Iraq Timeline: 2008
by Beth Rowen
|Jan. 1, 2008|
In the worst attack in Iraq in months, a suicide bomber kills 30 people at a home where mourners were paying their respects to the family of a man killed in a car bomb.
|Jan. 12, 2008|
Parliament passes the Justice and Accountability Law, which will allow many Baathists to resume the government jobs they lost after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. The measure creates a new committee to determine if lower-level Baathists, former members of Saddam Hussein's party, are eligible to be reinstated to their previous posts. Passage of the law, which must be approved by the Presidency Council, would be the first major benchmark of political progress reached by the Iraqi government.
|Feb. 1, 2008|
At least 65 people die when two women suicide bombers attack crowded pet markets in eastern Baghdad.
|Feb. 13, 2008|
Parliament passes another round of legislation, which includes a law that outlines provincial powers and an election timetable, a 2008 budget, and an amnesty law that will affect thousands of mostly Sunni Arab prisoners. A divided Iraqi Presidency Council vetoes the package, however.
|Feb. 24, 2008|
More than 50 people, who are headed to the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala to celebrate Arbaeen, are killed in a suicide attack at a rest stop.
|March 19, 2008|
On the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, President Bush insists that the outcome of the war will be worth the sacrifice, yet he admits the cost of war had exceeded expectations in terms of money and loss of life. "Five years into this battle, there is an understandable debate over whether the war was worth fighting, whether the fight is worth winning, and whether we can win it," he says. "The answers are clear to me. Removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision, and this is a fight that America can and must win."
|March 23, 2008|
A roadside bomb in Baghdad kills four U.S. soldiers, bringing the death toll of American troops to 4,000. President Bush said of the losses, "I have vowed in the past, and I will vow so long as I'm president, to make sure that those lives were not lost in vain–that, in fact, there is an outcome that will merit the sacrifice."
|March 25, 2008|
About 30,000 Iraqi troops and police, with air support from the U.S. and British military, attempt to oust Shiite militias, particularly the Mahdi Army led by radical cleric Moktada al-Sadr, that control Basra and its lucrative ports in southern Iraq. Sadr declared a cease-fire in August 2007, but has allowed his forces to fight in self defense. Four days into the operation, the Mahdi Army maintains control over much of Basra. The assault, ordered by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, is criticized for being poorly planned and executed. Fighting spills into the Sadr city section of Baghdad.
|March 31, 2008|
After negotiations with Iraqi officials, Moktada al-Sadr orders 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 Sadrists to their homes. The compromise is seen as a defeat to Maliki, who is criticized for poorly organizing the invasion. In addition, more than 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and police officers either refused to participate in the operation or deserted their posts.
|April 8, 2008||At a congressional hearing, Gen. David Petraeus advises against further drawdowns of American troops until at least 45 days after the current drawdown is completed in July. He also reports that progress in Iraq has been "significant but even." He also said, "We haven't turned any corners. We haven't seen any lights at the end of the tunnel." Petraeus blamed some of the turmoil in Iraq on the "destructive role Iran has played."|
|April 13, 2008||About 1,300 soldiers who either refused to fight or deserted the military's March operation in Basra to oust Shiite militias are dismissed.|
|April 19, 2008||The Mahdi Army retreats from the last districts of Basra under its control. Iran endorses the assault on the Mahdi Army, a group that it once supported.|
|April 24, 2008||After a boycott of almost a year, the largest Sunni block in Iraq's government, Tawafiq, announces it will return to the cabinet of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Tawafiq's leader, Adnan al-Dulaimi, says by passing an amnesty law and launching an assault on Shiite militias, the government has met enough of its demands to end the boycott.|
|May 9, 2008||The U.S. State Department renews its contract with Blackwater Worldwide, the company whose guards killed 17 civilians in 2007, to provide security for U.S. diplomats for another year. "We cannot operate without private security firms in Iraq," said Patrick Kennedy, an undersecretary of state.|
|May 10, 2008||The government and leaders of the Mahdi Army agree to end the fighting in the Sadr City section of Baghdad. As part of the deal, the government will assume control over Sadr City and the rebels who didn't actively participate in the battles, which killed hundreds of people, will avoid arrest. Iran helped to broker the truce. The cease-fire, however, fails to stem the violence in Sadr City.|
|May 20, 2008||Iraqi troops move into Sadr City, meeting very little resistance from the Mahdi Army.|
|June 1, 2008||The U.S. military announces that fatalities in Iraq in May dropped to 19, the lowest level since the war began in 2003.|
