Iraq; key historical events
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See Israel for events relating to the Palestinian State
See also Eastern Europe for events relating to Muslims in former Yugoslavia
See also Iran
ISIS (not Syria) from 2013
Iraq USA War II 1991-2010
Iraq Kuwait War I 1990-91
Iran-Iraq Gulf War 1980-88
World War Two
Anglo-French division of Middle East
25/9/2017, Iraqi Kurdish independence vote. This vote was opposed by countries neighbouring Iraq because it might promote secession in their Kurdish regions. 93% in favour of independence from Iraq, on a turnout of 72%. Some anti-independence voters boycotted the poll. Turkey threatened sanctions, including a boycott of Kurdish oil exports.
28/12/2015, Iraq retook Ramadi from ISIS
19/8/2014, ISIS beheaded a western hostage, James Foley.
15/8/2014, The United Nations passed a resolution backing sanctions on any country supplying, fighting for, or funding IS (ISIS).
14/8/2014, Mr Nuria al Maliki resigned after 8 years as Iraqi Prime Minister. He had backed the Shias against other ethnic groups, and his replacement, Haider al Abadi, 62, was to be more inclusive.
29/6/2014, ISIS declared a Caliphate’.
8/8/2014, The US carried out its first air strike against ISIS on Iraqi territory.
6/2014, Mosul, Iraq, fell to ISIS forces.
4/1/2014, ISIS forces took Fallujah, Iraq.
9/5/2013, ISIS was formed.
3/8/2010, US President Obama announced the end of official combat operations in Iraq.
30/12/2006, Saddam Hussein was hanged for crimes against humanity.
5/11/2006, Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by the Iraqi Special Tribunal. He was hanged on 30/12/2006.
2005, A referendum in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq gave a 99% vote for outright secession as the independent State of Kurdistan. This region had been beyond the de-facto rule of Baghdad since 1991. However by 2016 no actual declaration of independence had been made, largely due to competing factions within the Kurdish adminstrators of the region; this despite the break-up of Syria and establishment of Kurdish control in the north-east of that country too. The Kurdish ethnoc region also covers parts of western Iran and a large part of south-eastern Turkey too.
15/12/2005, Iraq held its first Parliamentary elections under its new constitution.
25/10/2005, US deaths in Iraq now amounted to 5,000.
19/10/2005, The trial of Saddam Hussein began.
26/9/2005, US Army Reservist Lynndie England was convicted by a military jury on 6 of 7 counts in connection with prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison, Iraq.
9/4/2005, Tens of thousands of demonstrators, many of them supporters of the radical cleric Moqtadr el Sadr, protested in Baghdad against the US occupation, two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, in the square where his statue was toppled in 2003.
30/1/2005, Iraq held its first elections, following the transfer of authority from America to Baghdad. Braving the risk of suicide bombers, some 8.5 million people, 60% of the electorate, turned out. However the Sunnis, 20% of the population, largely boycotted the poll. A Shi’ite coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance, won with 48% of votes cast; the Kurdistan Alliance came second with 26%. The Iraqi List Party, supporting Iraq’s US-backed interim Prime Minister, Ayad Alawi, came a distant third with 13% of votes cast.
18/1/2005, In Iraq, an archbishop was kidnapped by Iraqi gunmen. Violence and bombings occurred on a daily basis in Iraq as the elections scheduled for the end of January approached.
8/11/2004, 10,000 US troops attacked Iraqi insurgents in the town of Fallujah.
28/6/2004, The US-led coalition formally handed back power to the Iraqi Government, led by Iyad Allawi, from the Shia majority.
3/2/2004, The CIA admitted there was no threat from weapons of mass destruction before the USA invaded Iraq.
13/12/2003. Saddam Hussein was captured in a hole in the ground at a farm 10 miles south of his home town, Tikrit, by US and Kurdish forces.
8/11/2003. The Red Cross pulled all their staff out of Baghdad and Basra, Iraq, calling the situation ‘extremely dangerous’. A bomb blast at the Red Cross HQ on 27/10/2003 had killed 12 people.
27/10/2003. 35 people killed in Baghdad in the bloodiest day since the war ‘ended’.
8/9/2003. George W Bush secured US$ 87 billion from Congress for the reconstruction of Iraq, and military spending over the coming year, bringing the grand total of US projected spending in Iraq to US$ 130 billion.
29/8/2003. Car bomb at a mosque in Najaf, Iraq, killed at least 83, including a top Shi’ite leader, Ayatollah Mohammed al Hakim. 175 were wounded.
