Middle East

Iraq profile - timeline

A chronology of key events:

1534 - 1918 - Region is part of the Ottoman Empire.

1917 - Britain seizes Baghdad during First World War.

1920 - League of Nations approves British mandate in Iraq, prompting nationwide revolt.

1921 - Britain appoints Faysal, son of Hussein Bin Ali, the Sherif of Mecca, as king.


1932 - Mandate ends, Iraq becomes independent. Britain retains military bases.

1941 - Britain re-occupies Iraq after pro-Axis coup during Second World War.

1958 - The monarchy is overthrown in a left-wing military coup led by Abd-al-Karim Qasim and Abd-al-Salam Muhammad Arif. Iraq leaves the pro-British Baghdad Pact.

1963 - Prime Minister Qasim is ousted in a coup led by the Arab Socialist Baath Party. Arif becomes president.

1963 - The Baathist government is overthrown by Arif and a group of officers.

Baathists sieze power

1968 - A Baathist led-coup puts Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr in power.

1972 - Iraq nationalises the Iraq Petroleum Company.

1974 - Iraq grants limited autonomy to Kurdish region.

1979 - Saddam Hussein succeeds Al-Bakr as president.

1980 - The pro-Iranian Dawah Party claims responsibility for an attack on Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz at Mustansiriyah University, Baghdad.

Iran-Iraq war

1980-1988 - Iran-Iraq war results in stalemate.

1981 June - Israeli air raid destroys Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak near Baghdad.

1988 March - Iraq attacks Kurdish town of Halabjah with poison gas, killing thousands.

First US-Iraq war

1990 - Iraq invades Kuwait, prompting what becomes known as the first Gulf War. A massive US-led military campaign forces Iraq to withdraw in February 1991.

1991 April - Iraq subjected to weapons inspection programme.

1991 Mid-March/early April - Southern Shia and northern Kurdish populations - encouraged by Iraq's defeat in Kuwait - rebel, prompting a brutal crackdown.

1991 April - UN-approved haven established in northern Iraq to protect the Kurds. Iraq ordered to end all military activity in the area.

1992 August - A no-fly zone, which Iraqi planes are not allowed to enter, is set up in southern Iraq, south of latitude 32 degrees north.

1993 June - US forces launch a cruise missile attack on Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Baghdad in retaliation for the attempted assassination of US President George Bush in Kuwait in April.


1995 April - UN allows partial resumption of Iraq's oil exports to buy food and medicine in an oil-for-food programme.

1995 October - Saddam Hussein wins a referendum allowing him to remain president for another seven years.

1996 August - After call for aid from Kurdistan Democratic Party, Iraqi forces launch offensive into northern no-fly zone and capture Irbil.

1996 September - US extends northern limit of southern no-fly zone to latitude 33 degrees north, just south of Baghdad.

1998 October - Iraq ends cooperation with UN Special Commission to Oversee the Destruction of Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Operation Desert Fox

1998 December - US and British Operation Desert Fox bombing campaign aims to destroy Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programmes.

1999 February - Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, spiritual leader of the Shia community, is assassinated in Najaf.

2001 February - Britain, US carry out bombing raids to try to disable Iraq's air defence network.

2002 September - US President George W Bush tells UN Iraq poses "grave and gathering danger".

British Prime Minister Tony Blair publishes later-discredited dossier on Iraq's military capability.

2002 November - UN weapons inspectors return to Iraq backed by a UN resolution which threatens serious consequences if Iraq is in "material breach" of its terms.

Saddam ousted

2003 March - US-led invasion topples Saddam Hussein's government, marks start of years of violent conflict with different groups competing for power.

2003 July - US-appointed Governing Council meets for first time. Commander of US forces says his troops face low-intensity guerrilla-style war.

Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay killed in gun battle in Mosul.

Insurgency intensifies

2003 August - Suicide truck bomb wrecks UN headquarters in Baghdad, killing UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Car bomb in Najaf kills 125 including Shia leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim.

2003 December - Saddam Hussein captured in Tikrit.

2004 March - Suicide bombers attack Shia festival-goers in Karbala and Baghdad, killing 140 people.

2004 April-May - Shia militias loyal to radical cleric Moqtada Sadr take on coalition forces.

Hundreds are reported killed in fighting during the month-long US military siege of the Sunni Muslim city of Falluja.

Photographic evidence emerges of abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US troops.

Sovereignty and elections

2004 June - US hands sovereignty to interim government headed by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

2004 August - Fighting in Najaf between US forces and Shia militia of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr.

2004 November - Major US-led offensive against insurgents in Falluja.

2005 January - Some 8 million vote in elections for a Transitional National Assembly.

2005 February - At least 114 people are killed by a car bomb in Hilla, south of Baghdad, in the worst single such incident since the US-led invasion.

