News | Sept. 1, 2015

Annex C | Iraq Timeline

By NDU Press Lessons Encountered


Significant Events Pre–Gulf War

1534–1918 Iraq territory is part of Ottoman Empire.
1917 Great Britain captures Baghdad from Ottoman Empire during its Mesopotamian Campaign in World War I.
1920 Great Britain, with support of the League of Nations, establishes modern state of Iraq.
1932 Iraq becomes fully autonomous state and admitted into League of Nations.
1939–1945 Great Britain’s military forces reoccupy Iraq during World War II.
1958 July 14 Brigadier General Abd al-Karim Qasim topples monarchy in military coup, establishing the Republic of Iraq.
1963 February 9 Former Colonel Abd al-Salam Muhammad Arif becomes new head of government after former Prime Minister Abd al-Karim Qasim is overthrown and executed.
1964 July Iraqi government nationalizes many key industries and businesses.
1966 April President Abd al-Salam Muhammad Arif is killed in helicopter crash; his brother, Abdul-Rahman Arif, replaces him.
1968 July 17 Ba’athists topple Abdul-Rahman Arif’s government; Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr assumes presidency.
1970s Saddam Hussein begins to gain power and influence within the Ba’ath Party and government.
1970 March Saddam completes an agreement with Kurdish leader, Mulla Mustafa al-Barzani, which effectively recognizes Kurdish identity and guarantees Kurdish independence within next 4 years.
1972 April Saddam secures Iraq-Soviet Friendship treaty in Moscow.
1972 June Iraq’s government nationalizes oil fields of Iraq Petroleum Company.
1974 Iraq’s government grants limited autonomy to Iraq’s Kurdish region.
1979 Saddam forces President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr to resign.
1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War spans 8 years. Iraq claims victory, but there is no clear winner.
1988 March Iraq’s military attacks Kurdish town of Halabjah with poison gas, killing thousands of civilians.
1990 August 2 Iraq invades Kuwait, prompting United Nations (UN) to impose economic sanctions in response to act of aggression.

Operation Desert Storm, 1990–1991

1990 August 6 UN Security Council passes Resolution 661 that places economic sanctions on Iraq. Resolution 665, passed soon after, authorizes embargo to enforce sanctions.
1990 November UN Security Council passes Resolution 678 that demands Iraq withdraw from Kuwait by January 15, 1991. It empowers states to use military force to oust Iraq from Kuwait after deadline.
1991 January 12 U.S. Congress authorizes use of military force in conflict.
1991 January 16–17 Allied air campaign of Operation Desert Storm begins. Military operations to engage Iraqi forces in Kuwait involve coalition of 30 countries.
1991 February 23 Ground phase of Operation Desert Storm begins.
1991 February 28 Iraqi forces withdraw from Kuwait and Iraqi government accepts all UN resolutions passed resulting from invasion of Kuwait.
1991 March/April Kurdish rebels in north and Shiite tribes in south rebel against central Iraqi government. Saddam’s forces stifle rebellion with force.
1991 April 3 UN Resolution 687 passes, which set framework for ceasefire and created UN Compensation Fund.
1991 April 6 Ceasefire terms are agreed upon between Iraq and allied forces.
1991 April 7 Operation Provide Comfort begins to protect and assist Kurds in northern Iraq.
1991 June 9 First chemical weapons inspection in Iraq conducted by UN Special Commission on Iraq.
1992 August A no-fly zone banning flights from Iraqi planes is implemented in southern Iraq.
1993 April Saddam’s agents fail in attempt to assassinate former President George H.W. Bush in Kuwait.
1993 June U.S. Government conducts military strike on Iraqi Intelligence Service’s headquarters in response to assassination attempt on President Bush.
1995 April Iraq’s oil exports moderately resume in “oil-for-food program” under UN Security Council Resolution 986.
1995 October Saddam succeeds in winning referendum, which grants him power to remain president.
1996 The United States expands southern no-fly zone, just south of Baghdad.
1997 January 1 Operation Northern Watch implemented.
1998 October Iraq refuses to further cooperate with UN Special Commission to Oversee the Destruction of Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).
1998 December U.S. and British military planes launch bombing campaign, Operation Desert Fox, intended to destroy and dismantle Iraq’s WMD programs.
1999 February A senior Shiite spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, killed in Najaf.
1999 December UN Security Council Resolution 1284 orders establishment of UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission, which replaces UN Special Commission. Iraq does not accept resolution.
2001 February U.S. and British warplanes conduct bombing campaigns in attempt to immobilize Iraq’s air defense.
2001 September 11 Al Qaeda terrorists attack World Trade Center in New York and Pentagon with passenger airplanes, killing approximately 3,000 people. Another hijacked plane, intended to strike the White House, is brought down in rural Pennsylvania after brave actions by passengers.


