This Day In History: 03/19/2003 - War in Iraq Begins

This Day In History: 03/19/2003 - War in Iraq Begins

On March 19th, the first bank to be robbed in the United States was robbed, and the robbers made out with a quarter of a million dollars according to Russell Mitchell in this video clip from This Day In History. Mitchell recaps for us the historical events that occurred on March 19th including the return of NBA legend Michael Jordan after he retired. Congress approved Daylight Savings time giving us longer days. President George W Bush launched Operation Iraqi Freedom on this day after it was decided that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

"The Charbor Chronicles"

Once again, it should be reiterated, that this does not pretend to be a very extensive history of what happened on this day (nor is it the most original - the links can be found down below). If you know something that I am missing, by all means, shoot me an email or leave a comment, and let me know!

Mar 19, 2003: War in Iraq begins

On this day in 2003, the United States, along with coalition forces primarily from the United Kingdom, initiates war on Iraq. Just after explosions began to rock Baghdad, Iraq's capital, U.S. President George W. Bush announced in a televised address, "At this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger." President Bush and his advisors built much of their case for war on the idea that Iraq, under dictator Saddam Hussein, possessed or was in the process of building weapons of mass destruction.

Hostilities began about 90 minutes after the U.S.-imposed deadline for Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq or face war passed. The first targets, which Bush said were "of military importance," were hit with Tomahawk cruise missiles from U.S. fighter-bombers and warships stationed in the Persian Gulf. In response to the attacks, Republic of Iraq radio in Baghdad announced, "the evil ones, the enemies of God, the homeland and humanity, have committed the stupidity of aggression against our homeland and people."

Though Saddam Hussein had declared in early March 2003 that, "it is without doubt that the faithful will be victorious against aggression," he went into hiding soon after the American invasion, speaking to his people only through an occasional audiotape. Coalition forces were able to topple his regime and capture Iraq's major cities in just three weeks, sustaining few casualties. President Bush declared the end of major combat operations on May 1, 2003. Despite the defeat of conventional military forces in Iraq, an insurgency has continued an intense guerrilla war in the nation in the years since military victory was announced, resulting in thousands of coalition military, insurgent and civilian deaths.

After an intense manhunt, U.S. soldiers found Saddam Hussein hiding in a six-to-eight-foot deep hole, nine miles outside his hometown of Tikrit. He did not resist and was uninjured during the arrest. A soldier at the scene described him as "a man resigned to his fate." Hussein was arrested and began trial for crimes against his people, including mass killings, in October 2005.

In June 2004, the provisional government in place since soon after Saddam's ouster transferred power to the Iraqi Interim Government. In January 2005, the Iraqi people elected a 275-member Iraqi National Assembly. A new constitution for the country was ratified that October. On November 6, 2006, Saddam Hussein was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death by hanging. After an unsuccessful appeal, he was executed on December 30, 2006.

No weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq.

Mar 19, 1970: National emergency declared in Cambodia

The National Assembly grants "full power" to Premier Lon Nol, declares a state of emergency, and suspends four articles of the constitution, permitting arbitrary arrest and banning public assembly. Lon Nol and First Deputy Premier Prince Sisowath Sirik Matak had conducted a bloodless coup against Prince Norodom Sihanouk the day before and proclaimed the establishment of the Khmer Republic.

Between 1970 and 1975, Lon Nol and his army, the Forces Armees Nationale Khmer (FANK), with U.S. support and military aid, fought the communist Khmer Rouge for control of Cambodia. When the U.S. forces departed South Vietnam in 1973, both the Cambodians and South Vietnamese found themselves fighting the communists alone. Without U.S. support, Lon Nol's forces succumbed to the Khmer Rouge in April 1975. The victorious Khmer Rouge evacuated Phnom Penh and began reordering Cambodian society, which resulted in a killing spree and the notorious "killing fields." Eventually, hundreds of thousands of Cambodians were murdered or died from exhaustion, hunger, and disease. During the five years of bitter fighting, approximately 10 percent of Cambodia's 7 million people died.

Mar 19, 1949: East Germany approves new constitution

In a precursor to the establishment of a separate, Soviet-dominated East Germany, the People's Council of the Soviet Zone of Occupation approves a new constitution. This action, together with the U.S. policy of pursuing an independent pathway in regards to West Germany, contributed to the permanent division of Germany.

The postwar status of Germany had become a bone of contention between the United States and the Soviet Union even before World War II ended. The Soviet Union wanted assurances that Germany would be permanently disarmed and demanded huge reparations from the postwar German government. The United States, however, was hesitant to commit to these demands. By 1945, many U.S. officials began to see the Soviet Union as a potential adversary in the postwar world and viewed a reunified-and pro-West-Germany as valuable to the defense of Europe. When the war ended in May 1945, Russian forces occupied a large portion of Germany, including Berlin. Negotiations between the United States, Russia, Britain, and France resulted in the establishment of occupation zones for each nation. Berlin was also divided in zones of occupation. While both the United States and Russia publicly called for a reunified Germany, both nations were coming to the conclusion that a permanently divided Germany might be advantageous.

For the United States, West Germany, with its powerful economy and potential military strength, would make for a crucial ally in the developing Cold War. The Soviets came to much the same conclusion in regards to East Germany. When, in 1949, the United States proposed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (a military and political alliance between America and several European states) and began to discuss the possible inclusion of a remilitarized West Germany in NATO, the Soviets reacted quickly. The new constitution for East Germany, approved by the People's Council of the Soviet Zone of Occupation (a puppet legislative body dominated by the Soviets), made clear that the Russians were going to establish a separate and independent East Germany. In October 1949, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) was declared. Months earlier, in May, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) had been formally proclaimed. Germany remained a divided nation until the collapse of the communist government in East Germany and reunification in 1990.

Mar 19, 1945: General Fromm executed for plot against Hitler

On this day, the commander of the German Home Army, Gen. Friedrich Fromm, is shot by a firing squad for his part in the July plot to assassinate the Fuhrer. The fact that Fromm's participation was half-hearted did not save him.

By 1944, many high-ranking German officials had made up their minds that Hitler must die. He was leading Germany in a suicidal war on two fronts, and they believed that assassination was the only way to stop him. According to the plan, coup d'etat would follow the assassination, and a new government in Berlin would save Germany from complete destruction at the hands of the Allies. All did not go according to plan, however. Col. Claus von Stauffenberg was given the task of planting a bomb during a conference that was to be held at Hitler's holiday retreat, Berchtesgaden (but was later moved to Hitler's headquarters at Rastenburg). Stauffenberg was chief of staff to Gen. Friedrich Fromm. Fromm, chief of the Home Army (composed of reservists who remained behind the front lines to preserve order at home), was inclined to the conspirators' plot, but agreed to cooperate actively in the coup only if the assassination was successful.

On the night of July 20, 1944, Stauffenberg planted an explosive-filled briefcase under a table in the conference room at Rastenburg. Hitler was studying a map of the Eastern Front as Colonel Heinz Brandt, trying to get a better look at the map, moved the briefcase out of place, farther away from where the Fuhrer was standing. At 12:42 p.m. the bomb went off. When the smoke cleared, Hitler was wounded, charred, and even suffered the temporary paralysis of one arm—but was very much alive.

Meanwhile, Stauffenberg had made his way to Berlin to meet with his co-conspirators to carry out Operation Valkyrie, the overthrow of the central government. Once in the capital, General Fromm, who had been informed by phone that Hitler was wounded but still alive, ordered Stauffenberg and his men arrested, but Fromm was located and locked in an office by Nazi police. Stauffenberg and Gen. Friedrich Olbricht began issuing orders for the commandeering of various government buildings. Then the news came through from Herman Goering that Hitler was alive. Fromm, released from confinement by officers still loyal to Hitler, and anxious to have his own association with the conspirators covered up quickly, ordered the conspirators, including two Stauffenberg aides, shot for high treason that same day. (Gen. Ludwig Beck, one of the conspiracy leaders and an older man, was allowed the "dignity" of committing suicide.)

Fromm's last-ditch effort to distance himself from the plot failed. Within the next few days, on order of Heinrich Himmler, who was now the new head of the Home Army, Fromm was arrested. In February 1945, he was tried before the People's Court and denigrated for his cowardice in refusing to stand up to the plotters. But because he went so far as to execute Stauffenberg and his partners on the night of July 20, he was spared the worst punishment afforded convicted conspirators—strangulation on a meat hook. He was shot by a firing squad on March 19.

Mar 19, 1842: Balzac botches a publicity stunt

French writer Honore de Balzac's play Les Ressources de Quinola opens to an empty house thanks to a failed publicity stunt on this day in 1842. Hoping to create a buzz for the play, the writer circulated a rumor that tickets were sold out. Unfortunately, most of his fans stayed home.

