“The moment Saddam Hussein’s statue fell…
it brought all of the security down with it.” – Ashraf Osman
EARLY POST INVASION IRAQ
In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, United States President George W Bush
claims that Iraq’s continued possession and manufacture of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
- an accusation that was later proved erroneous - and its support for al-Qaeda, made disarming
the country a new priority.
In November 2002, UN Security Council Resolution 1441 affords Iraq “a final opportunity
to comply with its disarmament obligations.”
After seeking no further UN resolutions through the Security Council and considering further diplomatic efforts futile, Bush declares an end to diplomacy in March 2003.
Saddam Hussein is issued an ultimatum giving the Iraqi president 48 hours to leave the country.
When he refuses to leave, US and allied forces launch an attack.
Four countries participate with troops - United States (148,000), United Kingdom (45,000), Australia (2,000) and Poland (194) - invading Iraq and deposing the Baathist government of
TOPPLING SADDAM HUSSEIN
With the country shorn of its leader and its government, what began as an invasion, soon turned into an occupation.
The country was run by one person, Saddam Hussein. And you
remove that person and not attending to any security, political, economic of the country for more than 100 days, it amounts to
be gross negligence by the American administration there.”
– MOWAFFAK AL RUBAIE
The US led invasion on Iraq took just 6 weeks to bring
Saddam Hussein’s 24-year rule to an iconic end.
Labelled Operation Iraqi Freedom by the
US, the 2003 invasion of Iraq lasted
from 19 March – 1 May 2003 and marked the
start of the conflict that later came to be known
as the Iraq War.
Coalition forces seize Baghdad after 21 days of major combat operations.
TIMELINE OF INVASION
March 17, 2003
George W Bush gives ultimatum to Saddam Hussein and his sons to "leave Iraq within 48 hours".
March 19, 2003
In a televised statement, George W Bush announces US & coalition forces are in the “early stages of military operation to disarm Iraq”.
Military operations are designed to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and remove Saddam Hussein from power.
The first assaults on Baghdad begin shortly after the expiry of the 48-hour deadline for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his sons to leave Iraq.
March 20, 2003
Coalition forces at the Iraqi-Kuwait border begin their offensive from the Gulf to secure Basra and the surrounding petroleum fields.
Wearing a military uniform, Saddam Hussein appears on Iraqi state television to denounce the US-led military attacks as "criminal”.
March 23, 2003
Military operations move into southern Iraq, with coalition forces occupying the region and engaging in the Battle of Nasiriyah. Air strikes across the country throw the defending Iraqi army into chaos and prevent an effective resistance.
April 9, 2003
US forces roll into the Iraqi capital and Baghdad is occupied. Saddam Hussein’s statue in the main square is pulled down in an iconic moment broadcast live around the world. Operations continue against smaller factions of the Iraqi army.
May 1, 2003
George W Bush declares an end of the invasion period, marking the beginning of the military occupation period.
DE-BAATHIFICATION IN BAGHDAD GOVERNANCE
click to expand
DEFINING THE BAATH PARTY
“The Baath Party espoused nonalignment and opposition to imperialism and colonialism, took inspiration from what it considered the positive values of Islam, and attempted to ignore or transcend class divisions. Its structure was highly centralised and authoritarian.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2015
Shortly after the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, the new, US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) introduced an extensive de-Baathification process aimed at eliminating the Baath party's influence in Iraq’s political and military affairs.
Despite being a secular leader, Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship was viewed by the majority Shia Muslims as inherently sectarian. Sunni minority rule saw many Shia Muslims forced out of Iraq under his regime.
During the de-Baathification process, the CPA relied heavily on the expertise of exiled Iraqi Shia Muslims. This resulted in personal bias and political score-settling becoming pervasive throughout the process.
De-Baathification had an enormous impact on cleansing the civil service and disbanding the military, security and other organisations central to public order.
Disbanding the army and setting up the de-Ba’athification commission became a tool of political vengeance in Ahmad Chalabi’s hands. We never recovered from those things because hundreds of thousands of people became unemployed, disillusioned, disenfranchised and took to insurgency.” – ALI KHEDERY
The de-Baathification process meant government forces were stripped of their military capabilities. At the same time, thousands of newly unemployed Iraqi soldiers turned to Sunni insurgent militias, greatly strengthening the anti-government forces.
“Two disaffected constituencies who had been mortal enemies for many years had finally decided that they had some common ground. It was just a variation on the ancient mantra of ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend.’” - MARTIN CHULOV
The de-Baathification policy soon became a tool of political retribution
that grew more and more sectarian in its execution.
Rise of Muqtada Al-Sadr
BAATHISTS & SALAFISTS ALLIANCE
The improvised nature of Sunni attacks now combined with the Baathist know-how, pushed
the insurgency to a new scale of terror. But for the US, Sunni violence against Shia targets was not the primary concern.
The more serious element of it was not seen to be the Sunni-based insurgency, but rather the various uprisings associated with Muqtada al-Sadr, who had started to organise the Mahdi Army to defend Shia interests.
By the spring of 2004 there were two insurgencies. There was the Sunni insurgency in the central part of the country and then there was a southern Shia insurgency led by Muqtada al-Sadr, a relatively radical Shia cleric also exploiting the opportunity to try to drag the US into a quagmire, to exhaust it, to humiliate it and to ultimately get it to withdraw.” – ALI KHEDERY
The US invasion of Iraq had spawned two insurgencies,
igniting an increasingly sectarian conflict.
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