Iraq timeline: From handover to elections

A timeline of selected events since handover from US administration, highlighting the troubled road to scheduled elections in Iraq on 30 January 2005:

Security is tightened ahead of the polls across Iraq
Security is tightened ahead of the polls across Iraq

30 January: Scheduled election day.

28 January: Official campaign period ends.

25 January: Last day for Iraqi expatriates to register.

24 January: The party headquarters of interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is targeted in a car bombing that injures 10 people.

An Iraqi man is shown the voting
procedure by officials in Australia

22 January: The interim government orders the closure of Baghdad airport and a wide ranging curfew for next week’s elections.

21 January: Shias are targeted in two attacks: A bomb attack on a Shia mosque in Baghdad kills at least 15 people and injures over 40. A second bomber detonates an ambulance at a Shia wedding party in a village south of Baghdad, killing at least seven.

19 January:
More than 26 people are reported killed in the capital as a series of bombings target the Australian embassy, a police station, a military installation, a bank and the Baghdad international airport.

17 January: The interim government announces that Iraq’s borders will be closed in an attempt to secure the country before elections, but violence still shows signs of spreading to so-called safe areas, warn election officials.

12 January: The White House confirms that the search in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction has now officially ended, with no evidence of their existence. Assailants kill Mahmud al-Madahaini, a Shia cleric and senior aide to Shia leader Grand Ayat Allah Ali al-Sistani. Another Sistani aide, Halim al-Muhaqiq, is killed in Najaf.

10 January: An extra 400 British troops are to be sent to Iraq ahead of the planned elections, British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon announces.

9 January: US commanders order an investigation after admitting accidentally bombing a civilian house in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul which killed 14 people.

5 January: Allawi insists that the general election will go ahead as planned on 30 January, despite increasing calls for a delay.

4 January: The governor of Baghdad is assassinated in the  capital in the most high-profile killing for several months.

January, the month of scheduled
elections, has seen more violence

2 January: A car bomber targets a bus carrying Iraqi national guardsmen north of Baghdad killing 26 people.

1 January 2005: Process of distributing ballots begins.

30 December: Iraqi groups Ansar al-Sunna, the Islamic Army in Iraq, and the Mujahidin Army issue joint statements warning Iraqis not to participate in the elections. Armed men seize Abbuud al-Tufaili, head of Iraq’s chamber of commerce, from his office in Baghdad.

29 December: At least 28 people – including 10 policemen – die in Baghdad in a huge explosion at a suspected fighters safe-house that was booby-trapped.

27 December: Iraq’s largest mainstream Sunni Muslim Iraqi Islamic party pulls out of the election race, complaining that the violence plaguing areas north and west of Baghdad makes a free and fair vote on 30 January impossible.

24 December: US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -fighting criticism at home – pays a surprise visit to US troops in Iraq. A delegation from the Kurdish Referendum Movement delivers a petition with more than 1.7 million signatures to the UN calling for a referendum on Kurdish independence in northern Iraq.

Tony Blair travelled to Iraq on a
surprise visit to back elections

21 December: Tony Blair visits Baghdad, the first serving British prime minister since 1924 to do so. Meanwhile, fighters inflict their deadliest single attack on US forces since the start of the war, killing 24 people, including 19 soldiers, when an explosion rips apart a military mess tent.

19 December: Car bombings by fighters in Najaf and Karbala kill 67 Iraqis and wound 120 others. In Baghdad, fighters kill three election officials after dragging them from their cars.

17 December: US secretaries Colin Powell and John Snow,with interim Iraqi Finance Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi, sign an agreement cancelling Iraq’s $4.1 billion debt to the US.

16 December: The Iraqi election campaign officially begins in preparation for the 30 January elections.

15 December: Deadline for registration for elections ends. Election campaigns begin. The UN announces it is expanding its presence in Iraq beyond Baghdad to Arbil and Basra to help coordinate the 30 January elections.

13 December: A car bomber kills at least 13 people in Baghdad.

12 December: Eight US marines are killed in three separate attacks in Anbar province, which encompasses Falluja and Ramadi.

9 December: Twenty-three Shia political groups form the United Iraqi Alliance in preparation for the elections. The coalition is backed by leading Shia cleric Grand Ayat Allah Ali al-Sistani.