By this time, Balzac was already a well-known literary figure. Born in Tours, France, Balzac was educated in Paris, where he started writing plays at the age of 20 while working as a lawyer's apprentice. His plays bombed, and he took to writing thrillers under an assumed name. Needing money, he launched disastrous ventures in printing and silver mining and went bankrupt. While struggling under his debts, he resumed writing, and by 1929 he was publishing under his own name, convinced he was a genius. By 1830, he had become a celebrated writer who frequented literary salons. Balzac drove himself ruthlessly, working 14 to 16 hours at a stretch, aided by some 50 cups of coffee a day. He completed 90 novels, all part of a single series, "La Comedie Humaine," and died in Paris in 1850.

Here's a more detailed look at events that transpired on this date throughout history:

Establishment of Diplomatic Relations and the American Legation in Iraq, 1931 .

Diplomatic relations and the American Legation in Iraq were established on March 30, 1931, when Alexander K. Sloan (then serving as Consul in Iraq) was appointed Chargé d’Affaires of the American Legation at Baghdad.

Legation Raised to Embassy, 1946 .

The United States upgraded its diplomatic representation in Iraq from a Legation to an Embassy on December 28, 1946.

Establishment of the Arab Union, 1958 .

On May 28, 1958, the United States recognized the Arab Union that formed between Iraq and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on May 19, 1958. U.S. recognition of the new state was accorded in an exchange of notes between the American Embassy at Baghdad and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Union. In announcing U.S. recognition, the Department of State noted that the Arab Union’s constitution stipulated that “external affairs will remain as they are at the present time” with the two Kingdoms that had joined to form the new state. Consequently, formal diplomatic relations were not established between the United States and the Arab Union, and diplomatic relations continued uninterrupted between the United States and Iraq, and the United States and Jordan.

Dissolution of the Arab Union, 1958 .

Following a coup d’etat in Baghdad on July 14, 1958, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan announced the dissolution of the Arab Union and decreed that Jordan would function as a separate state, “effective from the 1st of August 1958.”

Diplomatic Relations Severed by Iraq, 1967 .

Iraq severed diplomatic relations with the United States on June 7, 1967, in the wake of the June 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

Establishment of U.S. Interest Section in Baghdad, 1972 .

A U.S. Interests Section was established in the Belgian Embassy in Baghdad on October 1, 1972.

Resumption of Diplomatic Relations and Reestablishment of the American Embassy in Iraq, 1984 .

The United States resumed diplomatic relations with Iraq and elevated the U.S. Interests Section in Baghdad to Embassy status on November 26, 1984, when President Ronald Reagan and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz concluded an agreement to that effect.

Closing of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the Severing of Diplomatic Relations, 1991 .

The Embassy in Baghdad was closed January 12, 1991, following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait , the application of international sanctions against Iraq, and the buildup of military forces in the region. The United States and its allies began military operations against Iraq on January 16, 1991. Iraq severed diplomatic relations with the United States February 9, 1991, after which each nation maintained a modest Interests Section in the other’s capital.

Invasion of Iraq and Establishment of Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), 2003 .

A coalition of countries led by U.S. and British forces invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003, and seized Baghdad on April 9. On May 12, 2003, the United States established the Coalition Provisional Authority as the interim civil authority in Iraq, under the leadership of L. Paul Bremer III , a former U.S. diplomat. Bremer explained that his chief goals were to manage the post-war reconstruction program and to define a clear path for the resumption of Iraqi sovereignty, tasks that soon were complicated by the outbreak of an insurgency and violent civil unrest.

Transfer of Sovereignty, 2004 .

The Coalition Provisional Authority transferred sovereignty to the new Interim Iraqi Government led by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi on June 28, 2004. After announcing the transfer of power to Allawi’s Government, Coalition Administrator L. Paul Bremer stated that the Coalition Provisional Authority ceased to exist he left Iraq later that day.

U.S. Embassy in Baghdad Reopens Diplomatic Relations Reestablished, 2004 .

Upon the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi Interim Government, diplomatic relations were reestablished on June 28, 2004, when the United States reopened its Embassy within Baghdad’s “Green Zone.” Ambassador John Negroponte presented his credentials to the Iraqi Interim Government on June 29.

This Day In History: The 2003 Invasion Of Iraq Began

This day in history, March 20, 2003, the invasion of Iraq, led by U.S. Army General Tommy Franks, began under the codename “Operation Iraqi Liberation,” later renamed “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” the UK codename “Operation Telic,” and the Australian codename “Operation Falconer.”

Approximately 40 other governments participated by providing troops, equipment, services, security, and special forces. Among those sent to Kuwait for the invasion were 248,000 soldiers from the United States, 45,000 British soldiers, 2,000 Australian soldiers and 194 Polish soldiers from Special Forces unit GROM. Coalition forces also cooperated with Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the north, and the invasion force was also supported by Iraqi Kurdish militia troops, estimated to have up to 70,000 troops.

According to General Tommy Franks, the objectives of the invasion were:

“First, end the regime of Saddam Hussein. Second, to identify, isolate and eliminate Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Third, to search for, to capture and to drive out terrorists from that country. Fourth, to collect such intelligence as we can related to terrorist networks. Fifth, to collect such intelligence as we can related to the global network of illicit weapons of mass destruction. Sixth, to end sanctions and to immediately deliver humanitarian support to the displaced and to many needy Iraqi citizens. Seventh, to secure Iraq’s oil fields and resources, which belong to the Iraqi people. And last, to help the Iraqi people create conditions for a transition to a representative self-government.”

Most of the Iraqi military was quickly defeated and Baghdad was occupied on April 9. Other operations occurred against the Iraqi army, including the capture and occupation of Kirkuk and Tikrit. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the central leadership went into hiding as the coalition forces completed the occupation of the country. On May 1, the invasion period ended and the military occupation period began.

Historical Events on March 19

Event of Interest

1885 Louis Riel returns to Canada, proclaims provisional government, Sask

    3 brothers Hearne play in same Test Cricket England v South Africa (Cape Town) Los Angeles Railway established to provide streetcar service Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari's "Quattro Rusteghi" premieres in Munich 18.8 cm precipitation at Lewer's Ranch, Nevada (state record)

Historic Publication

1919 Literary Magazine "Littérature", edited by André Breton, Philippe Soupault, and Louis Aragon publishes its first issue

    US Senate rejects Treaty of Versailles for 2nd time refusing to ratify League of Nations' covenant (maintaining isolation policy) Italian Fascists shoot from the Parenzana train at a group of children in Strunjan (Slovenia): two children are killed, two mangled and three wounded

Event of Interest

1925 Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (future Pope John XXIII) becomes a bishop, appointed as Apostolic Visitor to Bulgaria

    Bloody battles between communists & Nazis in Berlin "Amos & Andy" debuts on radio (NBC Blue Network-WMAQ Chicago) Nakagawa Soen accepted as a student of Katsube Keigaku Roshi Nevada legalizes gambling The Sydney Harbour Bridge is opened in Sydney, Australia England beats Scotland, 16-3 at Twickenham, London to force a 3-way share with Wales and Ireland of renewed Home Nations Rugby Championship France expelled, alleged professionalism

Catholic Encyclical

1937 Pope Pius XI publishes encyclical Divini redemptoris against communism

    Astronomer Fritz Zwicky publishes his research on stellar explosion in which he coins the term "supernova" and hypothesizes that they were the origin of cosmic rays 96th Grand National: With King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in attendance, aptly-named Royal Mail ridden by jockey Evan Williams wins at odds of 100/6 estimated crowd, 300,000 NHL Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Americans combine to score 8 goals in just under 5 minutes Toronto wins game 8-5 Scotland beats England, 21-16 at Twickenham, London to win the Home Nations Rugby Championship, Triple Crown and Calcutta Cup Failed British air raid on German base at Sylt

Event of Interest

1940 French government of Édouard Daladier falls

On This Day in History, 3 июнь

The American soldier, a trans woman now called Chelsea Manning, was responsible for leaking classified videos documenting U.S. war atrocities during the Iraq War. She was sentenced to 35 years confinement.

1998 101 people die in the Eschede train disaster

Traveling at 200 km/h (120 mph), a high-speed ICE train derailed and crashed into a bridge. The accident was caused by a fatigue crack in one of the train's wheels. It was the deadliest high-speed train disaster in history.

1982 The Israeli ambassador to the U.K. is shot

Shlomo Argov survived the assassination attempt by a Palestinian terrorist group, but he was permanently paralyzed. The event triggered the 1982 Lebanon War.

1973 The world's first supersonic airliner crashes

The Soviet Tupolev Tu-144, sometimes referred to as Concordski, disintegrated in mid-air during the 1973 Paris Air Show. 14 people died.

1492 Martin Behaim presents the world's first globe

The German geographer called his terrestrial globe Erdapfel, or Earth Apple. It is kept in a darkened room at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg, Germany.

