The post-invasion period in Iraq, also known as the Occupation of Iraq,and the Liberation of Iraq followed the 2003 invasion of Iraq by a multinational coalition led by the United States, which overthrew the Ba'ath Party government of Saddam Hussein. This article covers the period starting May 1, 2003, after United States president George W. Bush officially declared the end of major combat operations.
A military occupation was established and run by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which later appointed and granted limited powers to an Iraq Interim Governing Council. Troops for the invasion came primarily from the United States, the United Kingdom and Poland, but twenty-nine other nations also provided some troops, and there were varying levels of assistance from Japan and other allied countries. Tens of thousands of private security personnel provided protection of infrastructure, facilities and personnel.
Coalition and allied Iraqi forces have been fighting a stronger-than-expected militant Iraqi insurgency, and the reconstruction of Iraq has been slow. In mid-2004, the direct rule of the CPA was ended and a new "sovereign and independent" Interim Government of Iraq assumed the full responsibility and authority of the state. The CPA and the Governing Council were disbanded on June 28, 2004, and a new transitional constitution came into effect. Sovereignty was transferred to a Governing Council Iraqi interim government led by Iyad Allawi as Iraq's first post-Saddam prime minister; this government was not allowed to make new laws without the approval of the CPA. The Iraqi Interim Government was replaced as a result of the elections which took place in January 2005. A period of negotiations by the elected Iraqi National Assembly followed, which culminated on April 6, 2005 with the selection of, among others, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and President Jalal Talabani. The Prime Minister al-Jaafari led the majority party of the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), a coalition of the al-Dawa and SCIRI (Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq) parties. Both parties are Tehran backed, and were banned by Saddam Hussein.
Jalal Talabani is the long time leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of the two main Kurdish parties. The three main Kurdish provinces have extensive autonomy, with their own parliament. They have not experienced any considerable insurgency. Most Kurds welcomed the American invasion, and danced in the streets when Saddam was captured. Iraqi Kurdistan is experiencing an economic boom, with many expatriates returning home to take part in rebuilding the country that was devastated during the rule of Saddam Hussein.
According to Article 42 of the Hague Convention, "territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army. The International Humanitarian Law Research Initiative states: "the wording of Security Council resolution 1546 . . . indicates that, regardless of how the situation is characterized, international humanitarian law will apply to it.
The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546 in 2004 looked forward to the end of the occupation and the assumption of full responsibility and authority by a fully sovereign and independent Interim Government of Iraq. Afterwards, the UN and individual nations established diplomatic relations with the Interim Government and began planning for elections and the writing of a new constitution.
Despite the continuing insurgency, conditions were deemed stable enough to conduct elections, despite the objections of the United States government but pursuant to the insistence of Grand Ayatollah Sistani. John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, has indicated that the United States government would comply with a United Nations resolution declaring that coalition forces would have to leave if requested by the Iraqi government. "If that's the wish of the government of Iraq, we will comply with those wishes. But no, we haven't been approached on this issue — although obviously we stand prepared to engage the future government on any issue concerning our presence here.
On May 10, 2007, 144 Iraqi Parliamentary lawmakers signed onto a legislative petition calling on the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal. On June 3, 2007, the Iraqi Parliament voted 85 to 59 to require the Iraqi government to consult with Parliament before requesting additional extensions of the UN Security Council Mandate for Coalition operations in Iraq. The current UN mandate under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1790 expires on December 31, 2008.
The weeks following the removal of the Saddam Hussein regime were portrayed by American media as generally a euphoric time among the Iraqi populace. New York Post correspondent Jonathan Foreman, reporting from Baghdad in May 2003, wrote that looting was less widespread than reported, and that "the intensity of the population's pro-American enthusiasm is astonishing". There were widespread reports of looting, though much of the looting was directed at former government buildings and other remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime. There were reports of looting of Iraq's archaeological treasures, mostly from the National Museum of Iraq; up to an alleged 170,000 items, worth billions of U.S. dollars: these reports were later revealed to be vastly exaggerated. Cities, especially Baghdad, suffered through reductions in electricity, clean water and telephone service from pre-war levels, with shortages that continued through at least the next year.
Militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr used his grass-roots organization and Mahdi Militia of over a thousand armed men to take control of the streets of Baghdad. The CPA soon realized it had lost control and closed down his popular newspaper. This resulted in mass anti-American demonstrations. The CPA then attempted to arrest al-Sadr on murder charges. He defied the American military by taking refuge in the Holy City of Najaf. Through the months of July and August, a series of skirmishes in and around Najaf culminated with the Imman Ali Mosque itself under siege, only to have a peace deal brokered by al-Sistani in late August. Al-Sadr then declared a national cease fire, and opened negotiations with the American and government forces. His militia was incorporated into the Iraqi security forces and al-Sadr is now a special envoy. This incident was the turning point in the failed American efforts to install Ahmed Chalabi as leader of the interim government. The CPA then put Iyad Allawi in power, ultimately he was only marginally more popular than the convicted felon Chalabi.
