In 1991, an uprisings in northern Iraq occurred by the Kurds. Iraqi soldiers loyal to the government were sent in to stop the uprising. Many Kurds fled north to northern part of the border, where they fought the Iraqi soldiers. Fighting between the Kurds and the Iraqis existed until October 1991, when an agreement was made and Kurdistan was made into an autonomous republic that was part of Iraq.
But what if the Iraqis had not listened to the agreements? What would have happened?
Kurdish-Arab Civil War of Iraq
The War Begins
In October 1991 an agreement was proposed to have Kurdistan as an autonomous republic inside of Iraq. However, in this timeline Iraq refuses to the agreement and continues to attack Kurd positions in the north. Trench warfare begins between the two sides and poison gas is used heavily by Iraq. Iraq also orders a complete blockade of food, fuel, and other supplies from going into Kurdistan. Even though poison was used against the Kurds it was not very effective. Iraq then started an offensive against the Kurds by using soldiers, tanks, artillery, and planes. The offensive managed to push the Kurds back some but stalemate soon erupted again as the US, who supported the Kurds, gave them weapons to defeat the invasion. The stalemate between Iraq and Kurdistan existed between them between throughout the winter.
Beginning on March 9, 1992 Iraq launched a major bombing campaign against the Kurds. These bombings did some damage to Kurdish cities, and affected the moral of the Kurds. Kurdistan believed they could still defeat Iraq. On May 12, Kurdistan declared their independence. Kurdistan originally wanted to stay a part of Iraq but after the war continued the people decided to become independent. Iraq attempted to break through Kurdish lines at the Battle of the Tigris River but defeated. Iraq launched another attack aiming for the city of Mosul. Mosul lay on the Tigris River so naval battles occurred across the river. The Iraqis managed to cross the Tigris River but at a huge cost of lives. Mosul became dotted with craters and lined with trenches as the city was fought for. After not taking the city after three months of fighting the Iraqis retreated and attempted to gas the Kurds out of Mosul. Though the gas killed some people many people survived as they had gas masks. Mosul became a battle ground again but the Kurds were pushed back to Arbil. The Iraqis used this breakthrough and advanced to Arbil.
The Battle of Arbil
On September 1, 1992 the Battle of Arbil began with an artillery bombing by the Iraqis on the city. Trenches dug in the city helped to protect the Kurds but many died. The same day Iraqi soldiers entered the city. Fighting was the mostly the same as in Mosul. The Kurds had mustard gas this time and used it heavily. The Iraqis did as well. By the end of the week the Iraqis managed to gain the northern half of the city. However the Kurds still had the southern part of the city. On September 9, the Arbil Charge began. The Arbil Charge was a charge by Iraqi soldiers across no-man's land between their trenches and the Kurds trenches. The Charge was big and an estimated 10,000 soldiers charged. The Iraqis managed to force the Kurds in retreat but a huge loss; 4500 were dead or wounded. The Iraqi soldiers then attacked the last Kurd lines at the southern edge of city at about 5,000 man strength. The Kurds repulsed the Iraqis back and then went on there own offensive in an bayonet charge. The charge forced Iraq soldiers back to the northern half of the city. By the end of the month Iraqi soldiers left Arbil to re-organize and attack again.
Entry of the United States
After Iraq blockaded Kurdistan the United States sent supplies to the Kurds by airplane. Iraq didn't shoot down the planes at the time as it did not want war with the United States. However, after the United States began sending the Kurds US weapons the Iraqis became increasingly annoyed with the United States. The Kurds using these new weapons forced the Iraqis from Arbil to the Tigris River. The weapons helped the Kurds a lot so the Iraqi Air Force was ordered to shoot down any US plane that entered Iraqi airspace. On October 23 the first planes were shot down which led to the United States declaring war on Iraq. The United States began strategically bombing Iraqi cities and military bases during the winter. In early 1993 the United States launched Operation Desert Scorpion, the invasion of Iraq. While US soldiers landed on the southern coast the Kurds launched an offensive into Iraq territory.