21/8/2003. Saddam Hussein’s cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majd, known as chemical Ali, was captured by US forces.
19/8/2003. 22 people killed, including the UN envoy to Iraq, as a truck bomb hits the UN headquarters in Baghdad.
7/8/2003, 17 killed and 60 wounded when a truck bomb exploded outside the Jordanian Embassy compound in Baghdad. Also today another US soldier shot dead elsewhere in Baghdad.
1/8/2003. The Hutton inquiry began into the BBC/Iraq dossier affair, see 22/5/2003 and 18/7/2003.
26/7/2003. Three US soldiers guarding a children’s hospital in Iraq killed and four wounded in a grenade attack. Two days earlier 3 US soldiers killed and 2 more persons wounded in an attack on a US convoy in Iraq. There had been regular killings of US soldiers in Iraq, about 2 or 3 a week.
24/7/2003. The US released gruesome photos of Saddam Hussein’s dead sons, Uday and Qusai, killed in a raid by US forces on 22/7/2003.
22/7/2003, Saddam Hussein’s sons, Udai and Qusai, died during a US air raid on Mosul, Iraq.
5/7/2003, A bomb killed seven Iraqi police recruits at a graduation ceremony in Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad.
30/6/2003. Nine Iraqis, including an Imam, killed in an explosion beside a mosque in Falluja. The US later claimed it was an accident during a bomb-making lesson.
24/6/2003. Six British military personnel killed and 8 wounded in two incidents in southern Iraq, both near Amara. Regular attacks on and killings of US soldiers continued in Iraq.
27/5/2003. Two US soldiers killed and 9 wounded in attack on army unit at Falluja.
26/5/2003. Further US soldiers died in Iraq as a US vehicle hit a landmine in Baghdad, killing one and injuring 3 soldiers. Also enemy fire killed a US soldier in a convoy near Haditha.
22/5/2003. Scientist David Kelly met with BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan, in a Charing Cross hotel. On 29/5/2003 Andrew Gilligan’s report was broadcast by the BBC on ‘Today’. It was claimed that the intelligence community was not happy with the claims in the ‘Iraq dossier’ (see 24/9/2002). Tony Blair denied this claim. On 1/6/2003 Andrew Gilligan claimed that Alistair Campbell, in The Mail on Sunday, had ‘sexed up’ the Iraq dossier. On 6/6/2003 Campbell complained to the BBC about Gilligan. On 26/6/2003 Campbell demanded an apology from the BBC, and on 27/6/2003 Gilligan told a BBC news reporter of his source (Kelly). On 4/7/2003 the MoD warned Kelly against further contact with the media. On 6/7/2003 BBC governors defended the Gilligan report. On 7/7/2003 Parliament cleared Campbell of ‘sexing up’ the dossier. On 9/7/2003 the press named Kelly as Gilligan’s source. On 18/7/2003 Kelly went missing and was found dead, allegedly having committed suicide. See 1/8/2003.
13/5/2003. In Britain, Development Secretary Claire Short resigned over Iraq. The killings of US soldiers continued despite Bush’s declaration that ‘the war was over’, with a US soldier killed in an ambush on his convoy at Diwaniya. On 8/5/2003 a US soldier was shot dead whilst directing traffic in Baghdad.
1/5/2003. President George Bush declared the Iraq war to be over. US troops controlled, in theory, much of |Iraq; however sporadic attacks on Allied troops, acts of sabotage on oil, water, and other infrastructure, and car bomb attacks on the UN building continued since then, throughout 2003.
16/4/2003. A huge demonstration by Shiites in Baghdad. The Coalition said this was proof that new liberties were available in Baghdad.
9/4/2003, US tanks rolled into Baghdad, to scenes of joy. A crowd pulled down a statue of Saddam Hussein, with help from US soldiers, and the head of the statue was dragged around the streets.
7/4/2003, The Iraqi city of Basra was captured from Saddam Hussein’s forces.
21/3/2003, The city of Baghdad was ablaze under the USA’s ‘Shock and Awe’ campaign in Iraq.
20/3/2003. A coalition led by the USA and the UK attacked Iraq. This was without UN authorisation, see 5/2/2003.
19/3/2003, The USA bombed Baghdad.
18/3/2003, British MPs voted 412 to 149 in favour of using force against Iraq.
16/2/2003, Millions of people worldwide protested against the US threat of war on Iraq.
5/2/2003, Against the opinion of UN weapons inspectors, US Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed to have evidence of weapons of mass destruction and weapons research facilities in Iraq. The USA and UK pressurised the UN for authorisation to attack Iraq, see 20/3/2003. Tony Blair, later dubbed ‘Tony Bliar’, claimed Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction at 45 minutes notice.