The Allawi government, with significant numbers of holdovers from the Coalition Provisional Authority, began to engage in attempts to secure control of the oil infrastructure, the source of Iraq's foreign currency, and control of the major cities of Iraq. The continuing insurgencies, poor state of the Iraqi Army, disorganized condition of police and security forces, as well as the lack of revenue hampered their efforts to assert control. In addition, both former Baathist elements and militant Shia groups engaged in sabotage, terrorism, open rebellion, and establishing their own security zones in all or part of a dozen cities. The Allawi government vowed to crush resistance, using U.S. troops, but at the same time negotiated with Muqtada al-Sadr.
Another offensive was launched by insurgents during the month of November in Mosul. U.S. forces backed by peshmerga fighters launched a counteroffensive which resulted in the Battle of Mosul (2004). The fighting in Mosul occurred concurrently with the fighting in Fallujah and attributed to the high number of American casualties taken that month.
In December, 14 American soldiers were killed and over a hundred injured when an explosion struck an open-tent mess hall in Mosul, where President Bush had spent Thanksgiving with troops the year before. The explosion is believed to have come from a suicide bomber.
Hopes for a quick end to an insurgency and a withdrawal of U.S. troops were dashed at the advent of May, Iraq's bloodiest month since the invasion of U.S. forces in March and April 2003. Suicide bombers, believed to be mainly disheartened Iraqi Sunni Arabs, Syrians and Saudis, tore through Iraq. Their targets were often Shia gatherings or civilian concentrations mainly of Shias. As a result, over 700 Iraqi civilians died in that month, as well as 79 U.S. soldiers.
During early and mid-May, the U.S. also launched Operation Matador, an assault by around 1,000 Marines in the ungoverned region of western Iraq. Its goal was the closing of suspected insurgent supply routes of volunteers and material from Syria, and with the fight they received their assumption proved correct. Fighters armed with flak jackets (unseen in the insurgency by this time) and sporting sophisticated tactics met the Marines, eventually inflicting 30 U.S. casualties by the operation's end, and suffering 125 casualties themselves. The Marines succeeded, recapturing the whole region and even fighting insurgents all the way to the Syrian border, where they were forced to stop (Syrian residents living near the border heard the American bombs very clearly during the operation). The vast majority of these armed and trained insurgents quickly dispersed before the U.S. could bring the full force of its firepower on them, as it did in Fallujah.
Elections for a new Iraqi National Assembly were held under the new constitution on December 15, 2005. This election used a proportional system, with approximately 25% of the seats required to be filled by women. After the election, a coalition government was formed under the leadership of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, with Jalal Talabani as president.
On February 22, 2006, at 6:55 a.m. local time (0355 UTC) two bombs were set off by five to seven men dressed as personnel of the Iraqi Special forces who entered the Al Askari Mosque during the morning. Explosions occurred at the mosque, effectively destroying its golden dome and severely damaging the mosque. Several men, one wearing a military uniform, had earlier entered the mosque, tied up the guards there and set explosives, resulting in the blast.
Shiites across Iraq expressed their anger by destroying Sunni mosques and killing dozens. Religious leaders of both sides called for calm amid fears the situation could erupt into a long-awaited Sunni-Shia civil war in Iraq.
On March 2 the director of the Baghdad morgue fled Iraq explaining, "7,000 people have been killed by death squads in recent months. The Boston Globe reported that around eight times the number of Iraqis killed by terrorist bombings during March 2006 were killed by sectarian death squads during the same period. A total of 1,313 were killed by sectarian militias while 173 were killed by suicide bombings. The LA Times later reported that about 3,800 Iraqis were killed by sectarian violence in Baghdad alone during the first three months of 2006. During April 2006, morgue numbers show that 1,091 Baghdad residents were killed by sectarian executions.
Insurgencies, frequent terrorist attacks and sectarian violence lead to harsh criticism of US Iraq policy and fears of a failing state and civil war. The concerns were expressed by several US think tanks as well as the US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad.
In early 2006, a handful of high ranking retired generals begin to demand Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's resignation due in part to the aforementioned chaos that resulted from his management of the war.
