Monday, May 07, 2018

The Beginnings of the Iraq War.

Then President George W. Bush wanted the Iraq War to transpire. He promoted deceptive rhetoric and the neo-conservative war hawks were aboard. He first elected to cause the military to execute the shock and awe campaign. This was about U.S. missiles targeting Iraqi targets, especially in Baghdad at the very beginning of the Iraq War. So, on March 19, 2003 at 9:43 pm. EST (or on March 20, 2003 on 5:34 am. Baghdad time), the Iraq War started. It involved a coalition of nations like America, the UK, Poland, the Kurdish Peshmerga, Italy, Canada, and the Netherlands. They were nicknamed “the Coalition of the Willing.” These nations are just as much responsible as establishing the Iraq War as America was because they supported that militaristic campaign. The shock and awe camp swept Iraq. It was the start of the Iraq War debacle. One major U.S. military leader of the Iraq War was General Tommy Franks. The official name of the war is ironically Operation Iraqi Freedom. About 248,000 soldiers came from America, 45,000 came from the UK, 2,000 came from Australia, 194 from Poland, and there were U.S. Special Forces in the area too. About 7,000 Kurdish militia members supported the invasion. General Franks admitted that the U.S. objective in the conflict was to end the Hussein regime, to get Iraqi oil fields, to get intelligence, to find WMDs, and to form a new government in Iraq. The early Iraq War was a combination of land plus water including air invasions by the “Coalition of the Willing.” The U.S. 3rd Infantry Division moved into Baghdad from the western desert. The 1st U.S. Marine Division fought in Nasiriyah to get territories. The U.S. Army 3rd Infantry defeated Iraqi forces in around Talil Airfield. On April 9, 2003, Baghdad fell ending Saddam Hussein’s 24-year rule. U.S. forces severed the Ba’ath Party ministries. When the invasion phase of the war ended, it was on the date of April 30, 2003.

The fall of Baghdad came about on April 10, 2003. Military forces were in the streets. The statue of Saddam Hussein came down. Many people celebrated. Yet, the celebration was premature since more problems would develop during the course of the Iraq War. By late April of 2003, an estimated 9,200 Iraqi combatants were killed by coalition forces along with an estimated 3,750 non-combatants (or civilians who didn’t take up arms). Coalition forces reported the death in combat of 139 U.S. military personnel and 33 UK military personnel. Baghdad was conquered by Western forces. There is the famous image of a Marine Corps M1 Abrams tank patrolling a Baghdad street after its fall. On May 1, 2003, President George W. Bush visited the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. It was operating a few miles west of San Diego, California. At sunset, he held his national televised “Mission Accomplished” speech. It was delivered in front of sailors and airmen on the flight deck. He declared victory after Iraq’s conventional forces was defeated, but the war was definitely not over. There were still large amounts of resistance remaining. Saddam Hussein was alive during this time. Later, coalition forces saw a flurry of attacks on its troops. It started to increase in the Sunni Triangle. Back then, Shia dominated the government. Sunnis were discriminated against. Many Iraqi insurgents were made up of both Sunnis and Shia. The insurgents got weapons caches in the hundreds. They were given to them before by the Iraqi Army and the Republican Guard. Some of the insurgency was from the Fedayeen and the Saddam/Ba’ath Party loyalists. Later, religious extremists and Iraqis joined it since they were angry by the occupation. Many attacks existed in the provinces of Baghdad, Al Anbar, and Salah Ad Din. Those three provinces account for 35% of the population, but by December 2006 they were responsible for 73% of U.S. military deaths and an even higher percentage of recent U.S. military deaths (about 80%). The insurgency used mortars, missiles, suicide attacks, snipers, IEDs (or improvised explosive devices), car bombs, small arms fire, RPGs (rocket propelled grenades), and sabotage (like using tactics against petroleum, water, and electrical infrastructure). The Western forces desired at the same time to promote a pro-U.S. Iraqi state. They wanted Iraq to be compliant to Western interests. Coalition military forces launched many operations around the Tigris River peninsulas and in the Sunni Triangle.  Toward late-2003, the intensity and pace of insurgent attacks began to increase. A sharp surge in guerrilla attacks ushered in an insurgent effort that was termed the "Ramadan Offensive", as it coincided with the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

To counter this offensive, coalition forces began to use air power and artillery again for the first time since the end of the invasion by striking suspected ambush sites and mortar launching positions. Surveillance of major routes, patrols, and raids on suspected insurgents were stepped up. In addition, two villages, including Saddam's birthplace of al-Auja and the small town of Abu Hishma were surrounded by barbed wire and carefully monitored. The Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority was a transitional government of Iraq until the democratic government being forced. It was headed by Jay Garner until May 11, 2003. This was when President L. Paul Bremer came to take over. By May 16, 2003, his first day on the job, Paul Bremer issued Coalition Provisional Authority Order 1 to exclude from the new Iraqi government and administration members of the Baathist party. This policy, known as De-Ba'athification, eventually led to the removal of 85,000 to 100,000 Iraqi people from their job, including 40,000 school teachers who had joined the Baath Party simply to keep their jobs. U.S. army General Sanchez called the decision a "catastrophic failure.” Bremer served until the CPA's dissolution in June 2004. This De-Ba’athification plan was one of the biggest mistakes of the Iraq War. On May 15, 2003, U.S. forces launched Operation Planet X in capturing about 260 people. By the summer of 2003, multinational forced captured the remaining leaders of the former government. On June 15, 2003, the U.S. military begins Operation Desert Scorpion, a series of raids across Iraq intended to find Iraqi resistance and heavy weapons. Six soldiers from the British Royal Military police are killed by a mob in Majar al-Kabir in southern Iraq. On July 2, 2003, George W. Bush challenges those attacking U.S. troops to "bring 'em on!" The Iraqi Governing Council is established under the authority of the Coalition Provisional Authority. Uday and Qusay Hussein, Saddam Hussein's sons, were killed in Mosul on July 22, 2003.

