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U.S. Department of State Document
October, 2002

Timeline: Saddam Hussein's Iraq

1932 October 3 - Iraq becomes an independent state.

1958 July 14 - The monarchy is overthrown in a military coup led by Brig Abd-al-Karim Qassim and Col Abd-al-Salam Muhammad Arif. Iraq is declared a republic and Qasim becomes prime minister.

1959-1963 - Saddam Hussein, 22-year old Ba'th Party member, flees Baghdad for Damascus and Cairo after involvement in an assassination attempt against Qasim. Cairo is then center of the Nasserite Pan-Arab ideology girding the Ba'th Party.

1963 February 8 - Qasim is ousted in a coup led by the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party (ASBP). Six months of chaos follow, prompting another military coup.

1963 November 18 - The Ba'th government is overthrown by Arif and a group of military officers. 5000-6000 Iraqis are executed in backlash against communism.

1964-1966 Saddam Hussein jailed as a member of the Ba'th Party.

1966 April 17 - President Arif is killed in a helicopter crash on April 13 and succeeded by his elder brother, Maj-Gen Abd-al-Rahman Muhamad Arif.

Rise of Saddam Hussein

1968 July 17 - A Ba'th-led coup ousts Arif and Gen Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr becomes president. Saddam Hussein, relative of Bakr, emerges as Vice President, deputy head of the Revolution Command Council (RCC), and chief interlocutor with the Kurds.

1970 March 11 - RCC and Mullah Mustafa Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), sign a peace agreement.

1972 - Iraq nationalizes the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC). Iran and Iraq are the region's major oil-producers and vie for dominance in the Gulf.

1973 - In the wake of an attempted coup against Bakr, Saddam Hussein consolidates his control of the internal security services and management of oil resources.

1974 - Iraq grants limited autonomy to the Kurds, in accord with the 1970 agreement, but the KDP rejects it. KDP rebellion fails as Iran withdraws support in exchange for possession of disputed Shatt al-Arab islet between Iraq and Iran.

1975 March - At a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Algiers, Iraq and Iran sign a treaty ending their border disputes.

1979 January 16 - Islamic Revolution ousts the Shah of Iran. Ayatollah Khomeini, who had lived in Iraq from 1964-1978, returns to Tehran in February.

1979 July 16 - President Al-Bakr resigns and is succeeded by Vice President Saddam Hussein. Within days, Saddam executes at least 20 potential rivals, members of the Ba'th Party and military.

1979 September - Military skirmishes and propaganda war increase between Iraq and Iran.

Iran-Iraq War

1980 September 4 - Iran shells Iraqi border towns. On September 17 Iraq abrogates the 1975 treaty with Iran.

1980 September 22 - Iraq attacks Iranian airbases.

1980 September 23 - Iran bombs Iraqi military and economic targets.

1981 June 7 - Israel attacks an Iraqi nuclear research center at Tuwaythah near Baghdad.

Chemical Attacks

1986 March - UN Secretary General reports Iraq's use of mustard gas and nerve agents against Iranian soldiers, with significant usage in 1981 and 1984.

1988 February-September- Iraq military operation "Anfal" results in 50,000-100,000 deaths throughout northern Iraq. Iraq uses chemical weapons, mass executions and forced relocation to terrorize the area.

1988 March 16 - Iraq attacks the Kurdish town of Halabjah with mix of poison gas and nerve agents, killing 5000 residents.

1988 August 20 - The Iran-Iraq war ends in stalemate; an estimated 1 million soldiers are killed in eight years of fighting. A ceasefire comes into effect to be monitored by the UN Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group (UNIIMOG).

1989 Iraq sends military hardware to Lebanon in a proxy war with Syria.

Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait

1990 August 2 - Iraq invades Kuwait and is condemned by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 660, which calls for the full withdrawal.

1990 August 6 - UNSC Resolution 661 imposes economic sanctions on Iraq.

1990 August 8 - Iraq appoints puppet regime in Kuwait that declares a merger with Iraq.

1990 November 29 - UNSC Resolution 678 authorizes the states cooperating with Kuwait to use "all necessary means" to uphold UNSC Resolution 660; UN orders Iraqi withdrawal by January 15, 1991.

1991 January 17 - The Gulf War starts with coalition forces begin aerial bombing of Iraq, "Operation Desert Storm".

1991 February 24 - The start of a ground operation; liberation of Kuwait occurs February 27.

1991 March 3 - Iraq accepts the terms of a ceasefire. The primary ceasefire resolution is UNSCR 687 (April 3) requiring Iraq to end its weapons of mass destruction programs, recognize Kuwait, account for missing Kuwaitis, return Kuwaiti property and end support for international terrorism. Iraq is required to end repression of its people.

