November 2003 in Iraq
November 1- Two American soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division were killed in a bomb explosion in Mosul
November 2- Insurgents shot down a US Chinook helicopter outside the city of Falluja. The insurgents fired a missile at the helicopter, hitting it in the engine compartment. The copter exploded on impact killing 16 soldiers and wounding an additional 20, Most of the soldiers on board were on their way for short furlough back home in the United States.
November 7th Six soldiers were killed when a Black Hawk helicopter went down near Tikrit
November 12th- 26 people are killed in a suicide bombing in Nasiriya. The bombing took place in the courtyard of the Italian paramilitary police headquarters. 17 Italians were killed in the attack.
November 20th A truck bomb killed five people in Kirkurk. The bombing took place near the offices of the Kurdish party
November 22- 14 people were killed when suicide bombers attacked two police stations including one in Baghdad and a second at Khan Bani Saad
November 30th- Seven Spanish Security agents and two Japanese diplomats were killed in separate attacks in Iraq. The ambushes were clearly designed to drive a wedge between America and its allies
U.S. helicopter shot down in Iraq
L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator for Iraq, talks about the latest developments in the country. (November 1)
A week of car bombs and killings has left Iraqis bitter and pessimistic about the U.S. and the prospect of peace. (October 31)
Viewer discretion advised: Tape of alleged torture under Saddam Hussein's regime has been obtained through independent sources.
Follow the news that matters to you. Create your own alert to be notified on topics you're interested in.
Or, visit Popular Alerts for suggestions.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. death toll from a downed Chinook helicopter near Fallujah, has risen to 15, U.S. military officials say.
The helicopter was shot down by a shoulder-type missile, about 60 kilometers west of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, at 8 a.m. Sunday, witnesses told CNN.
It was one of three separate attacks Sunday, which saw at least one other U.S. servicemen killed in a convoy attack in Baghdad at about midnight.
It is the deadliest combat day for the U.S. since March 23, the day 28 American troops died in battle.
Between 32 and 35 people were traveling on the Chinook, which was one of two flying to the Baghdad International Airport from a U.S. base camp. The men were beginning a "R and R" mission -- a short break from war.
CNN's Jane Arraf, who is at the scene, said witnesses saw a shoulder-type missile strike the helicopter just before it crashed into a field in a farming area.
"They (coalition forces) are controlling traffic, with guns at the ready. They are saying it is still a volatile area," she said.
"The area is in the middle of farmland, and it would be extremely easy for somebody to hide here and launch a missile, which is what witnesses are saying."
A second convoy was attacked in Fallujah, about an hour before the Chinook incident, but it is not clear whether any injuries were sustained.
CNN's Matthew Chance said crowds of Iraqis gathered quickly in the "flashpoint" city chanting anti-U.S. slogans.
It is believed the U.S. soldiers in the vehicle were taken away by other members of the convoy.
Also Sunday, a U.S. military patrol was attacked by Iraqis throwing grenades in the Abu Ghraib market area west of Baghdad, the same area where U.S. troops killed 14 Iraqis Friday after they were attacked with grenades and small arms fire.
These 13 deaths -- along with the death of another soldier early Sunday in Baghdad -- brings to 136 the number of U.S. combat deaths since U.S. President George W. Bush declared an end to major hostilities May 1.
The attacks came as coalition forces were on alert for a threatened "day of resistance," following a warning from the U.S. Consulate Office in Baghdad.
The consulate said U.S. military patrols, hotels, markets, and non-governmental organizations could be among the sites attacked.
Chance said it was "difficult to pull the incidents together to say with any certainty" whether the incidents were connected and part of the so-called "day of resistance."
"The areas of Fallujah and Baghdad have been the venues for similar attacks, so it is difficult, impossible, to say whether we are seeing greater, more intense, action," he added.
On Saturday, two U.S. soldiers were killed in an explosion near the northern city of Mosul. The soldiers, from the 101st Airborne Division, were killed when their convoy struck an improvised explosive device. Two other soldiers were injured.
On Friday clashes between U.S. troops and Iraqi crowds in Baghdad left 14 Iraqis dead, according to a U.S. military official.
In a bid to boost security and stability, U.S. administrator for Iraq Paul Bremer said the United States is stepping up efforts to hand over more responsibility to Iraqis themselves.
Coalition forces will speed up the training of Iraqi police and military, he said, and the size of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps will be doubled by March.
"We will have over 200,000 Iraqis involved in their own security forces by September next year," Bremer added.
Despite the attacks, the U.S.-led coalition had been able to reopen justice courts, build jails and recruit 50,000 Iraqi police officers.
A coalition military official said 33 attempted attacks are made against U.S. troops every day. Coalition officials blame forces loyal to ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, terrorist groups and other insurgents for the attacks.
Bremer said officials believe Saddam is alive and in Iraq, though there is "no indication" he is behind the attacks.
But he added: "His capture, or killing him, is one of the top priorities."
More on SA-14 Missiles BruceR has further technical analysis of the SAM missile attacks on the DHL cargo plane on Nov. 22. Apparently the guerrillas thought they were hitting a military plane! He also translates the French Paris Match article on the incident.
Bush to Sistani: Good to Have you Working with Us It turns out that President George W. Bush did meet on Thursday with four members of the Iraqi Interim Governing Council. All 24 had been invited to a Thanksgiving Day event at the Baghdad Airport, but they were not told the nature of the event. [&hellip]
Iraq: November, 2003
Ten years ago, I was on my second trip to Iraq. It was a USO tour, and together with Wayne Newton, Chris Isaak, Neal McCoy, Ollie North and a few Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, we entertained about 5,000 troops in the stadium at Camp Anaconda in Balad, Iraq.
From my many years of traveling with our military, this is one of my most cherished photos.
Here’s some photos from the stage:
The gang - (from left) Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Neal McCoy, myself, Chris Isaak and Wayne Newton
Backing up Chris as we prepare to perform “I Walk the Line”
Our troops had been through a lot and worked hard during the initial 9 months. Nice to see them having a good time at this show.
During this trip, we also visited an Iraqi school. Our troops had just refurbished the building, but even still the children’s supplies were scarce. Kids were sharing desks and pencils worn to nubs. It gave me the idea to start shipping school supplies for our troops to distribute to the children of Iraq - the idea took off and eventually became Operation Iraqi Children, a program I co-founded with Laura Hillenbrand in 2004.
Here’s a few photos from the school visit:
Boys and girls were in separate classrooms. Here we are with the boys.
In this photo, I’m showing a few Iraqi girls some pictures of my own children.
This shot is a little blurry but all of a sudden we broke into song, singing You Are My Sunshine for the kids.
The headmaster of the school took me into his tiny back office and showed me a plaque he’d had made, thanking the coalition forces for their help.
It reads: “This school is rededicated on 30. Sept 2003 for the education of a new generation of Free Iraqi People. May this work stand, under God’s watchful eyes, as a testament to the hard work and dedication to freedom of Iraq and the coalition forces.”
It was another amazing trip to visit our troops in Iraq. Hard to believe this one was ten years ago.
Many trips all over the world since then, but visiting the school and beginning the OIC program afterwards will always be special.
Hope all my pals from that trip are doing well and especially those serving our country who we visited in November, 2003.
Casus belli and rationale
George Bush, speaking in October 2002, said that "The stated policy of the United States is regime change. . However, if Saddam were to meet all the conditions of the United Nations, the conditions that I have described very clearly in terms that everybody can understand, that in itself will signal the regime has changed".  Citing reports from certain intelligence sources, Bush stated on 6 March 2003 that he believed that Saddam was not complying with UN Resolution 1441. 
In September 2002, Tony Blair stated, in an answer to a parliamentary question, that "Regime change in Iraq would be a wonderful thing. That is not the purpose of our action our purpose is to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. "  In November of that year, Blair further stated that, "So far as our objective, it is disarmament, not régime change – that is our objective. Now I happen to believe the regime of Saddam is a very brutal and repressive regime, I think it does enormous damage to the Iraqi people . so I have got no doubt Saddam is very bad for Iraq, but on the other hand I have got no doubt either that the purpose of our challenge from the United Nations is disarmament of weapons of mass destruction, it is not regime change." 
At a press conference on 31 January 2003, Bush again reiterated that the single trigger for the invasion would be Iraq's failure to disarm, "Saddam Hussein must understand that if he does not disarm, for the sake of peace, we, along with others, will go disarm Saddam Hussein."  As late as 25 February 2003, it was still the official line that the only cause of invasion would be a failure to disarm. As Blair made clear in a statement to the House of Commons, "I detest his regime. But even now he can save it by complying with the UN's demand. Even now, we are prepared to go the extra step to achieve disarmament peacefully." 
Additional justifications used at various times included Iraqi violation of UN resolutions, the Iraqi government's repression of its citizens, and Iraqi violations of the 1991 cease-fire. 
The main allegations were: that Saddam possessed or was attempting to produce weapons of mass destruction, which Saddam Hussein had used in places such as Halabja,   possessed, and made efforts to acquire, particularly considering two previous attacks on Baghdad nuclear weapons production facilities by both Iran and Israel which were alleged to have postponed weapons development progress and, further, that he had ties to terrorists, specifically al-Qaeda.
While it never made an explicit connection between Iraq and the 11 September attacks, the George W. Bush administration repeatedly insinuated a link, thereby creating a false impression for the U.S. public. Grand jury testimony from the 1993 World Trade Center attack trials cited numerous direct linkages from the bombers to Baghdad and Department 13 of the Iraqi Intelligence Service in that initial attack marking the second anniversary to vindicate the surrender of Iraqi armed forces in Operation Desert Storm. For example, The Washington Post has noted that,
While not explicitly declaring Iraqi culpability in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, administration officials did, at various times, imply a link. In late 2001, Cheney said it was "pretty well confirmed" that attack mastermind Mohamed Atta had met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official. Later, Cheney called Iraq the "geographic base of the terrorists who had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11." 
Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland, observed in March 2003 that "The administration has succeeded in creating a sense that there is some connection [between 11 Sept. and Saddam Hussein]". This was following a New York Times/CBS poll that showed 45% of Americans believing Saddam Hussein was "personally involved" in the 11 September atrocities. As the Christian Science Monitor observed at the time, while "Sources knowledgeable about U.S. intelligence say there is no evidence that Saddam played a role in the 11 Sept. attacks, nor that he has been or is currently aiding Al Qaeda. . the White House appears to be encouraging this false impression, as it seeks to maintain American support for a possible war against Iraq and demonstrate seriousness of purpose to Saddam's regime." The CSM went on to report that, while polling data collected "right after 11 Sept. 2001" showed that only 3 percent mentioned Iraq or Saddam Hussein, by January 2003 attitudes "had been transformed" with a Knight Ridder poll showing that 44% of Americans believed "most" or "some" of the 11 September hijackers were Iraqi citizens. 
According to General Tommy Franks, the objectives of the invasion were, "First, end the regime of Saddam Hussein. Second, to identify, isolate and eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Third, to search for, to capture and to drive out terrorists from that country. Fourth, to collect such intelligence as we can related to terrorist networks. Fifth, to collect such intelligence as we can related to the global network of illicit weapons of mass destruction. Sixth, to end sanctions and to immediately deliver humanitarian support to the displaced and to many needy Iraqi citizens. Seventh, to secure Iraq's oil fields and resources, which belong to the Iraqi people. And last, to help the Iraqi people create conditions for a transition to a representative self-government." 
The BBC has also noted that, while President Bush "never directly accused the former Iraqi leader of having a hand in the attacks on New York and Washington", he "repeatedly associated the two in keynote addresses delivered since 11 September", adding that "Senior members of his administration have similarly conflated the two." For instance, the BBC report quotes Colin Powell in February 2003, stating that "We've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases. And we know that after September 11, Saddam Hussein's regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America." The same BBC report also noted the results of a recent opinion poll, which suggested that "70% of Americans believe the Iraqi leader was personally involved in the attacks." 
Also in September 2003, the Boston Globe reported that "Vice President Dick Cheney, anxious to defend the White House foreign policy amid ongoing violence in Iraq, stunned intelligence analysts and even members of his own administration this week by failing to dismiss a widely discredited claim: that Saddam Hussein might have played a role in the 11 Sept. attacks."  A year later, presidential candidate John Kerry alleged that Cheney was continuing "to intentionally mislead the American public by drawing a link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 in an attempt to make the invasion of Iraq part of the global war on terror." 
Throughout 2002, the Bush administration insisted that removing Saddam from power to restore international peace and security was a major goal. The principal stated justifications for this policy of "regime change" were that Iraq's continuing production of weapons of mass destruction and known ties to terrorist organizations, as well as Iraq's continued violations of UN Security Council resolutions, amounted to a threat to the U.S. and the world community.
The Bush administration's overall rationale for the invasion of Iraq was presented in detail by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to the United Nations Security Council on 5 February 2003. In summary, he stated,
We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction he's determined to make more. Given Saddam Hussein's history of aggression . given what we know of his terrorist associations and given his determination to exact revenge on those who oppose him, should we take the risk that he will not some day use these weapons at a time and the place and in the manner of his choosing at a time when the world is in a much weaker position to respond? The United States will not and cannot run that risk to the American people. Leaving Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option, not in a post–September 11 world. 
Since the invasion, the U.S. and British government statements concerning Iraqi weapons programs and links to terrorist organizations have been discredited. While the debate of whether Iraq intended to develop chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons in the future remains open, no WMDs have been found in Iraq since the invasion despite comprehensive inspections lasting more than 18 months.  In Cairo, on 24 February 2001, Colin Powell had predicted as much, saying, "[Saddam] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours."  Similarly, assertions of operational links between the Iraqi regime and al-Qaeda have largely been discredited by the intelligence community, and Secretary Powell himself later admitted he had no proof. 
In September 2002, the Bush administration said attempts by Iraq to acquire thousands of high-strength aluminum tubes pointed to a clandestine program to make enriched uranium for nuclear bombs. Powell, in his address to the UN Security Council just before the war, referred to the aluminum tubes. A report released by the Institute for Science and International Security in 2002, however, reported that it was highly unlikely that the tubes could be used to enrich uranium. Powell later admitted he had presented an inaccurate case to the United Nations on Iraqi weapons, based on sourcing that was wrong and in some cases "deliberately misleading."   
The Bush administration asserted that the Saddam government had sought to purchase yellowcake uranium from Niger.  On 7 March 2003, the U.S. submitted intelligence documents as evidence to the International Atomic Energy Agency. These documents were dismissed by the IAEA as forgeries, with the concurrence in that judgment of outside experts. At the time, a US official stated that the evidence was submitted to the IAEA without knowledge of its provenance and characterized any mistakes as "more likely due to incompetence not malice".
General Wesley Clark, the former Supreme NATO Allied Commander and Joint Chiefs of Staff Director of Strategy and Policy, describes in his 2003 book, Winning Modern Wars, his conversation with a military officer in the Pentagon shortly after the 11 September attacks regarding a plan to attack seven Middle Eastern countries in five years: "As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan." 
In October 2002, a few days before the US Senate vote on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution, about 75 senators were told in closed session that the Iraqi government had the means of delivering biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction by unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) drones that could be launched from ships off the US' Atlantic coast to attack US eastern seaboard cities. Colin Powell suggested in his presentation to the United Nations that UAVs were transported out of Iraq and could be launched against the United States.
In fact, Iraq had no offensive UAV fleet or any capability of putting UAVs on ships.  Iraq's UAV fleet consisted of less than a handful of outdated Czech training drones.  At the time, there was a vigorous dispute within the intelligence community whether the CIA's conclusions about Iraq's UAV fleet were accurate. The US Air Force agency denied outright that Iraq possessed any offensive UAV capability. 
As evidence supporting U.S. and British charges about Iraqi WMDs and links to terrorism weakened, some supporters of the invasion have increasingly shifted their justification to the human rights violations of the Saddam government.  Leading human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch have argued, however, that they believe human rights concerns were never a central justification for the invasion, nor do they believe that military intervention was justifiable on humanitarian grounds, most significantly because "the killing in Iraq at the time was not of the exceptional nature that would justify such intervention." 
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq (March 20, 2003 - May 1, 2003) was the war fought by the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Poland and some other countries against Iraq, to end the rule of Saddam Hussein.  The main reason that the war started was said to be because the British and American Governments believed that Iraq had dangerous weapons of mass destruction (such as chemical or nuclear weapons) that could be used against other countries.  This turned out after the invasion to not be true.
Coalition operational success
With military support from:
Iraqi National Congress   
- Arab volunteers 
MEK (until ceasefire in 2003) 
George W. Bush
United States: 466,985 personnel   
United Kingdom: 45,000 troops
Australia: 2,000 troops
Poland: 194 Special Forces 
Iraqi Armed Forces: 538,000 active
650,000 reserves  
3,700 APCs and IFVs
2,300 artillery pieces
300 combat aircraft 
Special Iraqi Republican Guard: 12,000
Iraqi Republican Guard: 70,000–75,000
Fedayeen Saddam: 30,000
Arab volunteers: 6,000 
Coalition: 214 killed 
606 wounded (U.S.) 
24+ killed 
Estimated [ weasel words ] Iraqi combatant fatalities: 30,000 (figure attributed to General Tommy Franks) [ source? ]
7,600–11,000 (4,895–6,370 observed and reported) (Project on Defense Alternatives study)  
Another reason for the start of the war was that many people thought that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one of the leaders of al-Qaeda, was hiding in Iraq after the September 11, 2001 attacks.  Though Saddam Hussein was not involved in the planning of the September 11 attacks, many people accused him of giving al-Qaeda a safe place to hide from the United States. The war was extremely controversial. Many British and American people blamed British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the American President, George W. Bush.
Paratroopers landed in the far north of Iraq and a few soldiers attacked from the sea, but most invaded from Kuwait in the south. 4,734 NATO soldiers were killed in Iraq war including 4,600 U.S. servicemen,   179 UK servicemen and 139 Other NATO soldiers with a total of 4900 casualties. 31,882 U.S. servicemen and over 3,600 UK servicemen were wounded in Iraq.    More than 100,000 Iraqi civilians who were not soldiers were also killed. 
On December 30 2008, US soldier Christopher Lotter was killed in Tikrit as retaliation for Saddam's execution on December 30 2006 . On April 18 2010, ISIS leaders Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Abdullah al-Rashid al-Baghdadi were killed in a raid 10 km (6 mi) of Tikrit in a safe house.
The United Nations Secretary-General said that, "[F]rom our point of view and from the Charter point of view [the war] was illegal." 
1900-2000: Iraq timeline
A timeline of key events in Iraqi history and class struggle in the 20th century.
Since the state of Iraq was created early this century, the working class in the area have suffered brutal exploitation and repression at the hands of the rival ruling class groups competing for power. As if dealing with these home grown gangsters wasn't enough, they have also faced the bullets and bombs of the global capitalist powers (especially Britain and America) seeking to control the oil wealth of this part of the world.
Meanwhile opposition political organisations such as the Iraqi Communist Party and the Kurdish Democratic Party have consistently made deals with both Iraqi regimes and the global powers at the expense of those who they claimed to be leading in resistance to the state. Despite all this, the working class has shown itself a force to be reckoned with, toppling governments and sabotaging war efforts. This brief chronology charts some of the key moments in a century of war and rebellion.
