iraq timeline

Timeline: Iraq 2003-2010Key dates and events in the conflict

Haroon Siddique and Mark Tran
The Guardian

2003
March

The US launches air strikes on Baghdad after cruise missiles hit President Saddam Hussein’s bunkers in an assassination attempt.

May

The US president, George Bush, gives his “mission accomplished” speech after landing in a small plane on a US aircraft carrier in the Pacific ocean. He declares that major combat has ended.

Paul Bremer, a veteran US ambassador, is appointed Iraq’s civil administrator and charged with supervising the transition to democracy.

December

Saddam is captured after being found hiding underground at a farm near his home town, Tikrit. He apparently surrendered without a fight.

2004
February

A suicide bomber kills at least 100 people at the offices of Kurdish political parties in Irbil during the Eid celebrations.

March

Four civilian contractors working for the US army are murdered and their mutilated bodies are dragged through the streets of Falluja.

April

An international outcry is sparked by the revelation of photos showing US guards abusing and humiliating naked Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison.

May

A video released online shows the beheading of Nick Berg, a US civilian held by militants who say they are avenging the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.

Iyad Allawi, a secularist Shia politician in exile until the fall of Saddam, is unanimously voted in as prime minister of Iraq’s interim government.

July

A defiant and unrepentant Saddam makes his first appearance in court on charges of war crimes and genocide.

December

In the deadliest single attack on US forces since the invasion, 19 soldiers are killed when a huge explosion rips apart a mess tent at a base in Mosul.

2005
January

Millions vote in the first multi-party elections for 50 years. A series of attacks across the country kills at least 36 people.

April

Jalal Talabani, a Kurdish politician, former guerrilla leader and co-founder of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, is sworn in as president of Iraq, reportedly upsetting Saddam, who watched the televised election.

September

Lynndie England, a US Private who is pictured holding a naked Iraqi prisoner on a leash at Abu Ghraib, is sentenced to three years in jail by a military court.

2006
January

The Shia-led United Iraqi Alliance is announced as the winner of elections for a full-term government.

February

A famous gold dome at the sacred Shia al-Askari shrine in Samarra is blown up, prompting fears of reprisal attacks.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most senior Shia cleric in Iraq, sends instructions to his followers forbidding any attacks on Sunni mosques, and calls for seven days of mourning.

April

Nouri al-Maliki is named prime minister after Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Iraq’s first full-term postwar prime minister, is forced out after being criticised for being ineffective.

June

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is killed in a US air strike near Baquba. He had a $25m bounty on his head.

December

Saddam is executed at the Khadamiyah intelligence centre in Baghdad. Mobile phone footage emerges of him being taunted at the gallows.

2007
August

More than 400 people are killed as four suicide bombers detonate cars in two villages occupied by Yazidi Kurds in northern Iraq.

September

Guards from the US private security contractor Blackwater allegedly open fire on civilians in Baghdad, killing 17.

An inquiry into the incident by the Iraqi government later rejects the company’s claim that the US diplomatic convoy it had been guarding was bombed and ambushed, provoking the gunfire.

December

British forces formally hand over control of Basra to the Iraqi government in a move paving the way for a major reduction in the number of British troops in Iraq.

2008
January

A motion is passed by the Iraqi parliament allowing former officials from Saddam’s Ba’ath party to return to public life.

February

Thousands of Turkish troops are sent across the border into northern Iraq in a major ground offensive against the Kurdish PKK rebel forces.

March

A roadside bomb, followed by a suicide bomb, kills 68 people at a busy shopping area in the centre of Baghdad, the second deadliest attack of the year so far.

April

The defence secretary, Des Browne, says a final British troop withdrawal has been postponed after fierce fighting between Iraqi security forces and Shia militia.

December

Senior defence source claims the last British soldiers will leave Basra by June 2009 and will be replaced by US troops.

2009
January

The new US embassy in Baghdad, one of the largest and most expensive ever built, is officially opened amid heavy security.

March

The newly inaugurated US president, Barack Obama, announces the withdrawal of 12,000 US troops by the end of August 2010.

Up to 50,000 will stay on until the end of 2011 to advise Iraqi forces and protect US interests.

April

Parliament appoints Ayad al-Samarrai, of the Sunni Arab Alliance, as speaker. The post is reserved for Sunni Arabs by agreement among political leaders.

Britain officially ends combat operations in southern Iraq, handing over control of their base in Basra to US forces.

May

Iraqi authorities set the parliamentary election date as 30 January 2010.

