OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
On March 20, 2003, the combined military forces of the United States and Britain crossed the southern border of Iraq and Kuwait with the intent of capitulating the government of Saddam Hussein. Over the course of 21 days, the joint task force moved quickly and decisively to seize major objective cities along the road to Baghdad using aviation, armor, artillery, and infantry. Following the overwhelming success of the primary combat operations of the invasion, stability and support systems proved insufficient as sectarian violence and other criminal activity among the local population of Iraq increased.
In ancient times, Iraq was known by the Greek term Mesopotamia, or the land between two rivers. These two rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, formed what was known as the “Fertile Crescent.” The vast stretch of low level land retained rain and flood water, making the soil exceptional for farming, thus it is said to be the cradle of civilization. It was home to the Sumerian Empire, beginning around
4000BC, long before Egypt, Greece, or Rome were known to have sophisticated societies. Agriculture, mathematics, literature, and the earliest forms of government were all established in this region. (1)
Conflict has also been a significant part of Iraqi history since the Akkadian wars of 2340 BC. The rise of the Babylonian dynasty in 1700 BC gave way to the Assyrian dynasty in 1340 BC. The Assyrians were eventually overthrown in the seventh century BC by the Persian Empire of Alexander the Great. (2) The Arabs conquered the region in the early expansion of Islam in the eighth century AD, followed by the Mongol invasion in 1258. The last of the great dynasties to rule the region was the Ottoman empire from 1534 to 1918, when the end of World War I divided the region under the League of Nations mandate for French and British control to the form what remains today. (3)
A period of civil unrest and revolt plagued the British mandate government in Iraq. Arab nationalist and other political activists led an uprising against the Regent monarch resulting in a coup d’etat in July 1958 by members of the newly formed Ba’ath Party. (4) A series of power struggles ended 10 years later placing Ahmed Hasan al-Bakr as President, with a young Saddam Hussein as his deputy.
After many years of operating as President Bakr’s chief of security and instituting measures of loyalty among various sectors of the Iraqi Ba’ath government, Saddam Hussein demanded the President’s resignation. On July 22, 1979, Hussein administered a series of “democratic executions,” killing or imprisoning 66
government officials that were identified as conspirators against the Ba’ath party. (5) His ruthless and brutal dictatorship would bring his country to war with neighboring Iran from 1980 to 1988. Initially a territorial dispute, Hussein would cite Iran’s Islamic fundamentalism as his motives for continued combat and...