Iraq doesn't exist. Since the sixteenth century the area that will later become Iraq has formed part of the Turkish-based Ottoman Empire. The Empire's rule is based in the cities the countryside remains dominated by rural tribal groups, some of them nomadic.
Turkish Petroleum Company formed by British, Dutch and German interests acquires concessions to prospect for oil in the Ottoman provinces of Baghdad and Mosul (both later part of Iraq).
Turkey sides with Germany in the First World War. To protect its strategic interests and potential oil fields, Britain occupies Basra in November 1914, eventually capturing Baghdad in 1917. By the end of the war, most of the provinces of Iraq are occupied by British forces although some areas remain "unpacified". Colonial direct rule is established in "British Mesopotamia", with the top levels of the administration in British hands.
Throughout 1919 and 1920 there are constant risings in northern Iraq, with British military officers and officials being killed. The different tribes in this area share a common Kurdish language and culture, but at this stage there is little demand for a separate Kurdish nation state. The issue is rather resistance to any external state authority.
The RAF bomb Kurdish areas. Wing-Commander Arthur Harris (later known as "Bomber Harris" for his role in the destruction of Dresden in World War Two) boasts: "The Arab and the Kurd now know what real bombing means in casualties and damage. Within 45 minutes a full-size village can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured".
Colonel Gerald Leachman, a leading British officer declares that the only way to deal with the tribes is "wholesale slaughter". The RAF Middle Eastern Command request chemical weapons to use "against recalcitrant Arabs as (an) experiment". Winston Churchill, Secretary of State for War comments "I am strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes.. It is not necessary only to use the most deadly gases: gases can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects of most of those affected". Others argue that the suggested gas would in fact "kill children and sickly persons" and permanently damage eyesight. At this stage, technical problems prevent the use of gas, but later it is deployed.
In the post-war carve up of the spoils of conquest between the victorious imperialist powers, Britain gets Iraq (as well as Palestine), France gets Syria and Lebanon. The borders of the new state of Iraq are set by the great powers, setting the scene for a century of border conflicts (e.g the Iran/Iraq war).
The British authorities impose tight controls, collecting taxes more rigorously than their predecessors and operating forced labour schemes. In June 1920 an armed revolt against British rule ("the Revolution of 1920") spreads across southern and central Iraq. For three months Britain loses control of large areas of the countryside. British military posts are overrun, and 450 British troops are killed (1500 are injured).
By February the rebellion has been crushed, with 9000 rebels killed or wounded by British forces. Whole villages are destroyed by British artillery, and suspected rebels shot without trial. The air power of the RAF plays a major role what this involves is shown by one report of "an air raid in which men, women and children had been machine gunned as they fled from a village".
Britain decides to replace direct colonial rule with an Arab administration which it hopes will serve British interests. At the head of the new state structure, Britain creates a monarchy with Faysal as Iraq's first King. Although senior positions are now filled by Iraqis, ultimate control remains with their British advisers'.
Britain's Labour Government sanctions the use of the RAF against the Kurds, dropping bombs and gas, including on Sulliemania in December. The effects are described by Lord Thompson as "appalling" with panic stricken tribespeoplefleeing "into the desert where hundreds more must have perished of thirst".
The British-controlled Iraq Petroleum Company (successor to the TPC) opens its first substantial oil well at Baba Gurgur, north of Kirkuk. Tons of oil decimate the local countryside before the well is capped.
The Anglo-Iraq Treaty paves the way for independence. However the Treaty provides for Britain to maintain two air bases, and for British influence on Iraq's foreign policy until 1957. In negotiations the British government contends that Kuwait "is a small expendable state which could be sacrificed without too much concern if the power struggles of the period demanded it".
Kurdish uprisings, prompted by fears of their place in the new state, are put down with the help of the RAF.
General strike against the Municipal Fees Law which imposes draconian new taxes (three times heavier than before) and for unemployment compensation. Thousands of workers and artisans, including 3,000 petroleum workers, take part and there are clashes with the police. The RAF flies over urban centres to intimidate strikers and their supporters.
Iraq is admitted to the League of Nations, becoming formally independent - although Britain remains in a powerful influence.
The Artisans Association' (a union) organise a month long boycott of the British-owned Baghdad Electric Light and Power Company. After this, unions and workers' organisations are banned and forced underground for the next ten years with their leaders imprisoned.
King Faysal dies and is succeeded by his son Ghazi.
Iraq Petroleum Company begins commercial export of oil from the Kirkuk fields.
Sporadic tribal rebellions, mainly in the south of the country. Causes include the government's attempt to introduce conscription (the focus of a revolt by the minority Yazidi community), the dispossession of peasants as tribally-owned lands are placed in private hands, and the decreasing power of tribal leaders. The revolts are crushed by air force bombing and summary executions.
General Bakr Sidqi, an admirer of Mussolini installs a military government and launches repression against the left. There are protest strikes throughout the country including at the Iraq Petroleum Company in Kirkuk and at the National Cigarette Factory in Baghdad.
King Ghazi is killed in a car crash. Many Iraqis believe that there has been a conspiracy, as the King had become outspokenly anti-British. During an angry demonstration in Mosul, the British Consul is killed.
Rashid Ali becomes Prime Minister after a coup, at the expense of pro-British politicians. The new government takes a position of neutrality in the Second World War, refusing to support Britain unless it grants independence to British-controlled Syria and Palestine. Links are established with the German government.
British troops land at Basra. The Iraqi government demands that they leave the country. Instead Britain re-invades Iraq and after the thirty days war' restores its supporters to power. During the British occupation, martial law is declared. Arab nationalist leaders are hanged or imprisoned, with up to 1,000 being interned without trial. Despite this, British forces do not intervene when Rashid supporters stage a pogrom in the Jewish area of Baghdad, killing 150 Jews.
Bread strikes prompted by food shortages and prices rises are put down by the police.
Strike by oil workers at the British-controlled Iraq Petroleum Company in Kirkuk demanding higher wages and other benefits. Workers clash with police, and ten are killed when police open fire on a mass meeting on 12 July. The following month there is a strike by oil workers in the Iranian port of Abadan and Britain moves more troops to Basra (near to the Iranian border). The Iraqi government suppresses opposition papers criticising this move, prompting strikes by the printers and railway workers. The cabinet is forced to resign.
Strikes and demonstrations against the proposed establishment of the Zionist state of Israel at the expense of the dispossessed Palestinians.
The Iraqi government negotiates a new treaty with Britain which would have extended Britain's say in military policy until 1973. British troops would be withdrawn from Iraqi soil, but would have the right to return in event of war. On January 16, the day after the Treaty is agreed at Portsmouth, police shoot dead four students on a demonstrations against the treaty. This prompts an uprising that becomes known as al-Wathba (the leap). Militant demonstrations and riots spread across the country, directed not just against the proposed Treaty but against bread shortages and rising prices. Several more people are killed a few days later when police open fire on a mass march of railway workers and slum dwellers. On 27 January 300 to 400 people are killed by the police and military as demonstrators erect barricades of burning cars in the street. The cabinet resigns and the Treaty is repudiated.
In May 3,000 workers at IPC's K3 pumping station near Haditha strike for higher wages bringing the station to a halt. After two and a half weeks, the government and IPC cut off supplies of food and water to the strikers, who then decide to march on Baghdad, 250 km away. On what becomes known as the great march' (al-Masira al-Kubra), strikers are fed and sheltered by people in the small towns and villages en route before being arrested at Fallujah, 70 km from Baghdad.
The British military mission is withdrawn from Iraq. Martial law is declared, ostensibly because of the war in Palestine, and demonstrations are banned.
Communist Party leaders are publicly hanged in Baghdad, their bodies left hanging for several hours as a warning to opponents of the regime.
Port workers strike for increased wages, more housing and better working conditions. Strikers take over the Basra generator, cutting off water and electricity in the city. Strikers are killed when police move in.
In October students go on strike over changes in examination rules. The movement spreads to mass riots in most urban centres, known as al-Intifada (the tremor). In Baghdad a police station and the American Information Office are burned to the ground. A military government takes over, declaring martial law. There is a curfew, mass arrests and the banning of some newspapers. 18 demonstrators are killed in military action.
Government decrees permit the Council of Ministers to deport persons convicted of communism, anarchism and working for a foreign government. The police are given new powers to stop meetings.
Egypt nationalises the Suez Canal. Britain, Israel and France launch a military attack on Egypt. The government closes all colleges and secondary schools in Baghdad as huge demonstrations, strikes and riots spread. Two rioters are sentenced to death following clashes with the police in the southern town of al-Havy. Martial law is imposed.
Popular unrest throughout the country, including in Diwaniyah where in June 43 police and an unknown number of demonstrators are killed in a three hour battle.
A month later the "14 July Revolution" brings to an end the old regime. A coup led by members of the Free Officers seizes power, denounces imperialism and proclaims a republic. The royal family are shot. Crowds take to the streets and a number of US businessmen and Jordanian ministers staying at the Baghdad Hotel are killed. People take food from the shops without paying, thinking that money is now obsolete. To prevent the revolution spreading out of their control, the new government imposes a curfew. After a brief power struggle within the new regime, Abd al-Karim Quasim becomes prime minister (as well as commander in chief of the armed forces) and continues to rule with the support of the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) and other leftists.
Although Islamic influence remains strong, there are public expressions of anti-clericalism including the public burning of the Koran.
Without waiting for Quasim to deliver on his promises of land reform, peasants in the south take matters into their own hands. In al-Kut and al-'Amarah they loot landlords' property, burn down their houses, and destroy accounts and land registers.
Fearing the spread of rebellion throughout the Middle East, the United States sends 14,000 marines to Lebanon. Plans for a joint US/British invasion of Iraq come to nothing because "nobody could be found in Iraq to collaborate with".
