Order Code RS22598
Updated June 19, 2007
Iraq: Milestones Since the Ouster
of Saddam Hussein
Hussein D. Hassan
Information Research Specialist
Knowledge Services Group
On May 1, 2003, President George W. Bush declared an end to major combat in
Iraq. Since then, hostilities and death tolls continue to rise. Tensions between the once
dominant Sunni minority and Shia majority also continue to escalate. This report lists
significant recent events in Iraq. Sources include, but are not limited, to White House
press releases, the U.S. Department of State, U.N. Secretary-General’s statements, and
major news stories. For analysis and further review of the current situation, see CRS
Report RL31339, Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security, by Kenneth Katzman.
This report will be updated regularly.
At a news conference with Secretary Gates, in Baghdad, General
Petraeus announced that his forces mounted a new offensive against
al-Qaeda in and around Baghdad during the last 24 hours, making use
of the nearly 30,000 additional troops President Bush ordered to Iraq.
Lieutenant General David Petraeus is confirmed by the U.S. Senate
to become the commander of the U.S. military forces in Iraq. The
nomination was approved by an 81-0 vote. The vote also elevates
Petraeus to a four-star Army general.
President Bush announces a new Iraq strategy; about 21,500 more
U.S. troops are to be dispatched to shore up security in Baghdad and
restive Anbar province. Under the plan, U.S. and Iraqi troops hope
to secure and help build Baghdad neighborhoods cleared of armed
For more information, see the White House, Office of the Press Secretary, “Background
Briefing by Senior Administration Officials,” press release, January 10, 2007, at
Saddam Hussein is executed four days after an Iraqi appeals court
upheld a ruling that he should hang for crimes committed in the
deaths of 148 Shiites in the town of Dujail in 1982. Under the statute
governing the Iraqi High Tribunal, the death sentence had to be
carried out within 30 days.
The Iraq Study Group (ISG) calls for a change of course in U.S.
policy, saying conditions in Iraq are “grave and deteriorating,” and
recommends gradual transition of combat to Iraqi forces. The
commission was chaired by James Baker, former U.S. Secretary of
State, and Lee Hamilton, a former Chairman of the House Foreign
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld steps down and President
Bush nominates Dr. Robert M. Gates to be Secretary of Defense.
Saddam Hussein is sentenced to death for crimes against humanity.
The U.S. military announces an end to its controversial contract with
Halliburton, the oil services company providing logistics support to
U.S. troops in Iraq.
Five U.S. soldiers are charged with the rape and murder of a young
Iraqi woman and the murder of three members of her family in
Mahmoudiyah. The incident marks the latest in a recent string of
alleged incidents of abuse by U.S. soldiers that have drawn criticism
from the Iraqi government.
At the White House Rose Garden, President Bush announces the
death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was the operational
commander of the terrorist movement in Iraq. Osama bin Laden once
called him ‘the Emir of al-Qaeda in Iraq.’ He was killed in a U.S. air
strike on a safe house near Baquba.3
Iraq’s parliament meets for its first full legislative session since it
was elected in December 2005.
President Jalal Talabani asks Shia compromise candidate Jawad
al-Maliki to form a new government as prime minister. The
nomination ends four months of political deadlock.
A bomb attack severely damages the al-Askari shrine in Samarra, one
of the holiest cities in Shia Islam. The bombing sparked reprisals
against Sunnis in Iraq and increased fears of a civil war.
United States Institute of Peace, Iraqi Study Group, available at [http://www.usip.org/
The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, “Statement by the President on Death of Abu
Musab al-Zarqawi,” press release, June 8, 2006, available at [http://www.whitehouse.gov/
It is announced that the Shia-led United Iraqi Alliance has emerged
as the winner of more seats than any other group, with 128 out of 275
total seats in the December 2005 elections. However, the block fell
short of an absolute majority, with Kurdish parties and Sunnis
winning the remaining seats.
Iraq holds its third nationwide election within the space of a year, this
time to select a government with a four-year term of office. Sunnis,
who boycotted the previous election in January 2005 turned out in
large numbers, even in insurgent strongholds.
The trial of former president Saddam Hussein and several of his
senior associates begins in Baghdad. They are charged with killing
148 Shiites in the town of Dujail in 1982.
Millions of Iraqis vote in a referendum on Iraq’s new constitution,
which would make Iraq an Islamic federal democracy. The
constitution is adopted even though two Sunni provinces voted
against it by a two-thirds majority. A third province fell slightly
short of a two thirds vote which would have caused defeat of the
About 950 Shia pilgrims — mostly women and children — are killed
in a stampede on a bridge in Baghdad, set off by rumors of a suicide
bomber in their midst.
The first Arab ambassador to Iraq, Egyptian envoy Ihab al-Sherif,
was kidnapped and murdered five days later, in what the Iraqi
government describes as an attempt by insurgents to deter Arab
countries from formalizing their diplomatic ties with the new regime
Members of the newly elected Iraqi parliament sanction the first
elected government since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Iraq’s new president, Jalal Talabani, elected on April 6, 2005, names
the Shia leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari as prime minister.
115 people are killed and 130 wounded in a suicide bomb blast in the
town of Hilla, 60 miles south-east of Baghdad, in the bloodiest single
attack since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Iraqis vote in the first democratic elections for fifty years, to elect
provincial parliaments and a 275-member national assembly.
Turnout is estimated at 57 percent, although the minority Sunni
population boycotts the polls. The Shia-led United Iraqi Alliance
wins a majority of assembly seats. Kurdish parties place second.
The Iraqi Islamic party, the largest Sunni Muslim party, withdraws
from the election.