7/12/2002. Iraq issued a 12,000 page dossier of its weapons programme, but claimed it had no banned arms.
8/11/2002. The UN passed Resolution 1441, by 15 votes to 0, giving Iraq a final chance to comply with disarmament.
11/10/2002, US Congress authorised the use of military force in Iraq.
24/9/2002. In Britain, a ‘dossier’ on Iraq’s alleged weapons capability was published. In it, Tony Blair claimed Iraq could launch ‘weapons of mass destruction’ at 45 minutes notice. See 22/5/2003.
12/9/2002. President Bush of the USA warned the UN that the USA will act if the UN cannot deal with Iraqi violations of sanctions. See 8/11/2002.
12/11/2001. Iraq said it approved of the World Trade Centre attack on 11/9/2001.
See USA for events relating to ‘9-11’attacks
16/2/2001, US and UK warplanes bombed the suburbs of Baghdad, killing 3 people.
16/12/1998. Unscom withdrew weapons inspectors from Iraq after continued obstruction from visiting various sites. Between 16 and 19 December, US and Britain bombed Iraq (Operation Desert Fox) to destroy its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programmes.
31/10/1998. Iraq ceased all co-operation with the UN Special Commission which was set up to oversee the destruction of Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (Unscom).
29/9/1998, The US passed the Iraq Liberation Act, stating the US intention to remove Saddam Hussein from power and replace his regime with a democratic government.
5/8/1998, Iraq suspended all co-operation with UNSCOM officials.
29/10/1997, Iraq banned UN weapons inspectors from its territory.
3/9/1996. The US extended the southern Iraq no-fly-zone, established on 26/8/1992 south of 32 degrees, up to 33 degrees, just south of Baghdad.
31/8/1996, Iraqi forces launched a major offensive into the northern no-fly-zone and captured the city of Erbil from the Kurds.
12/7/1996. Saddam Hussein, Iraqi President, was reported to have foiled a coup attempt by 50 military officers.
10/11/1995, Iraqi disarmament crisis; the UN intercepted 240 Russian gyroscopes and accelerometers en route from Russia to Iraq.
14/4/1995. The UN allowed Iraq to resume partial exports of its oil to pay for essential food and medicine. Iraq did not implement this until December 1996.
15/10/1994. The UN demanded that Iraq withdrew military units positioned near the border with Kuwait. Iraq complied.
27/6/1993. US forces launched cruise missile attack on Baghdad Intelligence HQ in retaliation for an attempted assassination of US President George Bush in April 1993.
8/1/1993. President Saddam Hussein of Iraq continued to defy calls by Britain, France, The USA, and Russia to move surface-to-air missiles away from the air exclusion zone in southern Iraq. Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz was defiant; however the missiles were in fact soon moved, to a location unknown to the Allies due to poor weather.
27/10/1992. Turkey sent tanks into northern Iraq as a security measure against Kurdish separatist guerrillas.
27/8/1992. The US established a ‘no-fly’ zone over southern Iraq, south of latitude 32 degrees.
3/8/1992. The US began forces manoeuvres in Kuwait, as a warning to Iraq.
7/7/1992. Iraq again obstructed UNSCOM weapons inspectors, refusing them access to the Ministry of Agriculture, where there may have been details of Iraq’s chemical weapons programme.
28/2/1992. Baghdad was still obstructing UN weapons inspectors teams, until sanctions were relaxed.
15/8/1991. Iraq was required by the UN to provide a list of all proscribed weapons and weapon development programmes.
2/5/1991. The UN set a six-day deadline for Iraqi troops to withdraw from the Iraq/Kuwait border.
13/4/1991. Iran opened its borders and asked for Western help to deal with 1.5 million Kurdish refugees, as hundreds died each day from cold, hunger, and disease. Iran felt more help had been given to Turkey, which had not been as hospitable to the Kurds as Iran had. On 19/4/1991 the Allies took over ground for Kurdish refugees just inside Iraq.
10/4/1991. The USA ordered Iraq to cease all military activity within its borders.
9/4/1991. Customs officers in the West Midlands arrested four men from two firms over alleged export of machine tools to Iraq.
8/4/1991. The establishment of a UN safe haven for Kurds in northern Iraq was approved.
7/4/1991. Iran closed its border to fleeing Kurds, saying it had no more resources to cope with them. Iraqi forces heavily suppressed rebellions in the Shiite south and Kurdish north since the Gulf war ceasefire in March 1991.