Baathists and nationalists form underground anti-communist hit squads, assassinating not just ICP members but other radical workers. By 1961 up to 300 people have been murdered in this way in Baghdad and around 400 in Mosul.
In Mosul, Arab nationalist officers stage an unsuccessful coup against the government, prompted largely by anti-communism. Popular resistance goes beyond suppressing the coup: the rich are attacked and their houses looted. There are similar scenes in Kirkuk where 90 generals, capitalists are landlords are killed in violent clashes ( excesses' later denounced by the ICP).
Quasim cracks down on radical opposition. 6000 militant workers are sacked. Several Communist Party members are sentenced to death after for their role in the Kirkuk clashes. Despite this the ICP leadership continues to support the government, urged on by Moscow.
War breaks out between the government and Kurds lasting intermittently until 1975. In the first year, 500 places are bombed by the Iraqi Air Force and 80,000 people displaced.
Kuwait, under British control since 1899, becomes independent. Iraq stakes a claim that Kuwait should be part of Iraq. Britain responds by sending troops to Kuwait.
Quasim's government is overthrown in a January coup which brings to power the Baathists for the first time. The Arab nationalist Baath party favours the joining together of Iraq, Egypt and Syria in one Arab nation. In the same year, the Baath also come to power in Syria, although the Syrian and Iraqi parties subsequently split.
The Baath strengthen links with the United States, suspected by many of encouraging the coup. During the coup, demonstrators are mown down by tanks, initiating a period of ruthless persecution during which up to 10,000 people are imprisoned, many of them tortured. The CIA help to supply intelligence on communists and radicals to be rounded up. In addition to the 149 officially executed, up to 5000 are killed in the terror, many buried alive in mass graves. The new government continues the war on the Kurds, bombarding them with tanks, artillery and from the air, and bulldozing villages.
In November the Baath are removed from power in another coup by supporters of the Egyptian Arab nationalist, Nasser.
After a split in the Communist Party, a group lead by Aziz al-Hajj launches guerrilla warfare against the state, influenced by Che Guevara and Maoism. There are assassinations of individual capitalists and wide-scale armed confrontations.
The Baath Party power returns to power after a coup in July. It creates a state apparatus systematically dominated by the Baath party that enables it to remain in power for at least the next thirty years.
The Baath militia, the National Guard, crack down on demonstrations and strikes. In November, two strikers are shot dead at a vegetable oil factory near Baghdad, and three are killed on a demonstration to commemorate the Russian Revolution.
The regime begins rounding up suspected communists. The guerrilla movement is defeated, with many of its members tortured to death. Aziz al-Hajj betrays them by recanting on television, subsequently becoming Iraqi ambassador to France.
The air force bombs Kurdish areas, but the military stalemate remains until the following year when Saddam Hussein negotiates an agreement with the Kurdish Democratic Party. In exchange for limited autonomy, the KDP leadership agrees to integrate its peshmerga fighters into the Iraqi army.
The Iraqi oil industry is nationalised.
After pressure from the Soviet Union, the Iraqi Communist Party joins the pro-government National Progressive Front along with the Baath, but the Baath remain in sole control of the state.
War breaks out again in Kurdistan as the agreement with the KDP breaks down. The KDP is deprived of its traditional allies in the CP and the Soviet Union, now supporting the Baath. Instead it seeks and receives aid from the USA and the Shah of Iran. The Baathists launch napalm attacks on the Kurdish towns of Halabja and Kalalze.
The Iraqi military continues bombing civilian areas in Kurdistan, killing 130 at Qala'Duza, 43 in Halabja and 29 in Galala in April.
Iraq negotiates an agreement with Iran, withdrawing help from Iranian Kurds and other anti-Shah forces in return for Iran stopping support to the Iraqi KDP. Iran takes back the military equipment it had given to the KDP, leaving the field open for the Iraqi army to conquer Kurdistan
Wholesale arrests of ICP members it criticises the regime. Twelve are executed for political activity in the army. All non-Baathist political activity in the army (such as reading a political newspaper), or by former members of the armed forces is banned under sentence of death. With universal conscription, this means that all adult males are threatened with death for political activity.
Saddam Hussein becomes president of the republic, having increasingly concentrated power in his hands during the preceding eleven years.
War breaks out between Iraq and the new Iranian regime lead by Ayatollah Khomeni. The conflict centres on border disputes and the prospect of the Islamic revolution spreading to Iraq. Iran shells the Iraqi cities of Khanaqin and Mandali Iraq launches a bombing mission over Tehran.
Popular anti-government uprising in Kurdish areas. The government decrees that deserters from the army (anyone who has gone absent without leave for more than five days) will be executed.
In the southern marsh regions, the Iraqi army launches a massive military operation with the help of heavy artillery, missiles and aircraft to flush out the thousands of deserters and their supporters in the area. Rebels do not only run away from the war, but organise sabotage actions such as blowing up an arsenal near the town of Amara. In the village of Douru armed inhabitants resist the police to prevent house-to-house searches for deserters. At Kasem in the same area armed rebels clash with the military. Villages supporting the rebels are destroyed and their inhabitants massacred.
American support for Iraq in the war is reflected in the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Iraq has received military planes from France, and missiles from the Soviet Union. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait fund the Iraqi war effort. Western and Eastern blocs are united in a wish to see Iraq curtail the influence of Iran and Islamic fundamentalism.
Jalal al-Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan calls a truce with its troops fighting alongside the Baath.
Start of the "War of the Cities" with Iran and Iraq firing missiles at each other's capitals.
In May there is an uprising in the Kurdish town of Halabja led by the many deserters from the army living in the town. According to one eye witness "the governmental forces were toppled. The people had taken over and the police and army had to go into hiding, only being able to move around in tanks and armoured divisions". Hundreds of people are killed when the rebellion is crushed.
Armed deserters take over the town of Sirwan (near Halabja). The Iraqi air force destroys the town with bombs and rockets. Halabja is bombed by Iran, and then on 13 March the Iraqi government attacks the town with chemical weapons killing at least 5,000 civilians. Poor people attempting to flee the town for Iran before the massacre are stopped from doing so by Kurdish nationalist peshmerga. Throughout this period of insurgency there is widespread suspicion of the Kurdish nationalist parties because of their history of collaboration with the state and their lack of support for working class revolts.
The Americans send a naval force to the Gulf after attacks on oil tankers. It effectively takes the Iraqi side, shooting down an Iranian passenger jet killing nearly 300 people, and attacking Iranian oil platforms, killing another 200. In August Iran and Iraq agree a ceasefire bringing to an end the first Gulf War. The British government secretly agrees to relax controls on arms exports to Iraq.
The history of the 1988 Halabja Massacre
In July, the British government approves the company Matrix Churchill exporting engineering equipment to Iraq, knowing that they are to be used to manufacture shells and missiles. The following month, Iraq invades Kuwait.
In January the US military, with support from Britain and the other 'Coalition Forces' launches Operation Desert Storm, a massive attack on Iraq and its forces in Kuwait. The conflict is less of a war than what John Pilger calls "a one-sided bloodfest". The allied forces suffer only 131 deaths (many of them killed by 'friendly fire'), compared with up to 250,000 Iraqi dead.
The history of the 1990-91 Gulf War
The history of worldwide resistance to the Gulf War
Despite General Norman Schwarzkopf's public statement that the allies will not attack Iraqis in retreat, Iraqi conscripts are slaughtered even after the unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait has begun. The day before the 'war' comes to an end, troops (and civilians) retreating from Kuwait City on the Basra highway are massacred in what US pilots gleefully call a 'duck shoot'. For miles near the Mutla Ridge, the road is filled with charred bodies and tangled wreckage. An eye witness writes that "In many instances the human form has been reduced to nothing more than a shapeless black lump, the colour of coal, the texture of ash" (Stephen Sackur).
Many civilians are also killed, most famously at the Amiriya bunker in Baghdad where hundreds of people sheltering from allied bombs are killed when it receives a direct hit from two missiles.
In February and March, popular uprisings against the Iraqi government spread across the country. It starts at Basra in southern Iraq, where the spark is rebels using a tank to fire at the huge pictures of Saddam Hussein in the city. Inspired by rebellion in the south, people in Kurdish areas join in. Police stations, army bases and other government buildings are wrecked and torched. Shops are looted. Food warehouses are occupied and the food distributed. In Sulliemania in the north, rebels smash up the prison and set all the prisoners free and then storm the secret police HQ where many have been tortured and killed. Baathist officials and secret police are shot. In some areas, self-organised workers' councils (shoras) are set up to run things. They set up their own radio stations, medical posts (to collect blood donations for the hospital), and militia to resist government forces.
The history of the South Iraq and Kurdistan uprisings
In Baghdad itself, there are mass desertions from the main barracks during the war, with officers who try to stop them being shot. Two areas of the city, Al Sourah and Al Sho'ela fall into the effective control of deserters and their supporters.
The history of the mass mutiny of Iraqi forces in the Gulf War
After a brutal repression of the rebellion in the South (made easier by the earlier Allied massacre of mutinous conscripts on the Basra highway), Government forces focus on Kurdistan. They reoccupy Sulliemania in April, but the city is deserted with almost all the inhabitants having fled to the mountains.
The Western media present the uprisings as the work of Kurdish nationalists in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south, but they are in fact mass revolts of the poor. In fact the main Kurdish nationalist parties (the KDP and the PUK) oppose radical aspects of the uprisings and try to destroy the shora movement. True to form they announce a new negotiated agreement with Saddam Hussein soon after the uprisings are crushed.
Although military action ceases, the war on people in Iraq is continued through other means - sanctions. The destruction of water pumping stations and sewage filtration plants by allied bombing is compounded by sanctions which prevent them being repaired. This amounts to germ warfare, as the inevitable consequences are epidemics of dysentery, typhoid and cholera. In 1997, the UN estimates that 1.2 million people, including 750,000 children below the age of five, have died because of the scarcity of food and medicine.