3 December: Up to 30 people, including at least 16 Iraqi police officers, are killed when fighters launch attacks in Baghdad against a Shia mosque and a police station.

1 December: Recruitment of polling station staff begins. The Pentagon announces a force increase in Iraq of nearly 12,000 troops. The addition brings the total number of US soldiers to near 150,000, the highest level since the US invaded the country in March 2003.

US air strikes reduced parts of
Falluja and Baquba to rubble

21 November: Iraqi election officials announce that the first so-called free elections in decades will be held on 30 January 2005, despite ongoing fighting.

16 November: British-born charity worker Margaret Hassan is presumed killed by her kidnappers.

15 November: US troops call in air strikes on the city of Baquba as they wage gun battles in the streets with groups of fighters.

9 November: Iraq’s most prominent Sunni party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, says it is withdrawing from the interim government. The Association of Muslim Scholars, a group of respected Sunni clerics, calls for a boycott of coming elections. In Baghdad, fighters seize three relatives of Allawi.

8 November: Allawi declares emergency martial law for 60 days across most of Iraq. Thousands of US troops fight their way into parts of Falluja at the start of an all-out assault to win back control of the city.

4 November: The IECI announces overseas Iraqis will be allowed to vote. The French medical relief agency Doctors Without Borders (MSF) announces it is ending operations in Iraq because of deteriorating security.

1 November: Iraqi voter and candidate registration begins.

30 October: Nine marines are killed and others wounded near Abu Ghraib prison when a car bomb rams into their convoy. In central Baghdad, anti-US fighters detonate a car bomb that kills seven people and wounds 19 others outside the offices of Al-Arabiya news channel.

29 October: A study says 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died in Iraq since the invasion, mostly as a result of air attacks by US-led forces. The Pentagon orders about 6500 soldiers in Iraq to extend their tours in preparation for securing elections in January.

28 October: Fighters release a video showing the killing of 11 Iraqi National Guard troops held captive for several days.

A poster of al-Zarqawi, the man
said to lead al-Qaida in Iraq

25 October: The group led by wanted Jordanian, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, says it carried out the killing of 50 members of the Iraqi National Guard found dead in eastern Iraq.

21 October: Voter registration materials distributed. Britain announces that 850 British troops in southern Iraq will be deployed near Baghdad to replace US fighting units, and are expected to mount an assault on fighters near Falluja.

19 October: The humanitarian aid group Care International announces that the British-born head of its Iraqi operation, Margarat Hassan, has been kidnapped in Baghdad.

17 October: Fighters firebomb five churches in Baghdad, injuring dozens.

15 October: US forces continue a wave of air and ground assaults on the resistance-held city of Falluja after peace talks fail.

14 October: Fighters kill five and wound 18 others after breaching the heavy fortifications of Baghdad’s Green Zone.

12 October: Election regulations published by the Independent Electoral Commission in Iraq (IECI).

8 October: A group releases a video that shows the beheading of Kenneth Bigley, a British engineer who was seized in Baghdad on 16 September.

6 October: The US Iraq Survey Group announces that 15 months of searching have uncovered no evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

4 October: At least 21 people are killed and 90 wounded in three car bombings in Iraq.

1 October: The US offensive in Samarra kills up to 100 fighters. A coordinated string of car bombs explodes during a street celebration, which US troops had organised for the opening of a new sewage plant. The attack kills 42 Iraqis, 35 of them children, and wounds 139.

Foreign aid workers have been
among many kidnapped in Iraq

30 September: Dozens of children are killed when three car bombs explode in a coordinated attack in Baghdad that leaves 44 dead. The US Congress releases $3.5 billion earmarked for reconstruction to improve security and create jobs. The money is part of an $18.4 billion aid package approved in November 2003.

28 September: Two Italian aid workers held hostage in Iraq for three weeks return home to an emotional welcome.

25 September: US forces launch airstrikes on suspected fighters in Falluja, killing nine and wounding 16.

22 September: At least 21 people are killed and 150 injured as two car bombers strike in Baghdad and US forces pound suspected fighters east of the capital.

21 September: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan delivers a stern rebuke to nations that “shamelessly disregard” international law. The previous week, he branded the US-led war on Iraq as illegal.

20 September: The group associated with Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi posts an internet video of the beheading of US civilian engineer Eugene Armstrong.

17 September: US airstrikes south of Falluja kill 44 people and injure 27. It is the latest in a series of near daily bombing raids conducted by the US in Falluja in the past two weeks.