1991 Mid-March/early April - Iraqi military forces suppress rebellions in the south and north of the country, creating a humanitarian disaster on the borders of Turkey and Iran.

No-Fly Zones

1991 April 8 - A plan for the establishment of a UN safe-haven in northern Iraq, north of the latitude 36 degrees north, for the protection of Kurds is approved at a European Union meeting in Luxembourg. On April 10, the US orders Iraq to end all military action in this area.

1991 April - Working in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) is established to ensure Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction and to establish long-term monitoring program to see it remains free of prohibited weapons.

1992 August 26 - A no-fly zone, which prohibits the flights of Iraqi planes, is established in southern Iraq, south of latitude 32 degrees north.

1993 June 27, US forces launch a cruise missile attack on Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Al-Mansur district, Baghdad, in response for the attempted assassination of former U.S. President George Bush in Kuwait in April.

1994 May 29 Saddam Hussein becomes prime minister and president.

1994 November 10 - The Iraqi National Assembly recognizes Kuwait's borders and its independence.

1995 April 14 - UNSC Resolution 986 allows the partial resumption of Iraq's oil exports to buy food and medicine. It is not accepted or implemented by Iraq until December 1996.

1996 August 31 - In response to a call for aid from the KDP, Iraqi forces launch an offensive into the northern no-fly zone and capture Arbil.

1996 September 3 - U.S. extends the southern no-fly zone to latitude 33 degrees north.

1996 December 12 - Saddam Hussein's elder son Uday is seriously wounded in an assassination attempt.

1998 October 31 - Iraq ends all forms of cooperation with the UNSCOM and expels inspectors.

1998 December 16-19 - U.S. and U.K. launch a bombing campaign "Operation Desert Fox" to destroy suspected nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs.

1999 January 4 - Iraq asks the UN to replace its US and UK staff in Iraq.

1999 February 19 - Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, spiritual leader of the Shi'a, is assassinated in Najaf in southern Iraq.

1999 December 17 - UNSC Resolution 1284 creates the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) to replace UNSCOM. Iraq rejects the resolution.

2000 March 1 - Hans Blix assumes the post of Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC.

2000 October - Iraq resumes domestic passenger flights, the first since the 1991 Gulf War. Commercial air links re-established with Russia, Ireland and Middle East. Regime invests more revenue in the general economy.

2000 November - Iraq rejects new weapons inspections proposals.

2000 December - Iraq temporarily halts oil exports after the UN rejects Iraq's request that buyers pay a 50-cent-a-barrel surcharge into an Iraqi bank account not controlled by the UN.

2001 Free-trade zone agreements set up with neighboring countries. Rail link with Turkey re-opened in May for the first time since 1981.

2001 February - Britain and U.S. carry out bombing raids to try and disable Iraq's air defense network.

2001 May - Saddam Hussein's son Qusay elected to the leadership of the ruling Ba'th Party, fueling speculation that he is being groomed to ensure the Takriti clan's hold on power in Iraq.

2002 February 11-15 - For the first time since 1992, Iraq hosts a UN human rights expert. During the preceding years, the international community documented and reported allegations of gross human rights abuses in Iraq, including summary executions; arbitrary arrest, systematic torture 'in its most cruel forms'; coercion by means of reprisals against a family members; and mass discrimination regarding access to food supplies and health care.

2002 May - UNSC Resolution 1409 overhauls the sanctions regime goods review list to focus on military and dual-use equipment and streamline approval of civilian goods for commercial sale in Iraq.

2002 July 5 - In talks with UN Secretary General, Iraq rejects weapons inspections proposals.

2002 August 2 - In a letter to the UN Secretary General, Iraq invites Hans Blix to Iraq for technical discussions on remaining disarmament issues.

2002 August 19 - UN Secretary General rejects Iraq's proposal as the "wrong work program" but renews offer to facilitate the return of inspectors in accordance with UNSC resolution 1284, passed in 1999. The resolution calls for UNMOVIC inspectors to spend 60 days conducting active inspections to determine what has changed since U.N. weapons inspectors were expelled in 1998 and what needs to be done for Iraq to be rid of all chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

This document is not necessarily endorsed by the Almanac of Policy Issues. It is being preserved  in the Policy Archive for historic reasons.

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