The US launches 27 cruise missiles against Iraq.
In February there is a massive military build up by American and British forces in the Gulf, threatening a new war on Iraq. On this occasion, armed conflict is avoid ed after a last minute deal on UN Weapons Inspectors.
On October 1, Iraqi authorities under the command of Gen. Sabah Farhan al-Duri execute 119 Iraqis and three Egyptians in Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. Twenty-nine of those killed are members of the armed forces, and fifty had been imprisoned for their participation in the March 1991 uprisings that followed the Gulf War. This mass execution is apparently a continuation of the "prison-cleansing" campaign launched by the government a year earlier which saw an estimated 2500 prisoners executed.
In December, following the expulsion of Weapons Inspectors from Iraq (and during the middle of President Clinton's impeachment crisis) the US launches Operation Desert Fox. Over a four day period, 400 cruise missiles are launched on Iraq, along with 600 air attack sorties. British aircraft also take part in airstrikes. According to Iraq, thousands are killed and wounded in these attacks.
In March Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq-al Sadr, the most senior Shi'ite religious leader in Iraq, is killed, with the suspicion falling on government agents. A major uprising in Basra is suppressed with hundreds of deaths, many killed in mass executions.
Western military attacks continue, ostensibly against Iraqi air defenses. On April 11, two people are killed when Western warplanes bomb targets in Quadissiya province. On 27 April, four people are killed by US planes near Mosulin in the northern no-fly zone. On May 9, four people are killed in Basra province, including three in a farmer's house in Qurna. On May 12, 12 people are killed in the northern city of Mosul.
Robert Clough, Labour: a party fit for imperialism (Larkin, London, 1992)
Marion Farouk-Sluglett & Peter Sluglett, Iraq since 1958: from revolution to dictatorship (Tauris, London, 1990).
Lawrence James, The rise and fall of the British Empire (Little, Brown & Co., London, 1994).
Brian MacArthur (ed.), Despatches from the Gulf War (Bloomsbury, London, 1991).
Phebe Marr, The Modern History of Iraq (Longman, Harlow, 1985).
Midnight Notes Collective, Midnight Oil: work, energy, war, 1973-1992 (Autonomedia, New York, 1992).
Peter Nore and Terisa Turner (eds.), Oil and class struggle (Zed, London, 1980).
Richard Norton-Taylor, Mark Lloyd and Stephen Cook, Knee deep in dishonour: the Scott Report and its aftermath (Gollancz, London, 1996)
Stephen Sackur, The Charred Bodies at Mutla Ridge, London Review of Books, 4 April 1991.
Geoff Simons, Iraq: from Sumer to Saddam (Macmillan, London, 1996).
The Kurdish Uprising and Kurdistan's Nationalist Shop Front and its negotiations with the Baathist/Fascist Regime (BM Blob/BM Combustion, London, 1991)
The class struggle in Iraq - an interview with a veteran, Workers Scud, June 1991 (available from Box 15, 138 Kingsland High St, London E8 2NS)
Eye witness in Halabja, Wildcat no.13, 1989 (available from BM Cat, WC1N 3XX)
Ten days that shook Iraq, Wildcat, 1991.
Iran-Iraq: Class war against imperialist war, Wildcat no.10, 1987.
Revolutionary defeatism in Iraq, Communism - Internationalist Communist Group, April 1992.
Whiff of imperialism in the air over Iraq, An Phoblact/Republican News, 5 February 1998.
Marked cards in the Middle East, Fifth Estate, Spring 1991.
Administration of Torture book cover. [Source: Public domain] American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawyers Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh publish the book Administration of Torture: A Documentary Record from Washington to Abu Ghraib and Beyond. In their book, Jaffer and Singh use over 100,000 pages of government documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act to detail the sometimes-horrific conditions under which suspected terrorists are detained by the US government. The book spans detention facilities in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay. The book’s central thesis is, according to the ACLU’s press release for the book, “that the torture and abuse of prisoners was systemic and resulted from decisions made by senior US officials, both military and civilian,” including President Bush himself. [American Civil Liberties Union, 10/22/2007] “[T]he documents show unambiguously that the administration has adopted some of the methods of the most tyrannical regimes,” write Jaffer and Singh. Some of the prisoners “abused, tortured, and killed” were not even terror suspects, the authors show. [Raw Story, 10/22/2007] The book grew out of a long, difficult battle by the ACLU and several other such organizations to secure records pertaining to detainees held by the US in other countries (see October 7, 2003). The book shows a starkly different reality than the picture painted by the Bush administration’s repeated disavowals of torture, a reality established by the government’s own documentation. The administration has repeatedly claimed, for instance, that the torture and abuse so well documented at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison was an isolated, unusual set of incidents that was not repeated at other US detention facilities. The documentation compiled by Jaffer and Singh prove that claim to be a lie: “This claim was completely false, and senior officials almost certainly knew it to be so.” Beatings, kickings, and all manner of abuses have routinely occurred at other detention facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq, the book states. Autopsy reports show that numerous prisoners in US custody have died due to strangulation, suffocation, or blunt-force trauma. Documents from Guantanamo, a facility where Bush officials have repeatedly claimed that the “excesses” of Abu Ghraib were never implemented, show that Guantanamo detainees were regularly “shackled in excruciating ‘stress positions,’ held in freezing-cold cells, forcibly stripped, hooded, terrorized with military dogs, and deprived of human contact for months.” And, perhaps most damningly for the administration, government documents show that top White House and Pentagon officials were not only well aware of the scope of the abuse months before the first pictures from Abu Ghraib were broadcast to the public, but that torture and abuse are part of the administration’s policy towards detainees. “[T]he maltreatment of prisoners resulted in large part from decisions made by senior officials, both military and civilian,” Jaffer and Singh write. “These decisions… were reaffirmed repeatedly, even in the face of complaints from law enforcement and military personnel that the policies were illegal and ineffective, and even after countless prisoners… were abused, tortured, or killed in custody.… The documents show that senior officials endorsed the abuse of prisoners as a matter of policy—sometimes by tolerating it, sometimes by encouraging it, and sometimes by expressly authorizing it.”
The book presents a number of damning claims, all backed by extensive documentation, including the following: [American Civil Liberties Union, 10/22/2007]
General Michael Dunlavey, who oversaw prisoner interrogations at Guantanamo and considered former camp commander Brigadier General Rick Baccus too soft on the detainees [BBC, 10/16/2002] , and who asked the Pentagon to approve more aggressive interrogation methods for the camp, claimed that he received his “marching orders” from Bush.
Then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was “personally involved” in overseeing the interrogation of a Guantanamo prisoner named Mohammed al-Khatani, the alleged would-be 20th 9/11 hijacker (see July 2002). Al-Khatani was “stripped naked, paraded in front of female interrogators, made to wear women’s underwear on his head, led around on a leash, and forced to perform dog tricks.” It is not clear just what being “personally involved” entails. Rumsfeld did not himself authorize such methods, but according to the investigator who documented the al-Khatani abuse session, Rumsfeld “failed to place a ‘throttle’ over abusive ‘applications’ of the ‘broad techniques’ that he did authorize….”
Interrogators who used abusive ‘SERE’ (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) methods at Guantanamo did so because the Pentagon had endorsed those methods and required interrogators to be trained in the use of those methods (see December 2001).
FBI personnel complained of abuses at Guantanamo these instances of abuse were authorized by the chain of command within the Defense Department.
Some of the most disturbing interrogation methodologies displayed in photos from Abu Ghraib were used at Guantanamo, with the endorsement of Rumsfeld, and that Major General Geoffrey Miller’s aggressive plan to “Gitmoize” Abu Ghraib was endorsed by senior Defense officials.
Bush and his senior officials have always insisted that abuse and torture was limited to a few unauthorized soldiers at Abu Ghraib. Yet a Defense Department “Information Paper” shows that, three weeks before the Abu Ghraib photos appeared in the press, the US Army knew of at least 62 allegations of prisoner abuse in Afghanistan and Iraq, most of which had no relation to Abu Ghraib.
The Defense Department held prisoners as young as 12 years old.
The Defense Department approved holding prisoners in cells as small as 3 feet wide, 4 feet long, and 18 inches high. Special Forces units held prisoners in cells only slightly larger than that. [American Civil Liberties Union, 10/22/2007]
Receive weekly email updates summarizing what contributors have added to the History Commons database
Developing and maintaining this site is very labor intensive. If you find it useful, please give us a hand and donate what you can.
If you would like to help us with this effort, please contact us. We need help with programming (Java, JDO, mysql, and xml), design, networking, and publicity. If you want to contribute information to this site, click the register link at the top of the page, and start contributing.
Except where otherwise noted, the textual content of each timeline is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
Jan 13 President Bush summons Secretary of State Colin Powell to the Oval Office and tells him that he has decided to go to war against Iraq.
Jan 28 In his State of the Union speech, President Bush speaks of intelligence reports and says that Saddam Hussein is not disarming, he is deceiving. He says that he is ready to attack Iraq with a United Nations mandate. "We exercise power without conquest," he says, "and we sacrifice for the liberty of strangers."
Jan 28 Following Bush's address, a nationally televised debate takes place between Mark Danner and Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens, occasionally described as a leftist, has been in Iraq and is close to some there who have been fighting the Saddam regime. He argues that going to war is the right thing to do. Danner favors strengthening the "containment policy." He describes Bush's doctrine of preemption as "extremely dangerous." He argues that a prolonged occupation would be needed to stabilize Iraq and that this would be fraught with complications and could result in more terror attacks against the US He complains that Bush did not use the word "occupation" in his speech.
