonia came to be known as Chaldea.

In 626 BC, the Chaldeans helped Nabo-Polassar to take power in Babylonia. At that time, Assyria was under considerable pressure from an Iranian people, the Medes (from Media). Nabo-Polassar allied Babylonia with the Medes. Assyria could not withstand this added pressure, and in 612 BC, Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, fell. The entire city, once a great capital of a great empire, was burned and sacked.

Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon

Later, Nebuchadrezzar II (Nabopolassar's son) inherited the empire of Babylonia. He added quite a bit of territory to Babylonia and rebuilt Babylon, still the capital of Babylonia.

In the 6th century BC (586 BC), Nebuchadrezzar II conquered Judea (Judah), destroyed Jerusalem; Solomon's Temple was also destroyed; Nebuchadrezzar carried away an estimated 15,000 captives, and sent most of its population into exile in Babylonia. Nebuchadrezzar (604-562 BC) is credited for building the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Various invaders conquered the land after Nebuchadrezzar's death, including Cyrus the Great in 539 BC and Alexander the Great in 331 BC, who died there in 323 BC, Babylon declined after the founding of Seleucia, the New Greek capital. In the second century BC, it became part of the Persian Empire, remaining thus until the 7th century AD, when Arab Muslims captured it.

The Muslim Conquest

In 634 AD, an army of 18,000 Arab Muslims, under the leadership of Khalid ibn al-Walid, reached the perimeter of the Euphrates delta. Although the occupying Persian force was vastly superior in techniques and numbers, its soldiers were exhausted from their unremitting campaigns against the Byzantine Empire. The Sassanid troops fought ineffectually, lacking sufficient reinforcement to do more.

Muslims conquered Iraq in the 7th century AD. In the eighth century, the Abbasid Caliphate established its capital at Baghdad, which later became a frontier outpost of the Ottoman Empire.

During the late 14th and early 15th centuries, the Black Sheep Turkmen ruled the area now known as Iraq. In 1466, the White Sheep Turkmen defeated the Black Sheep Turkmen and took control of the region.

Modern Times

During World War I, British forces invaded Mesopotamia in 1917 and occupied Baghdad. Before they succeeded, they suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Turkish army, the siege and surrender of Kut. At the end of the war, the Ottoman empire collapsed and an armistice was signed with Turkey in 1918.

The British Mandate Period

Image:LittleIraq.png

Iraq was carved out of the old Ottoman Empire by direction of the UK government on January 10 1919, and on November 11, 1920 it became a League of Nations mandate under British control with the name "State of Iraq".

At the end of the war, ownership of and access to Iraq's petroleum was split five ways: 23.75% each to the UK, France, The Netherlands and the USA, with the remaining 5% going to a private oil corporation headed by Calouste Gulbenkian. The Iraqi government got none of the nation's oil. This remained the situation until the revolution of 1958.

The British government laid out the institutional framework for Iraqi government and politics; the Iraqi political system suffered from a severe legitimacy crisis; Britain imposed a Hashemite monarchy, defined the territorial limits of Iraq with little correspondence to natural frontiers or traditional tribal and ethnic settlements, and influenced the writing of a constitution and the structure of parliament. Britain also had to put down a major revolt ( also known as the Arab revolt) against foreign rule between 1920 and 1922, resorting to aerial bombardment of Iraqi villages before control was established. These operations, in which it is alleged poison gas was used, were led by the future prime minister W.Churchill.

The Kurds in the north, wavering between adherence to the new Turkish state of Kemal Atatürk and the newly created Iraqi state, were lured by a British promise of autonomy within Iraq, a promise that was broken as soon as their incorporation was a fact. The British also supported narrowly based groups -- such as the tribal shaykhs over the growing, urban-based nationalist movement. The Land Settlement Act gave the tribal shaykhs the right to register the communal tribal lands in their own name. The Tribal Disputes Regulations gave them judiciary rights, whereas the Peasants Rights and Duties Act of 1933 reduced the tenants to virtual serfdom, forbidding them to leave the land unless all their debts to the landlord had been settled. The British resorted to military force when British interests were threatened, as in the 1941 Rashid Ali Al-Gaylani coup. This coup led to a British invasion of Iraq using forces from the British Indian Army under General Sir Edward Quinan, combined with an attack by the British controlled Arab Legion based in Jordan. This led to a very rapid defeat for the Iraqi army in May 1941.