The base had been a target for frequent mortar and rocket barrages since being set up in 2003, but Burbridge dismissed suggestions the British had been forced out of Amara while acknowledging the attacks had been one reason for the decision to withdraw, the second being that a static base did not fit with the new operation. "Abu Naji was a bulls-eye in the middle of a dartboard. The attacks were a nuisance and were a contributing factor in our planning", to quit the base, he said, adding "By no longer presenting a static target, we reduce the ability of the militias to strike us..We understand the militias in Maysan province are using this as an example that we have been pushed out of Abu Naji, but that is not true. It was very rare for us to take casualties." Burbridge stated that Iraqi security forces would now be responsible for day-to-day security in Maysan but stressed that the British had not yet handed over complete control to them.
Muqtada al-Sadr called the departure the first expulsion of U.S.-led coalition forces from an Iraqi urban center. A message from al-Sadr's office that played on car-mounted speakers throughout Amarah exclaimed "This is the first Iraqi city that has kicked out the occupier...We have to celebrate this occasion!" A crowd of as many as 5,000 people, including hundreds armed with AK-47 assault rifles, ransacked Camp Abu Naji immediately after the last British soldier had departed despite the presence of a 450-member Iraqi army brigade meant to guard the base. The looting, which lasted from about 10 a.m. to early evening, turned violent at about noon when individuals in the mob shot at the base. The Iraqi troops asked the province's governor for permission to return fire, a decision the British military highlighted as evidence of the security force's training. "It demonstrated that they understand the importance of civilian primacy, that the government -- and not the military -- is in charge", Burbridge said in a phone interview with the Washington Post. Injuries were reported on both sides, but no one was killed. Burbridge attributed the looting to economic factors rather than malice, stating "The people of Amarah -- many of whom are extremely poor -- saw what they believed to be a bit of an Aladdin's cave inside." Residents of Amarah, however, told the Post that antipathy toward the British was strong. "The looters stole everything -- even the bricks...They almost leveled the whole base to the ground", said Ahmed Mohammed Abdul Latief, 20, a student at Maysan University.
The American military command acknowledged in the week of October 16, 2006 that it was considering an overhaul of its latest security plan for Baghdad, where three months of intensive American-led sweeps had failed to curb violence by Sunni Arab-led insurgents and Shiite and Sunni militias.
Numerous car and roadside bombs rocked the capital November 9, 2006 morning: In the Karrada district, a car bomb killed six and wounded 28 others. Another car bomb killed seven and wounded another 27 in the northern Qahira neighborhood. In South Baghdad, a mortar then a suicide car bomber killed seven and wounded 27 others near the Mishin bazaar. Near the college of Fine Arts in north-central Baghdad, a car bomb targeting an Iraqi patrol killed three and wounded six others. Two policemen were injured when they tried to dismantle a car bomb in the Zayouna district. A car bomb on Palestine Street in northeastern Baghdad meant for an Iraqi patrol killed one soldier but also wounded four civilians. Yet another car bomb in southern Baghdad wounded three people. And another car bomb near a passport services building in a northern neighborhood killed 2 people and wounded 7 others.
A roadside bomb in central Baghdad killed two and wounded 26 others. A police patrol was blasted by a roadside bomb near a petrol station; four were killed in the explosion. Another four people were wounded in the New Baghdad neighborhood by yet another roadside bomb. A bomb hidden in a sack exploded in Tayern square killing three and wounding 19. Another bomb in the Doura neighborhood killed one and wounded three. Mortars fell in Kadmiyah killing one woman and injuring eight people, and in Bayaladat where four were wounded.
Also in the capital, a group of laborers were kidnapped November 9, 2006 morning; five bodies were recovered later in the Doura neighborhood, but at least one other body was found in Baghdad November 9, 2006. Gunmen killed a police colonel and his driver in eastern Baghdad. And just outside of town, police arrested two people in a raid and discovered one corpse.
November 11, 2006, two bombs planted in an outdoor market in central Baghdad exploded around noon, killing six and wounded 32 people. A car bomb and a roadside bomb were detonated five minutes apart in the market, which is in an area close to Baghdad's main commercial center. The U.S. military said it has put up a $50,000 reward for anyone who helps find an American soldier kidnapped in Baghdad. The 42-year-old Army Reserve specialist, Ahmed K. Altaie, was abducted on October 23 when he left the Green Zone, the heavily fortified section where the United States maintains its headquarters, to visit his Iraqi wife and family.
A suicide bomber killed 25 Iraqis and wounded 45 November 12, 2006 morning outside the national police headquarters' recruitment center in western Baghdad, an emergency police official said. They were among dozens of men waiting to join the police force in the Qadessiya district when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives belt. In central Baghdad, a car bomb and roadside bomb killed four Iraqi civilians and wounded 10 near the Interior Ministry complex. And in the Karrada district of central Baghdad, one Iraqi was killed and five were wounded when a car bomb exploded near an outdoor market November 12, 2006 morning. Gunmen shot dead an Iraqi officer with the new Iraqi intelligence system as he was walking towards his parked car in the southwestern Baghdad neighborhood of Bayaa. Two civilians were killed and four more were wounded when a roadside bomb hit a car in the eastern Baghdad neighborhood of Zayuna.
