In 2003, over a decade of political conflict between Iraq and the United States came to a head when a multinational "coalition of the willing" controversially invaded and occupied Iraq, then ruled by the brutal dictator Saddam Hussein.
Several reasons had been put forward by the administration of George W. Bush as to why the invasion was necessary. Among the most controversial was the assertion that Saddam's regime was building weapons of mass destruction. Other justifications included Saddam's alleged support of al-Qaeda, which had committed the September 11 attacks two years earlier. After the invasion, no weapons of mass destruction were found, and claims of Iraqi officials working with al-Qaeda were found to be false.
The US was joined in the invasion by the UK, Australia and Poland. The conflict was intensely controversial, especially after the assertion by President Bush shortly after the invasion that the coalition had "ended major combat operations" (the infamous Mission Accomplished speech). Iraq would descend into several years of vicious sectarian violence as various insurgent groups grew in strength.
Although the invasion and occupation was controversial, and immensely costly in terms of lives, Iraq did have a semblance of democracy restored, and the first proper general elections were held in 2005.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
- 2003-03-19 Airstrikes by an American and British-led coalition signal the beginning of the invasion of Iraq, without United Nations support and in defiance of world opinion
- 2003-03-20 A US-led coalition launches a ground invasion of Iraq after an ultimatum for Saddam Hussein and his sons to leave Iraq expires
- 2003-04-09 Baghdad falls to U.S. forces, ending the invasion of Iraq, but resulting in widespread looting
General and US Secretary of State
43rd US President
George W. Bush
Iraqi President and Dictator
British Prime Minister