End of the War
The end of the war came in sight in early 1993 when US soldiers landed in Iraq and the Kurds launched an offensive into Iraqi lands. The US manpower was to much for the Iraqis to bear and began a massive retreat back to the capital of Baghdad. The Iraqis did hold out in northern Iraq and gave the Kurds no inch of land without bloodshed. Seeing their Kurd allies fall the US launched a an assault on Iraqi positions hold out on the western part of the Tigris River. US gunboats bombarded Iraqi fortifications while US and Kurd troops landed. After a day of fighting the Iraqis retreated from the river to Samarra, which was being besieged by US soldiers crossing the Tigris River. The Iraqi soldiers there put up a good fight but were forced to retreat after three days of heavy fighting. By April much of Iraq was in US and Kurd hands. Even though Baghdad was surrounded Iraq refused to surrender. As a result on April 3, 1993 the Battle of Baghdad began with a major artillery bombardment by US artillery. A few hours later US soldiers entered Baghdad. By a week Baghdad was in US hands. On April 12 Iraq surrendered an the Kurdish-Arab Civil War was over.
After the war ended Iraq, US, and Kurd representatives met in Berlin, Germany, to discuss the terms of peace. The first term was the Republic of Kurdistan was declared independent and to be recognized by Iraq and the nations of the war. The second term was that Iraq would have to pay for all destruction caused in Kurdistan while US would pay for all destruction in Iraq. Third term would be Iraq soldiers would leave Kurdistan, Kurd soldiers would leave Iraq, and the US would leave Iraq lands. On May 14, 1993 the Treaty of Berlin was signed.
Road to the Great Iraq War
Kurd Exodus from Iraq to Kurdistan
Following the independence of Kurdistan after the Kurd-Arab Civil War, the Iraqis forced all Kurds to move to Kurdistan. Still in power Saddam Hussein ordered the execution of all Kurd civilians who did not leave Iraq by the end of the July. The majority of the Kurd population left, giving Kurdistan a bigger population but making the new immigrants homeless. Some Kurds stayed, as they did not want to leave their family and friends in Iraq and did not believe that Hussein would kill them, or they didn't know they were Kurds. Saddam Hussein knew where most of the remaining Kurds in Iraq, though, as he bribed many friends and neighbors of the Kurds. On August 2, all remaining Kurds in a small village near Baghdad were rounded up and executed publicly. This sent a shock wave to all of the Kurds in Iraq, and all of those remaining left. The Kurd Exodus was denounced by the nations of the world.
The Tigris River Incident
On March 5, 1994, five Kurds were crossing the border into Iraq over the Tigris River. Crossing between the two nations was illegal, and the sentence was death for Kurds in Iraq. All Kurds in Iraq found to were to be sent to prison and later shot and killed. The Kurd Prison Army was a pro-Kurd terrorist organization, who performed operations against Iraq mainly jail breaks. Hussein order the death of all KPL members found in Iraq. The night of the incident three KPL members broke into a jail and rescued two prisoners and headed to Kurdistan, where they were headquartered. Border guards on the Tigris River spotted the five men, but it was unknown to them it was the KPL. They reported it to Iraq military headquarters. They were ordered to kill the five-man crew. The border guards did not manage to kill the five men until they were in Kurd territory. Border guards on the Kurd side of the river fired back, as they thought the Iraqis were shooting at them. Nobody was killed except for the five men. Both governments said the shootings was the other sides fault until an investigation revealed that the five men were part of the KPL. The Tigris River Incident, even though making Iraq and Kurdistan work together to stop the KPL, made relationships between the two countries worse.
Russian Support of Iraq
In 1999, Vladimir Putin was declared acting president of the Russian Federation. Putin was a former KGB and was critical of Western countries, particularly the United States. Seeing that the United States had a number of allies in the Middle East (mainly Israel and Kurdistan) he made a trip to Iraq to propose to be allies if the United States brought war to Iraq. Hussein agreed and the Russo-Iraqi Alliance was made. Russia soon implanted bases in Iraq and used their military trainers to train Iraq's army. In response, the US planted more bases in Kurdistan.