On September 3, 2006, Iraq says it has arrested the country's second most senior figure in Al-Qaeda, "severely wounding" an organization the US military says is spreading sectarian violence that could bring civil war. The National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie summoned reporters to a hastily arranged news conference to announce that al Qaeda leader Hamid Juma Faris al-Suaidi had been seized some days ago. Hitherto little heard of, and also known as Abu Humam or Abu Rana, Suaidi was captured hiding in a building with a group of followers. "Al-Qaeda in Iraq is severely wounded", Rubaie said. He said Suaidi had been involved in ordering the bombing of the Shi'ite shrine in Samarra in February 2006 that unleashed the wave of tit-for-tat killings now threatening civil war. Iraqi officials blame Al-Qaeda for the attack. The group denies it. Rubaie did not give Suaidi's nationality. He said he had been tracked to the same area north of Baghdad where US forces killed Al-Qaeda's leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in June 2006. "He was hiding in a building used by families. He wanted to use children and women as human shields", Rubaie said. Little is publicly known about Suaidi. Rubaie called him the deputy of Abu Ayyub al-Masri, a shadowy figure, probably Egyptian, who took over the Sunni Islamist group from Zarqawi.
Washington claims to be eager for Iraq's army to take over security and pave the way for a withdrawal of its 140,000 troops. But a handover ceremony on September 2, 2006 was postponed at the last minute, first to September 3, 2006 , then indefinitely, after a dispute emerged between the government and Washington over the wording of a document outlining their armies' new working relationship. "There are some disputes", an Iraqi government source said. "We want thorough control and the freedom to make decisions independently." US spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson played down any arguments and expected a signing soon: "It is embarrassing but it was decided it was better not to sign the document." Practically, US troops remain the dominant force. Their tanks entered the southern, Shi'ite city of Diwaniya on September 3, 2006 . The show of force came a week after Shi'ite militiamen killed 20 Iraqi troops in a battle that highlighted violent power struggles between rival Shi'ite factions in the oil-rich south.
On September 11, 2006, it transpired that Colonel Peter Devlin, chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq, had filed a secret report, described by those who have seen it as saying that the U.S. and the Iraqi government have been defeated politically in Anbar province. According to The Washington Post, an unnamed Defense Department source described Devlin as saying "there are no functioning Iraqi government institutions in Anbar, leaving a vacuum that has been filled by the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has become the province's most significant political force." The Post said that Devlin is a very experienced intelligence officer whose report was being taken seriously.
The next day, Major General Richard Zilmer, commander of the Marines in Iraq, stated: "We are winning this war... I have never heard any discussion about the war being lost before this weekend.
Iraq seeks 36 F-16’s, the most sophisticated weapons system Iraq has attempted to purchase so far. The Pentagon recently notified Congress that it had approved the sale of 24 American attack helicopters to Iraq, valued at as much as $2.4 billion. Including the helicopters, Iraq has announced plans this year to purchase at least $10 billion in U.S. tanks and armored vehicles, transport planes and other battlefield equipment and services. Over the summer, the Defense Department announced that the Iraqi government wanted to order more than 400 armored vehicles and other equipment worth up to $3 billion, and six C-130J transport planes, worth up to $1.5 billion.
As of September, 2006, there were 21 countries with military forces stationed in Iraq. These were Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mongolia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, United Kingdom, and the United States. Fiji is also present but under the United Nations banner.
Well over 80% of the forces occupying Iraq are American. As of September 2006, there were an estimated 145,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. The next largest contingent is that of the United Kingdom, with just under 9,000. There are also approximately 20,000 private security contractors of different nationalities under various employers.
In November 2003, Paul Bremer announced the plan to hand over limited sovereignty to the Iraqi governing council by June 30, 2004. A draft constitution was written and approved by the Iraqi Governing Council in March 2004. The United States has stated its plans to enter into what it calls a security agreement with the new Iraqi government and maintain military authority until a new Iraqi army is established. The Bush administration remained committed to this date despite the unstable security situation. The interim Iraqi government was named in May 2004, at which point the Iraqi Governing Council was dissolved, though there was heavy overlap between the two governing bodies.
The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority, for administrative purposes, divided Iraq into four security zones (see map): a North zone in the Mosul - Kirkuk region, a Central zone in the Baghdad - Tikrit region, a Southern Central zone in the Karbala region and a South zone in the Basra region. The northern and central zones are garrisoned by U.S. troops, while the Southern Central zone is a garrisoned by a Multi-National Division under Polish command and the South zone is garrisoned by a Multi-National Division under British command.