5/4/1991. President Bush ordered US transport planes to drop supplies to Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq.
3/4/1991. Unscom demanded that Iraqi missiles with a range of over 150 kilometres must be removed, destroyed, or made harmless. UN Resolution 687 set out Iraq’s disarmament obligations.
2/4/1991. Turkey sought UN help as its army turned away thousands of Kurds at the border fleeing the Iraqi army. President Bush said he would not allow US troops to risk their lives in what was an Iraqi civil war. John Major sent £20 million of food aid to the Kurds but also would not intervene militarily.
31/3/1991, Kirkuk was recaptured by Iraqi forces, see 19/3/1991.
23/3/1991. Kurds were fleeing over the Iraqi border to Turkey and Iran after the Iraqi army, having defeated the Shiites in the south, turned on the Kurdish Peshmerga rebels. Many refugees died of cold in the mountains on the border.
19/3/1991. Kurdish rebels claimed to have captured Kirkuk, the main oil city of northern Iraq. See 31/3/1991.
16/3/1991. (1) Saddam Hussein, speaking publicly for the first time since the end of the Gulf war, claimed the Shiite rebellion in the south had been crushed. He admitted the fighting with Kurdish rebels continued in the north.
(2) Bush and Major said they would maintain sanctions against Iraq till it paid for the Kuwaiti war and got rid of its weapons of mass destruction.
10/3/1991, US troops began to leave the Persian Gulf.
5/3/1991. Republican Guards loyal to Saddam Hussein fired on Shia rebels in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. The Kurds in the north were also preparing to try for independence. Baghdad Radio announced that the annexation of Kuwait was annulled.
3/3/1991. A peace agreement was reached between Allied and Iraqi forces after the Gulf War. In 1990 Iraqi forces under Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait, on August 2nd. A week later USA forces arrived in the Gulf and in January 1991 operation Desert Storm was launched against Iraq, supported by the USA, Saudi Arabia, and 27
2/3/1991, The United Nations voted in favour of US resolutions for a cease fire with Iraq.
28/2/1991. Ceasefire in the Gulf. Fears of massive Allied casualties never materialised, and in the event Iraqi resistance crumbled and 250 Allied personnel were killed. Iraqi casualties are not known exactly but were probably between 35,000 and 100,000. President Bush called for the Iraqi people to overthrow Saddam Hussein, but gave no actual assistance and both a Shia uprising in southern Iraq and a Kurdish rebellion in the north failed. Iraq viciously reasserted its power and hundreds of thousands of refugees especially Kurds fled to Turkey across inhospitable mountain terrain. President Bush feared the coalition would collapse if his forces went as far as Baghdad and overthrew Saddam Hussein, an action not covered by the UN mandate.
25/2/1991. Iraqi tanks and troops fled from Kuwait. The Allies pounded the retreating troops, not wishing to see Iraq keep its armour intact. Over 270 Iraqi tanks were destroyed and over 25,000 Iraqi soldiers captured as POWs. Many Iraqi conscript soldiers surrendered without a fight.
24/2/1991. Allies began land offensive against Iraq. Heading Operation Desert Storm was ’Stormin’ Norman’ US General H Norman Schwarzkopf. US troops crossed from Saudi Arabia into Kuwait and also crossed the Saudi border further west into Iraq, to wheel north and east and encircle Iraqi forces around Kuwait. This manoeuvre surprised Saddam Hussein, who may have been hoping to repeat the tactic of the Iraq/Iran war by luring US troops into frontal attacks and then massacring them.
22/2/1991. The USA said it would begin a full-scale land attack if Iraq did not withdraw from Kuwait by noon 23/2/1991. Iraq began systematically setting fire to Kuwaiti oil wells. 150 wells were fired, sending a huge pall of black smoke across the Gulf area. Five million gallons of oil a day were being destroyed.
18/2/1991. The US assault ship Tripoli and the guided missile cruiser Princeton were damaged by mines in the Persian Gulf during the Gulf War.
16/2/1991, During the Gulf War, two Scud missiles hit Israel; one fell in the Negev Desert near the Dimona nuclear reactor. Meanwhile a poll in Europe showed 1 in 3 people in favour of using nuclear weapons on Saddam Hussein if he used chemical weapons in the Gulf War.
13/2/1991. 500 Iraqi civilians were killed when the US bombed a civilian bomb shelter, believing it to be a military bunker.
27/1/1991. The Iraqis had laid 1 million mines in Kuwait to halt an Allied advance.
