Bends in the Road
An Iraq War time line
1979: Saddam Hussein becomes president of Iraq.
1980-1988: A border dispute between Iraq and Iran devolves into full-scale war. During the course of the war, the U.S. is one of several Western countries that supplies Iraq with biological and chemical weapons technology. Iraq uses these weapons against Iranian troops. The Reagan administration also secretly sells weapons to Iran.
1988: Hussein's administration gasses the Kurds in Iraq, killing thousands. The Iran-Iraq War ends this same year. The death toll is at least one million, with neither side making any significant territorial gain.
Aug. 2, 1990: Iraq invades Kuwait. The U.N. Security Council rules that Iraq must pull out.
Jan. 16, 1991: After Hussein refuses to withdraw from Kuwait, the Gulf War begins when a U.S.-led coalition makes air strikes on Iraq.
Feb. 27, 1991: Kuwait is liberated by the coalition.
March 3, 1991: Iraq agrees to terms of cease-fire.
April 6, 1991: Iraq agrees to abide by a U.N. rule that disallows the country from creating weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The rule also creates a system for monitoring compliance by the U.N. Special Commission Inspection Team (UNSCOM).
June 27, 1993: The U.S. makes air strikes against Iraqi intelligence in retaliation for a plot to assassinate former President Bush.
July 1995: Iraq threatens to kick out the U.N. inspection team unless some economic sanctions and the oil embargo are lifted.
March-April 1996: U.N. inspectors are denied admittance to certain military areas in Iraq.
Oct. 29, 1997: Iraq demands that Americans leave the U.N. inspection team, accusing them of spying. The Americans leave but return on Nov. 20.
Jan. 13-22, 1998: Iraq stops cooperating with U.N. inspectors, citing the overwhelming presence of American and British people on the teams.
Feb. 23, 1998: On the brink of American and British attack, Iraq agrees to allow U.N. inspection only if carried out by a multinational team.
Dec. 16, 1998: The U.N. inspection team is withdrawn after concluding that Iraq is not cooperating fully.
Feb. 15, 2001: The U.S. and Britain bomb Iraq's air defense network.
Jan. 30, 2002: In his first state of the union speech, President George W. Bush describes Iraq as part of an "axis of evil." He says that "the United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."
Aug. 1, 2002: Iraq invites U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix to Baghdad.
Aug. 26, 2002: Vice President Dick Cheney speaks at the V.F.W. 103rd National Convention: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us. And there is no doubt that his aggressive regional ambitions will lead him into future confrontations with his neighbors."
Sept. 12, 2002: In an address before the U.N., President Bush outlines the case for war against Iraq.
Sept. 16, 2002: Hussein caves in and accepts U.N. weapons inspectors "unconditionally."
Oct. 11, 2002: The U.S. Congress passes a resolution giving President Bush authority to attack Iraq if Hussein doesn't give up his WMD.
Nov. 8, 2002: The U.N. Security Council unanimously approves a resolution drafted by Britain and the U.S. to reinstate weapons inspectors after a four-year absence.
Nov. 13, 2002: Hussein accepts the resolution.
Nov. 18, 2002: U.N. weapons inspectors return to Baghdad to relaunch the search.
Dec. 7, 2002: Iraqi officials supply U.N. inspectors with a 12,000-page dossier on Iraq's programs for WMD. Iraq's General Hasam Amin says the dossier shows "that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction."
Dec. 17, 2002: Secretary of State Colin Powell criticizes the dossier: "We said at the very beginning that we approached it with skepticism and the information I have received so far is that the skepticism is well-founded."
Dec. 19, 2002: The U.S. rejects the Iraqi dossier once the U.N. says that it fails to supply new information on Iraq's nuclear capabilities.
Dec. 22, 2002: Officials in Baghdad invite the CIA to inspect the country for WMD.
Dec. 31, 2002: The U.N. inspection team admits to finding no evidence of WMD.
Jan. 6, 2003: Hussein says he is ready for a war, and accuses U.N. inspectors of being the "friends and helpers of Satan" in a televised speech.
Jan. 9, 2003: Blix says the U.N. inspection team found no evidence of a "smoking gun" with weapons of mass destruction, but he acknowledges that the 12,000-page dossier was incomplete.
Jan. 16, 2003: U.N. weapons inspectors find 12 warheads designed to carry chemical weapons in Iraq. The inspectors believe the warheads were not accounted for in the dossier.
Jan. 19, 2003: The U.S. offers immunity to Hussein if he leaves the country and averts war.
