History of Iraq (2003–2011)

A Lynx Helicopter of the British Army Air Corps ready to touch down on a desert road south of Basra Airport, November 2003

The history of Iraq from 2003 to 2011 is characterized by a large United States military deployment on Iraqi territory, beginning with the U.S.-led invasion of the country in March 2003 which overthrew the Ba'ath Party government of Saddam Hussein and ending with the departure of US troops from the country in 2011 (though the Iraq War that commenced in 2003 continued and subsequently intensified during 2013). Troops for the invasion came primarily from the United States, the United Kingdom and Poland, but 29 other nations also provided some troops, and there were varying levels of assistance from Japan and other countries.

It was a period of violence and political turmoil with strong foreign influence exerted on Iraqi politics. In April 2003, a military occupation was established and run by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which later appointed and granted limited powers to an Iraq Interim Governing Council. In June 2004, a caretaker government was established – the Iraqi Interim Government. Following parliamentary elections in January 2005, this administration was replaced in May by the Iraqi Transitional Government. A year later, the Al Maliki I Government took office.

During this period, tens of thousands of private military company personnel—many from abroad—were employed in the protection of infrastructure, facilities and personnel. Efforts toward the reconstruction of Iraq after the damage of the invasion were slowed when coalition and allied Iraqi forces fought a stronger-than-expected militant Iraqi insurgency, leading to difficult living conditions for the population of Iraq throughout the period.

Military occupation

Marines from D Company, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion guard detainees prior to loading them into their vehicle

A military occupation was established and run by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which later appointed and granted limited powers to an Iraq Interim Governing Council. Troops for the invasion came primarily from the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, but 29 other nations also provided some troops, and there were varying levels of assistance from Japan and other allied countries. Tens of thousands of private security personnel provided protection of infrastructure, facilities and personnel.

Coalition and allied Iraqi forces fought a stronger-than-expected militant Iraqi insurgency, and so the reconstruction of Iraq was slow. In mid-2004, the direct rule of the CPA was ended and a new "sovereign and independent" Interim Government of Iraq assumed the full responsibility and authority of the state. The CPA and the Governing Council were disbanded on 28 June 2004, and a new transitional constitution came into effect.[1]

Sovereignty was transferred to a Governing Council Iraqi interim government led by Iyad Allawi as Iraq's first post-Saddam prime minister; this government was not allowed to make new laws without the approval of the CPA. The Iraqi Interim Government was replaced as a result of the elections which took place in January 2005. A period of negotiations by the elected Iraqi National Assembly followed, which culminated on 6 April 2005 with the selection of, among others, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and President Jalal Talabani. Prime Minister al-Jaafari led the majority party of the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), a coalition of the al-Dawa and SCIRI (Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq) parties. Both parties are backed by Tehran, and were banned by Saddam Hussein.