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US Occupation, Salafi Terrorism and Democracy

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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US Invasion2003 03 20U.S.-led forces invade Iraq from Kuwait to oust Saddam Hussein. About 125,000 U.S. and British soldiers and Marines arrive in Iraq. By the end of April, U.S. says it will add 100,000 more soldiers to the U.S.-led invasion force.
2003 03 23On the third day of the war, 28 U.S. soldiers are killed, mostly in fierce fighting in southern Iraq.
US Takes Baghdad2003 04 09U.S. troops take Baghdad, Saddam disappears.
2003 05 01 President George W. Bush declares hostilities over. Between March 20 and May 1, 138 U.S. troops are killed.
2003 12 13U.S. troops capture Saddam near Tikrit.
2004 11 08U.S. troops begin a second assault in Falluja - a Sunni Muslim city 30 miles west of Baghdad - intended to deprive insurgents of a safe haven from which American officials said rebels had coordinated a spree of killings, bombings and kidnappings. More than 71 U.S. Marines and more than 1,000 guerrillas were killed in the 10-day attack.
2005 01 26U.S. Marine transport helicopter ferrying troops comes down in western desert, killing 31 U.S. troops in the deadliest single incident for Americans in Iraq. Six more are killed in insurgent attacks.
2006 02 22Bombing of Shi'ite shrine in Samarra sparks widespread sectarian slaughter, raising fears of civil war.
The Great Escape2005 03-04Something was amiss at Camp Bucca prison, where the very ground seemed to change color and dirty began to appear in the unlikeliest places. It turned out to be a massively constructed tunnel that was discovered just hours before a planned prison break. The following month, an uprising occurred. Together, these two events at Camp Bucca redefined what prison in Iraq meant -- it wasn't outside of war, a place to relax defense; it was part of the war, tactically different within defensive walls, but a battle nonetheless. (2011 04 25, CSM) (2005 08 24)
Surge Begins2007 02 14Maliki launches U.S.-backed crackdown in Baghdad aimed at pulling Iraq back from brink of civil war. Five U.S. combat brigades plus supporting troops, or some 30,000 soldiers, are sent to Iraq between February and mid-June 2007. Besides reducing violence, Washington wanted to create "breathing space" for Iraqi leaders to make progress on laws seen as critical to fostering national reconciliation.
Surge Reaches Height2007 06 15U.S. military says it has completed its troop buildup, or "surge," to 160,000 soldiers. From April to June 2007, 331 U.S. soldiers are killed, the deadliest quarter of the war for the U.S. military.
2007 09 10U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, recommends cutting troops by more than 20,000 by mid-2008.
Surge Ends2008 06 22The U.S. military says the last of five extra combat brigades sent to Iraq in 2007 have withdrawn, leaving just under 147,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.
Status of Forces Agrmt
(US Withdrawal Pact)
2008 11 17Iraq and the United States sign an accord requiring Washington to withdraw its forces by the end of 2011. The pact gives the government authority over the U.S. mission for the first time, replacing a U.N. Security Council mandate. Parliament approves pact after negotiations 10 days later.
2009 01 01U.S.-Iraq security pact comes into force, placing 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq under Iraqi authority.
Combat End Deadline2009 02 27New U.S. President Barack Obama announces plan to end U.S. combat operations in Iraq by August 31, 2010, but says will leave up to 50,000 troops to train Iraqi forces.
2009 06 30All U.S. combat units withdraw from Iraq's urban centers and redeploy to bases outside.
2010 02 06Obama announced in a speech at Camp Lejeune that 16 months have become 18, and that 50,000 soldiers and Marines will be continuing the occupation until 2012 under the guise of training Iraqi army and police forces, "counter-terrorism," and force protection. (link)
Baquba Attack2010 03 03Three suicide bombers blew themselves up in Baquba, northeast of the capital, killing at least 31 people in the deadliest attack in weeks.
Election: Early Ballot2010 03 04Early ballots are cast in the second parliamentary election since former dictator Saddam Hussein was overthrown in 2003. An early voting session goes underway for those who may not be able to get to the polls on Sunday. That includes soldiers who will have to be at work when the rest of the country votes, as well as prisoners and hospital patients. Two suicide bombers in Baghdad killed seven soldiers, seven civilians and wounded 25 others as Iraqis cast early ballots Thursday in the country's general election. Earlier, officials say a rocket or roadside bomb attack killed seven people at a polling site that was not being used.
Election: Election Day2010 03 07 In the second parliamentary election since 2003, nearly 6,200 candidates, including 1,718 women, are vying for a place in Iraq's now expanded 325-member Parliament. The leading formations were: State of Law Coalition (Shia); Iraqi National Alliance (Shia); Iraqiya (secular); Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (Kurdish); and Iraqi Accordance Front (Sunni). With security a major threat, authorities deployed nearly 2,00,000 personnel in an effort to keep a lid on violence. At least 12 persons were killed when an explosion destroyed a residential building in Baghdad soon after polls opened at 7 a.m. local time. Five more were killed in another blast in the capital. Another seven died in other parts of the country. Violence was reported from Fallujah where two bombs went off close to a polling station. (link)
Kurdish Genocide Ruling2010 03 08An Iraqi supreme court March 8 recognized chemical weapons attacks on the Kurdish city of Halabja as an act of genocide. (link)
Halabja Anniversary2010 03 18The Kurdish government of Iraq marked the 22nd anniversary of the 1988 massacres in Halabja as a time for reflection and optimism, officials said in Washington. "The Halabja anniversary is not, however, just a time for the people of the Kurdistan Region to look back," he said. "It is a time for us to heal, to seek closure and to look forward." (link)
2010 03 26Iraq's prime minister Nouri al- Maliki rebuked the United Nations for not backing his demand that the ballots in the March 7 parliamentary elections be recounted. Nouri al-Maliki insisted on the recount in comments to the private Al-Sumariya TV and indicated his side still may form the next government as part of a larger alliance in the making. () Later, Allawi has accused Iran of seeking to prevent him becoming prime minister again by inviting all major parties except his secular bloc to Tehran. (link)
Iraqi Toll Released2010 03367 Iraqis were killed in violence in March, the highest number so far for 2010.
Sahwa Massacred2010 04 03Men disguised in uniforms marched into Sufia, a village south of Baghdad, and killed 25 civilians execution-style. All the victims were linked to the Sahwa, or Awakening movement, a civilian-led armed movement that began in 2006 and worked with American and Iraqi security forces against insurgent groups, including al-Qaeda.
Baghdad Blasts2010 04 04