The Iraqi Monarchy

The British designated Iraq as a kingdom and placed the country under the rule of Emir Faisal ibn Husayn, leader of the so-called Arab Revolt against the Ottoman sultan, brother of the new ruler of neighboring Trans-Jordan, Abdullah ibn Husayn, and member of the Sunni Hashemite family from Mecca (Makkah). Chased by the French out of Syria, of which he had been proclaimed king, Feisal obtained the throne of Iraq by the influence of T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) and Miss Getrude Bell, a romatically inclined English writer who lived in Baghdad, during a conference in Cairo, presided by the British minister of Colonial Affairs, Winston Churchill. Although the monarch was elected and proclaimed King by plebiscite in 1921, boycotted by the shi'ite majority, full independence was not achieved until 1932, when the British Mandate officially terminated. In 1927, discovery of huge oil fields near Kirkuk brought many improvements to Iraq. The Iraqis granted oil rights to the Iraqi Petroleum Company, a British-dominated, multinational firm.

King Faisal I was succeeded by his son, Ghazi, after the death of his father in December 1933. King Ghazi's reign lasted for some five and a half years, during which he claimed Iraqi sovereignty over Kuwait, as part of the former Ottoman province of Basra. An avid amateur of fast cars, the king drove into a lamppost and died instantly on April 3, 1939.

King Faisal II (1935-1958) was the only son of King Ghazi I and Queen Alya. King Faisal II was about four when his father died. For that reason the regency was assumed by his uncle Abdul Illah (April 1939 - May 1953), who after the accession to the throne of his nephew became crown prince.

In 1945, Iraq joined the United Nations and became a founding member of the Arab League.

At the end of the Second World War the Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani led a rebellion against the central government in Baghdad. The Kurds had caused trouble earlier, insisting on their promised autonomy, and had never accepted the monarchy. After the failure of the uprising Barzani and his followers fled to Stalin's Soviet Union.

After the establishment of Israel a war with Israel followed in 1948, in which Iraqi forces were allied with those of Transjordan, in accordance with a treaty signed by the two countries during the previous year. Fighting continued until the signing of a cease-fire agreement in May 1949. The war also had a negative impact on the Iraqi economy. The government allocated 40 percent of available funds for the army and for Palestinian refugees. Oil royalties paid to Iraq were halved when the pipeline to Haifa was cut off in 1948. The war and the hanging of a Jewish businessman led to the departure of most of Iraq's prosperous Jewish community. Although emigration was prohibited, many Jews made their way to Israel during this period with the aid of an underground movement. In 1950 the Iraqi parliament finally legalised emigration to Israel, and between May 1950 and August 1951, the Jewish Agency and the Israeli government succeeded in airlifting approximately 110,000 Jews to Israel.

In 1956, the Baghdad Pact allied Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, United States and the United Kingdom, and established its headquarters in Baghdad. The Baghdad Pact constituted a direct challenge to Egyptian president Gamal Abdal Nasser. In response, Nasser launched a vituperative media campaign that challenged the legitimacy of the Iraqi monarchy and called on the officer corps to overthrow it. The 1956 British-French-Israeli attack on Sinai further alienated Nuri as-Said's government from the growing ranks of the opposition. In February 1958 King Hussein of Jordan and Abdul Illah proposed a union of Hashemite monarchies to counter the recently formed Egyptian-Syrian union, opening its doors for any Arab state to join if they wished. Nuri as-Said concentrated on the participation of Kuwait as a third country in the proposed Arab-Hashemite Union, Shaikh Abdullah Al-Salim, ruler of Kuwait, was invited to Baghdad to discuss Kuwait's liberation from British protection, and the subject of tri-unity. Britain opposed declaring Kuwait independent at that time. At this point, the monarchy found itself completely isolated. Nuri as-Said was able to contain the rising discontent only by resorting to even greater oppression and to tighter control over the political process.