2005 April - Amid escalating violence, parliament selects Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani as president. Ibrahim Jaafari, a Shia, is named as prime minister.

2005 May onwards - Surge in car bombings, bomb explosions and shootings: government puts civilian death toll for May at 672, up from 364 in April.

2005 June - Massoud Barzani is sworn in as regional president of Iraqi Kurdistan.

2005 August - Draft constitution is endorsed by Shia and Kurdish negotiators, but not by Sunni representatives.

2005 October - Voters approve a new constitution, which aims to create an Islamic federal democracy.

2005 December - Iraqis vote for the first, full-term government and parliament since the US-led invasion.

Sectarian violence

2006 February onwards - A bomb attack on an important Shia shrine in Samarra unleashes a wave of sectarian violence in which hundreds of people are killed.

2006 22 April - Newly re-elected President Talabani asks Shia compromise candidate Nouri al-Maliki to form a new government, ending months of deadlock.

2006 May and June - An average of more than 100 civilians per day are killed in violence in Iraq, the UN says.

2006 7 June - Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is killed in an air strike.

2006 November - Iraq and Syria restore diplomatic relations after nearly a quarter century.

More than 200 die in car bombings in the mostly Shia area of Sadr City in Baghdad, in the worst attack on the capital since the US-led invasion of 2003.

Saddam executed

2006 December - Saddam Hussein is executed for crimes against humanity.

2007 January - US President Bush announces a new Iraq strategy; thousands more US troops will be dispatched to shore up security in Baghdad.

UN says more than 34,000 civilians were killed in violence during 2006; the figure surpasses official Iraqi estimates threefold.

2007 February - A bomb in Baghdad's Sadriya market kills more than 130 people. It is the worst single bombing since 2003.

2007 April - Bombings in Baghdad kill nearly 200 people in one day.

2007 August - Truck and car bombs hit two villages of Yazidi Kurds, killing at least 250 people - the deadliest attack since 2003.

Kurdish and Shia leaders form an alliance to support Prime Minister Maliki's government but fail to bring in Sunni leaders.

Turkish raids

2007 September - Controversy over private security contractors after Blackwater security guards allegedly fire at civilians in Baghdad, killing 17.

2007 October - The number of violent civilian and military deaths continues to drop, as does the frequency of rocket attacks.

2007 December - Britain hands over security of Basra province to Iraqi forces, effectively marking the end of nearly five years of British control of southern Iraq.

2008 January - Parliament passes legislation allowing former officials from Saddam Hussein's Baath party to return to public life.

2008 March - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits.

Prime Minister Maliki orders crackdown on militia in Basra, sparking pitched battles with Moqtada Sadr's Mehdi Army. Hundreds are killed.

2008 September - US forces hand over control of the western province of Anbar - once an insurgent and Al-Qaeda stronghold - to the Iraqi government. It is the first Sunni province to be returned to to the Shia-led government.

Security pact approved

2008 November - Parliament approves a security pact with the United States under which all US troops are due to leave the country by the end of 2011.

2009 January - Iraq takes control of security in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone and assumes more powers over foreign troops based in the country. 2009 June - US troops withdraw from towns and cities in Iraq, six years after the invasion, having formally handed over security duties to new Iraqi forces.

New political groupings

2009 July - New opposition forces make strong gains in elections to the regional parliament of Kurdistan, but the governing KDP and PUK alliance retains a reduced majority. Masoud Barzani (KDP) is re-elected in the presidential election.

2009 October - Two car bombs near the Green Zone in Baghdad kill at least 155 people, in Iraq's deadliest attack since April 2007.

2009 December - The al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq claims responsibility for suicide bombings in Baghdad that kill at least 127 people, as well as attacks in August and October that killed 240 people.

Tension flares with Tehran as Iranian troops briefly occupy an oilfield in Iraqi territory.

2010 January - Controversy as candidates with alleged links to Baath Party are banned from March parliamentary polls. A court later lifts the ban, prompting a delay in campaigning.

"Chemical" Ali Hassan al-Majid, a key figure in Saddam Hussein's government, is executed.

Inconclusive elections

2010 March - Parliamentary elections. Nine months pass before a new government is approved.

2010 August - Seven years after the US-led invasion, the last US combat brigade leaves Iraq.

2010 October - Church in Baghdad seized by militants. More than 50 people are killed in what is described as the worst single disaster to hit Iraq's Christians in modern times.

2010 November/December - Parliament reconvenes after long delay, re-appoints Jalal Talabani as president and Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister. A new government includes all major factions.

