Saturday,24 March, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1203, (26 June - 2 July 2014)
Saturday,24 March, 2018
Issue 1203, (26 June - 2 July 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Iraq timeline: From invasion to ISIS

Al-Ahram Weekly

2002: WMD


29 January: A few months after 9/11, US President George W Bush classifies Iraq as part of an “Axis of Evil” with Iran and North Korea.


11 October: US Congress authorises use of force against Iraq.


8 November: UN Security Council unanimously approves new weapons inspections system, threatens Iraq with grave consequences if it doesn’t cooperate. Ten days later,

UN inspectors return to Iraq for the first time in four years.


7 December: Iraq provides 12,000-page declaration that it doesn’t have weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Bush deploys US forces in the Persian Gulf.




23 January: Bush says his country is ready to attack Iraq without UN authorisation.


14 February: Hans Blix’s report talks of small progress in Iraq’s cooperation with weapons inspectors. French Foreign Minister Dominique De Velpin criticises US and UK intentions of waging war on Iraq. Refutes WMD claims.


17 March: Bush gives Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq or face attack. Two days later he declares war on Iraq.


20-21 March: Invasion begins with air strikes. Baghdad and other Iraqi cities are shelled. Resistance is fierce in Nasiriyah and Basra on 24 March, temporarily impeding US ground forces from taking over Baghdad.


9 April: Baghdad under control of the US army.


1 May: Bush declares end of “major combat operations” in Iraq.


12 May: Paul Bremer is appointed US civil administrator in Iraq and chief executive of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), established as a transitional government.


22 May: UN lifts sanctions on Iraq, declares support for new US-backed administration.


23 May: Bremer dissolves the Iraqi armed forces, the Ministry of Defence and other security institutions of Saddam Hussein’s regime. He effectively disbands the army, the Republican Guard, the Revolutionary Command Council and cancels any military or other ranks conferred by the previous regime.


13 July: The Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) is formed by theCPA. Its members consist of 25 Iraqis who head the body every month by rotation, but key powers remain with Bremer.


19 August: Resistance surges against US forces. Some 255 US soldiers killed in 100 days since Bush declared end of major combat operations.


29 August: Explosion in Najaf kills Shia leader Ayat Allah Mohamed Baqer Al-Hakim. Some 80 people are killed.


13 December: Saddam Hussein is arrested.




January: David Kay, head of the US Iraq Survey Group, tells the US Senate that all intelligence information on WMD was wrong. Resigns on 23 January.


February: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi (who would later become leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria —ISIS) is held for 11 months as a “civilian internee” at Camp Bucca, one of four US detention camps in Iraq, according to recent reports in the American press, citing the Pentagon. Captured Sunni and Shia militants were held there.


8 March: Iraq’s IGC signs an interim constitution that calls for the election of a transitional national assembly by the end of January 2005.


4 April: Large-scale US attack on Fallujah after the death of four security contractors.


27 May: Temporary truce reached between influential Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr’s forces and US army ends week of fighting.


28 May: The IGC elects Iyad Allawi as interim prime minister.


28 June: Ghazi Al-Yawer is chosen as president. Post is honorary. Ruling IGC dissolves itself.


July: US investigation committee on 9/11 says no evidence of Iraq’s involvement in attacks. US Senate Intelligence Committee report condemns intelligence information used to justify war.


28 June: The CPA is dissolved and the US-led coalition hands over power to Allawi and the Iraqi interim government.


October: Jordanian Abu Musaab Al-Zarqawi, leader of the Tawheed Wal Jihad militant group in Iraq, swears loyalty to Osama Ben Laden and changes his group’s name to Tanzim Qaedat Al-Jihad Fi Bilad Al-Rafedein, known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq. The group’s objectives include expelling US forces from Iraq and establishing an Islamic Caliphate.


8 November: US forces launch major attack on Fallujah, using internationally prohibited weapons: depleted uranium and phosphorous bombs.


19 December: Booby-trapped cars explode in the predominantly Shia cities of Najaf and Karbala, killing more than 60. Previous car explosions in Baqouba killed more than 70 in July.




January: Baghdad governor is assassinated. White House officially declares end of search for WMD having found none. Elections are held on 30 January for the transitional Iraqi National Assembly that will draft a new constitution, and are overshadowed by violence.


