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Iraq War 2003

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Documentary: Iraq Documentaries Videos Uncovered The Whole Truth About the Iraq War 2003

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The Iraq War, or the War in Iraq (also referred to as the Occupation of Iraq, the Second Gulf War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom by the United States military), was a conflict that occurred in Iraq from March 20, 2003 to December 15, 2011, though sectarian violence continues and has caused hundreds of fatalities.

Prior to the war, the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom claimed that Iraq’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) posed a threat to their security and that of their coalition/regional allies.   In 2002, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1441 which called for Iraq to completely cooperate with UN weapon inspectors to verify that Iraq was not in possession of WMD and cruise missiles. The United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) found no evidence of WMD, but could not verify the accuracy of Iraq’s declarations regarding what weapons it possessed.   Lead weapons inspector Hans Blix advised the UN Security Council that while Iraq was cooperating in terms of access, Iraq’s declarations with regards to WMD still could not be verified.

After investigation following the invasion, the U.S.-led Iraq Survey Groupconcluded that Iraq had ended its nuclear, chemical, and biological programs in 1991 and had no active programs at the time of the invasion, but that they intended to resume production if the Iraq sanctions were lifted.   Although some degraded remnants of misplaced or abandoned chemical weapons from before 1991 were found, they were not the weapons which had been the one of the main arguments for the invasion.

Some US officials also accused Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of harboring and supporting al-Qaeda, but no evidence of a meaningful connection was ever found.   Other proclaimed reasons for the invasion included Iraq’s financial support for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, Iraqi government human rights abuses, and an effort to spread democracy to the country.

The invasion of Iraq led to an occupation and the eventual capture of President Hussein, who was later tried in an Iraqi court of law and executed by the new Iraqi government. Violence against coalition forces and among various sectarian groups soon led to the Iraqi insurgency, strife between many Sunni and Shia Iraqi groups, and the emergence of a new faction ofAl-Qaeda in Iraq.

In June 2008, U.S. Department of Defense officials claimed security and economic indicators began to show signs of improvement in what they hailed as significant and fragile gains.   Iraq was fifth on the 2008 Failed States Index, and sixth on the 2009 list.   As public opinion favoring troop withdrawals increased and as Iraqi forces began to take responsibility for security, member nations of the Coalition withdrew their forces.   In late 2008, the U.S. and Iraqi governments approved a Status of Forces Agreement effective through January 1, 2012.   The Iraqi Parliament also ratified a Strategic Framework Agreement with the U.S., aimed at ensuring cooperation in constitutional rights, threat deterrence, education,  energy development, and other areas.

In late February 2009, newly elected U.S. President Barack Obama announced an 18-month withdrawal window for combat forces, with approximately 50,000 troops remaining in the country “to advise and train Iraqi security forces and to provide intelligence and surveillance.”   General Ray Odierno, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, said he believes all U.S. troops will be out of the country by the end of 2011, while UK forces ended combat operations on April 30, 2009.   Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said he supports the accelerated pullout of U.S. forces.   In a speech at the Oval Office on 31 August 2010 Obama declared “the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.”   Beginning September 1, 2010, the American operational name for its involvement in Iraq changed from “Operation Iraqi Freedom” to “Operation New Dawn.” The remaining 50,000 U.S. troops were designated as “advise and assist brigades” assigned to non-combat operations while retaining the ability to revert to combat operations as necessary. Two combat aviation brigades also remain in Iraq.   In September 2010, the Associated Press issued an internal memo reminding its reporters that “combat in Iraq is not over,” and “U.S. troops remain involved in combat operations alongside Iraqi forces, although U.S. officials say the American combat mission has formally ended.”

On October 21, 2011, President Obama announced that all U.S. troops and trainers would leave Iraq by the end of the year, bringing the U.S. mission in Iraq to an end.   On December 15, 2011, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta officially declared the Iraq War over, at a flag lowering ceremony in Baghdad.   The last U.S. troops left Iraqi territory on December 18, 2011 at 4:27 UTC.

The US has lost 4,484 military personnel since 2003 in Iraq – the vast majority of the 4,802 coalition casualties. This year has seen casualties too – 54 people have been killed, although that is much lower than the 2007 peak of 904.

The state most affected is California, with 388 of the deaths. But if you take population into account, the worst-hit state is Vermont, with 3.5 deaths per 100,000 people.

The main cause of death has been improvised explosive devices, roadside bombs which have also caused problems for forces in Afghanistan.

Thousands more have been wounded in Iraq – 32,200 at last count, 22,490 of them in the Army, followed by 8,622 US Marines.

The war in Iraq has cost the US $823.2bn since 2003 – and in 2011 cost $49.3bn, only $4bn less than 2003 when the invasion happened.  Source: Congress Research Service

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