16 September: Armed men kidnap a Briton and two Americans from a house in central Baghdad.

14 September: In Baghdad, a car bomb packed with artillery shells kills 47 people and wounds 114 outside police headquarters.

12 September: Coordinated hours-long attacks using car bombings, missile and mortar fire in Baghdad and other sites around the country kill 78 Iraqis and wound more than 200 others. In a hasty response, 13 die in a US attack on a Baghdad crowd.

7 September: The number of US military personnel killed in Iraq tops 1000. Armed men seize two Italian aid workers in Baghdad. US planes strike a fighters’ stronghold near Falluja. The US military claims the strikes killed up to 100 fighters.

The Imam Ali shrine in Najaf was
the scene of a violent standoff

5 September: A car bomb targets a convoy of US and Iraqi troops near Falluja, killing seven marines and three Iraqis. It is the single deadliest attack on US troops in four months.

1 September: An Iraqi group broadcasts the execution of 12 Nepalese contractors working for the US military on a website.

28 August: A long and brutal siege of Imam Ali’s shrine is brought to an end with the US claiming hundreds of al-Mahdi Army fighters killed. Both US and al-Sadr’s forces retreat in a negotiated deal. Meanwhile, an Iraqi group kidnaps two French journalists. 

19 August: Iraq’s national conference closing day elects the country’s 100 seat interim assembly, which will serve as a parliament, until national elections are held in January.
12 August: A stand-off between Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr and US forces intensifies around Najaf’s Iman Ali mosque and ancient cemetery. Military action inflames some Shia districts of Baghdad and parts of Basra. Earlier, at least 68 people were killed when US war planes and Iraqi police attacked fighters in Kut.

8 August: Iraqi officials order the arrest of Iraqi National Congress leader (and potential leading election candidate) Ahmad Chalabi on counterfeiting charges.

7 August: The Iraqi interim government orders the closing of Aljazeera’s Baghdad bureau, accusing the Arab television network’s coverage of encouraging anti-US and anti-Iraqi activities.

6 August: US forces say they have killed at least 300 fighters during a ferocious two-day battle in the city of Najaf.

4 August: Iraqi police announce that Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s al-Mahdi Army has kidnapped 18 police officers and has demanded the release of detained fighters.

2 August: A brigade of 3600 US troops departs from South Korea for Iraq.

Car bombs have been a favoured
tactic of fighters in Iraq

1 August: Twelve Iraqis are killed as bombers attack Christians in Iraq in coordinated explosions in Baghdad and Mosul.

30 July: US Secretary of state Colin Powell makes a surprise visit to Iraq and repeats accusations that Iran is attempting to gain political influence in the south of the country.

28 July: Sixty-eight people are killed when a car bomb explodes outside a police recruiting centre in central Baquba.

18 July: A US airstrike on suspected fighters in Falluja destroys a house and kills 14 people.

15 July: Attackers assassinate the governor of Mosul, Usama Kachmula, ambushing his convoy on a highway to Baghdad.

14 July: In Britain, Lord Butler clears Prime Minister Blair of any deliberate attempt to mislead the country before the invasion of Iraq – but the body of his report contains contradictory evidence. The Philippine government announces the early withdrawal from Iraq of its troops to meet the demands of men holding a Filipino truck driver.

11 July: Three US soldiers are killed in attacks, two by a roadside bomb near Samarra, a Sunni Arab Muslim city north of Baghdad.

9 July: Fighters in Samarra attack a military headquarters with mortars, killing five US soldiers and at least one Iraqi guard.
8 July: The Iraqi interim government says it will conduct a national census in October, a step required for elections in January. The IMF (International Monetary Fund) recognises the Iraqi interim government and immediately offers up to $100 million in loans.

The US’s Paul Bremer (R) with
interim Iraqi PM Iyad Allawi (C)

7 July: Allawi signs into law broad powers that allow him to impose a state of emergency.

29 June: Three US Marines are killed by a roadside bomb in southeastern Baghdad.

28 June 2004: Iraq’s US occupation administration transfers power to the interim Iraqi government in a surprise move two days ahead of the scheduled handover. Legal control of the country and responsibility for dealing with its growing security troubles is handed over to the interim prime minister Allawi, in Baghdad.

Source: Al Jazeera

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