Katrina vanden Heuvel, publisher/writer
Feb 5 Secretary of State Powell addresses the United Nations Security Council and accuses Iraq of hiding Weapons of Mass Destruction. The evidence he says is "irrefutable and undeniable." He states that the UN "places itself in danger of irrelevance if it allows Iraq to continue to defy its will without responding effectively and immediately."
Feb 6 Few journalists in the United States question Powell's presentation. One who does is Katrina vanden Heuvel. Published in USA Today, she writes that Powell's presentation contained "little new information or proof of the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." She writes that nearly all of Powell's evidence is "largely circumstantial or speculative." She complains of minor violations being offered to justify a major war.
Feb 15 More than 10 million people in over 600 cities worldwide protest against
Feb 15 Polls show that in the US, President Bush's State of the Union Speech and Powell's presentation at the UN have increased support for an invasion of Iraq. Only 27 percent of those polled oppose military action against Iraq.
Feb 19 In the Kremlin, Putin meets with Russian business leaders and the most wealthy among them, Mikhail Khodorkovsky suggests that the correct mistakes they have made and leave behind the corruption that has became the way of doing business in Russia, implying that government officials have been accepting millions in bribes offered by businessmen in order to get things done. Khordokovsky speaks in favor of moving to a Western European model of doing business. Putin is annoyed and makes a vailed threat to Khodorskovsky.
Feb 22 Weapons inspectors in Iraq have found al-Samoud missiles, which have a range that is proscribed by the UN.
Feb 27 President Bush awards the National Humanities Medal to history professor Paul Kagan, the father of historians whom some would call neo-cons. Paul Kagan had suggested that war had erupted between Athens and Sparta because Athens had not been strong enough to scare Sparta into a reluctance to go to war &ndash rather than states responding defensively to Athenian aggressions. Keeping states scared is to be primary in "neo-con" strategic thinking.
Mar 1 Iraq begins destroying its al-Samoud missiles.
Mar 1 In Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair speaks of the "majority of decent and well-meaning people " in the 1930s who wanted to live in peace with Hitler's Germany. He compares them with those who want peace now and do not want to hold Saddam Hussein to account by force if he does not live up to agreements. It is an argument that has been getting more attention in Britain and the United States, which had switched to opposition to Hitler by 1939.
Zoran Djindjic, philosopher-politician
Mar 5 The foreign ministers of Germany, Russia and France say they will oppose any Security Council authorization of war against Iraq.
Mar 7 Hans Blix reports that Iraq has accelerated its cooperation but that inspectors need more time to verify Iraq's compliance.
Mar 9 In Britain, a member of Tony Blair's cabinet, Clare Short, describes his position on Iraq as "deeply reckless" and threatens to resign.
Mar 12 Serbia's prime minister, Zoran Djindjic, is assassinated. He had a role in sending Slobodan Milosevic to his trial in the Netherlands, and he was trying to curb organized crime.
Mar 16 President Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spain's Prime Minister, Jose Maria Aznar meet in the Azores regarding Iraq. At the end of the meeting President Bush states that "We concluded that tomorrow is a moment of truth for the world."
Mar 17 The Bush administration sends an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein: either he and his sons leave Iraq or their refusal to do so "will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing." Before his death in 2006, Hussein is to say that he didn't believe that this meant the kind of invasion that followed, that he expected a military operation of the kind that he had been able to survive.
Mar 19 Hussein has not complied. The war against Iraq begins with air strikes.
Mar 20 US, British, Australian and Polish troops invade Iraq.
Mar 22 The US and Britain begin their "shock and awe" air strikes against targets in Baghdad.
Mar 28 President Bush signs into law his tax plan designed to reduce taxes and stimulate economic growth. The act reduces the long-term individual income tax rate on capital gains to 15 percent, and it significantly reduces the amount of tax paid by investors on dividends and capital gains. A statement signed by 450 economists, including 10 Nobel Prize Laureates, oppose the tax-cut bill.
Apr 9 Saddam Hussein's army has ended its resistance and US forces advance into central Baghdad.
Apr 10 Via television, Bush addresses the Iraqi people, telling them that the "government of Iraq, and the future of your country, will soon belong to you." Kurdish and US forces dominate the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul. Looting has begun in Baghdad and other cities.
Apr 11 So far in the Iraq war, the US has lost 102 killed and the British 30. Looting has begun in Baghdad.
Apr 21 Retired US Army General Jay Garner has been appointed to administer a brief occupation of Iraq. He flies into Iraq with eight subordinates.
Apr 22 Garner wants to create a new Iraqi federal government and he wants elections to be held within 90 days. The Pentagon is opposed and Garner agrees to set up an interim Iraqi advisory group of Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis, many of whom are expatriates favored by the Pentagon.
Apr 23 The Bush administration decides to put Paul Bremer in charge in Iraq.
Apr 25 The Darfur Liberation Front, consisting of Muslims, associates itself with those Christians in the south of Sudan fighting against the government in Khartoum. It has changed its name to the Sudan Liberation Movement and Sudanese Liberation Army (SLM/SLA). In Land Cruisers, they attack a sleeping garrison at al-Fashir &ndash a city in the Darfur region. They destroy seven helicopter gunships and four Anotov bombers on the ground and kill 75 pilots, soldiers and technicians. The Khartoum government is awakened to the fact that they face serious warfare from the Darfur region.
Apr 28 The US Army enters the city of Fallujah and imposes a curfew. A crowd of about 200 protest and throw stones at the US forces. According to US soldiers they also hear shots, while none has been struck by a bullet. The soldiers fire into the crowd. It is reported that they kill 17 civilians and wound over 70. In Fallujah, anti-Americanism and anger against occupation spreads.
May 1 President Bush lands a fighter aircraft on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, near San Diego, California. He tells the military people aboard the carrier that "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. (Applause.) And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country."
May 12 A suicide truck-bomb attack kills at least 60 at a government compound in northern Chechnya. In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, suicide truck-bombers, said to be al Qaeda, attack the compounds where American and other Westerners are sleeping. Twenty-six are killed.
May 14 In an apparent attempt to assassinate Chechnya's chief administrator, Akhmad Kadyrov, a woman with explosives strapped to her waist kills at least 18 fellow Muslims.
May 14 Paul Bremer has his first full day in Baghdad.
May 15 Jay Garner confronts Bremer concerning Bermer's plan regarding purging Baathists from Iraqi public offices. Garner says "you're going to drive between 30,000 and 50,000 Baathists underground before nightfall. Don't do this." Bremer politely ends the discussion.
May 16 Bremer orders the disbanding of Iraqi ministries of Defense and Interior, the entire Iraqi military, and all of Saddam's bodyguard and special paramilitary organizations. Garner is stunned and believes that Bremer is undoing work to bring back the Iraqi army.
May 16 In the city of Casablanca, Morocco, fourteen attackers, most between 20 and 24 years-old, strike at a variety of Jewish and Western targets. Thirty-three are killed and more than one hundred injured.
May 28 The Israeli Cabinet votes to accept a US-backed "road map to peace," paving the way for talks between Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas.
May 31 Eric Rudolf, a former member of the "Army of God," an offshoot of the "Christian Identity" movement, wanted for a bomb blast that killed one and wounded 111 at the close of the Olympic Games in Atlanta Georia in 1996 and for other bombings, is captured in North Carolina.
Jun 1 In Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi, who won an overwhelming victory in national elections in 1988 but has been denied office, has been taken into custody by the ruling military clique following a clash between their forces and her supporters.
Jun 3 In Zimbabwe, authorities arrest political opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, of the Movement for Democratic Change, and army units attack and beat peaceful protesters.
Jun 5 Shops, banks and factories in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, remain shut for a third day, defying government threats to crack down on businesses taking part in the largest strikes yet aimed at President Robert Mugabe. The Movement for Democratic Change announces that one of the protesters attacked on June 3 has died from injuries. Police have reported 250 to 300 arrests in the past few days.
June 5 In Chechnya a female suicide bomber detonates a bomb near a bus carrying soldiers and civilians to a military airfield in Mozdok, a major staging point for Russian troops. At least 16 are killed.
Jun 15 A rate of about one US soldier per day has been killed in Iraq since the end of combat was declared. The US launches Operation Desert Scorpion to defeat organized Iraqi resistance against US troops.
Jun 18 In the United States, Jay Garner tells Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld that three mistakes have been made: the extent of the de-Baathification getting rid of the Iraqi army, which has left hundreds of thousands unemployed and armed Iraqis running around and summarily dismissing an Iraqi leadership group. Garner says there is "still time to rectify this." Rumsfeld replies: I don't think there is anything we can do, because we are where we are.
June 28 US military commanders order a halt to local elections and self-rule in provincial cities and towns across Iraq.
Jul 1 In Hong Kong, 500,000 march to protest a proposed security law that would restrict and punish dissent.
Jul 2 President Bush responds to insurgents in Iraq. He says, "My answer is, bring 'em on."
Jul 2 In Russia, a Khodorkovsky business associate, Platon Lebedev, is arrested. The move against Lebedev will be perceived as politically motivated and a warning to Khodorkovsky to flee the country. Lebedev will be charged with tax evasion, embezzlement and money laundering and sent to prison.
Jul 5 In Hong Kong it is announced that the proposed security law would be modified to remove warrantless searches
Jul 13 Iraq's interim governing council, composed of 25 Iraqis appointed by American and British officials, is inaugurated. The council has power to name ministers and will help draw up a new constitution for the country, while Paul Bremer retains ultimate authority.
Jul 17 US combat deaths in Iraq reach 147.
Jul 22 A raid by US soldiers kills Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, and a grandson.
Jul 23 In Hong Kong Tony Blair commends the peaceful nature of the recent demonstrations against the security law legislation and speaks of evidence of the stability of China overall and the "one country, two systems policy" for what is now China's Hong Kong.
Jul 27 Bob Hope dies at age 100.