Births On This Day &ndash 3 июнь

1986 Rafael Nadal

1931 Raúl Castro

Cuban politician, 17th Prime Minister of Cuba

1926 Allen Ginsberg

1808 Jefferson Davis

American colonel, politician, President of the Confederate States of America

The surge

Prior to the release of the Iraq Study Group report, there had been considerable debate within the administration over the path forward in Iraq. Although by December 2006 President Bush had indicated his inclination to increase the number of troops in Iraq, questions—in particular, the exact number of troops to be added—remained unsettled. Finally, in January 2007, President Bush announced a controversial plan to temporarily increase the number of U.S. troops there by more than 20,000, an effort that became known as the surge. Despite heavy casualties initially—2007 was the deadliest year for U.S. forces since 2004—the drop in violence that occurred as the year drew on was a source of encouragement, and a number of the additional troops were subsequently withdrawn. The ultimate success of the surge itself remained a source of continuing debate, however, as the declining levels of violence observed in 2007 were attributed not solely to the surge itself but to a confluence of factors. Among these were a change in tactics that brought U.S. forces already on the ground more in line with classic counterinsurgency strategy the Sunni Awakening, a movement in which Sunni tribesmen who had formerly fought against U.S. troops eventually realigned themselves to help counter other insurgents, particularly those affiliated with al-Qaeda and the voluntary peace observed by Ṣadr and his forces beginning in August of that year.

In November 2008 the Iraqi parliament approved a U.S.-Iraqi agreement that redefined the legal framework for U.S. military activity in Iraq and set a timetable for the final withdrawal of U.S. forces. Under the agreement, which was signed during the final months of the Bush administration after nearly a year of negotiation, U.S. troops were scheduled to leave the cities by mid-2009, and withdrawal from the country was set to be completed by December 31, 2011. In February 2009 newly elected U.S. Pres. Barack Obama announced that U.S. combat forces would be withdrawn from Iraq by August 31, 2010, with the remaining troops due to pull out by the end of 2011. On August 18, 2010—two weeks ahead of schedule—the last combat brigade withdrew from Iraq 50,000 U.S. soldiers remained in Iraq to act as a transitional force.

In contrast to publicly known U.S. military casualty figures (tracked by the Pentagon to more than 4,300 in October 2009), for a number of years no comprehensive data on Iraqi mortality was made available by the Iraqi government. In October 2009 the Iraqi government released its estimate of violent deaths for the 2004–08 period (statistics for the earliest portion of the war were far more difficult to obtain, due to the lack of a functioning government at that time). According to the government estimate, more than 85,000 Iraqis—a figure that included both civilians and military personnel—had died violently in the four-year period.

In October 2010 the whistle-blowing organization WikiLeaks published nearly 400,000 secret U.S. military documents from the Iraq War online under the title “Iraq War Log,” following the release of a similar cache of documents related to the Afghanistan War in July 2010. WikiLeaks made the documents available to several major news outlets, including The New York Times, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, The Guardian, and Al Jazeera ahead of the publication date, stipulating that the material had to remain under embargo until the online release. The documents, mostly raw tactical and intelligence reports generated by field units in Iraq between 2004 and 2009, did not radically change the public understanding of the war, but they did reveal detailed information about its day-to-day conduct. They indicated that U.S. forces kept more detailed counts of Iraqi civilian casualties than previously acknowledged and that these counts indicated higher rates of civilian casualties than the military’s public statements, that private military contractors were often involved in incidents of excessive force, that Iran provided extensive direct military aid to Shiʿi militias participating in Iraq’s sectarian conflict, and that U.S. forces ignored the widespread use of torture by Iraqi security forces. U.S. and Iraqi officials condemned the publication of the documents, saying that the release would set back security efforts and endanger the lives of military personnel and Iraqis who cooperated with the military.

In July 2011, U.S. military officials announced that Iraq and the United States had begun negotiations to keep several thousand U.S. soldiers in Iraq past December 31, 2011, the date for withdrawal set in negotiations in 2008. However, a possible extension of the U.S. presence in Iraq remained unpopular with the Iraq public and with several Iraqi political factions. Negotiations failed when the two sides were unable to reach an agreement over the continuation for U.S. troops of legal immunity from Iraqi law. In October, President Obama announced that the remaining 39,000 soldiers would leave the country at the end of 2011. The U.S. military formally declared the end of its mission in Iraq in a ceremony in Baghdad on December 15, as the final U.S. troops prepared to withdraw from the country.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn, Managing Editor, Reference Content.



Iraq, a triangle of mountains, desert, and fertile river valley, is bounded on the east by Iran, on the north by Turkey, on the west by Syria and Jordan, and on the south by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. It is twice the size of Idaho. The country has arid desert land west of the Euphrates, a broad central valley between the Euphrates and the Tigris, and mountains in the northeast.


The dictatorship of Saddam Hussein collapsed on April 9, 2003, after U.S. and British forces invaded the country. Sovereignty was returned to Iraq on June 28, 2004.


From earliest times Iraq was known as Mesopotamia?the land between the rivers?for it embraces a large part of the alluvial plains of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

An advanced civilization existed in this area by 4000 B.C. Sometime after 2000 B.C. , the land became the center of the ancient Babylonian and Assyrian empires. Mesopotamia was conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia in 538 B.C. and by Alexander in 331 B.C. After an Arab conquest in 637?640, Baghdad became the capital of the ruling caliphate. The country was pillaged by the Mongols in 1258, and during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries was the object of Turkish and Persian competition.

Iraq Gains Independence

Nominal Turkish suzerainty imposed in 1638 was replaced by direct Turkish rule in 1831. In World War I, Britain occupied most of Mesopotamia and was given a mandate over the area in 1920. The British renamed the area Iraq and recognized it as a kingdom in 1922. In 1932, the monarchy achieved full independence. Britain again occupied Iraq during World War II because of its pro-Axis stance in the initial years of the war.

Iraq became a charter member of the Arab League in 1945, and Iraqi troops took part in the Arab invasion of Palestine in 1948.

At age 3, King Faisal II succeeded his father, Ghazi I, who was killed in an automobile accident in 1939. Faisal and his uncle, Crown Prince Abdul-Illah, were assassinated in July 1958 in a coup that ended the monarchy and brought to power a military junta headed by Abdul Karem Kassim. Kassim reversed the monarchy's pro-Western policies, attempted to rectify the economic disparities between rich and poor, and began to form alliances with Communist countries.

Rise of the Baath Party

Kassim was overthrown and killed in a coup staged on March 8, 1963, by the military and the Baath Socialist Party. The Baath Party advocated secularism, pan-Arabism, and socialism. The following year, the new leader, Abdel Salam Arif, consolidated his power by driving out the Baath Party. He adopted a new constitution in 1964. In 1966, he died in a helicopter crash. His brother, Gen. Abdel Rahman Arif, assumed the presidency, crushed the opposition, and won an indefinite extension of his term in 1967.

Arif's regime was ousted in July 1968 by a junta led by Maj. Gen. Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr of the Baath Party. Bakr and his second in command, Saddam Hussein, imposed authoritarian rule in an effort to end the decades of political instability that followed World War II. A leading producer of oil in the world, Iraq used its oil revenues to develop one of the strongest military forces in the region.

Saddam Hussein's Ascendancy Brings Series of Wars

On July 16, 1979, President Bakr was succeeded by Saddam Hussein, whose regime steadily developed an international reputation for repression, human rights abuses, and terrorism.

A long-standing territorial dispute over control of the Shatt-al-Arab waterway between Iraq and Iran broke into full-scale war on Sept. 20, 1980, when Iraq invaded western Iran. The eight-year war cost the lives of an estimated 1.5 million people and finally ended in a UN-brokered cease-fire in 1988. Poison gas was used by both Iran and Iraq.

In July 1990, President Hussein asserted spurious territorial claims on Kuwaiti land. A mediation attempt by Arab leaders failed, and on Aug. 2, 1990, Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait and set up a puppet government. The UN unsuccessfully imposed trade sanctions against Iraq to compel withdrawl. On Jan. 18, 1991, UN forces, under the leadership of U.S. general Norman Schwarzkopf, launched the Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm), liberating Kuwait in less than a week.

The war did little to thwart Iraq's resilient dictator. Rebellions by both Shiites and Kurds, encouraged by the U.S., were brutally crushed. In 1991, the UN set up a northern no-fly zone to protect Iraq's Kurdish population in 1992 a southern no-fly zone was established as a buffer between Iraq and Kuwait and to protect Shiites.

Beginning in 1990, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions that barred Iraq from selling oil except in exchange for food and medicine. The sanctions against Iraq failed to subdue its leader, instead causing catastrophic suffering among its people?the country's infrastructure was in ruins, and disease, malnutrition, and the infant mortality rate skyrocketed.