2002 September 12 At UN General Assembly meeting, President George W. Bush asks world leaders to confront the “grave and gathering danger” of Iraq. British Prime Minister Tony Blair also releases report on Iraq’s military capability.
2002 October Congress, by wide majority, authorizes use of military force in Iraq.
2002 November 8 UN Security Council unanimously passes Resolution 1441. Iraq later agrees to weapons inspections, and UN weapons inspectors return.
2003 February 5 Secretary of State Colin Powell delivers presentation before UN Security Council, arguing that Iraq has WMD and advanced weapons programs.
2003 March 18 Diplomatic process ends and arms inspectors leave Iraq. President Bush gives Saddam and his sons 48 hours to leave.
2003 March 19 Allied forces bomb military targets and attempt to kill Saddam.
2003 March 20 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq begins. Effort is named Operation Iraqi Freedom.
2003 April 9 Saddam’s rule is toppled and Baghdad comes under direct U.S. control.
2003 May 1 President Bush declares end of combat phase in Iraq on aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, under banner that reads “Mission Accomplished.”
2003 May 23 Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) announces that all public-sector employees affiliated with Ba’ath Party are to be removed from their positions.
2003 July 22 Saddam’s sons, Uday and Qusay, are killed in Mosul in gun battle with Soldiers from 101st Airborne Division.
2003 August Prominent Shiite leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim is killed by car bomb in Najaf. One hundred twenty-four people also killed.
2003 August 7 Car bomb at Jordanian embassy kills 18 people.
2003 August 19 Suicide bomber targets UN headquarters in Baghdad, killing 22 people and wounding at least 100. The UN Special Representative in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, is killed.
2003 December 14 Saddam, on the run for nearly 9 months, is captured by U.S. troops.


2004 January Central Intelligence Agency former chief weapons inspector David Kay testifies at public congressional hearings that U.S. intelligence agencies failed to detect disarray and decline of Iraqi WMD program.
2004 March During Shiite religious festival, suicide bombers kill 140 people in Baghdad and Karbala.
2004 March 31 Four private security contractors killed in Fallujah.
2004 April 28 Photos emerge that show American Soldiers forcing Iraqi prisoners into abusive and sexually humiliating positions at Abu Ghraib prison.
2004 April–May Mahdi army and other Shiite militias loyal to cleric Muqtada al-Sadr engage coalition forces.
2004 June 28 CPA hands over its ruling power to interim government headed by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.
2004 August U.S. forces and insurgents loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr fight in Najaf.
2004 November U.S. forces lead offensive against pro-Saddam insurgents in Fallujah. A previous offensive in April 2004 was stopped for political reasons.
2005 January 30

Approximately 8 million Iraqis vote in elections for Iraq’s newly formed National Assembly.

2005 April Iraqi parliament selects Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani as president. A Shiite, Ibrahim Jaafari, is selected as prime minister.
2005 May Civilian deaths from bombings and shooting related incidents rise to 672, up from 364 in April.
2005 June Massoud Barzani is selected as the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
2005 August The draft version of the new constitution is accepted by Shiite and Kurdish negotiators. Sunni representatives refuse.
2005 October 15

Iraqi citizens vote for new constitution that will create Islamic federal democracy. The new constitution is approved.

2005 December First government and parliamentary elections take place since allied invasion.

Civil Unrest

2006 January–December UN estimates that more than 34,000 civilians killed in December violence in 2006, more than three times official Iraqi death toll estimates.
2006 February 22 Al-Askari Mosque in Samarra, one of the most important Shiite mosques in the world, is bombed. That event unleashes a wave of civil unrest and violence throughout the country.
2006 April 22 President Talabani forms new government with Shiite compromise candidate Nouri al-Maliki to end political stalemate. Maliki becomes prime minister.
2006 May and June UN reports that more than 100 civilians are killed each day.
2006 June 7 U.S. airstrike kills al Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
2006 November Iraq and Syria reestablish full diplomatic relations. Car bombings in the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City in Baghdad result in one of the deadliest attacks in Baghdad since 2003.
2006 November 5 Saddam is sentenced to death by hanging.
2006 December 30 Saddam is executed.


2007 January 10 President Bush announces the Surge strategy in Iraq. He orders over 20,000 Army and Marine forces to Baghdad, its suburbs, and Anbar Province. Iraqi forces and U.S. Government civilians also surge. Together with the Sunni Awakening, the Surge markedly reduces insurgent and sectarian violence in Iraq.
2007 February Over 100 people killed in bombing attack in Baghdad’s Sadriya Market.
2007 August Political alliance formed supporting Prime Minister Maliki’s government between Kurdish and Shiite parties. Sunni parties refuse to join.
2007 September Security contractors with Blackwater kill 17 civilians in Baghdad.
2007 December 16 Great Britain transfers responsibility for Basra Province to Iraqi forces.
2008 January 13 Iraq’s parliament passes legislation permitting some former Ba’ath party officials to work in public sector.
2008 March 2 President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad becomes first Iranian president to visit Iraq since Iraq-Iran War.
2008 March 24 Prime Minister Maliki orders Iraqi forces to disarm al-Sadr’s Mahdi army in Basra, resulting in several hundred causalities.
2008 September 1 U.S. military forces transfer responsibility of Anbar Province to Iraqi forces. This is the first Sunni province returned to central government.
2008 November Iraq’s parliament approves security agreement with the United States, which states all U.S. troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by end of 2011.