26/1/1991. Seven Iraqi warplanes fled to Iran.
25/1/1991. (1) Baghdad now had no water or electricity after continued bombing. Sewage pumping had ceased because of no electricity. Bridges had also been destroyed. However the Allies now realised that Saddam would not give in because of bombing alone and a land offensive will be needed. 16 Allied aircraft had been lost to anti-aircraft missiles in 10,000 sorties; most of the Iraqi air force remained protected in bomb-proof bunkers. The RAF bombed Iraqi runways.
(2) Iraq began pumping huge quantities of oil into the Gulf, to hinder Allied amphibious operations. A slick formed, two miles wide by ten miles long, harming wildlife.
24/1/1991. (1) The Gulf war was costing the UK nearly £30 million a day in munitions, lost equipment, and operations spending.
(2) The Allies captured the Kuwaiti island of Qaruh, the first part of Kuwait to be liberated from Iraq.
23/1/1991. Iraq suspended sales of petrol and diesel because half its refining capacity had been destroyed by Allied bombing.
22/1/1991, Iraq set fire to two Kuwaiti oil refineries and oil wells near the Saudi border. By the end of the war 732 of Kuwait’s oil wells had been set on fire.
21/1/1991. Iraq threatened to use shot-down Allied airmen as human shields against bomb attacks. Captured US airmen were paraded on Iraqi TV.
19/1/1991. More bombing of Baghdad, more Scuds hit Tel Aviv. Scud missiles were also fired on Riyadh, the Saudi capital.
18/1/1991. (1) Baghdad launched Scud missiles on Tel Aviv and Haifa. Saddam Hussein hoped to provoke Israel into attacking the Arabs, thereby getting the Arab world on his side. President Bush called on Israel not to retaliate and promised to equip Israel with Patriot missiles to destroy the Scuds in mid-air.
(2) Anti-Gulf war protests across the USA, with 1,400 demonstrators arrested. Many more protested in European cities, including Bonn, Berlin and Paris. However US polls showed 75% in favour of the war, up from 50% just before the war began; 80% were in favour in the UK. Anti-Western demonstrations took place across the Muslim world.
17/1/1991. Baghdad was heavily bombed, also other Iraqi military targets; Iraq fired 8 Scud missiles into Israel.
16/1/1991. Operation Desert Storm began. Phase One involved heavy bombing of Iraq, as US warships in the Gulf launched Cruise Missiles on Baghdad. also gaining US air superiority. In the first 24 hours, US aircraft flew 400 missions against 60 targets in Iraq. Phase Two involved destroying any Iraqi nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons capability, and Phase Three involved pounding the Iraqi Army from the air to pave the way for a ground invasion. Iraq attacked |Israel, which had taken no action against Iraq.
15/1/1991. The UN deadline for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait passed, see 31/8/1990 and 29/11/1990.
12/1/1991. The US Congress authorised the use of force against Iraq.
22/12/1990. Saddam Hussein announced that he would never relinquish Kuwait and, if attacked, would launch missiles and chemical weapons on Israel.
6/12/1990, Saddam Hussein announced that all 34,000 foreign hostages held in Iraq since the invasion of Kuwait were now free to leave.
29/11/1990. The United Nations, in Resolution 678, authorised the use of ‘all necessary means’ if Saddam Hussein did not leave Kuwait by 15/1/1991, five weeks away. This was the first authorisation of the use of force by the UN since the Korean War.
19/11/1990. Saddam Hussein sent another 250,000 troops to Kuwait.
11/11/1990. The UN Security Council passed Resolution 688, giving Iraq until 15/1/1991 to withdraw from Kuwait.
9/11/1990. President Bush announced a doubling of US forces in the Gulf.
24/10/1990. Edward Heath returned from Iraq with hostages. On 21/10/1990 Heath had had a 3-hour meeting with Saddam Hussein to negotiate the hostages’ release.
19/9/1990, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein offered to release all Western hostages if the US withdrew from the Gulf and ended its blockade.
6/9/1990, (1) Margaret Thatcher told the Commons that British troops would be sent to the Gulf as part of a Coalition Force to re-establish the independence of Kuwait.
(2) Saudi Arabia invited US troops and aircraft onto its territory. President Bush sent 200,000 troops to Saudi Arabia to forestall any invasion by Iraq.
5/9/1990. President Gorbachev held fruitless talks with the Iraqi foreign minister, Tariq Aziz.