June

US troops withdraw from Iraqi cities, leaving Iraqi forces in control of security.

July

The first independent inquiry into the Iraq war opens in London.

October

Maliki announces the formation of a new political grouping of 40 parties, called the State of Law, after a split in the broad Shia United Iraqi Alliance that won the 2005 elections.

2010
January

Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as Chemical Ali, is executed for crimes against humanity in Iraq’s highest profile execution since Saddam Hussein’s hanging.

March

More than 60% of Iraqis vote in parliamentary elections.

May

Former prime minister Iyad Allawi, head of the Iraqiya Alliance, is the surprise winner of the election, but his 91 seats are insufficient to form a government. Talks begin between Allawi and Maliki on forming a new government.

August

Tariq Aziiz, Saddam’s former foreign minister, accuses Obama of ‘leaving Iraq to the wolves’ by pressing ahead with a withdrawal of combat troops.

Iraq’s most senior commander, Lieutenant General Babakir Zebar, warns that the army is not ready to take over responsibility from the Americans for another decade.

Iraq’s two main political blocs suspend talks on forming a government.

US combat troops leave Iraq, although 50,000 will remain to train and advise Iraqi forces.

out of iraq?

Last US combat troops leave Iraq

Operations officially end two weeks ahead of Barack Obama’s deadline, leaving 56,000 service personnel in the country

Adam Gabbatt, The Guardian
Link to this video

The last American combat troops left Iraq today, seven-and-a-half years after the US-led invasion, and two weeks ahead of President Barack Obama’s 31 August deadline for withdrawal from the country.

The final troops to leave, 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, rolled in convoy across the border and into Kuwait this morning, officially ending combat operations, which began in March 2003.

Former president George Bush launched the invasion, saying: “This will not be a campaign of half measures and we will accept no outcome but victory.”

The war saw the toppling of Saddam Hussein, but became increasingly unpopular against a backdrop of heavy civilian and troop casualties, arguments over the legality of the conflict and a growing sectarian battle in Iraq.

NBC News video this morning showed the last Stryker armoured vehicles rolling through the border gate into Kuwait, officially ending US combat presence in Iraq.

PJ Crowley, a spokesman for the US state department, said that despite the departure being “an historic moment”, the US mission in Iraq continued.

“We are ending the war … but we are not ending our work in Iraq,” he said. “We have a long-term commitment to Iraq.”

NBC News said that the last soldiers to reach Kuwait were proud of the collective effort in Iraq.

“We are done with operations,” said Lieutenant Steven DeWitt of San José, California, as his vehicle reached the Khabari crossing on the border.

“This was a professional soldier’s job,” he said, describing “a war that has defined this generation of military men and women”.

“And today it’s over,” he added.

The Obama administration had pledged to reduce overall troops numbers to 50,000 by 31 August. CNN, however, said that according to the US military there were still 56,000 US non-combat troops in Iraq, meaning another 6,000 must leave if the president is to meet his own deadline.

“Over the last 18 months, over 90,000 US troops have left Iraq,” the president said in an emailed statement published by the Huffington Post.

“By the end of this month, 50,000 troops will be serving in Iraq. As Iraqi security forces take responsibility for securing their country, our troops will move to an advise-and-assist role.

“And, consistent with our agreement with the Iraqi government, all of our troops will be out of Iraq by the end of next year.

“Meanwhile, we will continue to build a strong partnership with the Iraqi people with an increased civilian commitment and diplomatic effort.”

Months of preparation were required before the convoy set off on the 300-mile drive through potentially dangerous parts of the country. The Strykers travelled by night because of security concerns, before finally crossing into Kuwait.

The withdrawal comes in a week when a suicide bomber killed at least 60 army recruits in central Baghdad, highlighting the shaky reality US troops are leaving behind, and the fears that al-Qaida is attempting to make a comeback.

There is unlikely to be much change on the ground in the country after the end of the month, as most US military units actually began switching their focus to training and assisting Iraqi troops and police more than a year ago, when they pulled out of Iraqi urban centres on 30 June 2009.

“Those that remain are conventional combat brigades reconfigured slightly and rebranded ‘advise and assist brigades’,” said the Washington Post. “The primary mission of those units and the roughly 4,500 US special operations forces that will stay behind will be to train Iraqi troops.”

However despite the 56,000 service personnel remaining, The New York Times reported this morning that a “remarkable civilian effort” would be required to fill the void left by the withdrawal, and suggested the number of private security guards could double in the country over the next 18 months.