2009 January Iraq’s security forces assume responsibility for security in Baghdad’s Green Zone.
2009 February 27 President Barack Obama starts gradual withdrawal of U.S. forces. Approximately 50,000 troops to remain in Iraq until 2011.
2009 June 30 U.S. forces withdraw from Iraqi towns and cities and transfer security duties to Iraqi troops.
2009 July Massoud Barzani is reelected president.
2009 December Islamic State of Iraq claims responsibility for suicide bombings in Baghdad and attacks in August and October that kill nearly 400 people.
2010 January A former senior official in the Saddam government, “Chemical” Ali Hassan al-Majid, is executed.
2010 March 7 Parliamentary elections take place.
2010 August 31 Last U.S. combat brigade leaves Iraq.
2010 September A year after relations soured between Syria and Iraq, the countries restore full diplomatic relations.
2010 November–December Talabani is reappointed president and Prime Minister December Maliki retains his position.
2011 January Al-Sadr returns to Iraq.
2011 February Kurdistan’s oil exports recommence after disagreement between KRG and central government over contracts with foreign firms and allocation of oil revenues.
2011 December 18 U.S. military forces complete withdrawal.

Post-U.S. Withdrawal

2012 March Arab League holds first major summit in Iraq since fall of Saddam’s government.
2012 April KRG oil exports stop due to continued disagreement with central government oil contracts.
2012 September Former Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi is sentenced to death. He pursued safe haven in Turkey.
2012 November Iraq’s arms deal with Russia is canceled after allegations of corruption within Iraqi government.
2012 December President Talabani suffers stroke and is treated in Germany. Sunnis take part in mass demonstrations throughout Iraq, protesting central government’s marginalization of the Sunni minority.
2013 April Iraqi troops attack a Sunni antigovernment protest camp in Hawija, resulting in over 50 casualties and sparking riots in surrounding areas.
2013 July Hundreds of al Qaeda members, including senior leaders, escape from jails in Taiji and Abu Ghraib.
2013 September KRG parliamentary elections take place. Kurdistan Democratic Party wins the elections. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claims responsibility for series of bombings that hit Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan.
2014 January Pro–al Qaeda fighters take control of Fallujah and Ramadi after months of fighting in Anbar Province. Iraqi forces are able to retake Ramadi.
2014 April The Islamic Dawa Party, led by Prime Minister Maliki, wins a plurality at parliamentary election, but is unable to win a majority.
2014 June ISIS seizes Mosul and other key towns in a lightening offensive. Thousands of civilians flee. The United States and Iran both offer assistance to Iraqi government. ISIS renames itself the Islamic State and declares an Islamic caliphate covering territories in Syria and Iraq.
2014 September Haider al-Abadi forms more diverse government, including Sunni Arabs and Kurds. Kurdish leadership tables its independence referendum. The United States announces and implements new strategy against Islamic State. U.S. Armed Forces launch airstrikes in support of Iraqi forces near Baghdad.
2014 December Iraqi government and Kurdish leaders sign agreement on sharing Iraq’s oil revenue and military assets.
2015 January U.S.-led coalition completes over 900 airstrikes against Islamic State.
2015 March Islamic State fighters lay waste to Assyrian archaeological sites in Nimrud and Hatra.
2015 April Iraqi security forces regain control of Tikrit from Islamic State.
2015 May Islamic State seizes Ramadi.

“Iraq Profile—Timeline,” BBC News, available at <>; “Timeline of Key Events in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Institute for the Study of War, July 16, 2010, available at <>; “Timeline of Major Events in the Iraq War,” New York Times, October 21, 2011; “Phases of Conflict: Chronicling the Iraq War,” Washington Post, 2005; “The Iraq War: 2003–2011,” Council on Foreign Relations, 2014, available at <>; Hala Fattah, A Brief History of Iraq (New York: Facts on File, 2009); Ronald J. Brown, Humanitarian Operations in Northern Iraq, 1991 with Marines in Operation Provide Comfort (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1995); Michael A. Schiesl, The Objectives of United States Military Intervention in Northern Iraq Between Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Fort Leavenworth, KS: Army Command and General Staff College, 2003); John A. Warden III, The Air Campaign: Planning for Combat (Washington, DC: NDU Press, 1998); John Yoo, “International Law and the War in Iraq,” American Journal of International Law 97 (2003), 563–576; Adam Clymer, “Congress Acts to Authorize War in Gulf; Margins Are 5 Votes in Senate, 67 in House,” New York Times, January 13, 1991; “The Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm Timeline,” Department of Defense News, August 8, 2000, available at <>; “Remarks of President Barack Obama—As Prepared for Delivery: Responsibly Ending the War in Iraq,” Camp LeJeune, NC, February 27, 2009, available at <>.