Feb. 5, 2003: Before the U.N., Powell uses pictures and recordings to make the U.S. case against Iraq. The accuracy of much of his evidence is later disputed.
Feb. 8, 2003: Blix is given more documentation by Iraq and has negotiations that he considers to be "very substantial."
Feb. 12, 2003: U.N. inspectors report that Iraq has illegal missiles—its rockets surpass the size limit set down in the Gulf War cease-fire agreement.
Feb. 14, 2003: Blix gives his latest report on Iraq to the Security Council, citing Iraq's heightened compliance with the inspectors. This report also questions U.S. intelligence presented earlier by Powell.
Feb. 15, 2003: The largest worldwide protests against the imminent invasion of Iraq take place, with estimates of six to 10 million people taking part in over 60 countries.
Feb. 27, 2003: Hussein agrees to destroy the Iraqi warheads that violate the Gulf War cease-fire agreement.
Feb. 28, 2003: Blix's interim report to the U.N. is published. This report gives a mixed assessment of Iraq's compliance with inspectors, but praises Hussein's agreement to destroy the warheads.
March 6, 2003: In a nationwide television address, President Bush states that war is near: "Since I believe the threat is real and since my job is to protect the American people, that is precisely what we will do."
March 16, 2003: Speaking at a U.N. summit, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair give the U.N. 24 hours to enforce its own demands for Iraqi disarmament, or they vow to go to war within days.
March 17, 2003: President Bush gives Iraq and Saddam Hussein a final warning to disarm.
March 18, 2003: In a televised address President Bush says, "Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict commenced at a time of our choosing."
March 20, 2003: The U.S. and Britain begin the invasion of Iraq. The U.S. begins bombing Baghdad in massive air strikes designed to "shock and awe" the Iraqi people into submission.
Beginning in April 2003: Following the invasion, the National Museum of Iraq along with hospitals, businesses and private homes are looted. Dr. Irving Finkel of the British Museum says the looting was "entirely predictable and could easily have been stopped."
April 2, 2003: U.S. officials announce the rescue of Private Jessica Lynch, a 19-year-old prisoner of war.
April 9, 2003: Baghdad falls.
April 10, 2003: A statue of Saddam Hussein is pulled down with help from the U.S. military.
May 1, 2003: Aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, under a sign reading "Mission Accomplished," President George W. Bush declares the end of major combat operations.
May 23, 2003: The U.S. formally disbands Iraq's military forces. This is later viewed by many as a colossal mistake.
June 15, 2003: Violence against U.S. and British forces continues. The U.S. military begins a series of raids across Iraq intended to find Iraqi resistance and heavy weapons.
July 22, 2003: Uday and Qusay, Hussein's sons, are killed in a gun battle at their hideout in Mosul.
July 23, 2003: Photographs of Hussein's sons laid out in plastic body bags are released by the U.S. to convince skeptical Iraqis that neither son can take their father's place in Iraq.
July 31, 2003: According to a young, charismatic cleric named Muqtada al-Sadr, around 10,000 young men have come forward to join an "Islamic army" in the holy city of Najaf.
August 19, 2003: A truck bomb at the U.N. headquarters kills the U.N. envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 others.
August 29, 2003: A car bomb kills 84, including influential Shiite cleric Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim.
Sep. 23, 2003: Despite escalating violence, a Gallup poll shows a majority of Iraqis expect a better life in five years. Around two-thirds of Baghdad residents believe Hussein's removal was worth the hardships they've been forced to endure.
Oct. 3, 2003: David Kay's Iraq Survey Group finds little evidence of WMD in Iraq.
Oct. 26, 2003: Coalition authorities lift a nighttime curfew on the five million residents of Baghdad.
Nov. 2, 2003: Two U.S. helicopters are fired at by two surface-to-air missiles, and one crashes near Fallujah—16 soldiers are killed and 20 wounded.
Nov. 12, 2003: A suicide truck bomb detonates at Italian Military Headquarters, killing 19 Italians and 14 Iraqis.
Nov. 15, 2003: The Governing Council unveils an accelerated timetable for transferring the country to Iraqi control.
Nov. 27, 2003: President Bush, accompanied by Condoleezza Rice, make a surprise visit to Baghdad on Thanksgiving Day to boost the morale of troops and Iraqis.
Dec. 9, 2003: Japan decides to send 1,000 soldiers to aid in Iraq's reconstruction. It's the country's largest overseas deployment since World War II.
