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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
Insurgency Gathers Steam

On June 28, 2004, sovereignty was officially returned to Iraq. Former exile and Iraqi Government Council member Iyad Allawi became prime minister of the Iraqi interim government, and Ghazi al-Yawar, a Sunni Muslim, was chosen president.

On July 9, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a unanimous bipartisan report, concluding that “most of the major key judgments” on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were “either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence report.” The report also stated that there was no “established formal relationship” between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. The following week, Britain's Butler report on prewar intelligence echoed the American findings.

Iraq's Jan. 30, 2005, elections to select a 275-seat national assembly went ahead as scheduled, and a total of 8.5 million people voted, representing about 58% of eligible Iraqis. A coalition of Shiites, the United Iraq Alliance, received 48% of the vote, the Kurdish parties received 26% of the vote, and the Sunnis just 2%—most Sunni leaders had called for a boycott. In April, Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, became president, and Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a religious Shiite, became prime minister. The elections, however, did not stem the insurgency, which grew increasingly sectarian during 2005 and predominantly involved Sunni insurgents targeting Shiite and Kurdish civilians in suicide bombings. The death toll for Iraqi civilians is estimated to have reached 30,000 since the start of the war.

By December 2005, more than 2,100 U.S. soldiers had died in Iraq and more than 15,000 had been wounded. The absence of a clear strategy for winning the war beyond “staying the course” caused Americans' support for Bush's handling of the war to wane. The U.S. and Iraqi governments agreed that no firm timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops should be set, maintaining that this would simply encourage the insurgency. Withdrawal would take place as Iraqi security forces grew strong enough to assume responsibility for the country's stability. “As Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down,” Bush stated. But the training of Iraqi security forces went far more slowly than anticipated. A July 2005 Pentagon report acknowledged that only “a small number” of Iraqi security forces were capable of fighting the insurgency without American help.

Next: Iraqi Leadership Struggles in Effort to Form a Government
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