31/8/1990. The UN began talks with Iraq. 60,000 US troops were now in the Gulf. UN Resolution 678 authorised the use of force against Iraq if it had not withdrawn from Kuwait by 15/1/1991. Saddam Hussein urged on Islamic fundamentalists who argued for war against the US and linked the issue to the cause of West Bank Palestinians, calling for Israeli withdrawal there and from the Gaza Strip.
29/8/1990. In Vienna, OPEC states agreed to boost production to make up for the shortfall caused by sanctions on Iraq.
28/8/1990. Iraq formally annexed Kuwait as its ‘19th province’; Kuwait City was renamed ‘Kadimah’.
27/8/1990, The US expelled 36 of the 55 staff at Iraq’s Washington Embassy.
26/8/1990. The US said it would allow time for sanctions to bite before attacking Iraq.
23/8/1990, Saddam Hussein made a propaganda blunder when he appeared on TV with Western hostages, stroking the hair of 5-year-old Stuart Lockwood.
22/8/1990. Jordan closed its Iraqi border to stem a flood of refugees. Over 40,000 had already fled to Jordan, mainly people of Egyptian, Far Eastern, or Indian/Pakistani origin. Jordan hosted 140,000 refugees, mostly destitute.
16/8/1990. The US began a massive arms build-up in the Gulf, called Operation Desert Storm. The US sent 20 Stealth Fighters, 30,000 troops, and anti-tank weapons. Britain, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, and Saudi forces were also on alert, and to a lesser extent, USSR naval forces. On 19/8/1990 Pakistan denounced the invasion of Kuwait and sent 5,000 troops to Saudi Arabia.
13/8/1990. Iraq ordered all Westerners in Iraq to assemble at three hotels prior to being taken to key military installations to serve as ‘human shields’. Britain protests to Iraq after Iraqi border guards shoot dead a British businessman attempting to flee Iraqi-occupied Kuwait.
10/8/1990. 13 of the 21 members of the Arab League agree to send forces against Iraq.
9/8/1990, US forces began arriving in Saudi Arabia, en route to liberate Kuwait.
8/8/1990, Iraq announced the official annexation of Kuwait.
7/8/1990. Saudi Arabia and Turkey closed Iraqi oil pipelines running through their territory.
6/8/1990. The UN imposed sanctions on Iraq.
4/8/1990. President Bush ordered US troops to the Gulf. The European Community froze Kuwaiti assets, against use by Iraq.
2/8/1990. Iraq invaded Kuwait, taking control after eight hours. Iraq accused Kuwait of stealing oil from Iraqi oilfields. The Kuwaiti Royal family fled to Saudi Arabia and Iraq installed a puppet government, claiming Kuwait as ‘Iraq’s 19th province’. Iraqis seized 35 British servicemen in Kuwait. The USA sent troops to the Gulf. Egypt demanded that Iraq withdraw. Of the Gulf states, Egypt and Iran were most hostile to Iraq; Libya and the PLO were most sympathetic. Oil prices rose to $26 a barrel (see 27/7/1990). Jordan was caught in the middle, with links to Iraq and vulnerable to any UN embargo against Iraq. There were concerns that Iraq would go on to attack Saudi Arabia, as Saddam Hussein called for an uprising to topple the Saudi Royal Family, and a Jihad (Holy War) against Israel.
Oil production (barrels/day)
Saddam Hussein claimed to have been invited to invade by a ‘free interim government’, which had supposedly seized control from the Emir of Kuwait. He also claimed Kuwait was no longer an independent state but the 19th province of Iraq.
1/8/1990. Talks in Jeddah to resolve Iraq’s claim against Kuwait failed.
29/7/1990. King Hussein of Jordan travelled to Baghdad to try and ease tension between Iraq and Kuwait.
27/7/1990 In an attempt to avert military action by Iraq, OPEC agreed to cut production and raise the price of oil, for the first time in ten years. The oil price was to rise from $18 to $21 a barrel; Kuwait had been openly flouting OPEC production quotas. Iraq demanded that Kuwait forgive a US$25 billion loan extended during the Iraq/Iran war, claiming Iraq was also defending Kuwait. In 2013 the oil price was around US$ 100 a barrel.
24/7/1990. Iraq sent 30,000 troops to the Kuwait border, accusing Kuwait of stealing Iraqi oil. Most observers believed this was only a bluff. See 19/7/1990, and 3/8/1990.
23/7/1990. The US State Department declared it had ‘no special defence or security commitments to Kuwait’.