In the early months of the occupation, looting and vandalism slowed the restoration of basic services such as water, electricity, and sanitation. By Spring 2004, these services were mostly restored to pre-war levels. Ongoing work is continuing to provide sufficient sanitation. Uneven power distribution remained a problem through 2004, with the Baghdad area continuing to have periodic blackouts. On July 28, 2005, Iraq's Electricity Minister announced that Iraq's electricity supply had risen to above pre-war levels.
Allegations of human rights violations by the occupying forces have been embarrassing to the Bush administration and the British government. Some of the allegations have been investigated. Several U.S. and British officers have been charged with the abuse of prisoners, and as of the beginning of February 2005, seven American soldiers have been convicted in connection with abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison.
Former Ba'ath Party members and military officers who have no criminal past or human rights abuses have been allowed to return to government positions.
For the reconstruction, contracts were awarded to private companies. Initially companies from countries that had opposed the war were excluded from these contracts, but this decision was reversed due to protests. Political activists and commentators allege that The Pentagon favoured companies like Halliburton, former employer of Vice President Dick Cheney, because they had connections to high-ranking members of the Bush administration. This suspicion had already been a concern during the global protests against the war on Iraq. An audit found that Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) may have overcharged the U.S. government $ 61 million, on contracts worth billions, for bringing oil products for the U.S. army into Iraq via a Kuwaiti subcontractor, Altanmia Commercial Marketing Co.
Some also argue that foreign contractors are doing work which could be done by unemployed Iraqis, which might be a factor fueling resentment of the occupation. Further resentment could be inflamed with the news that almost USD9 billion dollars of Iraqi oil revenue is missing from a fund set up to reconstruct Iraq.
On August 14, 2005, a Washington Post story on the administration's effort to lower expectations, quoted Wayne White, former head of the State Department's Iraq intelligence team, as saying "The most thoroughly dashed expectation was the ability to build a robust self-sustaining economy. We're nowhere near that. State industries, electricity are all below what they were before we got there."
A report of the United States Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction found widespread "fraud, incompetence and confusion" in the American occupation's handling of billions of dollars of Iraqi government money and American funds given for reconstruction (NY Times January 25, 2006 ). Inspector-general Stuart Bowen, Jr. noted that only 49 of 136 planned water- and sanitation-related projects will be completed.
In April 2007, the New York Times reported that U. S. federal oversight inspectors found that "in a sampling of eight projects that the United States had declared successes, seven were no longer operating as designed because of plumbing and electrical failures, lack of proper maintenance, apparent looting, and expensive equipment that lay idle. The United States has sometimes admitted ... that some of its reconstruction projects have been abandoned, delayed, or poorly constructed. But this is the first time inspectors have found that projects officially declared as successes—in some cases, as little as six months before the latest inspections—were no longer working properly.
The establishment of a new civilian government of Iraq was complicated by religious and political divisions between the majority Shi'ite population and the formerly ruling Sunni Arabs. Moreover, many of the people in Saddam's ruling Ba'ath Party were perceived as tainted by the association by some parties. In northern Iraq, Kurds had already had effectively autonomous rule for 12 years under the protection of the no-fly zone.
On May 16, 2003, U.S. officials abandoned the plan to cede authority to a democratically chosen interim civilian Iraqi government (similar to what had happened in Afghanistan following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan) and presented a resolution to the UN to give the United States and the United Kingdom broad power and to lift economic sanctions on Iraq, allowing the occupying countries authority to use oil resources to pay for rebuilding the country. Passage of the resolution allowed them to appoint an interim government by themselves.
The resolution also created the Development Fund for Iraq, which collected funds from oil sales. The fund was initially run by the United States and Britain to rebuild the country, and is overseen by a new advisory body composed of the United Nations and international financial institutions. In June 2004, the New York Times reported that American authorities spent $2.5 billion from Iraqi oil revenue despite agreements that the oil revenues should be set aside for use after the restoration of Iraq's sovereignty.
On August 14, 2003, the Security Council voted 14–0 to "welcome" the creation of the Iraqi Governing Council. Resolution 1500 stopped short of formally recognizing the governing council as Iraq's legitimate governing body but called it an "important step" towards creating a sovereign government.
In the early months of the occupation, new officials were appointed to several local and regional positions (e.g., mayors, governors, local councils). The officials were chosen from a select group of individuals (including ex-Ba'ath party officials) in an attempt to speed the return to normality and to avoid the election of people opposed to the American and British presence. Certain religious clerics and other officials were considered to be overly radical or dangerous. On occasion the appointed officials were found to behave less than admirably. On June 30, 2003, the appointed mayor of Najaf was arrested on charges of corruption.