The state department will assume responsibility for training Iraqi police by October next year.

“I don’t think [the] state [department] has ever operated on its own, independent of the US military, in an environment that is quite as threatening on such a large scale,” James Dobbins, a former ambassador to Afghanistan, Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo and Somalia, told the paper. “It is unprecedented in scale.”

More than 4,400 US troops have been killed in Iraq so far. The current deadline for a full withdrawal of all US forces is the end of 2011, although last week Iraqi Lieutenant General Babakir Zebari said the US would need to maintain a presence in the country beyond then.

“If I were asked about the withdrawal, I would say to politicians: the US army must stay until the Iraqi army is fully ready in 2020,” he said.

Iraq and the US are yet to structure an agreement spelling out future defence arrangements beyond the end of next year, but both sides have indicated that future bilateral ties could extend to border patrols as well as ongoing training and mentoring.

building rome….

Top Defense Contractors Spent $27 Million Lobbying At Time Of Afghan Surge Announcement

With Reporting By Julian Hattem from the Huffington Post

The ten largest defense contractors in the nation spent more than $27 million lobbying the federal government in the last quarter of 2009, according to a review of recently-filed lobbying records.

The massive amount of money used to influence the legislative process came as the White House announced it would ramp up military activity in Afghanistan and Congress considered appropriations bills to pay for that buildup. All told, these ten companies, the largest revenue earners in the industry, spent roughly $7.2 million more lobbying in the fourth quarter of 2009 (October through December) than in the three months prior.

Such an increase in lobbying expenditures is partly a reflection of just how profitable the business of waging war can be. Each of these companies earned billions of dollars in defense contracts this past year. As the U.S. ramps up its military activities overseas, and the army is stretched thin by other ventures, it stands to reason that the contracts won’t dry up any time soon.

In mid-December, Congress passed a defense appropriations bill that totaled more than $635 billion. Shortly thereafter, the firm Northrop Grumman moved its corporate office to the Washington D.C. region to be closer to the heart of legislative action. Among the issues on which these ten firms lobbied, “appropriations” was the most frequently cited in lobbying forms.

“We’ve built Rome,” one longtime good-government official said of the symbiosis between contractors and the government.

On a related note, the Congressional Research Service released a report on Thursday, which showed that the number of private security contractors has bulged in the wake of Obama’s Afghanistan-surge announcement. Currently, contractors in Afghanistan make up between 22 percent and 30 percent of armed U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Below is a breakdown of the military contractor, lobbying expenditures and the amount of money the company earned in contracts last year.

Company: Boeing
Lobbying In Fourth Quarter: $6.13 million
Lobbying In Third Quarter: $3.71 million
Federal Contracts in FY08 (according to fedspending.org): $23,547,610,878

Company: United Technologies
Lobbying In Fourth Quarter: $3.66 million
Lobbying In Third Quarter: $1.39 million
Federal Contracts in FY08: $8,973,091,375

Company: Lockheed Martin
Lobbying In Fourth Quarter: $3.16 million
Lobbying In Third Quarter: $3.1 million
Federal Contracts in FY08: $35,729,713,235

Company: Honeywell International
Lobbying In Fourth Quarter: $1.94 million
Lobbying In Third Quarter: $1.66 million
Federal Contracts in FY08: $2,439,634,130

Company: Northrop Grumman
Lobbying In Fourth Quarter: $5.43 million
Lobbying In Third Quarter: $3.62 million
Federal Contracts in FY08: $24,921,637,857

Company: General Dynamics
Lobbying In Fourth Quarter: $3,000,697
Lobbying In Third Quarter: $2,496,308
Federal Contracts in FY08: $14,244,546,441

Company: Raytheon
Lobbying In Fourth Quarter: $2.19 million
Lobbying In Third Quarter: $1.9 million
Federal Contracts in FY08: $14,276,349,843

Company: L3
Lobbying In Fourth Quarter: $1.05 million
Lobbying In Third Quarter: $990,000
Federal Contracts in FY08: $7,464,053,901

Company: Textron
Lobbying In Fourth Quarter: $460,000
Lobbying In Third Quarter: $890,000
Federal Contracts in FY08: $2,858,396,315

Company: Goodrich
Lobbying In Fourth Quarter: $447, 098
Lobbying In Third Quarter: $425,529
Federal Contracts in FY08: $490,224,761

ratcheting up in iraq: violence escalates

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: December 8, 2009

Filed at 4:47 a.m. ET

BAGHDAD (AP) — An official at Iraq’s Interior Ministry says at least 90 people have been killed and more than 115 wounded in a series of coordinated blasts around Baghdad.