The UN weapons inspections team mandated to ascertain that Iraq had destroyed all its nuclear, chemical, biological, and ballistic arms after the war was continually thwarted by Saddam Hussein. In Nov. 1997, he expelled the American members of the UN inspections team, a standoff that stretched on until Feb. 1998. In Aug. 1998, Hussein again put a halt to the inspections. On Dec. 16, the U.S. and Britain began Operation Desert Fox, four days of intensive air strikes. From then on, the U.S. and Britain conducted hundreds of air strikes on Iraqi targets within the no-fly zones. The sustained low-level warfare continued unabated into 2003.

After 9/11, the U.S. Launches War in Iraq

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, President Bush began calling for a ?regime change? in Iraq, describing the nation as part of an ?axis of evil.? The alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction, the thwarting of UN weapons inspectors, Iraq's alleged links to terrorism, and Saddam Hussein's despotism and human rights abuses were the major reasons cited for necessitating a preemptive strike against the country. The Arab world and much of Europe condemned the hawkish and unilateral U.S. stance. The UK, however, declared its intention to support the U.S. in military action. On Sept. 12, 2002, Bush addressed the UN, challenging the organization to swiftly enforce its own resolutions against Iraq, or else the U.S. would act on its own. On Nov. 8, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution imposing tough new arms inspections on Iraq. On Nov. 26, new inspections of Iraq's military holdings began.

The UN's formal report at the end of Jan. 2003 was not promising, with chief weapons inspector Hans Blix lamenting that ?Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament that was demanded of it.? While the Bush administration felt the report cemented its claim that a military solution was imperative, several permanent members of the UN Security Council?France, Russia, and China?urged that the UN inspectors be given more time to complete their task. Bush and Blair continued to call for war, insisting that they would go ahead with a ?coalition of the willing,? if not with UN support. All diplomatic efforts ceased by March 17, when President Bush delivered an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to leave the country within 48 hours or face war.

On March 20, the war against Iraq began at 5:30 A.M. Baghdad time (9:30 P.M. EST , March 19) with the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom. By April 9, U.S. forces had taken control of the capital, signaling the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime. Although the war had been officially declared over on May 1, 2003, Iraq remained enveloped in violence and chaos. Iraqis began protesting almost immediately against the delay in self-rule and the absence of a timetable to end the U.S. occupation. In July, the U.S. administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer, appointed an Iraqi governing council.

No Evidence of Weapons in Iraq

Months of searching for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction yielded no hard evidence, and both administrations and their intelligence agencies came under fire. There were also mounting allegations that the existence of these weapons was exaggerated or distorted as a pretext to justify the war. In fall 2003, President Bush recast the rationale for war, no longer citing the danger of weapons of mass destruction, but instead describing Iraq as ?the central front? in the war against terrorism. A free and democratic Iraq, he contended, would serve as a model for the rest of the Middle East.

Continued instability in 2003 kept 140,000 American troops (at a cost of $4 billion a month), as well as 11,000 British and 10,000 coalition troops in Iraq. The U.S. launched several tough military campaigns to subdue Iraqi resistance, which also had the effect of further alienating the populace. The rising violence prompted the Bush administration to reverse its Iraq policy in Nov. 2003 the transfer of power to an interim government would take place in July 2004, much earlier than originally planned.

After eight months of searching, the U.S. military captured Saddam Hussein on Dec. 13. The deposed leader was found hiding in a hole near his hometown of Tikrit and surrendered without a fight. Found guilty of crimes against humanity for the execution of 148 Shiite men and boys from the town of Dujai, Saddam Hussein was hung in Dc. 2006. He was executed before being tried for innumerable other crimes associated with his rule.

In Jan. 2004, the CIA's chief weapons inspector, David Kay, stated that U.S. intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction ?was almost all wrong.? When the final report on the existence of these weapons in Iraq was issued in Oct. 2004, Kay's successor, Charles Duelfer, confirmed that there was no evidence of an Iraqi weapons production program.

The turmoil and violence in Iraq increased throughout 2004. Civilians, Iraqi security forces, foreign workers, and coalition soldiers were subject to suicide bombings, kidnappings, and beheadings. By April, a number of separate uprisings had spread throughout the Sunni triangle and in the Shiite-dominated south. In September alone there were 2,300 attacks by insurgents. In October, U.S. officials estimated there were between 8,000 and 12,000 hard-core insurgents and more than 20,000 ?active sympathizers.? Loosely divided into Baathists, nationalists, and Islamists, all but about 1,000 were thought to be indigenous fighters.

Reconstruction efforts, hampered by bureaucracy and security concerns, had also fallen far short of U.S. expectations: by September, just 6% ($1 billion) of the reconstruction money approved by the U.S. Congress in 2003 had in fact been used. Electricity and clean water were below prewar levels, and half of Iraq's employable population was still without work. In April, the U.S. reversed its policy of banning Baath Party officials from positions of responsibility?the U.S. had previously fired all high-ranking members and disbanded the Iraqi army, affecting about 400,000 positions, depleting Iraq of its skilled workforce, and further embittering the Sunni population.

In late April, the physical and sexual abuse and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad came to light when photographs were released by the U.S. media. The images sparked outrage around the world. In August, the Schlesinger report's investigation into Abu Ghraib (the furthest reaching of many Pentagon-sponsored reports on the subject) called the prisoner abuse acts of ?brutality and purposeless sadism,? rejected the idea that the abuse was simply the work of a few aberrant soldiers, and asserted that there were ?fundamental failures throughout all levels of command, from the soldiers on the ground to Central Command and to the Pentagon.?

Insurgency Gathers Steam

On June 28, 2004, sovereignty was officially returned to Iraq. Former exile and Iraqi Government Council member Iyad Allawi became prime minister of the Iraqi interim government, and Ghazi al-Yawar, a Sunni Muslim, was chosen president.

On July 9, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a unanimous bipartisan report, concluding that ?most of the major key judgments? on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were ?either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence report.? The report also stated that there was no ?established formal relationship? between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. The following week, Britain's Butler report on prewar intelligence echoed the American findings.

Iraq's Jan. 30, 2005, elections to select a 275-seat national assembly went ahead as scheduled, and a total of 8.5 million people voted, representing about 58% of eligible Iraqis. A coalition of Shiites, the United Iraq Alliance, received 48% of the vote, the Kurdish parties received 26% of the vote, and the Sunnis just 2%?most Sunni leaders had called for a boycott. In April, Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, became president, and Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a religious Shiite, became prime minister. The elections, however, did not stem the insurgency, which grew increasingly sectarian during 2005 and predominantly involved Sunni insurgents targeting Shiite and Kurdish civilians in suicide bombings. The death toll for Iraqi civilians is estimated to have reached 30,000 since the start of the war.

By December 2005, more than 2,100 U.S. soldiers had died in Iraq and more than 15,000 had been wounded. The absence of a clear strategy for winning the war beyond ?staying the course? caused Americans' support for Bush's handling of the war to wane. The U.S. and Iraqi governments agreed that no firm timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops should be set, maintaining that this would simply encourage the insurgency. Withdrawal would take place as Iraqi security forces grew strong enough to assume responsibility for the country's stability. ?As Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down,? Bush stated. But the training of Iraqi security forces went far more slowly than anticipated. A July 2005 Pentagon report acknowledged that only ?a small number? of Iraqi security forces were capable of fighting the insurgency without American help.

Iraqi Leadership Struggles in Effort to Form a Government

In Aug. 2005, after three months of fractious negotiations, Iraqi lawmakers completed a draft constitution that supported the aims of Shiites and Kurds but was deeply unsatisfactory to the Sunnis. In October, the constitutional referendum narrowly passed, making way for parliamentary elections on Dec. 15 to select the first full-term, four-year parliament since Saddam Hussein was overthrown. In Jan. 2006, election results were announced: the United Iraqi Alliance?a coalition of Shiite Muslim religious parties that had dominated the existing government?made a strong showing, but not strong enough to rule without forming a coalition. It took another four months of bitter wrangling before a coalition government was finally formed. Sunni Arab, Kurdish, and secular officials continued to reject the Shiite coalition's nomination for head of state?interim prime minister al-Jaafari, a religious Shiite considered a divisive figure incapable of forming a government of national unity. The deadlock was finally broken in late April when Nuri al-Maliki, who, like Jaafari, belonged to the Shiite Dawa Party, was approved as prime minister.

On Feb. 23, Sunni insurgents bombed and seriously damaged the Shiites' most revered shrine in Iraq, the Askariya Shrine in Samarra. The bombings ignited ferocious sectarian attacks between Shiites and Sunnis. More than a thousand people were killed over several days, and Iraq seemed poised for civil war. Hope in Prime Minister Maliki's ability to unify the country quickly faded when it became clear that he would not abandon his political ties with Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric who led the powerful Madhi militia. Maliki seemed unwilling or incapable of reining in the rapidly proliferating Shiite death squads, which have kidnapped, tortured, and murdered thousands of civilians.