Aug 1 A suicide bomber rams a truck filled with explosives into a military hospital near Chechnya, killing 50, including Russian soldiers.
Aug 11 A heat wave in Paris reaches 44 degrees Celsius (112 degrees Fahrenheit), killing more than 3,000.
Aug 19 A truck bomb kills 20 at the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad.
Aug 22 In the US, a new method of sequencing genes can determine the entire genetic code of a virus in a single day.
Aug 26 In Mumbai (Bombay), two car bombs have killed 52 and injured close to 150. India's deputy prime minister announces indications Islamic militants were involved. Suspicion is directed against Pakistan.
Sep 5 In Hong Kong the security legislation that was protested in July is withdrawn.
Sep 5 At Disneyland in California, a roller coaster accident injures 10 and kills 1.
Sep 16 Bremer tells a group of new Iraqi ministers that it is unpleasant being occupied but that "the Coalition is still the sovereign power here."
Sep 23 Two-thirds of Baghdad residents who answer a US Gallup poll respond politely, saying that the removal of Saddam Hussein is worth the hardships they have encountered and that they expect a better life in five years.
Oct 2 North Korea claims that it is using plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel rods to make atomic weapons.
Oct 2 Pakistan's army launches its largest offensive against al-Qaeda and other militants in Pakistan's tribal region bordering Afghanistan, killing at least 12.
Oct 3 In Karachi, Pakistan, gunmen open fire on a bus carrying Shiite Muslim employees of Pakistan's space agency, killing six and wounding at least six others.
Oct 4 In Haifa, Israel, Hanadi Jaradat, a 29-year-old female Palestinian lawyer, blows herself up in a restaurant, killing 21.
Oct 5 Maher Arar is returned to Canada after Syrian authorities conclude that he has had no links with terrorists. Arar's cell was 3 by 6 feet. He was repeatedly tortured and could hear the screams of other prisoners.
Oct 7 Californians elect Arnold Schwarzenegger governor.
Oct 10 Spain's new Madrid-Leida bullet train makes its first journey. The train has an average speed of 108 mph, with a peak of 124 mph.
Oct 11 The French government supports school officials who have expelled two sisters for refusing to remove traditional Islamic head scarves in class.
Oct 15 China launches its first manned space mission.
Oct 21 The Pentagon has put in charge of Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison Major General Geoffrey Miller, the Pentagon planning to apply at Abu Ghraib what Miller had applied at Guantanamo, to get more information from prisoners. The Red Cross completes a three-day visit to the prison and reports abuse.
Oct 24 The Concord makes its final commercial flight.
Oct 25 The New York Times reports today that "Russia's richest man, the baron Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, was seized at gunpoint [yesterday] by government security agents and jailed on charges of fraud and tax evasion."
Oct 27 Four coordinated suicide attacks in Baghdad kill 43 and wound more than 200. Included among the targets is the
Nov 30 For US soldiers in Iraq, November has been the worst month: seventy-five have died.
Dec 1 In Britain, the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving is made illegal.
Dec 8 Zimbabwe withdraws from the Commonwealth of Nations.
Dec 9 A female suicide bomber blows herself up outside Moscow's National Hotel, across from the Kremlin and Red Square, killing 5.
Dec 13 Saddam Hussein is captured by American troops. Shia are joyous. Sunni are depressed. The divide between Shia and Sunni will begin to widen. Shia and Sunni who were friends will stop speaking to one another.
Dec 20 Libya admits to building a nuclear bomb.
Dec 25 President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan escapes the second assassination attempt in 2 weeks.
Dec 31 According to the CIA World Factbook, in Iraq for the year 2003, 5.84 in every 1,000 persons has died. Also, births numbered 33.66 for every 1,000 persons.
Thank you all very much. Please be seated. Thanks for the warm welcome, and thanks for inviting me to join you in this 20th anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy. The staff and directors of this organization have seen a lot of history over the last two decades, you've been a part of that history. By speaking for and standing for freedom, you've lifted the hopes of people around the world, and you've brought great credit to America.
I appreciate Vin for the short introduction. I'm a man who likes short introductions. And he didn't let me down. But more importantly, I appreciate the invitation. I appreciate the members of Congress who are here, senators from both political parties, members of the House of Representatives from both political parties. I appreciate the ambassadors who are here. I appreciate the guests who have come. I appreciate the bipartisan spirit, the nonpartisan spirit of the National Endowment for Democracy. I'm glad that Republicans and Democrats and independents are working together to advance human liberty.
The roots of our democracy can be traced to England, and to its Parliament -- and so can the roots of this organization. In June of 1982, President Ronald Reagan spoke at Westminster Palace and declared, the turning point had arrived in history. He argued that Soviet communism had failed, precisely because it did not respect its own people -- their creativity, their genius and their rights.
President Reagan said that the day of Soviet tyranny was passing, that freedom had a momentum which would not be halted. He gave this organization its mandate: to add to the momentum of freedom across the world. Your mandate was important 20 years ago it is equally important today. (Applause.)
A number of critics were dismissive of that speech by the President. According to one editorial of the time, "It seems hard to be a sophisticated European and also an admirer of Ronald Reagan." (Laughter.) Some observers on both sides of the Atlantic pronounced the speech simplistic and naive, and even dangerous. In fact, Ronald Reagan's words were courageous and optimistic and entirely correct. (Applause.)
The great democratic movement President Reagan described was already well underway. In the early 1970s, there were about 40 democracies in the world. By the middle of that decade, Portugal and Spain and Greece held free elections. Soon there were new democracies in Latin America, and free institutions were spreading in Korea, in Taiwan, and in East Asia. This very week in 1989, there were protests in East Berlin and in Leipzig. By the end of that year, every communist dictatorship in Central America* had collapsed. Within another year, the South African government released Nelson Mandela. Four years later, he was elected president of his country -- ascending, like Walesa and Havel, from prisoner of state to head of state.
As the 20th century ended, there were around 120 democracies in the world -- and I can assure you more are on the way. (Applause.) Ronald Reagan would be pleased, and he would not be surprised.
We've witnessed, in little over a generation, the swiftest advance of freedom in the 2,500 year story of democracy. Historians in the future will offer their own explanations for why this happened. Yet we already know some of the reasons they will cite. It is no accident that the rise of so many democracies took place in a time when the world's most influential nation was itself a democracy.
The United States made military and moral commitments in Europe and Asia, which protected free nations from aggression, and created the conditions in which new democracies could flourish. As we provided security for whole nations, we also provided inspiration for oppressed peoples. In prison camps, in banned union meetings, in clandestine churches, men and women knew that the whole world was not sharing their own nightmare. They knew of at least one place -- a bright and hopeful land -- where freedom was valued and secure. And they prayed that America would not forget them, or forget the mission to promote liberty around the world.
Historians will note that in many nations, the advance of markets and free enterprise helped to create a middle class that was confident enough to demand their own rights. They will point to the role of technology in frustrating censorship and central control -- and marvel at the power of instant communications to spread the truth, the news, and courage across borders.
Historians in the future will reflect on an extraordinary, undeniable fact: Over time, free nations grow stronger and dictatorships grow weaker. In the middle of the 20th century, some imagined that the central planning and social regimentation were a shortcut to national strength. In fact, the prosperity, and social vitality and technological progress of a people are directly determined by extent of their liberty. Freedom honors and unleashes human creativity -- and creativity determines the strength and wealth of nations. Liberty is both the plan of Heaven for humanity, and the best hope for progress here on Earth.
The progress of liberty is a powerful trend. Yet, we also know that liberty, if not defended, can be lost. The success of freedom is not determined by some dialectic of history. By definition, the success of freedom rests upon the choices and the courage of free peoples, and upon their willingness to sacrifice. In the trenches of World War I, through a two-front war in the 1940s, the difficult battles of Korea and Vietnam, and in missions of rescue and liberation on nearly every continent, Americans have amply displayed our willingness to sacrifice for liberty.
The sacrifices of Americans have not always been recognized or appreciated, yet they have been worthwhile. Because we and our allies were steadfast, Germany and Japan are democratic nations that no longer threaten the world. A global nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union ended peacefully -- as did the Soviet Union. The nations of Europe are moving towards unity, not dividing into armed camps and descending into genocide. Every nation has learned, or should have learned, an important lesson: Freedom is worth fighting for, dying for, and standing for -- and the advance of freedom leads to peace. (Applause.)
And now we must apply that lesson in our own time. We've reached another great turning point -- and the resolve we show will shape the next stage of the world democratic movement.
Our commitment to democracy is tested in countries like Cuba and Burma and North Korea and Zimbabwe -- outposts of oppression in our world. The people in these nations live in captivity, and fear and silence. Yet, these regimes cannot hold back freedom forever -- and, one day, from prison camps and prison cells, and from exile, the leaders of new democracies will arrive. (Applause.) Communism, and militarism and rule by the capricious and corrupt are the relics of a passing era. And we will stand with these oppressed peoples until the day of their freedom finally arrives. (Applause.)
Our commitment to democracy is tested in China. That nation now has a sliver, a fragment of liberty. Yet, China's people will eventually want their liberty pure and whole. China has discovered that economic freedom leads to national wealth. China's leaders will also discover that freedom is indivisible -- that social and religious freedom is also essential to national greatness and national dignity. Eventually, men and women who are allowed to control their own wealth will insist on controlling their own lives and their own country.
Our commitment to democracy is also tested in the Middle East, which is my focus today, and must be a focus of American policy for decades to come. In many nations of the Middle East -- countries of great strategic importance -- democracy has not yet taken root. And the questions arise: Are the peoples of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are millions of men and women and children condemned by history or culture to live in despotism? Are they alone never to know freedom, and never even to have a choice in the matter? I, for one, do not believe it. I believe every person has the ability and the right to be free. (Applause.)