February: The United Iraqi Alliance —a coalition of 18 Shia parties —wins 48 per cent of votes and chooses Ibrahim Al-Jaafari as prime minister. The alliance is dominated by three Shia parties: Nouri Al-Maliki’s Islamic Daawa; the pro-Iranian Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, led by Abdel-Aziz Al-Hakim; and the Iraqi nationalist Sadr movement, loyal Moqtada Al-Sadr. More than 110 are killed in car explosions in South Baghdad at the end of the month.


4 April: Sunni Arab Hajim Al-Hassani chosen as speaker of the Iraqi National Assembly; Shia Hussein Shahristani and Kurd Aref Taifour are elected top deputies. The assembly elects Jalal Talabani to the presidency on 6 April and approves the selection of Ibrahim Al-Jaafari and his cabinet on 28 April.


7-21 July: Al-Qaeda claims responsibility for slaying Egypt’s ambassador to Iraq, Ehab Al-Sherif, and two weeks later kills Algerian diplomats.


28 August: Iraq’s parliament receives draft of constitution, which Sunni representatives reject, saying it alienates them.


25 October: The Iraqi Election Committee reports new constitution approved by referendum with 79 per cent of the vote.


15 December: Elections for first assembly under the new constitution —the 275-member Iraqi Council of Representatives. Elections take place under a list system. Seats are apportioned among Iraq’s 18 governorates based on the number of registered voters in each as of elections earlier in the year. The seats within each governorate are allocated to lists through a system of proportional representation.




January: Al-Qaeda in Iraq merges with other Sunni militant groups forming the Mujahedeen Shura Council. Results of the December elections are first signs of the sectarian-based political system established in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq and lay the ground for partition scenarios in the future with voters in the predominantly Shia, Sunni and Kurds regions electing assembly representatives based on sect and ethnicity, not as Iraqis. The United Iraqi Alliance, the coalition of Shia religious parties, emerges as the strongest political force with 48 per cent of seats. Jalal Talibani’s Kurdistan Alliance comes second with 25.7 per cent, and Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya list comes third with 13.8 per cent.


22 February: Explosion in the Shia Imam Askari shrine in Samarra provokes sectarian attacks, killing hundreds in few days. Violence expands to other areas in Iraq, including Baghdad. Sectarian violence continues throughout 2006 and 2007. Tens of thousands are killed.


22 April: Nouri Al-Maliki is appointed prime minister. At least 1,000 people are killed in the violence in Baghdad.


7 June: Abu Mosaab Al-Zarqawi is killed in a US raid.


25 July: US decides to send more US troops to Baghdad to address failing security situation, chaos and sectarian violence. According to the Iraqi Health Ministry, 3,500 civilians are killed in July alone.


October: Parliament approves law that allows governorates to unite and form self-rule zones, which Sunni representatives oppose. Violence-related death toll is 3,700: the highest in one month since the occupation began.


13 October: The Islamic State of Iraq is announced. Abu Abdallah Al-Rashid Al-Baghdadi becomes its figurehead emir, but the de facto leader is the Egyptian Abu Ayoub Al-Masri.


31 December: Saddam Hussein is executed.


2007: SURGE


10 January: President Bush announces “the Surge” strategy, involving the deployment of an additional 30,000 US troops —including 20,000 deployed in Baghdad —to contain sectarian fighting. High-profile attacks linked to Al-Qaeda in Iraq continue through 2007, claiming responsibility for the March assassination attempt on Sunni Deputy Prime Minister Salam Al-Zaubai, the April Iraqi parliament bombing, and the May capture and subsequent execution of three US soldiers. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis flee to neighbouring countries.




23 February: Suicide bomb attacks kills more than 50 Shia pilgrims in Karbala.


25-31 March: Iraqi forces, backed by the US and UK, launch military campaign against Al-Mahdi Army locations in Basra. Fighting moves to Al-Sadr City in Baghdad. The powerful Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr declares end of fighting in return for amnesty for his supporters and release of detainees who weren’t convicted of crimes.


24 April: The Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front and its head, Adnan Al-Duleimi, decides to return to the government —a year after boycotting it —after authorities declare campaign against Shia militias.


17-19 June: Car explosion in Baghdad kills more than 60. US places blame on Shia military leader. Parliament appoints six Sunni ministers from the Accordance Front.




May: The Shia Iraqi National Alliance splits into the State of Law coalition, headed by Prime Minister Al-Maliki, and the Iraqi National Alliance, led by Ammar Al-Hakim.


30 June: US forces redeploy from Iraq’s cities, including Baghdad.


August, October, December: Explosions kill 370 people in Baghdad.