U.S. Strategy Under Fire

In February, a U.S. Senate report on progress in Iraq indicated that, despite the U.S. spending $16 billion on reconstruction, every major area of Iraq's infrastructure was below prewar levels. Incompetence and fraud characterized numerous projects, and by April, the U.S. special inspector general was pursuing 72 investigations into corruption by firms involved in reconstruction.

In May, a number of news stories broke about a not-yet-released official military report that U.S. Marines had killed 24 innocent Iraqis ?in cold blood? in the city of Haditha the previous Nov. 19. The alleged massacre, which included women and children, was said to have been revenge for a bombing that killed a marine. The marines are also alleged to have covered up the killings. The military did not launch a criminal investigation until mid-March, four months after the incident, and two months after TIME magazine had reported the allegations to the military. Several additional sets of separate allegations of civilian murders by U.S. troops have also surfaced.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq and the most-wanted terrorist in the country, was killed by a U.S. bomb. Zarqawi was responsible for many of the most brutal and horrific attacks in Iraq. But his death seemed to have no stabilizing effect on the country. The UN announced that an average of more than 100 civilians were killed in Iraq each day. During the first six months of the year, civilian deaths increased by 77%, reflecting the serious spike in sectarian violence in the country. The UN also reported that about 1.6 million Iraqis were internally displaced, and up to 1.8 million refugees have fled the country.

At the end of July, the U.S. announced it would move more U.S. troops into Baghdad from other regions of Iraq, in an attempt to bring security to the country's capital, which had increasingly been subject to lawlessness, violence, and sectarian strife. But by October, the military acknowledged that its 12-week-old campaign to establish security in Baghdad had been unsuccessful.

In September, a classified National Intelligence Estimate?a consensus view of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, signed off by director of national intelligence John D. Negroponte?concluded that the ?Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse.? By this time, many authorities characterized the conflict as a civil war?as one political scientist put it, the level of sectarian violence is ?so extreme that it far surpasses most civil wars since 1945.? The White House, however, continued to reject the term: it would be difficult to justify the role of American troops in an Iraqi civil war, which would require the U.S. to take sides.

The increasingly unpopular war and President Bush's strategy of ?staying the course? were believed responsible for the Republican loss of both Houses of Congress in November midterm elections, and for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld immediately thereafter. In December, the bipartisan report by the Iraq Study Group, led by former secretary of state James Baker and former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton, concluded that ?the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating? and ?U.S. forces seem to be caught in a mission that has no foreseeable end.? The report's 79 recommendations included reaching out diplomatically to Iran and Syria and having the U.S. military intensify its efforts to train Iraqi troops. The report heightened the debate over the U.S. role in Iraq, but President Bush kept his distance from it, indicating that he would wait until Jan. 2007 before announcing a new Iraq strategy. On Dec. 31, 2006, the U.S. death toll in Iraq reached 3,000, and at least 50,000 Iraqi civilians had died in the conflict?the UN reported that more than 34,000 Iraqis were killed from the violence in 2006.

Bush Orders a Surge of U.S. Troops to Iraq

In a Jan. 2007 televised address, President Bush announced that a "surge" of 20,000 additional troops would be deployed to Baghdad to try to stem the sectarian fighting. He also said Iraq had committed to a number of "benchmarks," including increasing troop presence in Baghdad and passing oil-revenue-sharing and jobs-creation plans.

The stability of the Iraqi government further deteriorated in August, when the Iraqi Consensus Front, the largest Sunni faction in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's cabinet, resigned, citing the Shiite-led government's failure to stem violence by militias, follow through with reforms, and involve Sunnis in decisions on security. August also saw the deadliest attack of the war. Two pairs of truck bombs exploded about five miles apart in the remote, northwestern Iraqi towns of Qahtaniya and Jazeera. At least 500 members of the minority Yazidi community were killed and hundreds more were wounded.

A National Intelligence Estimate released in September said the Iraqi government had failed to end sectarian violence even with the surge of American troops. The report also said, however, that a withdrawal of troops would "erode security gains achieved thus far." By September, the level of fatalities in Iraq had decreased, and President Bush said progress was indeed being made in Iraq, citing the fact that relative peace and stability had come to the once restless Anbar Province in large part because several Sunni tribes had allied themselves with the U.S. in its fight against radical Sunni militants.

In highly anticipated testimony, Gen. David Petraeus told members of Senate and House committees in September that the U.S. military needs more time to meet its goals in Iraq. He said the number of troops in Iraq may be reduced from 20 brigades to 15, or from 160,000 troops to 130,000, beginning in July 2008.

On Sept. 16, 17 Iraqi civilians, including a couple and their infant, were killed when employees of private security company Blackwater USA, which was escorting a diplomatic convoy, fired on a car that failed to stop at the request of a police officer. The killings sparked furious protests in Iraq, and Prime Minister Maliki threatened to evict Blackwater employees from Iraq. In November, FBI investigators reported that 14 of the 17 shootings were unjustified and the guards were reckless in their use of deadly force.

Although 2007 culminated as the deadliest year in Iraq for U.S. soldiers, the U.S. military reported in November that for several consecutive weeks, the number of car bombs, roadside bombs, mines, rocket attacks, and other violence had fallen to the lowest level in nearly two years. In addition, the Iraqi Red Crescent reported that some 25,000 refugees (out of about 1.5 million) who had fled to Syria had returned to Iraq between September and the beginning of December. However, many of these returning refugees found their homes occupied by squatters. In addition, previously diverse neighborhoods had become segregated as a result of the sectarian violence.

Iraqi Parliament Gets Down to Business

On Jan. 8, 2008, Parliament passed the Justice and Accountability Law, which allows many Baathists, former members of Saddam Hussein's party, to resume the government jobs they lost after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. In addition, many former Baathists who will not be permitted to return to their positions are entitled to pensions. The law is the first major benchmark of political progress reached by the Iraqi government. It was criticized, however, for being quite vague and confusing, and because of its many loopholes, more Baathists may be excluded from government posts than will be granted employment.

Parliament passed another round of legislation in February, which included a law that outlines provincial powers, an election timetable, a 2008 budget, and an amnesty law that will affect thousands of mostly Sunni Arab prisoners. A divided Iraqi Presidency Council vetoed the package, however.

In March, about 30,000 Iraqi troops and police, with air support from the U.S. and British military, attempted to oust Shiite militias, primarily the Mahdi Army led by radical cleric Moktada al-Sadr, that control Basra and its lucrative ports in southern Iraq. The operation failed, and the Mahdi Army maintained control over much of Basra. Prime Minister Maliki was criticized for poorly planning the assault. After negotiations with Iraqi officials, al-Sadr ordered his militia to end military action in exchange for amnesty for his supporters, the release from prison of his followers who have not been convicted of crimes, and the government's help in returning to their homes Sadrists who fled fighting. The compromise was seen as a blow to Maliki. In addition, more than 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and police officers either refused to participate in the operation or deserted their posts.

After a boycott of almost a year, the largest Sunni block in Iraq's government, Tawafiq, announced in April that it would return to the cabinet of Prime Minister Maliki. Tawafiq's leader, Adnan al-Dulaimi, said that by passing an amnesty law and launching an assault on Shiite militias, the government had met enough of its demands to end the boycott. In July, Parliament approved the nomination of six Sunni members of Tawafiq to the cabinet.

On Sept. 1, the U.S. transferred to the Iraqi military and police responsibility for maintaining security in Anbar Province, which was, until recently, the cradle of the Sunni insurgency.

For much of 2008, Iraqi lawmakers struggled to pass two pieces of critical legislation: an election law and a status of forces agreement. They managed to approve a scaled-down election law in September that calls for provincial elections to be held in early 2009. Elections, which are seen as vital to moving Iraqi's rival ethnic groups toward reconciliation, had originally been scheduled for Oct. 2008. Elections in the disputed city of Kirkuk, however, are postponed until a separate agreement is reached by a committee of Kurds, Turkmens, and Arabs. Kurds dominate the city, but the Turkmens and Arabs have resisted any attempts to dilute their control through a power-sharing plan.

After nearly a year of negotiations with the U.S., the Iraqi cabinet in November passed the status of forces agreement, which will govern the U.S. presence in Iraq through 2011. The terms of the pact include the withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops by Dec. 31, 2011, and the removal of U.S. troops from Iraqi cities by the summer of 2009. In addition, the agreement gives Iraqi officials jurisdiction over serious crimes committed by off-duty Americans who are off base when the crimes occur. Iraqii Parliament must also approve the agreement.

Iraq achieved several milestones in Jan. 2009. On New Year's Day, the government took control of the Green Zone, the heavily fortified area that houses the offices and homes of most American and Iraqi government officials. On January 31, Iraq held local elections to create provincial councils. The elections were notable for their lack of violence and the markedly diminished role the U.S. played in their implementation. Voter turnout varied widely by area, with some regions reporting less than 50% participation and others more than 75%.