List of Kings of Iraq

The End of the Monarchy

Inspired by the example of Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt, a swift, predawn coup executed by officers of the Nineteenth Brigade known as "Free Officers", under the leadership of Brigadier Abdul-Karim Qassem (known as "il-Za`im") and Colonel Abdul Salam Arif overthrew the Hashemite monarchy on July 14, 1958. King Faisal II and Abd al Ilah were executed in the gardens of al-Rihab Palace, a large villa in Baghdad. Their bodies (and those of many others in the royal family) were displayed in public. Hysterical crowds dragged Abd al Ilah's remains through the streets of Baghdad, where it was butchered into pieces. Nuri as-Said evaded capture for one day, but after attempting to escape disguised as a veiled woman he was caught and shot on the spot. His mutilated body was burned on the steps of the ministry of Defence. Egypt's ruler, Gamal Abd el-Nasser, obtained a finger of Nuri as gift, but, disgusted by this token of esteem, ordered it to be buried. Iraq was proclaimed a republic, and the union with Jordan dissolved. Iraq's activity in the Baghdad Pact ceased. At the same time the new government declared the agreement by which foreign powers controlled the nation's oil reserves to be null and void, but that the government was willing to negotiate with western companies to continue their exploitation of Iraqi petroleum with appropriate payment.

When Qassem distanced himself from Nasser he faced growing opposition from pro-Egypt officers in the Iraqi army. Arif who wanted closer cooperation with Egypt was stripped of his responsibilities and after a convenient trial, thrown in prison.

When the garrison in Mosul rebelled against Qassem's policies he allowed the Kurdish leader Barzani to return from exile in the Soviet Union to help suppress the pro-Nasser rebels.

In 1961, Kuwait gained its independence from Britain. Abdul-Karim Qassem immediately claimed sovereignty over it, like king Ghazi I before him, based on the former status of the Emirate as originally part of the Ottoman province of Basra. Britain reacted strongly to this threat to its ex-protectorate, dispatching a brigade to the country to deter Iraq. Qassem backed down, and in October 1963, Iraq recognised the sovereignty and borders of Kuwait.

A period of considerable instability followed, with one military coup swiftly succeeding another, and leaders came and went throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. Qassem was assassinated in February 1963, when Ba'ath Party members took power; under the leadership of General Ahmed Hasan al-Bakr as prime minister and Colonel Abdul Salam Arif as president. Nine months later, disgusted by the reign of terror the Ba'athists had installed, President Abdul Salam Mohammad Arif led a successful coup against the Ba'athists, ousting the Ba'ath government. In 13 April 1966 President Abdul Salam Arif died in a helicopter crash and was succeeded by his brother, General Abdul Rahman Arif. Following the Six Day War of 1967, the Ba'ath Party felt strong enough to retake the government. The Ba'athists overthrew Arif and regained power in the coup of 17 July 1968. The Arif brothers left a desperate economic situation and a large number of newly built mosques. Ahmed Hasan al-Bakr became president and chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) following the Ba'athists return to power.

Barzani and the Kurds who had begun a rebellion in 1961 were still causing problems in 1969 and the government had to deal with it. The new secretary-general of the Ba'ath party Saddam Hussein, like Bakr and many leading Ba'athists from the town of Tikrit and member of Bakr's extended family, was given responsibility to find a solution. It was impossible to defeat the Kurds by military means and in 1970 an agreement was reached. The Kurds were given 5 posts in a new to form cabinet, the Kurdish language and culture was recognized and they were given a proportional part of the national income. A sticking point remained Kirkuk and its large oilfields.

Iraq's economy recovered sharply after the 1968 revolution. The Arif brothers had spent close to 90% of the national budget on the army, the new Ba'ath government however, gave priority to agriculture and industry. The British Iraq Petroleum Company monopoly was broken when a new contract was signed with ERAP, a major French oil company. After the IPC refused to raise production levels the company was nationalised. As a result, Iraq experienced fast economic growth and at the end of the 1970s it was possible for Iraqis on a teacher's salary, to take holidays in Europe.

