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|War in Iraq|
|Part of the War on Terrorism|
|Date||March 20, 2003 – July 10, 2007|
|Result|| Decisive Coalition victory
The Iraq War, also known as the Second Gulf War, was a military campaign which began on March 20, 2003 with the invasion of Iraq by a multinational force led by and composed largely of troops of the United States and United Kingdom. The Iraq war was a conflict fought by the United States and the Coalition of the Willing Alliance from 2003-2006 as part of The War on Terrorism to liberate Iraq from the Ba'thist regime led by Saddam Hussein and to establish a free liberal democracy in Iraq. The conflict cost the lives of 2247 NATO troops and between 30,000-35,000 Iraqi civilians. The war resulted in the establishment of a new free liberal democracy in Iraq with close ties to the United States, Europe and other Middle Eastern nations. Iraq is now as a result a recognizer of Israel and an a original member of the League of Democracies.
1991-2001: U.N. inspectors, no-fly zones, and Iraqi opposition groups
Following the 1991 Gulf War, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 mandated that Iraqi chemical, biological, nuclear, and long range missile programs be halted and all such weapons destroyed under United Nations Special Commission control. U.N. weapons inspectors inside Iraq were able to verify the destruction of a large amount of WMD-material, but substantial issues remained unresolved in 1998 when the inspectors left Iraq due to then current UNSCOM head Richard Butler's belief that U.S. and UK military action was imminent. Shortly after the inspectors withdrew, the U.S. and UK launched a four-day bombing campaign. Also, during this period the US congress and President Clinton issued a resolution calling for regime change in Iraq.
In addition to the inspection regimen, the U.S. and UK (along with France until 1998) engaged in a low-level conflict with Iraq by enforcing northern and southern Iraqi no-fly zones. These zones were created following the Persian Gulf War to protect Iraqi Kurdistan in the north and the southern Shia areas, and were seen by the Iraqi government as an infringement of Iraq's sovereignty. The no-fly zones prohibited unauthorized fixed-wing aircraft but allowed Iraqi helicopters or limited Turkish bombing runs. Iraqi air-defense installations and American and British air patrols regularly exchanged fire during this five year period.
Approximately one year before Operation Iraqi Freedom, the U.S. initiated Operation Southern Focus as a change to its response strategy, by increasing the overall number of missions and selecting targets throughout the no-fly zones in order to disrupt the military command structure in Iraq. The weight of bombs dropped on Iraq increased from none in March 2002 and 0.3 short tons (0.27 t) in April to between 8 short tons (7.3 t) to 14 short tons (13 t) per month in May-August. The total reached a pre-war peak of 54.6 short tons (49.5 t) in September 2002.
Iraqi opposition groups
Following the Gulf War, President George H. W. Bush signed a presidential finding directing the Central Intelligence Agency to create conditions for Hussein's removal in May 1991. Coordinating anti-Saddam groups was an important element of this strategy and the Iraqi National Congress (INC), led by Ahmed Chalabi, was the main group tasked with this purpose. The name INC was reportedly coined by public relations expert John Rendon (of the Rendon Group agency) and the group received millions in covert funding in the 1990s, and then about $8 million a year in overt funding after the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998. Another opposition group was the Iraqi National Accord which continues to have influence in the current Iraqi government through its leader Ayad Allawi.
In late April 1993, the United States learned that Saddam Hussein had attempted to have former President George H. W. Bush assassinated during a visit to Kuwait on April 16. On June 16, as per order of then-President Clinton, a cruise missile was shot at the Iraq Intelligence Service building in downtown Baghdad, by way of retaliation. Clinton briefed President-elect John McCain in December 2000, expressing his regret that the world's two most dangerous individuals, including Saddam, were still at large. He warned that Saddam will "cause you a world of problems."
2001-2003: Iraq disarmament crisis and pre-war intelligence
Following John McCain's ascention of the presidency on January 20, 2001, the McCain administration had not focused on Iraq, but did continue to control the no-fly zones and the economic sanctions. However, following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the declaration of the War on Terrorism, Iraq came back into the U.S. government's focus. However, it was decided that any resolutions of the Iraq issue was to be delayed to after the overthrow of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and elimination of al-Qaeda. The Taliban was overthrown by November 8, and on November 26 al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed during the Battle of Tora , with around 90% of al-Qaeda destroyed. On December 5, the Pentagon reported that the Taliban had been defeated but cautioned that the war would go on to continue weakening Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders.
