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Iraq

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Index
  1. Iraq Main Page
  2. Iraq Gains Independence
  3. Rise of the Baath Party
  4. Saddam Hussein's Ascendancy Brings Series of Wars
  5. After 9/11, the U.S. Launches War in Iraq
  6. No Evidence of Weapons in Iraq
  7. Insurgency Gathers Steam
  8. Iraqi Leadership Struggles in Effort to Form a Government
  9. U.S. Strategy Under Fire
  10. Bush Orders a Surge of U.S. Troops to Iraq
  11. Iraqi Parliament Gets Down to Business
  12. Political Veterans Fare Well in 2010 Parliamentary Elections
  13. War in Iraq Is Officially Over but Political Unrest and Violence Continue
  14. 2014 Parliamentary Elections Unexpectedly Peaceful; ISIS Militants Take Control of Mosul
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.

Next: Political Veterans Fare Well in 2010 Parliamentary Elections
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