Three car bombs rocked Baghdad in a co-ordinated attack that shattered a period of relative calm in the city. The explosions happened in quick succession just before 11.30am and were in different locations. One was outside the Iranian Embassy in Karadat Mariam district, about 1km west of the International Zone, a second was in al-Ruad Square, in the western Mansour district, and a third was outside the German Embassy, also in Mansour, in a street that has many other embassies.

A police source told The Times that there was a private security company based near al-Ruad Square. The Interior Ministry said initially that 15 people had been killed at the Iranian Embassy. Television reports also suggested that there were victims at the Egyptian Embassy.

The Baghdad Operations Centre said that 20 people had been killed and 45 wounded and that all three car bombs were suicide attacks. The centre also said that the al-Ruad Square bomb had been targeted at the German Ambassador's residence. The Interior Ministry put the total death toll at 30 and said that at least 224 people were wounded. (link)

Baghdad Blasts2010 04 06

Six bombs in the capital on Tuesday killed at least 35 people, in the second spate of bloody attacks in three days, increasing fears that insurgents are making a return due to a political impasse following elections. The blasts destroyed residential buildings in mostly Shiite neighbourhoods, leaving bodies and rubble strewn across streets.

"We are in a war. In our case, it is an open war with remnants of Al-Qaeda and the Baath" party of Saddam Hussein, Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim Atta told Al-Arabiya television. "There has been support for terrorist groups from outside Iraq, from people who don't want to see the political process be a success," he added, without elaborating.