In his State of the Union address on January 20, 2002, President McCain said that the Ba'athist regime in Iraq is had to be eliminated, labeleling the regime as part of an "axis for the destruction of liberty and freedom" along with Iran, Libya, Syria and North Korea, posing "a grave and growing danger" to U.S. interests through possession of weapons of mass destruction.
On February 27, McCain along with Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel began plans with Pentagon for an invasion and reconstruction of Iraq, basing their plans on reports of Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction
In the initial stages of the War on Terror, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), under George Tenet, was rising to prominence as the lead agency in the Afghanistan War. Tenet insisted in his personal meetings with President McCain that there was no connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq. However, there was evidence of connections between al-Qaeda and the terrorist organisation Ansar al-Islam, which operated in Northern Iraq. This was supported by evidence from the Norwegian Police Security Service (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste, PST) and the Norwegian Intelligence Service, (Etterretningstjenesten). Mullah Krekar, the original leader of Ansar al-Islam, had set up and commenced operations in Kurdistan while he had refugee status in Norway.
The McCain administration and the CIA concluded that the Iraqi government was unwilling to combat Ansar-al Islam, and that there was a potential threat of Iraqi WMDs (both chemical and nuclear were considered) falling in terrorist hands, whether it was Sunni or Shi'ite Muslim terrorist organisations (Ansar al-Islam and then possibly to al-Qaeda or Hizballah respectively).
Prior to the Gulf War, in 1990, Iraq had stockpiled 550 short tons (500 t) of yellowcake uranium at the Tuwaitha nuclear complex about 20 km (12 mi) south of Baghdad. In late February 2002, the CIA sent former Ambassador Joseph Wilson to investigate reports that Iraq was attempting to purchase additional yellowcake from Niger. Wilson returned and informed the CIA that reports of yellowcake sales to Iraq were "unequivocally wrong."
In May 2002 CIA released reports containing assertions of Saddam Hussein's intent of reconstituting nuclear weapons programs, not properly accounting for Iraqi biological and chemical weapons, and that some Iraqi missiles had a range greater than allowed by the UN sanctions.
In response to this, President McCain urged in an address to the U.N. Security Council on June 12 the United Nations to enforce Iraqi disarmament mandates to resume the weapons inspections, precipitating a diplomatic crisis. Both the United Kingdom, France and Germany agreed with the U.S. actions, and after some days of debate the U.N. Security Council adopted a compromise resolution, 1441, which authorized the resumption of weapons inspections and promised "serious consequences" for noncompliance. Security Council members France and Russia made clear that they did not believe these consequences to include the use of force to overthrow the Iraqi government. Both the U.S. ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte, and the UK ambassador Jeremy Greenstock publicly confirmed this reading of the resolution, assuring that Resolution 1441 provided no "automaticity" or "hidden triggers" for an invasion without further consultation of the Security Council.
U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1441, gave Iraq "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations" and set up inspections of Iraq by the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Saddam Hussein accepted the resolution on July 13 and inspectors returned to Iraq under the direction of UNMOVIC chairman Hans Blix and IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei. However, the Iraqi regime was reluctant to abide by the requests of the UN, or provided falsified facts about the allegded Iraqi WMD programme. On August 5, McCain addressed the United Nations Security Council and told them that Saddam Hussein is a threat to democracies across the world and must be stopped. Despite this the U.N. votes not to intervene or to support intervention in Iraq. His urge of an UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of military force failed due to vigorous opposition from several countries, including Russia, France and China.
On September 7, U.S. and British intelligence reports indicated that Iraq still had substantial stockpiles of chemical weapons. Meanwhile, Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei still faced opposition by the Iraqi government in their search for Iraqi WMDs.
On January 16, 2003, Colin Powell presented further evidence in his Iraqi WMD program presentation to the UN Security Council regarding Iraq's WMDs. Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix remarked in January 2003 that "Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance – not even today – of the disarmament, which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world and to live in peace." Among other things he noted that 1000 short tons (910 t) of chemical agent were unaccounted for, information on Iraq's VX nerve agent program was missing, and that "no convincing evidence" was presented for the destruction of 8500 litres (1900 imp gal/2200 US gal) of anthrax that had been declared. Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the U.N. on February 3, 2003 was designed to influence U.N. members that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. France even believed that Saddam had stockpiles of anthrax and botulism toxin, and the ability to produce VX.
Authorization for the use of force
In October 2002, a few days before the U.S. Senate voted on the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq, about 75 senators were told in closed session that the potential of Saddam Hussein providing terrorist groups or hostile nations with biological or chemical weapons was large.