|June 7, 2008||Former prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari is ejected from the governing Dawa party for reaching out to a rival party.|
|June 17, 2008||At least 60 people are killed and about 75 are wounded when an explosive-laden minibus explodes at a bus terminal near a crowded market in a Shiite district of Baghdad. The blast causes an apartment building to burst into flames. The U.S. military attributes the bombing to a Shiite militia leader, Haydar Mehdi Khadum al-Fawadi, saying he orchestrated the bombing to incite sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites.|
|June 19, 2008||The New York Times reports that Iraq's oil ministry has been negotiating no-bid contracts with Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total, BP, and Chevron to service its oil fields. The announcement is greeted with skepticism, as critics accuse the Bush Administration of going to war in Iraq to profit from Iraq's oil fields.|
|June 30, 2008||In a 700-page study, called "On Point II: Transition to the New Campaign," the U.S. Army says that while it was capable of toppling Saddam Hussein, it was not equipped to rebuild Iraq into a functional country.|
|July 19, 2008||Parliament approves the nomination of six Sunni ministers to the cabinet. The ministers are all members of Tawafiq, a Sunni political party, who had boycotted Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government for a year.|
|July 28, 2008||As Kurds in Kirkuk protest part of an election law that will dilute their control of the city, a female suicide bomber kills 17 people and wounds dozens. Kurds blame Turkmen militants for the bombing, and in response began attacking Turkmen. About a dozen people die in the violence. In Baghdad, two female suicide bombers kill 32 Shiite pilgrims.|
|Aug. 6, 2008||The Iraqi Parliament fails to pass the election law when negotiations collapse over the issue of control in Kirkuk. Hopes dim that provincial elections will be held in 2008. The elections are seen as vital to moving Iraqi's rival ethnic groups toward reconciliation. Kurds dominate the city, which also has a large population of Turkmens and Arabs, and have resisted any attempts to dilute their control through a power-sharing plan.|
|Aug. 22, 2008||While negotiating a security pact that will govern U.S. involvement in Iraq, the United States says it will withdraw combat troops from Iraqi cities by June 2009, followed by the removal of all combat troops by the end of 2011 as long as Iraq is stable and secure.|
|Sep. 1, 2008||The U.S. transfers to the Iraqi military and police responsibility for maintaining security in Anbar Province, which was until recently the cradle of the Sunni insurgency. More than 1,000 members of the U.S. military have been killed in the province.|
|Sep. 9, 2008||Iraq's oil minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, announces that plans to award Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total, BP, and Chevron no-bid contracts to service Iraq's oil fields have been withdrawn.|
|Sep. 22, 2008||Royal Dutch Shell and the Iraqi government complete a deal worth several billion dollars to have Shell capture natural gas that is typically wasted during the extraction of oil. In addition, Shell opens an office in Baghdad.|
|Sep. 24, 2008||Parliament passes a much-anticipated law that calls for provincial elections to be held in early 2009. Elections 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 made up of representatives from each group involved.|
|Oct. 1, 2008||The Iraqi government takes command of 54,000 mainly Sunni fighters from the U.S., which had been paying the fighters for their support. The fighters, members of Awakening Councils, turned against al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia in 2007 and began siding with the U.S.|
|Oct. 17, 2008||Iraq and the U.S. complete a draft of a security agreement that calls for all U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 201, depending on the conditions in Iraq. Plan also gives U.S. military personnel immunity from Iraqi law except for serious premeditated felonies committed outside their "duty status." Iraq will have jurisdiction over U.S. security contractors and other contractors, however.|
|Oct. 21, 2008||Members of the Iraqi cabinet say they will not approve the agreement without amendments.|
|Oct. 31, 2008||Gen. David Petraeus becomes the head of Central Command and will oversee military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iran, and other countries.|
|Nov. 16, 2008||After nearly a year of negotiations with the U.S., the Iraqi cabinet passes by a large margin a status of forces agreement that will govern the U.S. presence in Iraq through 2011. The pact calls for 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.|
|Nov. 27, 2008||Iraq's Parliament votes, 149 to 35, to approve the status of forces agreement.|
|Dec. 4, 2008||The Presidencial Council, made up of Iraq's president and two vice presidents, gives final approval to the status of forces agreement that will govern the U.S. presence in Iraq through 2011.|
|Dec. 14, 2008||At a news conference in Baghdad, a reporter for Al Baghdadia, a Cairo-based satellite television network, hurls his shoes at President Bush and calls him a "dog." The shoes narrowly miss Bush's head.|