Dec. 13, 2003: Saddam Hussein is found in an underground bunker near his hometown of Tikrit.
Jan. 28, 2004: David Kay, the former head of the U.S. weapons inspection teams in Iraq, tells a Senate committee "we were almost all wrong" in believing that Iraq had WMD.
Feb. 21, 2004: U.S. permits the Red Cross to visit Saddam Hussein for the first time since his capture.
March 2, 2004: At the Shiite festival of Aashurah, more than 200 are killed by bomb blasts in Baghdad and Karbala.
April 1, 2004: Four American private security contractors are shot and burned in their cars. A cheering crowd dismembers them, and two of the corpses are hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River.
April 26, 2004: The Iraq Interim Governing Council announces a new flag for the post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. This causes uproar due to its similarity to the flag of Israel. The flag is not adopted.
June 28, 2004: The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority officially hands over sovereignty of Iraqi territory to the Iraqi interim government, two days ahead of schedule.
July 21, 2004: Iraqi militants take three Indians, two Kenyans and one Egyptian hostage and threaten their beheading if their countries' troops don't pull out of Iraq. None of these countries had troops in Iraq.
Oct. 6, 2004: Charles Duelfer, director of Central Intelligence Special Advisor for Strategy regarding Iraqi WMD, concludes in a final report that Iraq had no WMD or WMD programs when the U.S. started the war.
Nov. 8, 2004: U.S. forces initiate a takeover of Fallujah from insurgents. The invasion involves about 10,000 American soldiers. It's later reported that roughly 1,600 rebels had been killed.
Dec. 19, 2004: Car bombers target Shiites and election workers, killing more than 60 people and wounding over 120 in Najaf and Karbala.
Dec. 21, 2004: A bomb explodes at a military base in Mosul, killing at least 24 people, 19 of them U.S. soldiers.
Jan. 4, 2005: The governor of the Baghdad Province, Ali al-Haidari, is killed by rebels to thwart the elections scheduled for Jan. 30.
Jan. 7, 2005: U.S. Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz admits that large parts of roughly a quarter of Iraq's provinces aren't secure enough to hold elections
Jan. 27, 2005: The death toll of American soldiers reaches 1,408 after a particularly deadly day for the U.S. when 31 marines die in a helicopter crash and five other soldiers are killed elsewhere.
Jan. 30, 2005: Iraqi elections for a 275-seat National Assembly take place as scheduled. There is a high voter turnout of 8.5 million people, despite 260 attacks taking place throughout the day.
Feb. 4, 2005: Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz announces that 15,000 U.S. troops will be pulled out of Iraq the following month.
Feb. 27, 2005: Syria hands over Sabawi Ibrahim Hassan, Saddam Hussein's half brother, and other fugitives to the Iraqi government. Hassan is believed to be involved in the insurgency.
Feb. 28, 2005: In the deadliest car bombing by insurgents, 115 people are killed.
March 5, 2005: U.S. soldiers shoot at a car carrying Giuliana Sgrena, an Italian journalist that had just been released as a hostage by insurgents. They kill an Italian intelligence agent.
March 16-29, 2005: 275 of the current leaders in Iraq convene but fail to agree upon a composition for the new Iraqi government.
June 15, 2005: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld admits that, statistically, the security situation in Iraq is no better than it was in 2003.
July 19, 2005: Two Sunnis involved in drafting the new Iraqi constitution are killed by insurgents in Baghdad.
August 28, 2005: The Iraqi National Assembly receives the new constitution, which will be voted on by Iraqis on Oct. 15. Many Sunnis denounce the document.
Oct. 15, 2005: Millions of Iraqis vote on the new constitution.
Oct. 25, 2005: An electoral commission concludes that the new constitution has passed with 79 percent of the vote. The death toll for American soldiers reaches 2,000.
Nov. 2, 2005: The Iraqi Defense Ministry recruits former junior officers from Hussein's army to heighten forces and take away power from the insurgents.
Nov. 21, 2005: A group of Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish leaders sign a statement that demands a specific time for the pullout of foreign troops from Iraq.
Nov. 30, 2005: President Bush rejects the request for a timetable to pull out American troops.
Dec. 15, 2005: Iraq holds parliamentary elections in which 11 million Iraqis turn out to vote. There is very little election day violence.
Jan. 20, 2006: Preliminary parliament results are in. An alliance of Shiite religious parties captures 128 of the 275 parliamentary seats
March 3, 2006: Pentagon officials deny that Iraq is on the verge of a civil war but admit that "anything can happen."