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Austin American-Statesman (Texas) March 20, 2003

War on Iraq: Road to war

Sources: American-Statesman research, staff and wire reports, GlobalSecurity.org

1990s: United Nations struggles to disarm Iraq after Gulf War

1991: The Security Council adopts Resolution 687, which sets up weapons inspections, and Iraq accepts it. Coalition jets begin enforcing a no-fly zone over Iraqi territory north of the 36th parallel. The U.N. Special Commission is created to carry out Resolution 687.

1992: The Security Council states that Iraq is in material breach of Resolution 687. British and American jets begin enforcing a no-fly zone south of the 32nd parallel in response to Iraqi airstrikes against its civilians.

1993: The United States launches a cruise missile at Iraqi intelligence headquarters in retaliation for an assassination plot against former President Bush.

1994: Iraq threatens to cease cooperation with the U.N. committee and the International Atomic Energy Agency and moves troops toward Kuwait. The United States responds with a troop buildup in the region.

1995: Iraq admits it has a biological weapons program.

1996: The southern no-fly zone is extended to the 33rd parallel in response to Iraqi movement into Kurdish-held territory.

1997: Iraq states that it will no longer accept U.S. personnel on the U.N. committee and demands that U-2 flights end.

1998: Saddam declares that the U.N. committee will not be allowed in Iraq again.

January 2002: After Sept. 11 attacks, Bush includes Iraq in 'axis of evil' In his State of the Union address in January, President Bush labels Iran, Iraq and North Korea the "axis of evil":

"Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax and nerve gas and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens, leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections, then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.

States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic."

September-October 2002: an appeal to the U.N., an OK from Congress Citing a "grave and gathering danger," President Bush demands on Sept. 12, 2002, that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein surrender his weapons program to international inspectors immediately or face U.S. action. Bush appeals for world support, but he indicates that the United States is ready to act on its own in the absence of broad international backing.

Bush orders Secretary of State Colin Powell to begin intensive diplomacy aimed at crafting a U.N. Security Council resolution that would amount to an ultimatum for Iraq: Comply or face the prospect of attack.

Congress adopts a joint resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq. On Oct. 10, 2002, the Republican-controlled House passes the measure 296-133. The Democratic-run Senate backs it 77-23 in the early morning hours the next day.

November 2002: U.N. approves new inspections, hints at enforcement On Nov. 8, 2002, the Security Council votes unanimously to return U.N. weapons inspectors to Iraq, offering Baghdad a last chance to comply with its disarmament obligations. The resolution's text recalls previous warnings of "serious consequences" in case of noncompliance.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan urges Baghdad "to seize this opportunity" and warns that if its defiance continues, "the Security Council must face its responsibilities."

The resolution calls on Baghdad to cooperate "immediately, unconditionally and actively" with the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, led by Hans Blix, and the International Atomic Energy Agency, led by Mohamed ElBaradei, and to provide a full accounting of its weapons program within 30 days.

According to the resolution, false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq, as well as its failure to comply at any time, would constitute a "further material breach" of its obligations. 'The Security Council, recalling all its previous relevant resolutions . . . recalls, in that context, that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations.'

--U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 Passed unanimously Nov. 8, 2002

February 2003: Powell goes before U.N. to make the case for war In a nearly 90-minute presentation Feb. 5, Secretary of State Colin Powell offers new and detailed evidence that Iraq is hiding banned weapons from U.N. inspectors and associating with terrorists. Powell's presentation fails to convince skeptical members of the U.N. Security Council, such as Russia, France and China, which endorse continued inspections and diplomacy.

During his address, Powell reveals sensitive intelligence material, including satellite reconnaissance photographs, tips from Iraqi defectors and intercepted telephone conversations in which Iraqi military officers purportedly discuss clearing away compromising evidence from sites before the arrival of U.N. weapons inspectors. Powell also says Iraqi intelligence officers have met at least eight times with high-level al Qaeda members.

In a move that for the Bush administration stalls momentum toward war, chief weapons inspector Hans Blix and atomic energy agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei submit to the Security Council on Feb. 14 a report that downplays the lack of Iraqi cooperation and suggests that more time is needed for inspectors.

March 17, 2003: Bush tells Saddam to leave Iraq or face attack In a speech broadcast around the world, the president says the United States will attack Iraq unless Saddam Hussein flees his country within 48 hours.

Summing up once more the rationale for military action, Bush says Saddam has a history of hating America, has ties to terrorists and is a destabilizing force in the Middle East. Primarily, he says, Saddam could turn his weapons of mass destruction over to terrorist groups.

The address comes a day after Bush met in the Azores Islands with the leaders of U.N. Security Council members Britain and Spain. In closing the summit, the three give the rest of the council one day to endorse the use of force to compel Iraq's immediate disarmament. In the preceding days, Bush struggled without success to gain the nine votes needed for approval of a resolution by the 15-member council. In the end, Bush is able to gain the public support of only Britain, Spain and Bulgaria.

Even gaining the nine votes would have yielded only a symbolic, political victory, since France had stated it would use its veto power to stop U.S.-supported language to allow the use of military force.


