War against Iran and Kuwait
Due to border disputes and fears that the Shia Muslim Iranian revolution would spread to Iraq, Saddam Hussein attacked Iran in September 1980. The Western powers, who were also concerned about the situation in Iran, supported Iraq. Saddam Hussein was able to buy weapons from both the West and the East and also received financial support from the Arab states.
During the war, the Kurds began an uprising with the support of Iran. After some Kurdish successes, the regime retaliated. In March 1988, about 5,000 Kurds were killed in a gas attack on the city of Halabja. During a couple of years of fighting, an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 Kurds have been killed, and hundreds of thousands have fled to Turkey and Iran.
The war against Iran ended with a ceasefire in 1988 – and without any real winner.
In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, which according to Iraq was a historic part of Basra province. The UN Security Council called on member states to liberate Kuwait. Under the leadership of the United States, an international force of several hundred thousand soldiers was formed and entered Kuwait on January 17, 1991. By the end of February, the Iraqis had been expelled.
US President George W. Bush called on the people to rise up against Saddam. Both Kurds and Shia Muslims took up arms, but Saddam’s elite unit, the Revolutionary Guards, put down the uprisings. In the north, over a million Kurds fled to neighboring countries. The insurgents felt betrayed by the US Alliance, which did not come to the rescue.
After the war, the UN demanded that Iraq neutralize all chemical and biological weapons, as well as any nuclear weapons. Iraq’s trade was controlled and only a certain amount of food and medicine was allowed to be imported. The sanctions had a devastating effect on the economy. Public health deteriorated and infant mortality increased.
The United States overthrows Saddam
Following the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, the new president, George W. Bush, accused Iraq of supporting international terrorism and of continuing to develop weapons of mass destruction. The United States and Britain planned to overthrow Saddam Hussein and pave the way for a pro-Western regime. The official motive for the attack was to find and destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, but the United States also wanted secure access to Iraqi oil and to eliminate threats to Israel. Iraqi exile politicians provided the United States with exaggerated or incorrect information about the situation. The United States wanted to see a future Iraqi government dominated by these exile politicians.
During the second half of 2002, the United States and Britain began preparing for the invasion. American special forces also entered the Kurdish provinces in the north since 1992, where they collaborated with Kurdish militias.
On November 8, the UN Security Council gave Iraq a 30-day deadline to present all the facts about weapons of mass destruction, and demanded a free hand for an inspection group called Unmovic, led by the Swede Hans Blix. Although the inspectors requested more time, on March 17, Bush demanded that Saddam Hussein and his closest men must leave Iraq within 48 hours, otherwise there would be war. The UN inspectors were forced to leave the country without finding any evidence that Iraq had any weapons of mass destruction or tried to develop them.
On March 20, the first air and robot attack on Baghdad took place. A few days later, US and British ground forces entered from the south, and by April 9, US forces had taken control of Baghdad. On May 1, 2003, Bush said that the actual acts of war were over.
The United States takes over
The UN Security Council gave the United States and Britain the right to lead the transition to an independent Iraqi government. A governing body, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), was established. Paul Bremer, head of the CPA, disbanded the Iraqi army and began creating a new one under US leadership. This meant that tens of thousands of former soldiers were no longer paid. Their dissatisfaction led to demonstrations and sabotage, and a growing armed resistance.
According to a2zdirectory, the Sunni Arabs, who had often been members of the Ba’ath party and benefited from Saddam, found themselves sidelined. Across the country, disappointment also increased that daily life did not improve. Worst of all for the average citizen were the suicide bombings that often affected civilians. The UN suspended most of its work in Iraq since its headquarters were detonated by a car bomb in 2003.
Thousands of Iraqis were detained under the rule of the US Alliance, and in the spring of 2004 it was revealed that American soldiers had committed degrading abuses against prisoners. The United States’ plans for political development also proved deficient, mainly due to disagreements in Washington and poor knowledge of local conditions. The exiled politicians the United States leaned towards often lacked support in their home country. The US Department of Defense supported Ahmad Chalabi, a controversial secular Shia Muslim. The US Foreign Ministry and the CIA put more trust in Iyad Allawi, a Shia Muslim who left the Ba’ath party in 1975.