During the 1970s, border disputes with Iran and Kuwait caused many problems. Kuwait's refusal to allow Iraq to build an harbour in the Shatt al-Arab delta strengthened Iraq's belief that the conservative powers in the region were trying to control the Persian Gulf. Iran's occupation of numerous islands in the Strait of Hormuz didn't help alter Iraq's fears. The border disputes between Iraq and Iran were temporarily resolved with the signing of the Algiers Accord on March 6, 1975.

Saddam Hussein talking with Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr
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Saddam Hussein talking with Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr

In 1972 an Iraqi delegation visited Moscow. The same year diplomatic relations with the US were restored. Relations with Jordan and Syria were good. Iraqi troops were stationed in both countries as a bulwark against Israel.

In retrospect, the 1970s can be seen as a highpoint in Iraq's modern history. A new, young, technocratic elite was governing the country, the fast growing economy brought stability and many Arabs outside Iraq considered it an example. However, the following decade would not be so good.

Rule Under Saddam

In July 1979, Bakr resigned, and his chosen successor, Saddam Hussein, assumed the offices of both President and Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council. He was the de facto ruler of Iraq for some years before he formally came to power.

Territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive and costly eight-year war, the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), eventually devastating the economy. Iraq declared victory in 1988 but actually achieved a weary return to the status quo ante bellum. The war left Iraq with the largest military establishment in the Persian Gulf region but with huge debts and an ongoing rebellion by Kurdish elements in the northern mountains. The government suppressed the rebellion by using weapons on civilian targets, including a mass chemical weapons attack on the city of Halabja that killed several thousand civilians. The Iraqi government continued to be supported by the US, which continued sending arms shipments.

Saddam's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction culminated in the '70s with "Osirak", the French built nuclear reactor in Iraq. In 1981, the reactor was destroyed by Israeli Air-Force jets. Saddam reacted by executing Iraqi generals in charge of defense. Israel claimed it acted to protect itself from threat of mass murder, but the action was internationally condemned as aggressive. However, in hind sight, following the Persian Gulf War this action might be viewed a prescient intervention, to prevent Iraq from developing a nuclear military capability - a capability which would have most likely deterred the UN intervention in defence of Kuwait.

Invasion of Kuwait and the Persian Gulf War

A long-standing territorial dispute led to the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Iraq accused Kuwait of violating the Iraqi border to secure oil resources, and demanded that its debt repayments should be waived. Direct negotiations began in July 1990, but they soon failed. Saddam Hussein had an emergency meeting with April Glaspie, the United States Ambassador to Iraq, on July 25, 1990, airing his concerns but stating his intention to continue talks. April Glaspie informed Saddam that the United States had no interest in Iraq/Kuwait border disputes.

Arab mediators convinced Iraq and Kuwait to negotiate their differences in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, on 1 August 1990, but that session resulted only in charges and counter-charges. A second session was scheduled to take place in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, but Iraq invaded Kuwait the next day. Iraqi troops overran the country shortly after midnight on August 2, 1990. The United Nations Security Council and the Arab League immediately condemned the Iraqi invasion. Four days later, the Security Council imposed an economic embargo on Iraq that prohibited nearly all trade with Iraq.

Iraq responded to the sanctions by annexing Kuwait as the "19th Province" of Iraq on 8 August, prompting the exiled Sabah family to call for a stronger international response. Over the ensuing months, the United Nations Security Council passed a series of resolutions condemned the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait and implementing total mandatory economic sanctions against Iraq. Other countries subsequently provided support for "Operation Desert Shield". In November 1990, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 678, permitting member states to use all necessary means, authorising military action against the Iraqi forces occupying Kuwait, and demanded a complete withdrawal by January 15 1991.

A US Army convoy crosses the  desert during the .
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A US Army convoy crosses the Iraqi desert during the Persian Gulf War.

