From ally to enemy

A timeline of Iraq’s recent history

July 17, 1968 – Ba’athists, including Saddam Hussein, and army officers overthrow dictatorial regime. Hussein emerges as president 11 years later.

Sept. 4, 1980 – First shots fired in Iran-Iraq war that will last eight years.

June 7, 1981 – Israeli warplanes destroy nuclear reactor near Baghdad.

Dec. 20, 1983 – Donald Rumsfeld, President Ronald Reagan’s special Middle East envoy, travels to Baghdad to meet Hussein and assure him of the United States’ military and financial support in the Iran-Iraq war. Rumsfeld is now President George W. Bush’s secretary of defense.

March 28, 1988 – Iraqi chemical weapons kill an estimated 5,000 civilians in Kurdish town of Halabja in first known use of chemical weapons by a state against its own people.

Aug. 2, 1990 – Iraq invades Kuwait. U.N. Security Council condemns invasion and demands Iraqi withdrawal.

Aug. 6, 1990 – Security Council imposes economic sanctions against Iraq.

Nov. 29, 1990 – Security Council authorizes U.N. member states to use “all necessary means” to force Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait if Iraq does not withdraw within six weeks.

Jan. 17, 1991 – U.S.-led coalition launches air war against Iraq.

Feb. 23, 1991 – Ground war begins.

Feb. 27, 1991 – President George H.W. Bush declares Kuwait has been liberated and suspends offensive operations in Iraq.

April 3, 1991 – Security Council demands that Iraq unconditionally accept, under international supervision, the destruction, removal or disabling of its weapons of mass destruction, and the council creates weapons inspections processes, setting conditions for the removal of economic sanctions.

April and August 1992 – “No-fly” zones over the northern and southern thirds of Iraq are created in order to protect the Kurds and Shiite Muslims in those areas.

April 13, 1993 – Fourteen arrests are made in a plot to assassinate former President Bush one day prior to his visit to Kuwait. CIA accuses Iraqi intelligence of organizing the attempt.

June 17, 1993 – U.S. warships fire 24 cruise missiles at intelligence headquarters in Baghdad in retaliation for what the United States calls the plot to assassinate Bush.

Dec. 9, 1996 – The United Nations allows Iraq to make limited oil sales under closely monitored deal.

November 1997 – Iraq orders American weapons inspectors to leave the country immediately, accusing them of spying. President Bill Clinton orders aircraft carrier to the Gulf to join a military force already in place.

Oct. 7, 1997 – U.N. arms inspectors tell the Security Council that Iraq still refuses to disclose full details of its banned weapons programs and is imposing restrictions on the inspections.

Dec. 16, 1998 – U.N. weapons inspectors withdrawn from Iraq, which they accused of failing to cooperate with search for weapons of mass destruction. Hours later, four days of U.S.-British air and missile strikes on Baghdad begin.

Feb. 16, 2001 – Executing President George W. Bush’s first military attack order and first strike outside no-fly zones in more than two years, U.S. warplanes join British fighters in bombing sites around Baghdad; 24 planes hit air defense radars and other targets U.S. officials say pose growing threat to allied air patrols.

Nov. 8, 2002 – Security Council unanimously approves resolution 1441, threatening Hussein with “serious consequences” if Iraq does not disarm.

Feb. 14-15 – Millions demonstrate around the world against a possible U.S. attack on Iraq.

March 1 – United Arab Emirates, at an Arab League summit, becomes first Arab government to publicly propose that Hussein step down.

March 7 – United States, Britain and Spain propose ordering Hussein to give up banned weapons by March 17 or face war; other nations led by France on polarized Security Council oppose any new resolution authorizing military action.

March 16 – United States, Britain and Spain meet at the Azores in the middle of the Atlantic. Hosted by Portugal, the three nations develop a joint statement declaring the time for diplomacy is nearing an end.

March 17 – In a televised address, Bush issues an ultimatum to Hussein and his sons: Leave Iraq within 48 hours or face direct military action. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan withdraws all U.N. personnel from Iraq.

March 18 – Hussein and his sons reject Bush’s ultimatum.

March 19 – Bush’s deadline to leave Iraq passes; United States launches a “decapitation attack” aimed at killing or wounding Hussein, his sons and other Iraqi leadership.

March 20 – Antiwar protests rock cities in Europe and the United States. Bombing of Iraq continues as coalition ground forces enter Iraq. World leaders react: Some condemn the war; others support it.

March 21 – Massive bombing campaign strikes Baghdad and other cities in Iraq. Sources report several oilfields are left ablaze by retreating Iraqi troops.

March 22 – Ground forces capture seaport of Umm Qasr as U.S. leaders proclaim military is halfway to Baghdad.

March 23 – Iraqis capture at least 12 U.S. soldiers as Marines suffer at least 10 casualties outside Nasiriya. Al-Jazeera airs report showing captured and killed U.S. soldiers: Some appear shot in the head.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.