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Iraq crisis of 2003

Note: Other wikipedians are in the process of migrating this content to the article Iraq disarmament crisis. See Talk:Iraq disarmament crisis.

As of February 2003 the United States appears to be moving towards a war on Iraq while charging that Iraq is in non-compliance with UN resolutions. The United Nations neither supports or opposes this action, nor has it made a final determination as to Iraq's compliance with said sanctions. This article provides a brief summary of the background of this situation, with pointers to articles where more detailed coverage is available.

Table of contents
1 Background
2 Escalation
3 Political responses
4 Possible Resolutions
5 2003 war and fall of Saddam
6 Timeline of Recent events related to the Iraq crisis


The Middle East has been an unstable part of the world for many years. (See Israel, Palestinian territories, Islamism). In particular, Iraq, under the Ba'ath Party government of its leader Saddam Hussein, has been involved in a succession of regional conflicts.

Following the Gulf War: Since the end of the Gulf War, the Iraqi government has continued work on the production of weapons of mass destruction, including long-range missiles and biological weapons. UN attempts to disarm Iraq by weapons inspections were unsuccessful.


The events of the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack on New York by al-Qaida led to a U.S. determination to attack the issue of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. government announced a "war on terrorism", and launched the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan to replace the Taliban government that was sheltering al-Qaida.

In 2002 the U.S. president George W. Bush named Iraq as part of an "Axis of Evil" with Iran and North Korea. A series of UN resolutions on Iraq culminated in UN Security Council Resolution 1441, which called upon Iraq to destroy its weapons of mass destruction. UN weapons inspectors re-entered Iraq in late 2002.

The slow pace of the UN initiative led to the U.S. developing a plan to invade Iraq. As time passed without resolution of the weapons issue, the U.S. made increasing diplomatic moves to secure UN support for a new war on Iraq, while stating that it would ultimately act independently if necessarily. This was accompanied by the mobilization of U.S. forces.

Political responses

As an attack appeared imminent, there were political reactions around the world. American popular opinion of war on Iraq is mostly in favour of attacking Iraq, with a significant minority in opposition. In many other countries, majority opinion is opposed to the war, at least until all diplomatic measures have been exhausted. However, it is worth pointing out that the citizens of many countries around the world (including Great Britain) were also opposed to the Gulf War in 1991, until it was over.

Other opponents of the U.S. plans are puzzled that the U.S. is planning to attack Iraq, being unconvinced that Iraq's secular government has any links to al-Qaida, the terrorist group that attacked the U.S., and that the U.S. seems not to be taking any action against North Korea, which is taking active measures to create nuclear weapons, and has announced that it is willing to declare war on the U.S.

After the September 11 terrorist attacks, American policy began focusing on terrorism as the country's primary enemy worldwide, in contrast to the previous fifty years of that country's history, fighting against international Communism. Many critics of the American War on Terror do not believe that American actions will help to end terror, and will actually increase the ranks and capabilities of terrorist groups. American presence in Middle-Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia are one of the major sources of discontent that leads Islamic fundamentalists to commit acts of violence; hence, additional American presence in Iraq will likely increase the ranks of terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda, especially with the collateral damage of civilian deaths inevitable in any invasion. However, supporters of the Bush Administration's policies point out that with direct American control over countries where terrorist groups could flourish, the American presence will make it easier to combat these groups. In addition, the American policy of combatting terrorism focuses exclusively on non-state groups with a history of violence, while supporting undemocratic and violent regimes in places like Turkmenistan, which generally harm only their own polity; critics of the Bush Administration believe that this form of state-sponsored violence is more dangerous to more people than traditional forms of terrorism.

Perhaps the most common criticism of the Bush Administration's proposed war is that the stated purposes are merely a cover for an attempt at grabbing control over the Iraqi nation and its natural resources, especially oil. Though few doubt that nuclear proliferation is a serious threat to the stability and well-being of the planet, some argue that a war on Iraq will not aid in eliminating this threat and that the only logical reason for a war is to secure control over the vast Iraqi oil fields. It is possible, as has happened in some similar invasions for ostensibly peacekeeping purposes, that the new regime will be little better than the old one in its attention to human rights and peace. The weapons of mass destruction that Iraq allegedly has may end up in the hands of a more dangerous leader, or be sold off to terrorist groups or other rogue nations, like Syria or Libya; supporters of the war remain hopeful that the American military will capture any weapons of mass destruction, and hence prevent their proliferation to groups more dangerous than Hussein's Iraqi government. Some observors claim that American intervention in Iraq is driven by a desire to establish a new form of colonialism, with the war in Iraq a first step in establishing hegemony over Saudi Arabia and other Middle-Eastern nations.

President Bush and his supporters have pointed to Germany and Japan as examples of countries which developed into stable and peaceful democracies during American occupation following World War 2. Bush's opponents do not agree that these are valid comparisons because both of these examples took many years of occupation, and large amounts of money invested into their economies; this has not happened in Bush's previous invasion, Afghanistan, which has not shown signs of developing a stable democracy, nor signs of economic progress.

The American government position on war on Iraq remains determined, and appears not to have been swayed by worldwide government positions on war on Iraq. There is significant United Nations opposition to the U.S. war plans. The U.S. is employing all diplomatic and public relations measures to try to bring world opinion behind it. See The UN Security Council and the Iraq war for more details.

Starting in January 2003, there have been a series of huge public protests against war on Iraq around the world.

Pro and con forces have listed many alleged impacts of invading Iraq. These have played a major role in the debate.

Possible Resolutions

There were many possible solutions proposed to end the Iraq crisis, including the following:

2003 war and fall of Saddam

Ultimately, a combination of solutions were employed. Following a strongly-worded Security Council resolution, UN weapons inspectors were deployed to Iraq. After a few months of searching, the inspectors failed to make any significant finds, but reported to the council that they were not completely satisfied with Iraq's compliance. American Secretary of State Colin Powell then proceded to address the council, and for the first time revealed some excerpts from American intelligence gatherings that seemed to indicate some suspicous activities on the part of the Iraqi government.

With the UN inspectors terms completed, there was a period of diplomatic stalemate, in which the United States, France, and others remained at odd over what the next step against the apparently not-complying regime should be.

Eventually, President Bush delivered and ulimatium to Saddam Hussein demanding that he and his sons leave Iraq, or face military action. When the dictator refused, a military coalition led by Britain and America invaded Iraq, and within weeks had deposed the current regime. Saddam managed to escape however, and his current whereabouts remain unknown.

A period of U.S. Occupation of Iraq began following the fall of Sadddam.

Timeline of Recent events related to the Iraq crisis

January 18, 2003

February 5 February 7 February 8 February 10 February 12 February 14 February 15 February 18 February 24 February 25 February 26 February 27 The items in this list are taken from Current events -- please feel free to keep it up to date.