Three bomb-rigged cars exploded in quick succession on Tuesday, striking the Labor Ministry, a court complex and the new site of Iraq’s Finance Ministry — whose previous building was destroyed in an August blast.

Earlier, a suicide bomber struck a police patrol in southern Baghdad.

The Interior Ministry official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

BAGHDAD (AP) — A series of coordinated attacks struck across Baghdad Tuesday — including three car-rigged bombs striking near government sites — killing at least 72 people and wounding 115 in the worst wave of violence in the capital in more than a month, authorities said.

The total of four attacks, which also included a suicide car bomb on a police patrol, showed the ability of insurgents to strike high-profile targets in the heart of Baghdad in another embarrassment to Iraqi forces in their expanding role as front-line security as U.S. forces plan their withdrawal.

The blasts came as Iraqi officials prepared to announced the date for next year’s parliamentary elections — a move the security forces worry could bring an escalation in attacks seeking to discredit the pro-Western government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The core of the attacks hit central Baghdad with three bomb-rigged cars exploding in the span of a few minutes.

The targets were the latest assaults directly at Iraq’s authorities: the Labor Ministry building, a court complex near the Iraqi-protected Green Zone and the new site of the Finance Ministry, whose previous building was destroyed in major attacks in August.

An official for Iraq’s Interior Ministry said at least 72 people were killed and at least 115 injured. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give information to media.

The blasts marked the most serious spate of violence in Baghdad since twin car bombs on Oct. 25 struck outside Baghdad administration offices, killing at least 155 people.

The breakdown of casualties among the sites was not immediately clear, but the most serious bloodshed had been reported outside the new Finance Ministry building.

About an hour before the Baghdad blasts, a suicide car bomber struck a police patrol in the mostly Sunni district of Dora in southern Baghdad, killing at least four people and injuring five others, said a police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media.

In August, suicide bombers hit the Finance and Foreign ministries, killing more than 100 people.

Overall violence has dropped sharply around Iraq in the past year, but insurgents have stepped up attacks at government sites.

mercenary method: one hundred million in payoffs to iraqi officials

Whistleblowers: Blackwater approved payoffs of Iraqi officials

To stifle criticism of civilian killings, the American mercenary group formerly known as Blackwater approved payoffs of up to $1 million for Iraqi politicians, according to former company officials who spoke to The New York Times.

“Blackwater approved the cash payments in December 2007, the officials said, as protests over the deadly shootings in Nisour Square stoked long-simmering anger inside Iraq about reckless practices by the security company’s employees,” the Times reported. “American and Iraqi investigators had already concluded that the shootings were unjustified, top Iraqi officials were calling for Blackwater’s ouster from the country and company officials feared that Blackwater might be refused an operating license it would need to retain its contracts with the State Department and private clients, worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.”

The paper added that the four whistleblowers, who were all former Blackwater executives, accused president Gary Jackson of personally approving the payoffs. They did not name the recipients and could not say whether the money was ever delivered.

One of the sources told the Times that officials at the Interior Ministry, where decisions over company operating licenses are made, were the intended recipients of the payments, which were aimed at quelling criticism and eliciting support.

The accusations are only the latest in a long series of scandal and controversy for the firm, now known as Xe.

halliburton and erka ltd. added to “burn pit” suit by veteran

Iraq “burn pits” suit over toxic smoke filed against Halliburton, KBR, by 2 Ky. men

By Brett Barrouquere, AP

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — An Air Force veteran and a one-time contractor who served in Iraq are suing military contractors Halliburton Co. and KBR Inc., accusing the companies of exposing them to toxic fumes and ash from “burn pits” for waste.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Louisville on Monday by former Air Force Sgt. Sean Alexander Stough of Stanton and Charles Hicks of Bellevue, claims the military contractors burned everything from human remains to tires in open-air pits, exposing everyone nearby to harmful ash and smoke.

The men are seeking class-action status for the lawsuit.

“The burn pits are still going on,” said attorney Susan Burke, who represents the two men. “It’s everything you can think of.”

The suit in Kentucky, which names KBR, Halliburton and a Turkish company, ERKA Ltd., is the latest in a string of litigation on behalf of former military members and contract workers who claim they were exposed to toxins from burning waste in the warzone. At least 32 suits over burn pits have been filed in 32 states against KBR and Halliburton, which are both Houston-based, and other contractors.