By February 2004, democratic elections, under the supervision of the CPA, had already been held at the municipal and city level in some of the southern and northern provinces.
On November 15, the Iraqi Governing Council announced that a transitional government would take over in June from the U.S.-led powers, and that an elected government would follow by the end of 2005 once a constitution had been drafted and ratified. The transitional government would be selected in June 2004 by a transitional council formed in May 2004.
The Governing Council revealed the timetable after the United States government, in reaction to terrorist and militant activity against occupying troops and aid organisations, abandoned its earlier plan that a sovereign government would take charge only after creating a constitution and elections held. Jalal Talabani, who was chairman of the council, said the transition would involve "the creation of a permanent constitution by an elected council, directly elected by the people, and also the election of a new government according to the articles of this new constitution before the end of 2005."
In March 2004, an interim constitution was created, called the Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period. The document called for the creation of an elected National Assembly to take place no later than January 2005. The question of the election calendar became a matter of importance for Iraq and the U.S.: while a quick election would legitimise the Iraqi government and shed a favourable light on the U.S.-led occupation of the country, the prospect of violence delayed it. It was finally set for January 30, 2005. Though then-President Ghazi Al-Yaouar asked the United Nations to reconsider the electoral schedule several weeks before the election, the legislative election was held on time, creating the Iraqi National Assembly.
The elected assembly drafted a new constitution for Iraq, submitting it to the Iraqi people for review on August 28. On October 15, Iraqis voted to approve the new constitution. On December 15, the first legislative election under the new constitution was held.
In a June 1, 2004, press conference, President Bush said that he was working with various world leaders to create a U.N. Security Council resolution endorsing the transition from the U.S.-dominated occupation to complete autonomy for Iraq. Under this resolution, Coalition forces would remain in Iraq until the new government could establish security and stabilization: "There is a deep desire by the Iraqis — don't get me wrong — to run their own affairs and to be in a position where they can handle their own security measures." On June 8, Security Council resolution 1546 was adopted unanimously, calling for "the end of the occupation and the assumption of full responsibility and authority by a fully sovereign and independent Interim Government of Iraq by June 30, 2004."
On June 28, 2004, the occupation was nominally ended by the CPA, which transferred limited power to a new Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. The multinational military alliance continued to assist the Allawi government in governing the Iraqis. The purpose of the Occupation of Iraq was, according to U.S. President George W. Bush, purely to bring about a transition from post-war anarchy to full Iraqi sovereignty.
A further milestone in sovereignty was achieved with the creation of a democratically-elected administration on April 6, 2005 including Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and President Jalal Talabani following the Iraqi elections of January 2005.
Under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1790, the mandate of the multinational force in Iraq was extended until December 31, 2008, after which there is no justification for foreign militaries to remain in the country. On June 6, 2008, the Independent reported that the United States was applying pressure to the government of Iraq to sign a “strategic alliance” (not a “treaty”, which would require approval of the US senate), giving US forces broad freedom in continuing to operate in Iraq.
Despite the defeat of the old Iraqi army, irregular forces, both Iraqi and external, have conducted attacks against the Coalition and, more recently, the new Iraqi government. In the early months following the "end of major combat operations", insurgents conducted sniper attacks, suicide bombings at road checkpoints, and ambushes, resulting in about 112 multinational force personnel deaths per month.
Sometimes the attackers would say that they were motivated by revenge (e.g., an anti-coalition group claimed the four Iraqis that were allegedly shot at by British soldiers during a demonstration were unarmed and acting peacefully; six British soldiers were later killed by Iraqis). Several Iraqis, reportedly unarmed, were shot in anti-Alliance demonstrations, mostly in the nation's Sunni Arab areas. While Shi'a Muslim areas were mostly peaceful, Ayatollah Sayed Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, who returned to Iraq after decades in exile shortly after the occupation began, said: "We are not afraid of the British or American troops. This country wants to keep its sovereignty and the forces of the coalition must leave it." Coalition forces denied the accusations of targeting unarmed civilians. They said they were fired upon and were returning fire.
The violent insurgency began shortly after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq and increased during the occupation. Originally, the insurgents targeted the coalition force (a majority of whom are from the United States and the United Kingdom) and the interim government (eg., the Coalition Provisional Authority) formed under the occupation. The insurgency grew during the period between the invasion of Iraq and the establishment of a new Iraqi government.
Sabotage of oil pipelines and refineries have been a key tactic of the Iraqi insurgency. The United States had intended to quickly rebuild Iraqi infrastructure for production back to pre-war levels, but widespread sabotage slowed down the pace of reconstruction. The administration has set an oil-production goal of 5 million barrels per day, but the president's numbers show that production decreased slightly in 2005 over 2004 from 2.2 million gallons per day to 2.1 million gallons per day. The administration claims that oil production, however, is up from 2003, when oil was produced at 1.58 million barrels per day.
