The Iraq War/Second Persian Gulf War lasted from 2003-2011 and had two phases. The initial phase, March-April 2003 was characterized by conventional war between the United States, Great Britain and small armies against the Iraq military forces. The second phase of the war lasted until 2007 and involved the United States-led troops fighting against insurgents who were opposed to the continued stay of foreign forces in their country. The United States and allied forces began to reduce their forces from Iraq in 2007 after the level of violence declined. In December 2011, all U.S allied forces formally left the country. To clearly understand the facts about the Iraq war, it is important to highlight the factors that precipitated the war.
In 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait but was defeated by U.S allied forces in the first Persian Gulf War. Besides the defeat, Iraq’s ruling party, Ba’th which was headed by Saddam Hussein continued its reign through oppression to the Shiite and Kurds who were the majority and minority tribes respectively in the country. The allied forces established a safe haven for the Kurds in northern and southern Iraq which had high populations of the tribe to prevent them from extinction. The “no-fly zone” to Iraq planes was patrolled by allied forces’ warplanes.
The United Nations imposed economic sanctions against the country in the body’s efforts to deter the country from future aggression in developing chemical, nuclear, and biological weapons of mass destruction. In 1990, the United Nations’ inspection of the country uncovered prohibited technology and proscribed weapons. The country continued to ignore the United Nations ban on weapons of mass destruction and further interfered with its inspection causing global frustration.
The U.S president, Bill Clinton, ordered the bombing of critical military installations in Iraq in 1998 in reaction to the country’s defiance to the UN Security Council’s directives. However, Iraq refused to allow the UN’s inspectors into the country after the bombing. Further, Iraq’s neighbours started opening their borders for trade which made the economic sanctions ineffective.
After George W. Bush assumed power in the U.S in 2002, disarming Iraq by the superpower gained prominence. After the September 11, 2011 attacks, the president was of the opinion that the country’s susceptibility to acts of terrorism ranked high due to Iraq’s manufacture and possession of mass destruction weapons and aid to terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda. The UN Security Council passed a resolution on November 8, 2002, demanding Iraq’s compliance to its previous resolutions and readmit its inspectors in the country.
Iraq’s little compliance to the resolution failed to impress the U.S president and British Prime Minister at the time, Tony Blair who accused the country of being in possession of prescribed weapons and deterring the UN’s inspections. President Bush on March 17, 2003, declared an end to the diplomatic disarmament of Iraq’s weaponry and issued a 48-hour ultimatum for Saddam Hussein to cede power and leave Iraq. The United States and allied forces invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003, signalling the start of the Iraq war.