By August 7, 2003, the Jordanian embassy was bombed. It was the first car bombing of the occupation. Another truck bomb came at the United Nations headquarters. It killed the top UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 others. The influential Shiite cleric Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim was killed in a car blast as he leaves his mosque after Friday prayers. At least 84 others were killed on August 29, 2003. The first post-Saddam government existed on September 3. By September 23, 2003, Gallup poll shows majority of Iraqis expected a better life in 5 years. Around two-thirds of Baghdad residents state the Iraqi dictator's removal was worth the hardships they've been forced to endure. By October 2, 2003, the Iraq Survey Group from David Kay found no massive evidence of WMD in Iraq. Weapons inspectors in Iraq did find a clandestine "network of biological laboratories" and a deadly strain of botulinum. The US-sponsored search for WMD has so far cost $300 million and is projected to cost around $600 million more. On October 16, 2003, UN Security Council issued Resolution 1511 which envisions a multinational force and preserves Washington's quasi-absolute control of Iraq. The October 27, 2003 Baghdad bombings started which started the Ramadan Offensive. In November of 2003, there were many bombings in Iraq. 2 US Chinook helicopters are fired on by two surface-to-air missiles and one crashes near Fallujah and on its way to Baghdad airport; 16 soldiers are killed and 20 wounded. The Governing Council unveils an accelerated timetable for transferring the country to Iraqi control on November 15, 2003.  U.S. President George W. Bush makes a stealthy Thanksgiving Day visit to Baghdad (the White House having announced that he would be at home with his family) in an attempt to boost morale among the troops and ordinary Iraqis. Bush is accompanied by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and he is flown in to Baghdad International Airport aboard Air Force One on November 27, 2003. On December 13, 2003, Saddam Hussein was captured via Operation Red Dawn. It was announced on the next day. The operation was conducted by the United States Army's 4th Infantry Division and members of Task Force 121. Intelligence on Saddam's whereabouts came from his family members and former bodyguards. Hussein was captured on a farm near Tikrit. By December 17, 2003, the U.S. 4th Infantry Division launched Operation Ivy Blizzard, lasting from dawn until mid-morning. The operation resulted in the arrest of several guerrilla fighters and possible terrorists. With the capture of Saddam and a drop in the number of insurgent attacks, some concluded the multinational forces were prevailing in the fight against the insurgency. The provisional government began training the new Iraqi security forces intended to police the country, and the United States promised over $20 billion in reconstruction money in the form of credit against Iraq's future oil revenues. Oil revenue was also used for rebuilding schools and for work on the electrical and refining infrastructure. Shortly after the capture of Saddam, elements left out of the Coalition Provisional Authority began to agitate for elections and the formation of an Iraqi Interim Government. Most prominent among these was the Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The Coalition Provisional Authority opposed allowing democratic elections at this time. The insurgents stepped up their activities. The two most turbulent centers were the area around Fallujah and the poor Shia sections of cities from Baghdad (Sadr City) to Basra in the south.

The beginning of 2004 started with a relative lull in violence for a time. Insurgent forces have reorganized during this time. They studied the multinational forces’ tactics. They planned a new offensive. The Iraq Spring Fighting of 2004 saw the increase of violence. Many foreign fighters came about from al-Qaeda in Iraq led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. They helped to drive the insurgency. The insurgency grew and there was a distinct change in targeting from the coalition forces towards the new Iraqi Security Forces, as hundreds of Iraqi civilians and police were killed over the next few months in a series of massive bombings. An organized Sunni insurgency, with deep roots and both nationalist and Islamist motivations, was becoming more powerful throughout Iraq. The Shia Mahdi Army also began launching attacks on coalition targets in an attempt to seize control from Iraqi security forces. The southern and central portions of Iraq were beginning to erupt in urban guerrilla combat as multinational forces attempted to keep control and prepared for a counteroffensive. The most serious fighting of the war so far began on March 31, 2004, when Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah ambushed a Blackwater USA convoy led by four U.S. private military contractors who were providing security for food caterers Eurest Support Services.  The four armed contractors, Scott Helvenston, Jerko Zovko, Wesley Batalona, and Michael Teague, were killed with grenades and small arms fire. Subsequently, their bodies were dragged from their vehicles by local people, beaten, set ablaze, and their burned corpses hung over a bridge crossing the Euphrates. Photos of the event were released to news agencies worldwide, causing a great deal of indignation and moral outrage in the United States, and prompting an unsuccessful "pacification" (which means a brutal, imperialist conquering) of the city: the First Battle of Fallujah in April 2004. The offensive was resumed in November 2004 in the bloodiest battle of the war: the Second Battle of Fallujah, described by the U.S. military as "the heaviest urban combat (that they had been involved in) since the battle of Hue City in Vietnam."  During the assault, U.S. forces used white phosphorus as an incendiary weapon against insurgent personnel, attracting controversy. The 46 day battle resulted in a victory for the coalition, with 95 U.S. soldiers killed along with approximately 1,350 insurgents. Fallujah was totally devastated during the fighting, though civilian casualties were low, as they had mostly fled before the battle.

By Timothy

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