Iraqi analysts have argued that the administration's measures are misleading because the war began in 2003, which pushed production numbers lower than they normally would have been.
"They are way off of their original projections" for where oil production would be now, said Rick Barton, an expert on Iraqi reconstruction at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "It's basically gone nowhere in the entire time we've been there. Of course, they haven't been able to protect the pipelines. You just can't be rebuilding a country during an active war."
The Fallujah offensive Operation Vigilant Resolve was launched on April 5 in response to the March 31 murder and mutilation of four of Blackwater's employees. Roads leading into and out of the city were closed. When the U.S. Soldiers and Marines tried to enter, fierce fighting erupted. Members of the Iraqi insurgency opened fire with heavy machine guns, rockets, and rocket-propelled grenades. The Soldiers and Marines answered by bringing in tanks and helicopters.
The ensuing firefight resulted in a large number of casualties. Dozens of Marines were killed and injured. Two hundred and seventy-one members of the non-coalition forces were killed and 793 injured, according to official counts for the period of April 5 through April 22. Conflicting reports leave it unclear how many of the dead and injured were rebel fighters or women and children. There were also reports of ambulances and aid convoys being used by the insurgents to smuggle weapons and fighters into the city. Coalition officials said that the insurgents used mosques and schools as command posts and weapon-storage facilities. A suicide-bomb-vest factory was discovered by Marines.
After several failed attempts at ceasefires, the U.S. backed out of the city. A Marine commander stated "We don't want to turn Fallujah into Dresden". The U.S. handed authority of the city over to a former Iraqi general who had served under Saddam Hussein, and whose fighters the U.S. acknowledges may include former members of insurgency.
Afterwards, the city was referred to as "free rebel town"; banners in the city streets proclaimed victory over the United States, and some of its mosques praised the Iraqi insurgency. The general, Muhammed Latif, told Reuters, ""I want the American soldier to return to his camp. What I want more is that he returns to the United States.
U.S. marines encircled Fallujah with an earth wall, trying to control access to the city, allowing only women and children to leave the city. On June 19, 2004, twenty two Iraqis, among them women and children, were killed in a U.S. air strike on a residential neighborhood. Allawi condemned the rebellion and called upon the city to surrender Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of the Tawhid-e-Jihad group who is alleged to be hiding in Fallujah, or face aerial bombing by the United States.
The coalition responded by arresting one of al-Sadr's closest aides, leading to al-Sadr calling on his followers to rise up. The next days fighting erupted in many cities in southern Iraq, including Karbala, Kut, Nassiriya and Basra. The CPA announced the existence of a three-month-old arrest warrant, issued by an Iraqi judge, on al-Sadr, claiming that he was responsible for the killing of Coalition-aligned cleric Abdul Majid al-Khoei. The warrant itself inspired further opposition, as Khoei's own followers blamed Baathists for the murder, the Coalition-appointed Iraqi Minister of Justice stated that he had no knowledge of the warrant, and the Iraqi Jurists Association declared the warrant "illegal". Al-Sadr, who had previously created his own parallel government and a militia called the al-Mahdi Army, instructed his followers to no longer follow along with the occupation, and suggested that they attack Coalition soldiers, and his followers took control of several southern cities, often with the support of local authorities and police.
During the first few days of the uprising al-Sadr stayed in Kufa, where he traditionally had a large following. On April 7 he moved to Najaf, into a building close to the shrine of the Imam Ali, the holiest shrine in the Shia faith. After fierce fighting during the first days of the uprising, his followers took control over many cities in southern Iraq. In Kut the Ukrainian occupational contingent was forced out of the city by a rain of mortar fire. The Italians were contained inside their base in Nassiriya, and in Basra the governor's palace was occupied. In Karbala, Polish and Bulgarian forces were able to hold their own after a battle lasting the whole night. The Alliance reacted by dispensing a reactionary force on April 8 to Kut, forcing al-Sadr followers to melt away into the city's population. The same happened in most of the other cities and control was nominally ceded. Only Najaf and Kufa, which the Americans did not enter, remained effectively under the control of al-Sadr followers. The Coalition sent 2,500 U.S. Marines to Najaf to try to 'arrest or kill' al-Sadr.
Initially hopeful that al-Sistani would force al-Sadr to capitulate, the coalition was disappointed when, while he called for all sides to show restraint, he focused instead on condemning coalition activities in Fallujah. In mid-May 2004, a U.S. lead force began pushing into Najaf. In the process, they invaded several mosques to seize weaponry, and there were reports of damage to some of Shia Islam's holiest shrines. U.S. forces, using their superior fire power and air support, inflicted a steady stream of al-Mahdi army casualties; al-Sadr and hospital officials disputed the numbers, and both claimed that many of them were civilians. The al-Mahdi were only able to inflict few American casualties, but on May 17, it was reported that the Al-Madhi army drove Italian troops from their base in Nasiriyah. Ten Italians were wounded, along with 20 al-Mahdi army fighters wounded and two killed, in the assault. The base was peacefully retaken the next day in a negotiated settlement with local clan leaders.