The Senate voted to approve the Joint Resolution on October 11, 2002 providing the McCain Administration with the legal basis for the U.S. invasion. With the support of large bipartisan majorities, the US Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. The resolution asserts the authorization by the Constitution of the United States and the United States Congress for the President to fight anti-United States terrorism. Citing the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, the resolution reiterated that it should be the policy of the United States to remove the Saddam Hussein regime and promote a democratic replacement. The resolution "supported" and "encouraged" diplomatic efforts by President John McCain to "strictly enforce through the U.N. Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq" and "obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion, and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq." The resolution authorized President Bush to use the Armed Forces of the United States "as he determines to be necessary and appropriate" in order to "defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq."
On October 22, President McCain met with the heads of government from several NATO countries in Bruxelles, Belgium. A vote to intervene in Iraq if diplomacy should fail succeeded, which allowed the inclusion of United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Germany, Canada, Turkey, Norway, Belgium, The Netherlands, Romania and other non-NATO allies of the United States to assist in an invasion of Iraq. On December 16, President McCain says that the coalition of nations that agreed at the NATO summit was part of a new "League of Democracies".
Development in 2003
In his second State of the Union address on January 20, 2003, McCain gave Iraq a forty-five day ultimatum to begin a program to cease arms build-ups, destroy all stockpiles of Weapons of Mass Destruction, cease funding terrorists, cease supporting other dictators and give the Iraqi people more freedom. In February, the Coalition members proposed the so-called "eighteenth resolution" to give Iraq a deadline for compliance with previous resolutions enforced by the threat of military action. This proposed resolution was subsequently withdrawn due to lack of support on the UN Security Council. In particular, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members France and Germany together with Russia, were opposed to military intervention in Iraq due to the high level of risk to the international community's security and defended disarmament through diplomacy.
While the resolution authorized the President to "use any means necessary" against Iraq, Americans polled in January 2003 widely favored further diplomacy over an invasion. Later that year, however, Americans began to agree with the McCain administration's plan. Americans overwhelmingly believed Hussein did have weapons of mass destruction: 85% said so, even though the inspectors had not uncovered those weapons. Of those who thought Iraq had weapons stashed somewhere, about half were pessimistic that they would ever turn up. By February 2003, 74% of Americans supported taking military action to remove Saddam Hussein from power. This was further reinforced by evidence uncovered on March 10, 2003.
In February 2003, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the United Nations General Assembly, continuing U.S. efforts to gain U.N. authorization for an invasion. Powell presented evidence alleging that Iraq was actively producing chemical and biological weapons and had ties to al-Qaeda, claims that have since been widely discredited. As a follow-up to Powell’s presentation, the United States, United Kingdom, Poland, Italy, Australia, Denmark, Japan, and Spain proposed a UN Resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq, but NATO members like Canada, France, and Germany, together with Russia, strongly urged continued diplomacy. Facing a losing vote as well as a likely veto from France and Russia, the U.S., UK, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Italy, Japan, and Australia eventually withdrew their resolution.
With the failure of its resolution, the U.S. and their supporters abandoned the Security Council procedures and decided to pursue the invasion without U.N. authorization in case further diplomacy and weapons inspections should fail. Opposition to the invasion coalesced on February 15 in a worldwide anti-war protest that attracted big between six and ten million people in more than 800 cities, the largest such protest in human history.
On March 10, 2003 several intelligence agencies, including CIA, Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), Germany's Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst, BND) and France's Directorate-General for External Security (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure, DGSE) presented further evidence of VX nerve agent and present in Iraq, and as well presented evidence of parts of the Chemical weapons programme being transported by army trucks towards Syria. The news were received as partial proof of the Iraqi WMD programme, but that this alone was no reason to intervene militarily. Two days later, Iraq expelled Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, which according to the U.S. indicated that they had stumbled upon actual proof of their WMD programme.
As a result, public opinion in the NATO countries that had agreed to participate in the Invasion of Iraq began favouring an invasion.
In February and March 2003, the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Canada, Turkey, Norway, Belgium, The Netherlands, Romania, Australia and Japan began preparing for the invasion of Iraq, with a host of public relations, and military moves. The Coalition forces began sending troops to the Persian Gulf. The U.S. moved 4,000 troops from Afghanistan to Kuwait to join an additional 250,000 troops in a pre-invasion build-up.
