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Flag of Iraq
  1. Iraq Main Page
  2. Iraq Gains Independence
  3. Rise of the Baath Party
  4. Saddam Hussein's Ascendancy Brings Series of Wars
  5. The UN Steps In With Sanctions and Weapons Inspections
  6. The U.S. Launches War in Iraq
  7. With No Evidence of Weapons in Iraq, Bush Calls Iraq the Focal Point of War on Terror
  8. War Does Little to Improve Infrastructure or Security in Iraq
  9. Insurgency Gathers Steam
  10. Iraqi Leadership Struggles in Effort to Form a Government
  11. U.S. Strategy Under Fire
  12. President Bush Hopes Surge of U.S. Troops Will Change Course of War
  13. Iraqi Parliament Gets Down to Business
  14. Iraqi Government Shows Signs of Stability
  15. U.S. Role Diminishes in Iraq
  16. Political Veterans Fare Well in Parliamentary Elections
  17. War in Iraq Is Officially Over
  18. Political Unrest and Violence Continue
The U.S. Launches War in Iraq

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, President Bush began calling for a “regime change” in Iraq, describing the nation as part of an “axis of evil.” The alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction, the thwarting of UN weapons inspectors, Iraq's alleged links to terrorism, and Saddam Hussein's despotism and human rights abuses were the major reasons cited for necessitating a preemptive strike against the country. The Arab world and much of Europe condemned the hawkish and unilateral U.S. stance. The UK, however, declared its intention to support the U.S. in military action. On Sept. 12, 2002, Bush addressed the UN, challenging the organization to swiftly enforce its own resolutions against Iraq, or else the U.S. would act on its own. On Nov. 8, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution imposing tough new arms inspections on Iraq. On Nov. 26, new inspections of Iraq's military holdings began.

The UN's formal report at the end of Jan. 2003 was not promising, with chief weapons inspector Hans Blix lamenting that “Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament that was demanded of it.” While the Bush administration felt the report cemented its claim that a military solution was imperative, several permanent members of the UN Security Council—France, Russia, and China—urged that the UN inspectors be given more time to complete their task. Bush and Blair continued to call for war, insisting that they would go ahead with a “coalition of the willing,” if not with UN support. All diplomatic efforts ceased by March 17, when President Bush delivered an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to leave the country within 48 hours or face war.

On March 20, the war against Iraq began at 5:30 A.M. Baghdad time (9:30 P.M. EST , March 19) with the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom. By April 9, U.S. forces had taken control of the capital, signaling the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime. Although the war had been officially declared over on May 1, 2003, Iraq remained enveloped in violence and chaos. Iraqis began protesting almost immediately against the delay in self-rule and the absence of a timetable to end the U.S. occupation. In July, the U.S. administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer, appointed an Iraqi governing council.

Next: With No Evidence of Weapons in Iraq, Bush Calls Iraq the Focal Point of War on Terror
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