19/7/1990. Saddam Hussein expressed his anger at other Arab oil states who were ‘overproducing’, so holding down the price of oil, and ‘damaging the Iraqi economy’. States such as Kuwait had considerable shareholdings in Western companies, so benefited by a lower oil price. Iraq, on the other hand, was building up a huge army from its large and growing population, so wanted a high oil price to fund this. This was one of Iraq’s reasons for invading Kuwait. See 24/7/1990.
9/7/1990. The Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, denied he had nuclear weapons.
11/4/1990, British customs seized what were allegedly parts for an Iraqi ‘supergun’, 130 feet long, to be shipped from Teesport, Middlesbrough. The gun was expected to be able to fire a 36-inch shell for over 200 miles, which could be conventional, nuclear or biological. The manufacturers, Sheffield Forgemasters, said the pipes were for the oil industry. On 2/4/1990 the gun’s designer, Canadian-born designer, Dr Gerald Bull, was mysteriously killed in Brussels, allegedly by the Mossad, the Israeli secret service.
28/3/1990. Customs officials in the UK intercepted a cargo of 40 nuclear detonators bound for Iraq.
10/3/1990, Farzad Bazoft, a reporter working for The Observer, was sentenced to death in Iraq for spying. He was hanged on 15/3/1990.
11/1989, Iraq forcibly moved between 100,000 and 500,000 people (mostly Kurdish villagers) away from its borders with Iran and Turkey in order to create an uninhabited ‘sccurity zone’.
8/8/1988. The Iran-Iraq war ended after 8 years, and 1 million casualties. A further 1.7 million were wounded, 1.5 million made homeless, and US$ 400 billion of the two country’s resources had been expended. Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran accepted resolution 598 of the UN Security Council calling for a ceasefire, despite earlier pledging to fight until total victory had been achieved.
25/5/1988. The Iranians suffered reverses on land in their war against Iraq. They were driven off the Fao Peninsula and off land east of Basra (both in Iraq).
1/4/1988, Iraq was accused of using poison gas on Kurdish villagers.
20/3/1988. Iraqi planes attacked the Iranian oil terminal at Kharg Island, killing 54. Two supertankers were hit and exploded into flames. The Iraqis had more fighter planes than the Iranians. Iraq and Iran continued to fire missiles into each other’s capital cities.
16/3/1988. News broke that Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons on Halabja, a Kurdish town. 5,000 Kurds died.
20/12/1987. Iraq claimed it had repulsed an attack by two Iranian brigades 125 miles north of Basra. Iran claimed it was a successful lightning raid.
17/5/1987. Iraqi Exocet missiles hit the USS Stark in the Gulf, killing 37 and injuring 21 sailors. Baghdad said it was an accident.
17/8/1985, Iraqi jet fighters carrying French Exocet missiles bombed the main Iranian oil terminal at Kharg Island.
18/3/1985. Both Iran and Iraq claimed victory in one of the biggest battles in the Gulf War, six days after an Iranian offensive began near Basra.
26/11/1984, The US restored full diplomatic relations with Iraq (severed in 1967).
27/2/1984, Iraq began a blockade of the main Iranian oil terminal at Kharg Island, and threatened to attack tankers loading there.
11/2/1984, Iraq began bombing non-military targets in Iran.
7/2/1983, Iran opened a new offensive in the south-east of Iraq.
24/5/1982, Iranian troops retook Khorramshahr.
31/3/1982. A new offensive by Iran in the 16-month old Iran/Iraq war broke the military stalemate that had already taken 100,000 lives. By the end of March the Iranians claimed to have taken 16,000 Iraqi prisoners, and by May the Iranians had taken the key border town of Khorramshahr and begun to invade Iraqi territory. In the next few months all Iranian territory was freed from Iraqi forces. President Saddam Hussein of Iraq reacted by launching air attacks on Iranian oil installations in the Gulf. Iraq was losing the war and called for a ceasefire but Iran was determined to press on and oust President Hussein from power.
24/9/1980. Iraq invaded Iran, making initial territorial gains. But by 1981 these were lost and Iran occupied some border areas of Iraq. The Iranians could not capture Baghdad or Basra, despite sending 250,000 men into battle. Iraq probably responded with poison gas. In 1984 the action switched to the Persian Gulf. Iraq attacked ships visiting Iranian ports, probably hoping for an Iranian blockade of Iraqi oil exports, which would have angered the West. Iran attacked ships serving Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, to deter them from supporting Iraq. Iran suffered more, as its tanker oil revenues plummeted. By March 1988 Iranian gains in Iraq had been recaptured and the border was virtually unchanged; Iran then agreed to a ceasefire.