2011 January - Radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr returns after four years of self-imposed exile in Iran.

2011 February - Oil exports from Iraqi Kurdistan resume, amid a lengthy dispute between the region and the central government over contracts with foreign firms.

US pull out

2011 December - US completes troop pull-out.

Unity government faces disarray. Arrest warrant issued for vice-president Tariq al-Hashemi, a leading Sunni politician. Sunni bloc boycotts parliament and cabinet.

2012 - Bomb and gun attacks target Shia areas throughout the year, sparking fears of a new sectarian conflict.

2012 March - Tight security for Arab League summit in Baghdad. It is the first major summit to be held in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. A wave of pre-summit attacks kills scores of people.

2012 April - Oil exports from Iraqi Kurdistan halted amid row with central government over contracts with foreign firms.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Iraq has enjoyed only brief periods of respite from high levels of sectarian violence

2012 September - Fugitive Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi is sentenced to death for murder in absentia. He fled to Turkey after being accused of running death squads.

2012 November - Iraq cancels a $4.2bn deal to buy arms from Russia because of concerns about alleged corruption within the Iraqi government. The purchase, signed in October, would have made Russia the country's second-largest arms supplier after the US. Moscow was the main arms supplier of to Saddam Hussein.

Violence intensifies

2012 December - President Jalal Talabani suffers a stroke. He undergoes treatment in Germany and makes some progress through the winter and spring.

Sunni Muslims stage mass rallies across the country over several months, protesting against what they see as marginalisation by the Shia-led government.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Thousands of Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries, including Iraq, to escape civil war at home

2013 April - Insurgency intensifies, with levels of violence matching those of 2008. By July the country is described as being yet again in a state of full-blown sectarian war.

2013 July - At least 500 prisoners, mainly senior al-Qaeda members, escape from Taji and Abu Ghraib jails in a mass breakout.

2013 September - Series of bombings hits Kurdistan capital Irbil in the first such attack since 2007. Islamic State of Iraq says it was responding to alleged Iraqi Kurdish support for Kurds fighting jihadists in Syria.

2013 October - Government says October is deadliest month since April 2008, with 900 killed. By the year-end the UN estimates the 2013 death toll of civilians as 7,157 - a dramatic increase in the previous year's figure of 3,238.

Islamist surge

2014 January - Islamist fighters infiltrate Fallujah and Ramadi after months of mounting violence in mainly-Sunni Anbar province. Government forces recapture Ramadi but face entrenched rebels in Fallujah.

2014 April - Prime Minister Al-Maliki's coalition wins a plurality at first parliamentary election since 2011 withdrawal of US troops, but falls short of a majority.

2014 June-September - Sunni rebels led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant surge out of Anbar Province to seize Iraq's second city of Mosul and other key towns. Tens of thousands flee amid atrocities. Kurdish forces, US and Iran assist government in repelling attacks. 2014 July - Kurdish Region President Massoud Barzani announces plans for an independence referendum this year, given that Iraq is "effectively partitioned".

Broad government

2014 September - Shia politician Haider al-Abad forms a broad-based government including Sunni Arabs and Kurds. Kurdish leadership agrees to put independence referendum on hold.

US announces new forward strategy against Islamic State, carries out air raids in support of Iraqi Army near Baghdad. International conference in Paris, including ten Sunni Arab states but excluding Iran and Syria, agrees to support strategy.

2014 December - The Iraqi government and the leadership of the Kurdish Region sign a deal on sharing Iraq's oil wealth and military resources, amid hopes that the agreement will help to reunite the country in the face of the common threat represented by Islamic State.

2015 March - Islamic State destroys Assyrian archaeological sites of Nimrud and Hatra.

Offensive against Islamic State

2015 April - Government forces regain control of city of Tikrit from Islamic State fighters after month-long siege.

2015 May - Islamic State captures city of Ramadi, capital of western province of Anbar, in lightning assault.

2015 July - Iraqi army launches offensive to re-take Anbar province.

2015 August - Parliament approves reforms to cut corruption and sectarian government job quotas after riots against frequent power cuts.

2015 December - Government forces recapture central Ramadi.

2016 February - Government troops expel last remaining Islamic State fighters from Ramadi area. Islamic State forces withdraw to Fallujah.

Radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr leads mass demonstration in Baghdad in protest at government corruption and the slow rate of progress in delivering on promised reforms.

2016 March - Iraqi army launches offensive to re-take Mosul from Islamic State, but it is soon stalemated.

2016 April - Supporters of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr storm parliament building demanding new government to fight corruption and end allocation of government posts along sectarian lines.

2016 May - Army and Shia militias launch offensive to retake Falluja from Islamic State.