Iraq at a glance
Size: 168,753 square miles
Population: About 24 million
Baghdad: 4.9 million
Official language: Arabic
HIV/AIDS rate: Less than 0.01 percent
Arable land: 12 percent
Oil reserves: 115 billion barrels
Imports: $13.8 billion annually, primarily from Egypt, Russia, France and Vietnam
Exports: $21.8 billion annually, primarily to Russia, France, Switzerland and China
Politics: Dominated by Saddam Hussein's Baath Party

Babylon to Baghdad
The Greeks identified Iraq as Mesopotamia, 'the land between the rivers' Tigris and Euphrates.
3500-3000 B.C.: The Sumerians develop the wheel, writing, counting and calendars.
597 B.C.: Nebuchadnezzar builds the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Nebuchadnezzar's is the last native-born regime in Mesopotamia until the 20th century.
331 B.C.: Alexander the Great seizes Babylon, declares it his capital. Dies there in 323 B.C.
A.D. 637: Arabs bring Islam to Iraq.
762-63: Baghdad becomes the center of Islamic civilization.
1534: Ottoman Turks, under Suleyman the Magnificent, seize Iraq.
1914-18: Ottoman Empire sides with Germany against Allies in World War I.
1920: League of Nations gives Britain a mandate over Iraq.
1921: Arab Prince Faisal, who had fought with British liaison officer T.E. Lawrence ('Lawrence of Arabia') against the Ottomans, is brought to Iraq and chosen king in a referendum.
1932: Britain grants Iraq its independence.
1958: Gen. Abdel Karim Qassem topples the monarchy.
1968: Baath Party ascends to power, with Saddam Hussein as vice president
1979: Saddam becomes president.
1980-88: Iraq-Iran war kills millions.
1990: Iraq invades Kuwait.
1991: Persian Gulf War.
2003: After calling for 'regime change,' President Bush orders U.S. forces to invade Iraq.

Iraq's climate
Similar to that of the southwestern United States with hot, dry summers, cold winters and a pleasant spring and fall.
Temperature: Averages range from higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit in July and August to below freezing in January.
Rainfall: Almost all of it occurs from December through April; more abundant in the mountains.
Summer months are marked by two kinds of dry wind systems: the southerly sharqi occurs from April to early June and again from late September through November; the northerly shamal prevails from mid-June to mid-September. Accompanying dust storms may keep aircraft grounded.
For the military, dust clouds caused by vehicles during the dry season will increase detection in the desert. Flash-flooding may hinder resupply efforts in the rainy season. Air operations may be reduced during windy season.

More Web resources

State-run English-language home page links to Saddam's biography and text of his speeches, government departments and universities.

www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/iraq.html UT's Perry-Castaneda Map Library's extensive collection of modern and historical maps of Iraq and Baghdad.

www.un.org/Depts/unscom/ Home page for UNSCOM, which sought to disarm Iraq from 1991-99; site includes links to Security Council resolutions.

UNMOVIC home page; includes links to Resolution 1441 and inspectors' reports.

Vast oil reserves at stake in Iraq war
About 115 billion barrels.
That's how much oil experts say is oozing under Iraq, home to the world's second-largest proven reserve -- right behind Saudi Arabia. The proven crude oil reserves in Texas would yield only about 5.2 billion barrels.
Of the dozens of oil fields in Iraq, several hold in excess of 10 billion barrels of crude oil. The average barrel of oil will produce about 17 gallons of gasoline.

Saddam's power fueled by tribalism
The nature of Saddam Hussein's regime is rooted in the nature of Iraq. In the aftermath of World War I, the British jammed Sunni Arabs, Shiite Arabs and non-Arab Kurds, along with a cluster of other ethnic and sectarian groups, into a contrived state called Iraq.

The secular Baath Party seized power in 1968, led by Saddam's cousin, Gen. Ahmed Hassan Bakr. The nationalist, pan-Arab government -- of which Saddam was vice president before ascending to the presidency in 1979 -- used its oil riches in the 1970s to win over rival Iraqi groups. The party was successful as most tribal groups benefited from government largess that provided health care, education and housing.

In the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam faced a U.S.-led force and simultaneous rebellions by Shiites in the south and Kurds in the north. Saddam jettisoned more than eight decades of effort by kings, military dictators and himself to nurture national unity. He held on to political power by reviving a basic but divisive element of Iraqi identity: tribalism.

Sheiks were summoned to Baghdad; the tribal leaders won money, access to his offices, seats in parliament and guns in exchange for their allegiance.

Islamic divide
The death of Islam's prophet, Muhammad, in 632 created a crisis about who should be his successor. One faction favored Ali, the prophet's son-in-law and father of his only grandsons.

The dispute split Islam into its two largest branches: the Sunnis (followers of the Sunna, 'the proper way of life ordained by God') and the Shiites (from Shiat Ali or Party of Ali).

Shiites: Make up about 60 percent of Iraq's population.

Sunnis: Despite making up only about 37 percent of Iraqis, they have dominated Iraq politically. Saddam Hussein, a Sunni Muslim, claims descent from Muhammad.

The Kurds: Non-Arab Sunni Muslims; they're the world's largest ethnic group without an official homeland.

GRAPHIC: U.N. weapons monitors prepare their vehicle before evacuating their headquarters in Baghdad in December 1998. // The nation 'will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons,' Bush warns. // As he lays out the case for action against Iraq, President Bush challenges the United Nations to defend its legitimacy. // Hans Blix // Mohamed ElBaradei // An inspector visits the Al-Majed stores for electronics and corrosion-resistant materials in Baghdad in January. // One of Secretary of State Colin Powell's slides appears to show an effort among Iraqi military officers to cover up illegal weapons. // Iraqi President Saddam Hussein brandishes a sword given to him last October before swearing himself in as president for another seven years.

Copyright 2003, The Austin American Statesman