In February, President Obama announced his intention to withdraw most American troops from Iraq by August 31, 2010. As many as 50,000 troops, however, will remain there for smaller missions and to train Iraqi soldiers. On June 30, in compliance with the status of forces agreement between the U.S. and Iraq, U.S. troops completed their withdrawal from Iraqi cities and transferred the responsibility of securing the cities to Iraqi troops. Prime Minister Maliki declared June 30 a public holiday called "National Sovereignty Day." The number of suicide bombings had increased in the weeks leading up to the U.S. withdrawal of troops, which raised doubts about the timing of the move.

Two car bombs exploded near the Green Zone in Baghdad on October 25, killing at least 155 people and wounding 700. It was the deadliest attack in Iraq since April 2007. The Islamic State in Iraq, a group linked to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility. The group has vowed to destabilize the government and disrupt parliamentary elections scheduled for January 2010. Further withdrawal of U.S. combat troops is contingent upon a smooth election process.

Parliament's continued failure to pass an election law also threatened to derail the vote. After missing several deadlines, Parliament approved compromise legislation in November. The main points of contention were whether to have candidates listed by name or political party, and which voter registration list to use in Kirkuk: one from 2005 that included more Arabs and Turkmens, or 2009's, which represented a higher number of Kurds. (Saddam Hussein had expelled tens of thousands of Kurds from Kirkuk and relocated Arabs and Turkmens into the region. After his fall, Kurds returned, and the demographic of the region shifted once again.) Parliament agreed to use the 2009 roll, with oversight by the UN, and Arabs and Turkmens will each be granted an additional seat in Parliament. In addition, legislators also agreed to allow candidates' names to appear on ballots.

Five bombs killed at least 120 people and wounded some 400 at or near government buildings in Baghdad in December 2009. The Islamic State of Iraq al-Qaeda said it carried out the attacks. Authorities suspect that the Sunni insurgents were attempting to discourage cooperation between Shia and Sunnis and destablize the country in the weeks leading up to March's parliamentary elections.

Political Veterans Fare Well in 2010 Parliamentary Elections

Ali Hassan al-Majid, who was known as "Chemical Ali" and was a cousin and close associate of Hussein, was executed in January 2010 for his role in the 1988 poison-gas attack on the village of Halabja, where 5,000 Kurds were killed. He was also a member of the group of leaders responsible for the deaths of approximately 180,000 Kurds in the Iraq-Iran War.

The electoral process was dealt another blow in January 2010 when a parliamentary panel recommended that 500 candidates (out of a total of 6,500) be banned from participating in the election because of their alleged former association with Saddam Hussein's Baath party. The move outraged many Iraqi Sunnis, who threatened to boycott the elections, and intensified sectarian tension. A panel of seven judges, however, overturned the ban in February but said the candidates who run in the elections may still be investigated later for their ties to the Baath party. The de-Baathification movement was effectively ended in May, when a group of politicians quietly agreed they would not disqualify nine winning candidates with Baathist ties.

Sectarian violence increased in the days leading up to the March 7 election, but the tension was less deadly than widely feared. On election day itself, dozens of bombs exploded in Baghdad. Most were non-lethal, but two killed at least 38 people. Iraq's election commission reported that 62% of Iraqis voted in the election, a lower turnout than in the last parliamentary election, held in 2005. Turnout was around 50% in Baghdad, where the violence was most prominent.

Final results, released in late March, gave the Iraqi National Movement, led by former prime minister Ayad Allawi, 91 seats in Parliament out of 325. Allawi gained traction in the weeks leading up to the election. A secular, nationalist Shiite, Allawi received support from Sunni Muslims, and he fared particularly well in Sunni-dominated central and western Iraq. The State of Law alliance, headed by Prime Minister Maliki came in a close second with 89 seats. Both fell far short of the 163 seats needed to form a majority in Parliament. A Shia religious movement, including followers of radical cleric Moktada al-Sadr, won 70. The two main Kurdish parties together received 43 seats.

Maliki challenged the results, and a recount of votes in the Baghdad region confirmed Allawi's slim lead. In October 2010, Maliki formed an alliance with the Shiite bloc led by al-Sadr, his former rival, which put him close to a majority of seats. Negotiations continued, and American officials strongly urged the Sunnis, many of whom backed Allawi, to remain in the negotiations to be assured a role in the government. An agreement to form a unity government was finally reached in November that allowed Maliki to retain his position as prime minister and the Kurds held on to the presidency. Allawi's coalition, Iraqiya, was promised the role of speaker of the Parliament and leadership of a new committee charged with overseeing security. Parliament approved the government in late December.

War in Iraq Is Officially Over but Political Unrest and Violence Continue as ISIS Emerges

On August 31, 2010, more than seven years after the war in Iraq began, U.S. president Barack Obama announced the end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq. Obama emphasized that U.S. domestic problems, mainly the flailing economy and widespread unemployment, are more pressing matters to his country.

As the U.S. was making plans to withdraw troops from Iraq in late summer and fall of 2011, the ongoing insurgent activity in the country cast doubt on the long-term security of the region. This uncertainty was highlighted on Aug. 15, 2011, when insurgents launched more than 40 coordinated attacks throughout the country, mostly on civilians. A total of 89 people died and more than 300 were wounded in the violence, which came in the form of suicide attacks, car bombs, and gunfire. Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia took credit for the attacks, saying they were retribution for the killing of Osama bin Laden. The lethality of the incursions made it clear that Iraq is far from secure and remains a hotbed of terrorist activity.

In outlining his plan to withdraw troops from Iraq, President Obama had planned to keep about 5,000 troops in the country as advisers and trainers, but he reversed the decision in late October when Iraq said the remaining troops would not be given immunity from Iraqi law. About 150 members of the Defense Department staff will remain in Iraq to maintain the security of the U.S. Embassy and the oversee the sale of military equipment to Iraq. In addition, the CIA will maintain a presence in the country.

On December 15, 2011, the U.S.-led war in Iraq officially ended. The war, launched in March 2003 based on faulty evidence of weapons of mass destruction and a dubious connection to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, lasted nearly nine years, killed more than 4,440 U.S. troops, and cost about $1 trillion.

On Dec. 19, 2011, the Iraqi government issued a warrant for the arrest of Tareq al-Hashemi, Iraq's vice president since 2006. Charged with operating death squads responsible for 150 assorted bombings, killings, and assassinations, al-Hashemi denied the accusations?claiming they were politically motivated?and fled to Turkey. On Sept. 9, 2012, al-Hashemi was sentenced to death by hanging in absentia. The trial stirred up political unrest and ethnic violence. Maliki, who had been seeking to expand control of security in the Kurdish north, sent government troops to the region. The Iraqi and Kurdish troops engaged in a potentially volatile standoff.

In March 2013, ten years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the country remained politically unstable and vulnerable to another civil war, with mounting tensions between Sunnis and Shiites, Arabs and Kurds.

May 2013 witnessed a surge in violent attacks between Sunnis and Shiites when bomb blasts in Sunni areas on the 17th left more than 66 dead. A deadly echo occurred three days later in Shia sections of Baghdad when car bombs killed 76 civilians. On the same day in Shia-predominant Basra, at least 15 were victims in more bomb attacks and in an area north of Baghdad, 12 Iranian pilgrims were killed.

In July 2013, Al Qaeda in Iraq orchestrated two bold, well-planned prison escapes using both mortar and suicide attacks that resulted in some 800 dangerous militants going free from facilities at Taji and Abu Ghraib. The sophistication of the operation signaled the growing threat from the militant group as well as the weaknesses in Iraq's security forces. The prison breaks coincided with increased car bombings and sectarian violence throughout the country.

In Aug. 2013, during the Eid al-Fitr festivities marking the end of Ramadan, more than 100 Iraqis?mostly civilians?were killed in sectarian gun and bomb attacks in Baghdad and beyond. Similar violence continued through the end of the year, with the death toll for 2013 reaching close to 9,000, making it the deadliest year since 2008.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an affiliate of al Qaeda made up of Sunni militants?several of whom broke out of prison in 2013, threatened the stability of the country and tested the strength of the Iraqi armed forces at the end of 2013 and into January 2014. Many Sunnis are disappointed with the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Maliki, claiming it has shut out Sunni leaders and targeted Sunni citizens. Such policies have fueled the insurgency. Forty Sunni members of parliament resigned in December. In early January 2014, ISIS took control of Falluja and most of Ramadi, both cities in Anbar Province that are Sunni strongholds and were major battlegrounds during the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Government troops resumed control of Ramadi, but the militants held on to Falluja.

Al Qaeda severed ties with ISIS in early February 2014, citing the group's refusal to comply with directives from Al Qaeda leadership and its insistence on acting independently of other rebel groups. The rift had been simmering for months, but the final straw seemed to be ISIS's defiance of an order to leave Syria from Al Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri.