Some skeptics of democracy assert that the traditions of Islam are inhospitable to the representative government. This "cultural condescension," as Ronald Reagan termed it, has a long history. After the Japanese surrender in 1945, a so-called Japan expert asserted that democracy in that former empire would "never work." Another observer declared the prospects for democracy in post-Hitler Germany are, and I quote, "most uncertain at best" -- he made that claim in 1957. Seventy-four years ago, The Sunday London Times declared nine-tenths of the population of India to be "illiterates not caring a fig for politics." Yet when Indian democracy was imperiled in the 1970s, the Indian people showed their commitment to liberty in a national referendum that saved their form of government.
Time after time, observers have questioned whether this country, or that people, or this group, are "ready" for democracy -- as if freedom were a prize you win for meeting our own Western standards of progress. In fact, the daily work of democracy itself is the path of progress. It teaches cooperation, the free exchange of ideas, and the peaceful resolution of differences. As men and women are showing, from Bangladesh to Botswana, to Mongolia, it is the practice of democracy that makes a nation ready for democracy, and every nation can start on this path.
It should be clear to all that Islam -- the faith of one-fifth of humanity -- is consistent with democratic rule. Democratic progress is found in many predominantly Muslim countries -- in Turkey and Indonesia, and Senegal and Albania, Niger and Sierra Leone. Muslim men and women are good citizens of India and South Africa, of the nations of Western Europe, and of the United States of America.
More than half of all the Muslims in the world live in freedom under democratically constituted governments. They succeed in democratic societies, not in spite of their faith, but because of it. A religion that demands individual moral accountability, and encourages the encounter of the individual with God, is fully compatible with the rights and responsibilities of self-government.
Yet there's a great challenge today in the Middle East. In the words of a recent report by Arab scholars, the global wave of democracy has -- and I quote -- "barely reached the Arab states." They continue: "This freedom deficit undermines human development and is one of the most painful manifestations of lagging political development." The freedom deficit they describe has terrible consequences, of the people of the Middle East and for the world. In many Middle Eastern countries, poverty is deep and it is spreading, women lack rights and are denied schooling. Whole societies remain stagnant while the world moves ahead. These are not the failures of a culture or a religion. These are the failures of political and economic doctrines.
As the colonial era passed away, the Middle East saw the establishment of many military dictatorships. Some rulers adopted the dogmas of socialism, seized total control of political parties and the media and universities. They allied themselves with the Soviet bloc and with international terrorism. Dictators in Iraq and Syria promised the restoration of national honor, a return to ancient glories. They've left instead a legacy of torture, oppression, misery, and ruin.
Other men, and groups of men, have gained influence in the Middle East and beyond through an ideology of theocratic terror. Behind their language of religion is the ambition for absolute political power. Ruling cabals like the Taliban show their version of religious piety in public whippings of women, ruthless suppression of any difference or dissent, and support for terrorists who arm and train to murder the innocent. The Taliban promised religious purity and national pride. Instead, by systematically destroying a proud and working society, they left behind suffering and starvation.
Many Middle Eastern governments now understand that military dictatorship and theocratic rule are a straight, smooth highway to nowhere. But some governments still cling to the old habits of central control. There are governments that still fear and repress independent thought and creativity, and private enterprise -- the human qualities that make for a -- strong and successful societies. Even when these nations have vast natural resources, they do not respect or develop their greatest resources -- the talent and energy of men and women working and living in freedom.
Instead of dwelling on past wrongs and blaming others, governments in the Middle East need to confront real problems, and serve the true interests of their nations. The good and capable people of the Middle East all deserve responsible leadership. For too long, many people in that region have been victims and subjects -- they deserve to be active citizens.
Governments across the Middle East and North Africa are beginning to see the need for change. Morocco has a diverse new parliament King Mohammed has urged it to extend the rights to women. Here is how His Majesty explained his reforms to parliament: "How can society achieve progress while women, who represent half the nation, see their rights violated and suffer as a result of injustice, violence, and marginalization, notwithstanding the dignity and justice granted to them by our glorious religion?" The King of Morocco is correct: The future of Muslim nations will be better for all with the full participation of women. (Applause.)
In Bahrain last year, citizens elected their own parliament for the first time in nearly three decades. Oman has extended the vote to all adult citizens Qatar has a new constitution Yemen has a multiparty political system Kuwait has a directly elected national assembly and Jordan held historic elections this summer. Recent surveys in Arab nations reveal broad support for political pluralism, the rule of law, and free speech. These are the stirrings of Middle Eastern democracy, and they carry the promise of greater change to come.
As changes come to the Middle Eastern region, those with power should ask themselves: Will they be remembered for resisting reform, or for leading it? In Iran, the demand for democracy is strong and broad, as we saw last month when thousands gathered to welcome home Shirin Ebadi, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The regime in Teheran must heed the democratic demands of the Iranian people, or lose its last claim to legitimacy. (Applause.)
For the Palestinian people, the only path to independence and dignity and progress is the path of democracy. (Applause.) And the Palestinian leaders who block and undermine democratic reform, and feed hatred and encourage violence are not leaders at all. They're the main obstacles to peace, and to the success of the Palestinian people.
The Saudi government is taking first steps toward reform, including a plan for gradual introduction of elections. By giving the Saudi people a greater role in their own society, the Saudi government can demonstrate true leadership in the region.
The great and proud nation of Egypt has shown the way toward peace in the Middle East, and now should show the way toward democracy in the Middle East. (Applause.) Champions of democracy in the region understand that democracy is not perfect, it is not the path to utopia, but it's the only path to national success and dignity.
As we watch and encourage reforms in the region, we are mindful that modernization is not the same as Westernization. Representative governments in the Middle East will reflect their own cultures. They will not, and should not, look like us. Democratic nations may be constitutional monarchies, federal republics, or parliamentary systems. And working democracies always need time to develop -- as did our own. We've taken a 200-year journey toward inclusion and justice -- and this makes us patient and understanding as other nations are at different stages of this journey.
There are, however, essential principles common to every successful society, in every culture. Successful societies limit the power of the state and the power of the military -- so that governments respond to the will of the people, and not the will of an elite. Successful societies protect freedom with the consistent and impartial rule of law, instead of selecting applying -- selectively applying the law to punish political opponents. Successful societies allow room for healthy civic institutions -- for political parties and labor unions and independent newspapers and broadcast media. Successful societies guarantee religious liberty -- the right to serve and honor God without fear of persecution. Successful societies privatize their economies, and secure the rights of property. They prohibit and punish official corruption, and invest in the health and education of their people. They recognize the rights of women. And instead of directing hatred and resentment against others, successful societies appeal to the hopes of their own people. (Applause.)
These vital principles are being applies in the nations of Afghanistan and Iraq. With the steady leadership of President Karzai, the people of Afghanistan are building a modern and peaceful government. Next month, 500 delegates will convene a national assembly in Kabul to approve a new Afghan constitution. The proposed draft would establish a bicameral parliament, set national elections next year, and recognize Afghanistan's Muslim identity, while protecting the rights of all citizens. Afghanistan faces continuing economic and security challenges -- it will face those challenges as a free and stable democracy. (Applause.)
In Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Governing Council are also working together to build a democracy -- and after three decades of tyranny, this work is not easy. The former dictator ruled by terror and treachery, and left deeply ingrained habits of fear and distrust. Remnants of his regime, joined by foreign terrorists, continue their battle against order and against civilization. Our coalition is responding to recent attacks with precision raids, guided by intelligence provided by the Iraqis, themselves. And we're working closely with Iraqi citizens as they prepare a constitution, as they move toward free elections and take increasing responsibility for their own affairs. As in the defense of Greece in 1947, and later in the Berlin Airlift, the strength and will of free peoples are now being tested before a watching world. And we will meet this test. (Applause.)
Securing democracy in Iraq is the work of many hands. American and coalition forces are sacrificing for the peace of Iraq and for the security of free nations. Aid workers from many countries are facing danger to help the Iraqi people. The National Endowment for Democracy is promoting women's rights, and training Iraqi journalists, and teaching the skills of political participation. Iraqis, themselves -- police and borders guards and local officials -- are joining in the work and they are sharing in the sacrifice.
This is a massive and difficult undertaking -- it is worth our effort, it is worth our sacrifice, because we know the stakes. The failure of Iraqi democracy would embolden terrorists around the world, increase dangers to the American people, and extinguish the hopes of millions in the region. Iraqi democracy will succeed -- and that success will send forth the news, from Damascus to Teheran -- that freedom can be the future of every nation. (Applause.) The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution. (Applause.)
Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe -- because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export. And with the spread of weapons that can bring catastrophic harm to our country and to our friends, it would be reckless to accept the status quo. (Applause.)
Therefore, the United States has adopted a new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. This strategy requires the same persistence and energy and idealism we have shown before. And it will yield the same results. As in Europe, as in Asia, as in every region of the world, the advance of freedom leads to peace. (Applause.)
The advance of freedom is the calling of our time it is the calling of our country. From the Fourteen Points to the Four Freedoms, to the Speech at Westminster, America has put our power at the service of principle. We believe that liberty is the design of nature we believe that liberty is the direction of history. We believe that human fulfillment and excellence come in the responsible exercise of liberty. And we believe that freedom -- the freedom we prize -- is not for us alone, it is the right and the capacity of all mankind. (Applause.)
Working for the spread of freedom can be hard. Yet, America has accomplished hard tasks before. Our nation is strong we're strong of heart. And we're not alone. Freedom is finding allies in every country freedom finds allies in every culture. And as we meet the terror and violence of the world, we can be certain the author of freedom is not indifferent to the fate of freedom.
With all the tests and all the challenges of our age, this is, above all, the age of liberty. Each of you at this Endowment is fully engaged in the great cause of liberty. And I thank you. May God bless your work. And may God continue to bless America. (Applause.)