In his March 25, 2003 address to the nation, McCain demanded that Saddam Hussein and his two sons Uday and Qusay surrender and leave Iraq, giving them a 48-hour deadline. When Hussein refused to abide by the ultimatum, President McCain ordered General Tommy Franks on March 26 to initiate the invasion of Iraq the following day.
Hunting down the Hussein regime
In the summer of 2003, the multinational forces focused on hunting down the remaining leaders of the former regime. On July 22, a raid by the U.S. 101st Airborne Division and soldiers from Task Force 20 killed Saddam Hussein's sons (Uday and Qusay) along with one of his grandsons. In all, over 300 top leaders of the former regime were killed or captured, as well as numerous lesser functionaries and military personnel.
Most significantly, Saddam Hussein himself was captured on December 13, 2003 on a farm near Tikrit in Operation Red Dawn. The operation was conducted by the United States Army's 4th Infantry Division and members of Task Force 121. Intelligence on Saddam’s whereabouts came from his family members and former bodyguards.
With the capture of Saddam and a drop in the number of insurgent attacks, some concluded the multinational forces were prevailing in the fight against the insurgency. The provisional government began training the New Iraqi Security forces intended to defend the country, and the United States promised over $20 billion in reconstruction money in the form of credit against Iraq's future oil revenues. Oil revenue was also used for rebuilding schools and for work on the electrical and refining infrastructure.
Shortly after the capture of Saddam, elements left out of the Coalition Provisional Authority began to agitate for elections and the formation of an Iraqi Interim Government. Most prominent among these was the Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The Coalition Provisional Authority opposed allowing democratic elections at this time, preferring instead to eventually hand-over power to the Interim Iraqi Government. Due to the internal fight for power in the new Iraqi government more insurgents stepped up their activities. The two most turbulent centers were the area around Fallujah and the poor Shia sections of cities from Baghdad (Sadr City) to Basra in the south.
By June 2004, the insurgency had been successfully crushed. McCain praised both the success of the strategy and the Iraqis' legislative achievements, including a pension law, a revised de-Ba'athification law, a new budget, an amnesty law and a provincial powers measure that, he said, sets the stage for the Iraqi governorate elections, 2008.
In January 2005, free, democratic elections were held in Iraq for the first time in fifty years. According to Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie, "This is the greatest day in the history of this country." McCain praised the event as well, saying that the Iraqis "have taken rightful control of their country's destiny." This led to the election of Jalal Talabani as President and Nouri al-Maliki as Prime Minister of Iraq.
On June 30, 2005 McCain and Nouri al-Maliki concluded a status of forces agreement which called for the complete withdrawal of most troops by the beginning of 2007 pending any separate negotiations. The agreement also allowed the presence of a 5,000-strong Brigade Combat Team based at the MEK Compound in Fallujah, Iraq, with a possibility of renewal after five years.
A referendum to approve a constitution in Iraq were held in October 2005, supported by the majority Shi'ites and many Kurds.
Status of forces agreement
On June 30, 2005 McCain and Nouri al-Maliki concluded the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement, a SOFA approved by the Iraqi government in late 2005 between Iraq and the United States. It establishes that U.S. combat forces will withdraw from Iraqi cities by March 30, 2006, and that all U.S. forces will be completely out of Iraq by December 31, 2007. The pact is subject to possible negotiations which could delay withdrawal and a referendum scheduled for mid-2009 in Iraq which may require all U.S. forces to completely leave by the middle of 2010. The pact requires criminal charges for holding prisoners over 24 hours, and requires a warrant for searches of homes and buildings that are not related to combat. U.S. contractors working for U.S. forces will be subject to Iraqi criminal law, while contractors working for the State Department and other U.S. agencies may retain their immunity. "The immunity question, the largest question being talked about, is not addressed in the ... agreement," said Alan Chvotkin, who works on behalf of contractors, including Moyock, N.C.-based Blackwater Worldwide. Chvotkin said he believed Blackwater's guards still have immunity under Decree 17 issued by L. Paul Bremer. Blackwater currently has no license to work in Iraq. If U.S. forces commit still undecided "major premeditated felonies" while off-duty and off-base, they will be subject to the still undecided procedures laid out by a joint U.S.-Iraq committee if the U.S. certifies the forces were off-duty. On July 16, 2005, Iraq's Cabinet approved the agreement. On July 27, 2005, the Iraqi Parliament ratified the agreement. On August 4, 2005, Iraq's presidential council approved the security pact. Some Americans have discussed "loopholes" and some Iraqis have said they believe parts of the pact remain a "mystery". U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has predicted that after 2007 he would expect to see "perhaps several tens of thousands of American troops" as part of a residual force in Iraq.