December: Sunni tribes threaten election boycott unless they are represented. They say they are marginalised in jobs as well as politics.




January 2010: The Iraqiya Alliance —a coalition of secular Sunni and Shia politicians —is formed under the leadership of Iyad Allawi for the March parliamentary elections.


March: Elections are held and are marred by violence. Allawi’s Iraqiya Alliance narrowly wins elections with two seats difference to Nuri Al-Maliki’s list. The latter orders a recount of the votes causing a political crisis that delays formation of a new government.


19 April: A US-Iraqi operation reportedly kills Islamic State in Iraq leaders Abu Ayoub Al-Masri and Abu Abdallah Al-Rashid Al-Baghdadi.


April: More than 80 killed in explosions that target Shia mosques in Baghdad.

Election results for 52 candidates from Allawi’s Iraqiya Alliance in the March parliamentary elections are cancelled on 26 April.


5 May: The Shia Ammar Al-Hakim’s Iraqi National Alliance and Al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition unite to form a government.


31 August: US President Barack Obama declares end of all combat operations in Iraq.


31 October: Armed militias take tens of hostages in Sayedet Al-Naja Church in Baghdad. More than 50 hostages are killed during the operation to rescue them.


17 November: Iraqi parliament ratifies new government headed by Al-Maliki based on the Erbil Agreement that divides power between Allawi and Al-Maliki. It is not implemented and Al-Maliki refuses to appoint the ministers of interior and defence and occupies the two positions himself.




1 February: Human Rights Watch (HRW) uncovers a secret detention site operated by elite security forces controlled by Al-Maliki’s military office. HRW’s report says these elite forces —the Army’s 56th Brigade, also known as the Baghdad Brigade, and the Counter-Terrorism Service —are torturing detainees with impunity since early 2010. Detainees are held in “inhumane” conditions and deprived of visits.


25-27 February: Tens of thousands of Iraqis take to the streets to protest corruption in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings. Thousands are arrested by security forces and dozens are killed.


4 October: The US State Department lists the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist”.


17 December:US army ends withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The Iraqiya Alliance boycotts parliament sessions and accuses Al-Maliki of failure to achieve national partnership.


December: Al-Maliki’s government issues an arrest warrant against Sunni leader and Vice President Tarek Al-Hashimi and declares Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Al-Mutlak, another Sunni leader (both of them from Iraqiya Alliance), “persona non grata” after they referred to Al-Maliki as a “dictator”.




April: Tensions between Al-Maliki and his governing partners escalate. Iraqiya Alliance leaders along with Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani and the Sadrist movement, accuse Al-Maliki violating the Erbil Agreement and amassing power by undemocratic and unconstitutional means. They fail to hold a parliamentary no-confidence vote against Al-Maliki. The debacle highlights the dangerous rise in sectarian tensions.




8-9 April: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi announces the formation of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq.




January: ISIS takes control of the predominantly Sunni Fallujah in the western Anbar Province.


18 February: Muqtada Al-Sadr withdraws from politics and dismantles his Sadrist movement.


April: ISIS threatens violence against Sunni Muslims who vote in the parliamentary elections on 30 April. Al-Maliki’s coalition wins the elections with 92 seats, the Sadrist movement 34 seats, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq 31 seats. All three are Shia. Three Sunni parties get 60 seats, the Kurds get 55.


June: ISIS captures Mosul, the second most populous city in Iraq, and a large part of surrounding Nineveh Province. This is followed by ISIS’s capture of Tikrit, the administrative centre of the Salah Al-Din Governorate. On 15 June 2014, ISIS militants capture the Iraqi city of Tel Afar in Nineveh Province. ISIS takes over Al-Qaim, Rawah and Anah in the province of Anbar and the town of Rutba, just 60 kilometres east of the Iraqi border with Jordan, on 21 June. Rutba is a key artery for passengers and goods to and from Jordan.


The northern —mixed Sunni-Shia —city of Tel Afar falls on 15 June. Earlier this week militants took over three crossings with Jordan (Turaibil) and Syria (Al-Qaim and Walid) and three nearby towns in Anbar Province: Rawah, Anah and Rutba. Having captured the northeast Syrian cities of Deir Al-Zur and Raqqa, ISIS is, for now, a reality that is redrawing the region’s Sykes-Picot borders.


Compiled by Amira Howeidy

add comment

  • follow us on