Moktada al-Sadr, the radical?and influential?Shiite cleric who led the powerful Madhi militia that fueled sectarian violence during the war in Iraq by fighting both Iraqi Sunnis and American troops, announced his departure from politics in February 2014. He had allied himself with Prime Minister Maliki but said the government is "a group of wolves hungry for power and money, backed by the West and the East." He encouraged his allies in Parliament to stay on and continue their work.

In April 2014, Iraq announced the "complete closure" of Abu Ghraib, the infamous prison in which members of the U.S. military physically and sexually abused Iraqi prisoners. Images of the abuse were publicized in April 2004. Saddam Hussein also used the prison to torture and execute inmates.

2014 Parliamentary Elections Unexpectedly Peaceful Despite Rise of ISIS

In May 2014, Iraq held parliamentary elections amid the insurgency in Anbar Province led by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an extremist Sunni affiliate of al Qaeda. Suicide bombings and attacks on polling stations around Baghdad spiked in the weeks leading up to the vote, and ISIS threatened to disrupt the election and warned Iraqis not to vote. With voter turnout at around 60%, citizens seemed to have ignored the threats. The country took extraordinary precautions and implemented unprecedented security measures to prevent violence, and the efforts seemed largely successful, with only a few incidents of violence being reported. Prime Minister Maliki's State of Law coalition prevailed, taking 92 seats out of 328 seats in Parliament. More than 9,000 candidates competed for the 328 seats.

ISIS was formed in April 2013 and is active in both Iraq and Syria. Foreign jihadists compose the bulk of the organization, which believes that an Islamic state should be created in what is now Syria and Iraq and ruled by strict shariah law. Al Qaeda recently distanced itself from ISIS because of the group's brutal tactics, including attacks on Muslims.

Members of ISIS took control of Mosul in northern Iraq in early June 2014, dealing the government an enormous?and unexpected?blow. The militants released Sunni insurgents from prison, looted banks of about $425 million, and occupied an airport, several government and military buildings, and a police station. Government troops abandoned the fight in droves and joined civilians fleeing the city. As many as 500,000 people fled Mosul. Defection has increased in recent months as the Sunni insurgency has intensified. Prime Minister Maliki was widely blamed for fueling the sectarian crisis by alienating Sunnis from the Shiite-led government and ordering the military to target Sunnis. He declared a state of emergency and appealed for help from international allies. Mosul is the second-largest city in Iraq and an important hub in the country's oil industry.

The militants, who were joined by other Sunni groups, pressed on after occupying Mosul, taking Tikrit. Iraqi air force officials told about 1,700 cadets to return home after the militants won control of Tikrit. The cadets never made it home and were all killed by ISIS militants. Their bodies were found in mass graves in April 2015.

ISIS militants then seized control of the country's largest oil facility, located in Baiji, as they headed south toward Baghdad. As the militants expanded their areas of control and the stability and future of Iraq grew even more dire, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the country's senior Shiite religious leader, called on all Iraqis to fight the militants, saying it is "the legal and national responsibility of whoever can hold a weapon to hold it to defend the country, the citizens and the holy sites."

Thousands of Shiites heeded Sistani's call and joined the fight. The untrained fighters were met with brutal attacks from ISIS, and hundreds of Shiites were reportedly massacred after taking up arms. ISIS continued to seize more territory in the north and west, putting pressure on the U.S. and other nations to consider a military response. On June 21, President Obama said 300 military advisers would be sent to Iraq but said combat troops would not be deployed.

There were calls from both inside Iraq and by foreign leaders for Maliki to step down to make way for the formation of a unity government. He refused, and headed a caretaker government while Parliament struggled to elect a speaker, a necessary first step to form a government. Parliament failed on two occasions to elect a speaker. On its third attempt, in July, Parliament elected Salim al-Jubouri, a moderate Sunni Islamist, as speaker. Under the Constitution, Parliament has 30 days to elect a president, and two weeks after that it must name a prime minister. As part of a power-sharing agreement, the speaker is a Sunni, the president a Kurd, and the prime minister a Shiite. Parliament elected Fouad Massoum, Kurdish politician, as president on July 24. He was sworn in after the vote.

With the Iraqi army in retreat, Kurds took over the northern, oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which they long dominated but have not fully controlled. The Kurdish security force, the pesh merga, fought back ISIS militants. The Kurds, largely autonomous in northern Iraq, aspire to have an independent state made up of Kurds from Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and Iran. Their initial success in taking control of the city and beating back the advance of ISIS gave Kurds hope that their dream may become a reality. However, in early August, ISIS fighters proceeded north and took over three towns, Sinjar, Zumar, and Wana, after defeating the pesh merga, which proved unfit for such a fight. ISIS threatened to exterminate members of the Yazidi minority who live in Sinjar, and 40,000 members of the group fled to Mount Sinjar with just the clothes on their backs. They were stranded in the heat without food, water, medicine, or other supplies. Yazidis practice a religion based on Zoroastrianism, and ISIS considers them heretics. ISIS, which changed its name to the Islamic State and declared the territory under its control?Anbar province (west of Baghdad) and most of Nineveh (north of Baghdad)?a caliphate, also threatened to kill all Christians in Mosul who didn't convert to Islam. Nearly all of the city's Christians, who numbered about 60,000 ten years ago, fled.

Maliki dispatched Iraq's air force to assist the pesh merga in their fight against the militants. The move seemed tactical only and did not signal an easing of tension between the government and Kurds. The U.S. again became militarily involved in Iraq, with President Barack Obama authorizing airstrikes in August to protect Americans and American facilities in Iraq, particularly in Erbil. The U.S. military also dropped food and medicine to the thousands of Yazidis stranded on Mount Sinjar. Obama said the authorization is narrow and he will not allow the U.S. to become mired in a war in another war in Iraq. "I know that many of you are rightly concerned about any American military action in Iraq, even limited strikes like these," he said. "I understand that. . . As commander in chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq." The first airstrike was launched on Aug. 8 and targeted militants near Erbil. Obama is the fourth consecutive president to bomb Iraq.

Iran, which holds tremendous influence over the Shiite-led government of Iraq, has advised Iraq during the crisis. Qassim Suleimani, head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, traveled to Baghdad to help Maliki and military leaders plan a response to the ISIS advance, and Iran has regularly sent military supplies to Iraq. Syria has also contributed, launching airstrikes targeted at ISIS militants in western Iraq.

In August, ISIS militants took control of the largest dam in Iraq, which is located in Mosul. The dam provides electricity for all of Mosul and is the water supply for the city and much of the surrounding area. The UN has declared the dam is unstable and is vulnerable to collapse. If the dam is compromised, a 65-foot-high wave of water could deluge the city. After about a week of fighting, the pesh merga recaptured the dam.

Members of ISIS beheaded American journalist James Foley, 40, in apparent retaliation for U.S. airstrikes against the group. Foley, who worked for GlobalPost, went missing in Syria in November 2012. ISIS released a graphic video of his killing. After his death, the U.S. announced that troops had attempted to rescue him and other U.S. hostages in July, but they were unable to locate him. ISIS said Steven Sotloff, another kidnapped American journalist, would be killed if the airstrikes continued. President Obama referred to ISIS as a "cancer." "The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people," he said. "We will be vigilant, and we will be relentless." The U.S. stepped up its airstrikes against the militants following Foley's murder. Two weeks later, ISIS released a video showing the beheading of Sotloff, 31, who worked for Time and other news outlets. He was abducted in 2013 in Syria.

In early September, a coalition of Shiite militias delivered ISIS its first major setback in Iraq. ISIS had been surrounding and attacking Amerli, a town between Erbil and Baghdad that is home to Shiite Turkmens, for about three months before the militias, aided by U.S. airstrikes, beat back ISIS, ending the siege.

President Obama said in September 2014 that he had authorized airstrikes against ISIS and would work with allies in the region to retake areas under ISIS control and decimate the terrorist group, which he has referred to as a "cancer." He was clear that he does not plan to deploy ground troops in the fight against ISIS. He also asked Congress to authorize money to fund and train moderate rebel groups in Syria to aid in the fight. Obama authorized the airstrikes under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force law, which allowed President George W. Bush to use "necessary and appropriate force" against those involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East?including American citizens, personnel and facilities," Obama said. "If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United States. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies." The White House uses the name Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

In the days following the speech, the U.S. intensified its attacks on areas taken over by ISIS in Iraq. The strikes targeted areas near Baghdad and regions in the north. While the U.S.-led attacks stopped ISIS from taking over Baghdad, they did little to thwart the advance of ISIS in the north. Indeed, the group continued to expand the area under its control, running schools using strict Islamic curriculum and operating a police force under the name "the Islamic Police of the Islamic State of Iraq."