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, said Sunday's embassy attacks bore the signature of Al-Qaeda and attributed the bombings to groups who wanted to derail the formation of a new government. "This is a political attack, aimed at derailing the process, sending a message that the terrorists are still in business," Zebari told AFP. (link)

2010 06 04U.S. military says there are 88,000 troops in Iraq.
2010 08 07The 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, the last brigade mainly focused on combat, hands over to Iraqi forces.
2010 08 18U.S. troop strength in Iraq is 56,000, a senior Obama administration official says.
2010 08 25Coordinated car bombings hit seven cities in the north and south, killing at least 45 people. In Kut, a car bomb at a police station near the governor's offices killed 16 and wounded 18. In Baghdad, a suicide car bomber exploded his vehicle at a police station in Qahira neighborhood, killing 15 (including 6 policemen) and wounding 60. In Moqdadiya, a parked car blew up by the City Council, killing at least 3. In Baquba, a car bomb exploded near a police patrol, killing 1 policeman and 2 civilians and wounding 16 people. In Baquba's outer district of Buhruz, insurgents blew up the homes of 3 policemen and 1 electoral commission employee, wounding 5. Also, the attackers planted the black flag of the Islamic State of Iraq. In Ramadi, a car bomb struck a bus station, killing 2 policemen and 1 civilian. In Fallujah, a council member was killed when assailants planted a bomb on his car. A policeman also died when assailants blew up his car. Another three policemen were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded during their patrol. A bomb also killed an Iraqi soldier in the center of Fallujah, police said. In Basra, a car bomb left 11 people wounded. A car bomb attack in the southern pilgrimage city of Karbala by a police station left another 19 wounded. (link)
2010 08 31U.S. to cut its troop levels to 50,000.
2010 09 07First US troop deaths since end of combat mission. (link) Sporadic attacks, including one apparently arising after a fight. (link)
Christians Massacred2010 10 31Four of the church bombers who were from Libya and Syria and carried fake ID cards that identified them as mutes to avoid talking in foreign accents to checkpoint guards, Iraqi Deputy Interior Minister Ahmed Abu Raghef told The Associated Press. He said $70,000 cash was seized from a western Baghdad home where their cell's leaders were operating. (USA Today)
Foreign Insurgents
It is impossible to verify the actual numbers of foreign insurgents entering the country. But one Middle Eastern intelligence official estimated recently that 250 came in October alone. ... He said they came through the Syrian city of Homs, a hub for Syrian Muslim fundamentalists that is run mostly by Tunisians and Algerians. Other fighters have come from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Yemen. ... Additionally, the official said tens of millions of foreign dollars annually are funding the Iraqi insurgency, which has received about $5 billion in aid since 2007. The money comes from al-Qaeda leaders, Muslims who want the U.S. to leave, and so-called 'Arab nationalists' who are eager for Sunni Muslims to regain power in Shiite-dominated Iraq. ... U.S. officials and experts voiced doubt that the foreign aid is as high as Iraqi and Mideast authorities believe. A senior U.S. military official who spoke on condition of anonymity to talk candidly about the sensitive issue estimated about 10 foreign fighters enter Iraq each month. Michael Knights, a Lafter Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy predicted there are only "small cells of experienced foreign fighters in ISI." (USA Today)

A Tunisian who was also pretending to be mute was arrested on terror charges in August in eastern Diyala province, according to an Iraqi security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. Four Jordanian fighters were killed by U.S. troops in Iraq, according to a November claim by the Islamic State of Iraq, a front group for al-Qaeda. A Nov. 2 string of rapid-fire blasts in Shiite neighborhoods across Baghdad killed 91. Iraqi counterterrorism commander Maj. Gen. Fadhel al-Barwari said it must have been carried out with foreign financing to buy the explosives needed "to launch an attack with a big number of casualties." A Moroccan fighter was captured and two non-Iraqi insurgents were killed in a raid 25 11 2010 in the northern city of Mosul, said Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Askari. (USA Today)