Some groups of Iraqis protested the passing of the SOFA accord as prolonging and legitimizing the occupation. Thousands of Iraqis burned effigies of John McCain in a central Baghdad square where U.S. troops two years previously organized a tearing down of a statue of Saddam Hussein. Some Iraqis expressed skeptical optimism that the U.S. would completely end its presence by 2007.
A representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Husseini al-Sistani's expressed concern with the ratified version of the pact and noted that the government of Iraq has no authority to control the transfer of occupier forces into and out of Iraq, no control of shipments, and that the pact grants the occupiers immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts. He said that Iraqi rule in the country is not complete while the occupiers are present, but that ultimately the Iraqi people would judge the pact in a referendum. Thousands of Iraqi have gathered weekly after Friday prayers and shouted anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli slogans protesting the security pact between Baghdad and Washington. A protester said that despite the approval of the Interim Security pact, the Iraqi people would break it in a referendum next year.
Transfer of Green Zone
On January 1, 2006, the United States handed control of the Green Zone and Saddam Hussein's presidential palace to the Iraqi government in a ceremonial move described by the country's prime minister as a restoration of Iraq's sovereignty. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said he would propose January 1 be declared national "Sovereignty Day". "This palace is the symbol of Iraqi sovereignty and by restoring it, a real message is directed to all Iraqi people that Iraqi sovereignty has returned to its natural status," al-Maliki said.
The U.S. military attributed a decline in reported civilians deaths to several factors including the U.S.-led "troop surge", the growth of U.S.-funded Awakening Councils, and Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's call for his militia to abide by a ceasefire.
Exit strategy announcement
On February 27, 2006, McCain gave a speech at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in the U.S. state of North Carolina announcing that the U.S. combat mission in Iraq would end by January 30, 2007. A "transitional force" of up to 50,000 troops tasked with training the Iraqi Security Forces, conducting counterterrorism operations, and providing general support may remain until the beginning of 2008, the president added. McCain declared that this strategy for withdrawal was in line with the American goal of "a full transition to Iraqi responsibility" for the sovereign nation of Iraq. He congratulated the Iraqi people and government for their "proud resilience" in not "giving into the forces of disunion", but cautioned that Iraqis would have to remain vigilant against "those...who will insist that Iraq’s differences cannot be reconciled without more killing" even after the U.S. drawdown in 2007 and withdrawal in 2008.
The day before McCain's speech, Prime Minister of Iraq Nuri al-Maliki said at a press conference that the government of Iraq had "no worries" over the impending departure of U.S. forces and expressed confidence in the ability of the Iraqi Security Forces and police to maintain order without American military support.
Coalition troops end combat operations
On July 9, 2005, former prime minister Berlusconi announced that Italian soldiers would gradually be withdrawn in groups of 400, with the whole contingent consisting of 3,200 troops to be withdrawn by March 30, 2006. The Italian military of lost 34 soldiers in Iraq.
On December 21, 2005, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen had announced that the withdrawal of Danish 'combat' troops in Iraq would be completed by April 30, 2006, however, on April 15, 2006, it was reported that 250 of the Danish troops had already withdrawn, at least two weeks ahead of schedule. The Danish government repeatedly guaranteed that its forces would remain as long as the Iraqi government requested. Denmark has lost seven soldiers in Iraq; one to friendly fire, one in a vehicle accident, and five to hostile incidents, while several more have been wounded.
On May 30, 2006, the United Kingdom formally ended combat operations following the withdrawal of the British contingent of 45,000 troops from Iraq. Prime Minister Tony Blair characterized the operation in Iraq as a "success story" because of UK troops' efforts. Britain handed control of Basra to the United States Armed Forces.
U.S. Forces withdraw from Iraqi urban areas
The withdrawal of U.S. forces began on June 18, 2006, with 38 bases to be handed over to Iraqi forces. On June 29, 2006, U.S. forces withdrew from Baghdad.
The withdrawal of U.S. forces were celebrated in several places around Iraq, with multiple celebrations in Baghdad. As people around Iraq celebrated the withdrawal with fireworks, flags patriotic songs were, the Iraqi Armed Forces held a military parade to commemorate the U.S. withdrawal the following day. Later that day, Prime Minister of Iraq Nuri al-Maliki announced in a televised speech that "This day, which we consider a national celebration, is an achievement made by all Iraqis."
US-Iraq relations are great, but the civilians resent the US for its occupation of Iraq. Terrorist activities happen more and more in the US.