When Saddam Hussein failed to comply with this demand, the Persian Gulf War (Operation "Desert Storm") ensued on the 17th of January 1991 (3 a.m. Iraq time), with allied troops of 28 countries, led by the US launching an aerial bombardment on Baghdad. The war, which proved disastrous for Iraq, lasted only six weeks, one hundred and forty thousand tons of munitions had showered down on the country, the equivalent of 7 Hiroshima bombs. Probably as many as 100,000 Iraqi soldiers and tens of thousands of civilians were killed.

Allied air raids destroyed roads, bridges, factories, and oil-industry facilities (shutting down the national refining and distribution system) and disrupted electric, telephone, and water service. Conference centres and shopping and residential areas were hit. Hundreds of Iraqis were killed in the attack on the Al-Amiriyah bomb shelter. Diseases spread through contaminated drinking water because water purification and sewage treatment facilities could not operate without electricity.

A cease-fire was announced by the US on 28 February 1991. UN Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar met with Saddam Hussein to discuss the Security Council timetable for the withdraw of troops from Kuwait. Iraq agreed to UN terms for a permanent cease-fire in April 1991, and strict conditions were imposed, demanding the disclosure and destruction of all stockpiles of weapons.

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Hussein1.jpg
During the Persian Gulf War Saddam became well-known for his distinctive uniform and beret, pictured here.

Iraq under UN Sanction

On August 6 1990 the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 661 which imposed stringent economic sanctions on Iraq, providing for a full trade embargo, excluding medical supplies, food and other items of humanitarian necessity, these to be determined by the Security Council sanctions committee. After End of war Iraqi sanctions were linked to removal of Weapons of mass destruction by Resolution 687[1] (http://www.mideastweb.org/687.htm) .Iraq was later allowed under the UN Oil-for-Food program (Resolution 986) to export $5.2 billion (USD) of oil every 6 months with which to purchase these items to sustain the civilian population. According to UN estimates, a million children died during trade embargo, due to malnutrition or lack of medical supplies. 30% of the proceeds were redirected to a war reparations account.

The United States, in an attempt to prevent the genocide of the Marsh Arabs in southern Iraq and the Kurds to the north, declared "air exclusion zones" north of the 36th parallel and south of the 32nd parallel. The Clinton administration judged an alleged attempted assassination of former President George H. W. Bush while in Kuwait to be worthy of a military response on 27 June 1993. The Iraqi Intelligence Headquarters in Baghdad was targeted by 23 Tomahawk cruise missiles, launched from US warships in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. Three missiles were declared to have missed the target, causing some collateral damage to nearby residential housing and eight civilian deaths.

In May 1995 Saddam sacked his half-brother, Wathban, as Interior Minister and in July demoted his notorious and powerful Defense Minister, Ali Hassan al-Majid, known popularly as "Chemical Ali" because of his role in gassing operations in Kurdistan. These personnel changes were the result of the growth in power of Saddam Hussein's two sons, Uday Hussein and Qusay Hussein, who were given effective vice-presidential authority in May 1995. They were able to remove most of Saddam's loyal followers and it seemed clear that Saddam felt more secure protected by his immediate family members. In August Major General Hussein Kamil Hassan al-Majid, his Minister of Military Industries and a key henchman, defected to Jordan, together with his wife (one of Saddam's daughters) and his brother, Saddam, who was married to another of the president's daughters; both called for the overthrow of the Iraqi government. In response, Saddam promised full co-operation with the UN commission disarming Iraq (UNSCOM) in order to pre-empt any revelations that the defector could make.

The weakening of the internal position of the government occurred at a time when the external opposition forces were as weak as ever, too divided among themselves to take any effective action. At the same time, France and Russia pushed for an easing of sanctions. US determination to keep up the pressure on Iraq prevailed however. In any case, the apparent weakening of the government was illusory, not least when the two defectors returned home and were killed, apparently by other clan members, in a warning to other potential defectors. In fact, during 1996, the government's grip on power seemed to have significantly strengthened despite its inability to end the UN sanctions against it.