The Association of Muslim Scholars, a Sunni political group in Iraq,
announces a boycott of upcoming parliamentary elections.
An international conference to consolidate cooperation on Iraq is
held in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. Addressing the conference,
Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, said, “The
international community as a whole must come together, within the
framework of Security Council Resolution 1546. We must unite
around the mission of supporting the political transition in Iraq. That
is the best way to ensure that a sovereign, secure and self-confident
Iraq takes its place in the region, and indeed becomes a beacon to
US-led forces retake the Sunni rebel stronghold of Falluja, killing
approximately 2,000, and capturing 1,200 people including a number
Iraq’s interim government declares 60-day state of emergency in
most of the country to secure it before the January 30 elections.
Moqtada al Sadr’s militia surrenders the revered Imam Ali Shrine
compound in Najaf after a peace deal brokered by Grand Ayatollah
Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s top Shiite Muslim cleric.
Saddam Hussein appears before an Iraqi judge on war crimes and
The United States hands over power to the interim government
headed by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. Ambassador Paul Bremer
leaves the country.
Resolution 1546 is adopted by the U.N. Security Council. The
resolution declares the end of the occupation of Iraq and endorses a
fully sovereign and independent interim government that will serve
from June 30, 2004, until elections in January 2005. The resolution
defers the issue of the status of forces agreement (SOFA) to an
elected Iraqi government.5
The Iraq Governing Council (IGC) names Iyad Allawi, a secular
Shia, who heads the Iraqi National Accord faction, prime minister of
the incoming interim government.
Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal breaks in U.S. media.
IGC approves an interim constitution, called the Transitional
Administrative Law (TAL), which lays out a roadmap for
parliamentary elections and a constitutional referendum.
At least 143 people die in bomb attacks on worshipers at Shia shrines
in Baghdad and Karbala.
Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt - Secretary-General’s address to the International Conference on Iraq,
United Nations Security Council S/RES/1546 (2004), available at [http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/
David Kay, former head of Iraq Survey Group (ISG), testifies before
the Senate Armed Services Committee saying that pre-war weapons
of mass destruction (WMD) assessments were “almost all wrong,”
although he adds that Iraq did conceal WMD-related activities in
violation of key U.N. Security Council resolutions and that it did
retain an intention to restart its WMD programs at a later date.6
Former president Saddam Hussein is captured by U.S. forces.
The United States and the IGC agree to speed up transition to
sovereignty by June 30, 2004.
An international donor meeting held in Madrid, Spain, pledges $13
billion to fund Iraqi reconstruction in addition to the $20 billion
promised by the United States. The Madrid meeting was attended by
representatives of more than 70 nations and international bodies,
including the World Bank, UNICEF, and the Organization of the
Car bomb in Najaf kills more than 120 people, including Ayatollah
Mohammed Bakir al-Hakim, a leader of the Supreme Council for the
Islamic Revolution in Iraq. He was both a revered cleric and Shiite
U.N. envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello is among 20 dead in bombing of
UN headquarters in Baghdad.
A car bomb outside the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad kills at least
14 people and wounds dozens.
U.S.-appointed 25-seat IGC meets for the first time.
Paul Bremer, the top U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, issues
Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) order no.2, which dissolves
the Iraqi Armed Forces, the ministries of Defense and Information,
and other security institutions that supported Saddam Hussein’s
United Nations Security Council adopts Resolution 1483, lifting
sanctions on Iraq and providing for the phasing out of the
Oil-for-Food Program (OFFP) within six months. In accordance with
the resolution, the program (new contract agreements) will terminate
on November 21, 2003, and will be taken over by the U.S.
occupation authority, the CPA. Since then, Iraq has sold its oil
unfettered — oil revenues are no longer held in a U.N.-run escrow
account, and the program’s oil sales monitoring infrastructure is no
longer in operation.7
For more information, see CRS Report RL32217, Iraq and Al Qaida: Allies or Not, by Kenneth
United Nations Security Council, S/RES/1483 (2003), available at [http://daccessdds.un.org/
In a hand-delivered private message, Bremer requests two additional
divisions of troops (roughly 40,000 soldiers) from Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld to help counter the steady streams of
violent attacks. He receives no response.8
Bremer issues CPA Order No.1, disbanding the Ba’ath party.
Bremer succeeds Jay Garner as chief U.S. administrator in Iraq.
President Bush announces major combat operations in Iraq have
The United States lists 55 most-wanted members of former regime in
the form of a deck of cards. Former deputy prime minister Tariq
Aziz is taken into custody.
A former lieutenant general, Jay Garner, arrives in Baghdad, soon
after Saddam’s fall.
U.S. forces advance into central Baghdad. Saddam Hussein’s grip on
the city is broken. In the following days Kurdish fighters and U.S.
forces take control of the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul. There
is looting in Baghdad and elsewhere.
In an address to the American people, President Bush announces that
coalition forces began striking Iraqi military targets to undermine
Saddam Hussein’s ability to wage war. “These are opening stages of
what will be a broad and concerted campaign. More than 35
countries are giving crucial support — from the use of naval and air
bases, to help with intelligence and logistics, to the deployment of
combat units. Every nation in this coalition has chosen to bear the
duty and share the honor of serving in our common defense,” he
FRONTLINE, “The Lost Year in Iraq: Fighting on Two Fronts,” Public Broadcasting
Service(PBS), at [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/yeariniraq/cron/].
The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Operation Iraqi Freedom, “President Bush
Announces Major Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended,” press release, May 1, 2003, available
U.S. Department of State, “Middle East and North Africa: Timeline of Iraq: 1932-2003,”
available at [http://www.U.S.info.state.gov/mena/archive_index/Timeline_of