Basra Prison Break2011 01Twelve prisoners associated with Islamic State of Iraq obtained police uniforms and walked out of the prison. (2011 04 25, CSM)
Sadrist Exhibition2011 04
Surrounded by banners that read, “No to the Occupation” and “Yes, to Freedom, Yes to Independence. No to the Occupation,” parliamentary staff members from Mr. Sadr’s political office organized a display of photographs from the war that, in sum, were meant to make a moral argument for the Americans to leave. ... Hatem Baidhani, a staff member in Parliament and an official in the Sadrist movement who organized the exhibition, explained: “We are not really enemies of America as a state or a people. But we are against the American policy which killed many people and left many innocent victims.” ... He said the Sadrists were not against a relationship with the Americans – although no Sadrist official will even speak to American diplomats. “We hope we have a good relationship in other areas,” he said, mentioning education, health and science. “But not through occupation.” ... In February, as some Iraqis took to the streets to protest the woeful state of public services such as electricity, Mr. Sadr told his supports to give the government six months to make improvements. “If the Iraqi people see that Maliki is not making changes, then the revolution will start. We will withdraw our support for the government.” (link)

Mr. Bowen said that Diyala Province, a region east of Baghdad that is one of the most violent battlegrounds for sectarian violence, remained unstable. He added that local officials were extremely pessimistic about security and the economy. ... It also offered a cautious view of State Department plans for Iraq’s development, mentioning that the training of the Iraqi police force “will be challenging,” in part because it will include only 200 advisers based at three sites across the country’s 10 provinces. (NY Times 2011 06 30)

The report said that Iraqis had significantly increased their use of electricity over the past two years but that the supply had remained the same and significant power shortages continued. Investigators looking into corruption by the Iraqi government “remain stymied by political resistance and lack of capacity and have difficulty pursuing cases involving complex crimes and high-level officials,” the report said. (NY Times 2011 06 30)

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta strongly urged Baghdad to do more against Shi'ite Muslim militias responsible for making June the deadliest month for U.S. forces in Iraq since 2008. He warned that the United States would take unilateral action if necessary. ... "We've done this. The Iraqi security forces have done it. The political leadership has addressed it. And so you've seen in the last two to three weeks a dramatic reduction in that (violence)," Mullen told reporters flying with him to the northern city of Mosul. "I'm still in the wait-and-see mode to see whether or not this can be sustained." (Reutuer 2008 08 01)

Deadly Day2008 08 1542 apparently coordinated attacks slammed Iraq in the form of suicide attacks, car bombs, homemade bombs and gunmen; attacks hit Ramadi, Tikrit, Baquba, Taji, Yusufiya and the most lethal attack of the day in Kut.

By sundown, when Iraqis broke their fast in observance of the holy month of Ramadan, the death toll had reached 89, including 3 suicide bombers, and an additional 315 people were wounded. The widespread and lethal nature of the attacks — compared with an average of 14 a day this year — frightened many Iraqis, because it suggested that radical Sunni insurgents, led by Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, may have regained the capacity for the kind of violence that plagued Iraq at the height of the sectarian war in 2006 and 2007. “Do not worry, the days of Zarqawi are going to return soon,” he said, referring to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia who was killed by American forces in 2006. “We have men who have divorced themselves from life and love death more than you love life, and killing is one of their wishes.” (NY Times 2011 08 15)

Around 8 p.m., gunmen dressed in military uniforms stormed into a mosque in the city of Yusufiya, just south of Baghdad. The gunmen read off the names of seven people who had been loyal to the United States and joined the Awakening movement, took them outside the mosque and executed them. After the execution, the gunmen told the people gathered in the mosque that they were from Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and then left. (NY Times 2011 08 15)


Reuters Timeline

Student Reader  |  FD7R75BS4T

Marr, Phoebe. The Modern History of Iraq, 2nd Edition. 2004. Westview Press. Boulder, Colorado.

Student Reader  |  KLSKRRLR3Q
2007 September 18th

Tripp, Charles. A History of Iraq: New Edition.