In December 1998, US President Bill Clinton authorized air strikes on government targets and military facilities. In response, Saddam expelled all UN inspectors and closed off the country. Intermittent air strikes against military facilities and alleged WMD sites continued into 2002.

2003 invasion of Iraq

Main article: 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Following talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in September 2002 U.S. President George W. Bush urged the United Nations to encourage Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to comply with UN resolutions or "actions will be unavoidable". Bush said that Saddam has repeatedly violated 16 UN Security Council resolutions, which include a call for Iraq to "disarm its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs". Iraqi officials rejected Bush's assertions (that were based on flawed intelligency reports, as it later emerged), and a team of U.N. inspectors lead by Swedish diplomat Hans Blix was admitted into the country; their final report stated that Iraqis capability in producing "weapons of mass destruction" was not significantly different from 1992, when the country dismantled the bulk of their remaining arsenals under terms of the ceasefire agreement with U.N. forces. The United States and the United Kingdom opposed the team's requests for more time to further investigate the matter; the U.N. Security Council hence refused to issue a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq.

In March 2003 the United States and the United Kingdom, with some aid from other nations, invaded Iraq.

Coalition occupation of Iraq

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Saddam Hussein with a long beard shortly after capture.

Iraq underwent Coalition occupation following the ousting of the Ba'ath Party in April. On 23 May 2003, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution lifting all economic sanctions against Iraq, largely due to the fact that Saddam Hussein's government, which the sanctions had targeted, no longer ruled the country.

As the country struggled to rebuild after over two decades of war, it was racked by violence between the Iraqi insurgency and occupation forces. Saddam Hussein, who vanished in April as the U.S. military took control of the capital, was captured by the 3rd Infantry Division, III Corps, US Army (stationed at Fort Hood, in the heart of Central Texas) on 13 December 2003.

The political future is uncertain and detailed plans remain to be developed. Rampant looting and crime, coupled with infrastructural problems continue to plague the country at the moment and the initial US interim civil administrator, Jay Garner, was replaced in May 2003 by L. Paul Bremer, who was himself replaced by John Negroponte in 19 April 2004. An Interim Iraq Governing Council was established in 2003 with the goals of drafting a constitution and other infrastructure-building duties.

Terrorism emerged as a threat to Iraq's people not long after the invasion of 2003. Al Qaeda now has a presence in the country, in the form of several terrorist groups led by Abu Musab Al Zarqawi. Many foreign fighters and former Baath Party officials have also joined the insurgency, which is mainly aimed at attacking American forces and Iraqis who work with them. The most dangerous insurgent area is the Sunni Triangle, a mostly Sunni-Muslim area just north of Baghdad.

Coalition withdrawal

Main article: Iraq after Saddam Hussein

A few days after the 11 March 2004 Madrid attacks, the pro-war government of Spain was voted out of office. The War had been deeply unpopular and the incoming Socialist government followed through on its manifesto commitment to withdraw troops from Iraq. Following on the heels of this, several other nations that once formed the Coalition of the Willing began to reconsider their role. The Dutch refused a US offer to commit their troops to Iraq past 30 June. South Korea kept its troops deployed.

On the heels of the 2004 spring uprising, the troops of the Dominican Republic, Honduran, El Salvador, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Portugal, Philippines, Bulgaria, Nicaragua and Italy have left or are planning to leave as well. Other nations (such as Denmark and Poland) continue commitment in Iraq.

On 28 June 2004, the occupation was formally ended by the U.S.-led coalition, which transferred power to an interim Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. On 16 July 2004, the Philippines ordered the withdrawal of all of its troops in Iraq in order to comply with the demands of terrorists holding Filipino citizen Angelo de la Cruz as a hostage. Many nations that have announced withdrawal plans or are considering them have stated that they may reconsider if there is a new UN resolution that grants the UN more authority in Iraq.

On January 30, 2005. the transitional parliamentary elections took place. See: Iraqi legislative election, 2005.

See also

External link

de:Geschichte Iraks es:Historia de Iraq ia:Historia de Iraq it:Storia dell'Iraq nl:Geschiedenis van Irak sv:Iraks historia

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