While the Alliance continually insisted that he had little support, and there were limited clashes with the smaller SCIRI, he was seldom condemned by his more senior clerics. Islamic courts expanded their influence in areas he controlled. The Imam Ali mosque ended its call for prayers with a request for divine protection for him, and his followers were clearly large in number. Many believed that al-Sistani did not speak out against al-Sadr for fear of turning Shiite against Shiite. A poll found that, in mid-May 2004, 32% of Iraqis strongly supported al-Sadr, and another 36% somewhat supported him.
In August 2004, al-Sadr attempted a second rebellion, and his al-Mahdi army again incited violence, especially in the Sadr city slum area of Baghdad, and in Najaf. U.S. forces responded by pushing into the areas of Najaf controlled by al-Mahdi, sending the militia reeling. Supported by helicopter gunships, the U.S. military managed to kill several hundred al-Mahdi fighters, and further close in on the Iman Ali mosque, where al-Sadr had made his base. Brutal fighting raged between U.S. troops and al-Madhi militiamen in a cemetery outside the mosque. To avoid damaging the sacred mosque in a direct raid, a political solution was sought, and a deal was struck between al-Sistani and al-Sadr ended his rebellion. In September 2004, a program encouraged al-Madhi members in Sadr city to exchange their guns into authorities for a financial compensation, and the slum was almost fully pacified.
By August 2005, al-Sadr had adopted a more conciliatory tone, along with a much lower profile, saying "I call upon all the believers to save the blood of the Muslims and to return to their homes" after an outbreak of violence between some of his followers and those of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim.
The hostage-taking appears to be uncoordinated, with different groups making various demands. Some hostages are released whilst others are killed, sometimes by beheading. Several kidnappings have been claimed by the Tawhid and Jihad (The Unity of God and Holy War) Islamist group, which changed its name to "Al-Qaeda in Iraq" in October 2004. The group was ran by the Jordanian-born Palestinian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The hostages who have been beheaded by Zarqawi's group, and possibly by Zarqawi himself, include Americans Nick Berg, Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley, South Korean Kim Sun-il, Shosei Koda from Japan, and Kenneth Bigley from the UK. Italian Fabrizio Quattrocchi was shot in the head, possibly by another group, as was British aid worker Margaret Hassan. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 25 journalists have been kidnapped by armed groups in Iraq since April 2004, when insurgents began targeting foreigners for abduction.
While some hostagetaking seems to be politically motivated, a large number of hostages are taken by criminals as a means of obtaining cash. Iraqis presumed to have high incomes have esepcially been targeted.
On the evening of March 4, 2005, the car leading Giuliana Sgrena, freshly liberated, along with two agents of the Sismi, the Italian Military Intelligence service, was fired upon by U.S. troops. Nicola Calipari, who had negotiated the liberation of the other eight Italian hostages, was killed, while Sgrena and the other agent were wounded; see Rescue of Giuliana Sgrena.
The following countries were members of the "Coalition of the Willing" and withdrew their troops subsequently:
During the "post-war" Iraq occupation, occupying forces have turned their attention to enforcing order through patrolling. These patrols faced insurgents who conduct ambushes using assault rifles, rocket propelled grenades, and carefully placed and timed explosives. The patrols require armored vehicles capable of stopping at least small arms fire of 7.62 mm machine gun rounds along with mandatory external weapons platforms and tracking equipment. Experience is also key in detecting any potentially threatening, out of place car, box or person while following the rules of engagement that dictate a passive-but-ready posture. Patrolling soldiers spend nearly eight hours a day in sector and accrue nearly 30 patrols per month.
Besides the embassy complex, four “super bases” are being built for permanent deployment. One would be adjacent to Baghdad, two would be close to the southern and northern oil fields and the fourth would be in the west towards Syria.
The U.S. is in the process of building 14 bases known as enduring bases. Four are unknown as to name and location. The other ten are: Green Zone in Baghdad, Camp Anaconda at Balad Airbase, Camp Taji in Taji, Camp Falcon-Al-Sarq in Baghdad, Post Freedom in Mosul, Camp Victory-Al Nasr at Baghdad Airfield, Camp Marez at Mosul Airfield, Camp Renegade in Kirkuk, Camp Speicher in Tikrit and Camp Fallujuh.
Management of the Iraq Reconstruction Program