23/9/1980. Iranian planes attacked the petro-chemical complex at Zubayr, Iraq. Four Britons and three Americans were killed.
22/9/1980. Iraqi aircraft attacked Iranian bases after some weeks of fighting on the Iran-Iraq border. Iraqi troops also entered Iranian territory. This was the beginning of the Gulf War; Iraq wanted total control of the Shatt-El-Arab waterway, for oil exports, but Iran claimed their mutual border ran down the middle of this waterway.
16/7/1979, Iraqi President Hasan al Bakr resigned. Vice President Saddam Hussein replaced him.
1975, A ‘neutral zone’ between Saudi Arabia and Iraq was divided between the two countires.
1975, The Shah of Iran and Saddam Hussein of Iraq concluded the Algiers Agreement. Under its terms, Iraq ceded ceded border areas north of the Shatt el Arab to iran, and agreed that the Iran-Iraq border should run down the middle of this waterway, not along the Iranian low-water mark on the north. In return Iran ceased military assistance to the Kurdish rebeks in northern Iraq. Saddam Hussein’s subsequent abrogation of this Agreement effectively started the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88).
20/1/1970, Failed coup in Iraq; 40 were executed in the following days.
8/1968, In Iraq the Arab Socialist Baath Party staged a bloodless coup. General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr became President, but Saddam Hussein was recognised as the strongman ofr the regime, controlling internal security.
16/4/1966, General Abdul Rahman Arif succeeded his brother as President of Iraq.
2/9/1965, Tahir Yahya was forced to resign as Prime Minister of Iraq. The vacancy was filled four days later by Arif Abd ar-Razzaq, who fled the country on September 17 after only 10 days in office.
16/3/1959. The USSR lent money to Iraq.
30/7/1958, A left-wing coup overthrew the Iraqi monarchy. The West feared a Middle Eastern domino effect.
4/4/1939, King Ghazi of Iraq died in a motorcycle accident, leaving his four old son to become King Faisal II.
11/8/1937, General Bake Sidqi, dictatorial ruler of Iraq, was killed by a Kurdish assassin.
28/4/1937. Saddam Hussein was born in Al Awja village, near Tikrit, Iraq.
2/5/1935. Faisal II, King of Iraq, was born.
8/9/1933. Iraqi King Feisal I, King since 1921, died in Berne, Switzerland.
3/10/1932, Iraq joined the League of Nations.
30/6/1930. Britain recognised the independence of Iraq.
15/10/1927. Iraq made its first oil strike, at Kirkuk.
16/7/1925, Iraq’s first elected Parliament met in Baghdad.
23/8/1921. Emir Faisal was crowned King of Iraq with British consent. However he then asserted his independence from Britain, demanding independent nation status rather than British mandate status. In October 1921 a compromise was reached under which Iraq became independent but tied to Britain for the duration of the mandate, till 1930. After 1930 Iraq accepted a continued British presence at the airbases of Basra and Habbaniya, useful staging posts en route to India. Iraq remained a political client of Britain until 1958 when King Feisal II was overthrown in a coup.
11/7/1921. The Iraqi Council of State unanimously voted for Faisal to be King.
23/6/1921, Emir Faisal arrived at Basra, after an Iraqi plebiscite showed 96% approval for his appointment as King of Iraq.
9/10/1919, The General Company for the Ports of Iraq was established. It is a Government department responsible for the management of Iraqi ports and navigation in Iraqi territorial waters.
20/5/1883, Faisal I, King of Iraq was born.
1871, A German exploration team visiting Iraq reported ‘plentiful supplies of oil’.
10/2/1258. The Siege of Baghdad ended with a battle in which the Hulagu Khan's (grandson of Ghangiz Khan) Mongol forces overran Baghdad, then the leading centre of Islamic culture and learning and capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. They burned the imperial city to the ground in a looting spree lasting seven days, killing as many as 1,000,000 citizens. The attack was in revenge for the murder of three diplomnatic envoys sent by the Mongols to the court of Khwarazm-Shah, ruler of Baghdad.
945, An emir (see 860) seized Baghdad, the capital, for himself and the entire caliphate disintegrated into many independent emirates.
30/7/762, The city of Baghdad was founded by Caliph al-Mansur. The city was completed in 766, by 100,000 labourers; it was circular and 1.5 miles in diameter.
28/11/749, The Abbasid Dynasty was established in Baghdad with the accession of Abu’l Abbas (died 5/6/754), ruling until the Mongol Invasion of 1258. They claimed descent from Abbas, uncle of Mohammed.
635, Basra was founded as a port and trading city at the estuaries of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.