The suits have been merged for pretrial proceedings under U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus in Greenbelt, Md. Burke expects the Kentucky suit to be transferred there for pretrial purposes.

KBR spokeswoman Heather Brown said the company denies the allegations and follows military regulations on the disposal of waste.

“KBR operates burn pits in accordance with guidelines approved by the Army,” Brown said.

A Halliburton spokesman did not immediately return a message seeking comment on Tuesday. An e-mail sent to ERKA’s offices in Adana, Turkey, was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Stanton, who was stationed at Camp Bucca, near Umm Qasr, Iraq, until April 2006, and Hicks, who was stationed at Balad Air Base north of Baghdad in 2004 and 2005, both claim exposure to the burn pits caused multiple medical issues, including pulmonary and breathing problems.

Earlier this year, several members of Congress asked Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to investigate potential burn pit hazards. Shinseki said his agency is conducting a health study of 30,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and noted the VA “has learned important lessons from previous military conflicts” as it deals with environmental exposure questions.

our soldiers and many civilians poisoned in iraq….

KBR may have poisoned 100,000 people in Iraq: lawsuit

kbrburnpitiraq

Defense contractor KBR may have exposed as many as 100,000 people, including US troops, to cancer-causing toxins by burning waste in open-air pits in Iraq, says a series of class-action lawsuits filed against the company.

At least 22 separate lawsuits claiming KBR poisoned American soldiers in Iraq have been combined into a single massive lawsuit that says KBR, which until not long ago was a subsidiary of Halliburton, sought to save money by disposing of toxic waste and incinerating numerous potentially harmful substances in open-air “burn pits.”

According to one of the lawsuits (PDF), filed in a federal court in Nashville, KBR burned “tires, lithium batteries … biohazard materials (including human corpses), medical supplies (including those used during smallpox inoculations), paints, solvents, asbestos insulation, items containing pesticides, polyvinyl chloride pipes, animal carcasses, dangerous chemicals, and hundreds of thousands of plastic water bottles.”

And they did so within plain sight of US troops operating in Iraq, the lawsuit states. “In some instances, the burn pit smoke was so bad that it interfered with the military mission,” the Nashville lawsuit states. “For example, the military located at Camp Bucca, a detention facility, had difficulty guarding the facility as a result of the smoke.”

The plaintiffs note that the military “did not prevent” KBR from disposing of the waste “in a safe manner that would not have harmed plaintiffs. The military wanted the defendants to solve the burn pit problems.”

The lawsuit “claims at least 100,000 people were endangered by the contractors’ ‘utter indifference to and conscious disregard’ of troops’ welfare,” notes the Courthouse News Service.

At a hearing of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee on Friday, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) said that KBR continues to use burn pits at the US’s largest base in Iraq.   “The Army and the contractor in charge of this waste disposal — Kellogg, Brown, and Root — made frequent and unnecessary use of these burn pits and exposed thousands of US troops to toxic smoke,” Dorgan said.  “Burn pits are still used at the Balad Airbase in Iraq, which is the largest US base in that country.”

A 2008 report by the Pentagon asserted that “adverse health risks are unlikely” from the burn pits, but that assertion was challenged by retired Lt. Col. Darrin Curtis, a biomedical sciences officer who took some of the air samples used in the report.  “Although I have no hard data, I believe that the burn pits may be responsible for long-term health problems in many individuals,” the Air Force Times quoted Curtis as saying. “I think we are going to look at a lot of sick people.”

 The plaintiffs filing the lawsuits say they have suffered from health problems ranging in seriousness from shortness of breath to cancer.  Russell Keith, a paramedic from Huntsville, Alabama, told the Senate Democratic Policy Committee his doctors believe his development of Parkinson’s disease was triggered by 15 months of daily exposure to the burn pits at Joint Base Balad in Iraq.  Another plaintiff claims to have developed kidney disease as a result of exposure.  Former KBR employee Rick Lambeth told the committee: “Since returning home in July, I have suffered from a number of respiratory problems related to the exposure. Now the military will not pay for my medical care.  They claim that these conditions … existed prior to service.” For its part, KBR says that it has been “improperly named” in the lawsuit, and points the finger at the military.

“There are significant discrepancies between the plaintiffs’ claims in the burn litigation against KBR and the facts on this issue,” Heather Browne, director of corporate communications, told the Nashville Post. Browne said that KBR doesn’t operate all the burn pits in Iraq; that the Army, and not the company, decides on burn pit locations; and that the Army decides when to fund an incinerator and when to burn waste in the open air.