New Prime Minister Forms a Power-Sharing Government

In August President Fouad Massoum nominated Haider al-Abadi, the first deputy speaker of Parliament, as prime minister. Abadi, a Shiite, is a member of the Dawa Party, which is headed by Prime Minister Maliki. Maliki refused to cede power, saying he will challenge the nomination in court and threatening to use force if necessary. Indeed, officials in Iraq and the U.S. feared a military coup. The U.S. has been pushing for Maliki to step down. Maliki's defiance further destabilized a country already fighting stubborn militants intent on creating an Islamic state and facing a humanitarian crisis brought on by ISIS's brutality against religious minorities. On Aug. 14, Maliki agreed to step aside, paving the way for Abadi to become prime minister in a peaceful transition.

Parliament approved a power-sharing government headed by Abadi in September 2014. Kurds and Sunnis were given posts in the new government. However, the defense and interior ministries, among the most powerful and important positions, were left vacant. Parliament, including some fellow Shiites, rejected several of his nominees, signalling that Abadi has a tough rode ahead of him politically. Maliki, former prime minister Ayad Allawi, and Osama al-Nujaifi, the former speaker of Parliament were named vice presidents. Abadi faces the task of earning the trust of Sunnis and Kurds, who felt under attack and disenfranchised during Maliki's rule.

Abadi won praise in his first weeks as prime minister for reaching out to Sunnis and Kurds. In early December 2014, he reached a deal with the Kurds to share oil revenue, fund the pesh merga troops, and send arms to the Kurds. The deal will likely discourage the Kurds from seeking independence and unify the country as it battles the Islamic State.

Mixed Bag in the Fight Against ISIS

France and the UK approved airstrikes in late September 2014 and immediately began attacking ISIS strongholds in the north. About 60 countries in total joined the fight against ISIS. Pesh merga troops, backed up by U.S. and British airstrikes, took control of a northern Syrian border crossing in the Rabia district from ISIS fighters in September. The pesh merga forces made gains in other areas, including Daquq, south of Kirkuk, and several other towns. However, by the end of October, ISIS maintained its hold on many cities in the largely Sunni Anbar Province, as U.S.-led airstrikes proved largely ineffectual without the support of Iraqi troops on the ground. Many civilians fled, desperate to escape the horrific executions committed by the militants. ISIS began to spread out across the country, making it more difficult for the government to organize an offensive.

Despite making conciliatory gestures toward Sunnis, Prime Minister Abadi failed to encourage them to join the fight against ISIS, and the military remained weakened by desertions, diminished morale, and mistrust of the new government. The U.S. and its allies led the fight against ISIS, launching some 900 airstrikes on ISIS targets by January 2015.

The Iraqi military, aided by Iranian-backed Shiite militias and Iranian troops and advisers, began a major campaign in March 2015 against ISIS in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown, which ISIS captured in June 2014. Fighters from Shiite militias comprised the bulk of the force, some 20,000 men, while Iraqi troops numbered only about 3,000. A small number of Sunni fighters joined the battle. Despite having only about 3,000 fighters in Tikrit, ISIS put up a stubborn fight, and the offensive stalled. Prime Minister Abadi asked the U.S. for help at the end of March. The Obama administration approved airstrikes after Iran agreed to step aside. A week later, Iraqi forces resumed control of the city.

ISIS fighters launched a lightning-fast advance on Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, in mid-May 2015. Overnight, the militants took control of the government compound and then set it on fire. Iraqi troops fled the city, a major setback for the government. Following the loss of Anbar, the U.S. government announced in June that an additional 450 troops would be sent to Anbar Province to establish a new base to train Iraqi troops and then retake Ramadi.

Blackwater Guards Convicted

On Oct. 22, 2014, four security guards for the private security company Blackwater Worldwide were convicted by a jury in a Washington Federal District Court of manslaughter, murder, and weapons charges for their involvement in the September 2007 shooting deaths of 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians. Nicholas Slatten was convicted of murder, and Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, and Paul Slough were convicted of voluntary manslaughter and weapons violations. The killings sparked furious protests in Iraq.

Prime Minister Calls for Overhaul of Government

Iraq experienced a blistering heatwave during the summer of 2015, with daytime temperatures above 120 degrees. Despite the oppressive heat, government electrical grids could only provide a few hours of air conditioning per day. Angry?and likely irritable?citizens blamed government corruption on the lack of relief and took to the streets in protest. After several weeks, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced an anti-corruption drive and an overhaul of the government, which included abolishing the posts of three vice presidents and three deputy prime ministers and eliminating cabinet positions for Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds that are based on quotas. Parliament approved the sweeping plan and it won the support of revered Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The move, though necessary, comes with the risk of further alienating minority Sunnis, who have complained of being disenfranchised.

'Shock and awe' campaign underway in Iraq

The U.S. and its allies launched a massive aerial assault against Iraq on Friday. At 12:15 p.m. EST, anti-aircraft fire could be seen rising in the skies above Baghdad. Within an hour, tremendous explosions began rocking the Iraqi capital, as the Pentagon announced "A-Day" was underway.

The campaign was intended to instill "shock and awe" among Iraq's leaders, and it was directed at hundreds of targets in Iraq, officials said. Plumes of fire could be seen rising above targets in Baghdad at 1:05 p.m. EST. CNN Correspondent Wolf Blitzer reported that in his 30 years of experience, he had never seen anything on the scale of Friday's attack on the Iraqi capital.

The attack was not limited to Baghdad. Targets were struck in Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, which lies in the north of the country. And anti-aircraft fire lit up the sky over the southern city of Kirkuk as well.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld held a news conference at about 1:40 p.m. EST. He announced that the air war had begun, and he listed some of the coalition objectives in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Those objectives included defending Americans against Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, ridding the Gulf country of such illegal weapons, liberating the Iraqi people, and ending the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Rumsfeld said that the strike had taken place "on a scale that indicates to Iraqis" that Saddam and his leadership were finished. He added that the allies would work to search for, capture, and drive out terrorists who had found safe harbor in Iraq, as well as to deliver humanitarian relief to the Iraqi people.

Iraqi leaders are "starting to lose control of their country," Rumsfeld announced on Friday. He added that the confusion among Iraqi generals was growing, and he speculated that those close to the Iraqi leader would question where they stood in terms of their support for Saddam.

Rumsfeld also advised Iraqi military officials not to obey orders to use weapons of mass destruction, not to use innocent people as human shields around military forces or equipment, and not to destroy oil wells or blow up dams. He said that those who did not follow this advice would be punished.

The full-scale strike came just days after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein defied a 48-hour deadline to leave the country, which President Bush imposed on March 17. Operation Iraqi Freedom comes as a coalition effort to force Baghdad to disarm.

Warning of the attack

When Iraq lost the 1991 Gulf War, the country agreed to peace terms with the coalition that defeated Baghdad. However, it did not always cooperate with those terms. For example, Iraq was required to allow U.N. weapons inspectors ensure the country was not rebuilding certain types of arms. But Iraq kicked the inspectors out of the country in 1998, and they did not return until the U.N. passed Resolution 1441 last year.

Resolution 1441 demanded that Iraq give up its alleged weapons of mass destruction. The measure threatened "serious consequences" if Iraq did not disarm.

The U.S., Britain, and Spain introduced a newer resolution to the United Nations on February 24. It stated that Iraq was in "material breach" of Resolution 1441 - language that could have led to the U.N.'s involvement in the current strike. However, the U.N. did not pass the measure. So the current strike against the Gulf nation comes without the full support of the U.N. - a move President Bush had insisted the U.S. and its allies would make, if necessary.

The framers of the U.S. Constitution gave Congress the power to declare war, but they made the president the commander-in-chief of the armed services. Under the War Powers Act passed by Congress in 1973, the president must consult with Congress before deploying the U.S. military in "hostilities."

Historically, U.S. presidents have not always followed the requirements of the War Powers Act, and Congress for the most part has not enforced it. But President Bush did seek congressional approval for a potential strike in October 2002. At that time, the House and Senate both authorized the president to attack Iraq if Saddam refused to abide by U.N. resolutions.

The War Powers Act also requires President Bush to report to Congress every 60 days on military operations. The White House also must update lawmakers on planning for "post-military" operations in Iraq, which could include efforts to keep the peace in Iraq and help rebuild the Gulf country after the war is over.

On This Day in History, 9 май

The regional jet was the first airliner produced in Russia since the end of the USSR in 1991. The doomed flight was a demonstration tour carrying potential customers. All 45 people on board perished in the crash, which was caused by pilot error.

1997 Pete Peterson becomes the first U.S. ambassador to visit Vietnam after the end of the war

Peterson, a Vietnam veteran, devoted himself to promoting reconciliation between the two countries. About 2.5 million Vietnamese, most of them civilians, were killed during the war.

1979 Iranian Jewish businessman Habib Elghanian is executed

An Islamic revolutionary tribunal had convicted him of “contacts with Israel and Zionism” and “friendship with the enemies of God”. His execution triggered a Jewish mass exodus from Iran.

1969 Carlos Lamarca begins his fight against Brazil's military dictatorship

Lamarca was a member of the communist organization Vanguardia Popular Revolucionária (VPR) and is well known for his urban guerilla actions. Brazilian forces killed him in 1971.