Occupation of Iraq 2003–2011

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Occupation of Iraq
Part of: Iraq War
Occupation Zones
Occupation Zones
date May 2, 2003 to December 18, 2011
place Iraq
output United States withdrawal
consequences Uprising in Iraq
Parties to the conflict

IraqIraq Armed Forces of Iraq (at the beginning: Iraqi National Congress ) Multinational Force Iraq ( Coalition of the Willing ) mainly:
Emblem of the Multi-National Force - Iraq.svg

United StatesUnited States United States Armed Forces
United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom Armed Forces

Iraq 1991Iraq Islamic State of Iraq
Flag of the Ba'ath Party.svg Sympathizers of the Ba'ath Party, Mahdi Army , al-Qaeda in Iraq
No flag.svg
Flag of al-Qaeda in Iraq.svg

a total of at least 109,032 dead
(status: 2009 - probably more) of
which at least 90,000 civilians
(status: 2011 - probably more)
and at least 2.5 million people on the run
Development of the number of stationed soldiers

The occupation of Iraq followed the Iraq War (March 19 to May 1, 2003), with which the so-called Coalition of the Willing, led by the United States , overthrew the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein , and officially ended in December 2011 with the withdrawal of the last remaining US combat troops from Iraq after the UK withdrew its troops in April 2009.

On May 22, 2003, the UN Security Council unanimously passed resolution 1483, which regulated the role of the UN and the occupying powers after the war. It is true that the political authority of the provisional coalition authority was acknowledged, combined with the advice to respect the rules of international law. But although the preamble to the resolution called for a major role for the UN, the two veto powers only agreed to the appointment of a UN special envoy to support the reconstruction in the final part of the resolution. The resolution enshrined democratic development in order to establish a representative government based on the rule of law that would grant equal rights and justice to all Iraqi citizens regardless of ethnicity, religion or gender, and called for the former Iraqi regime for the crimes and atrocities he has committed must be held accountable. At the beginning of the occupation, the United States, Great Britain and Poland established three zones of occupation in Iraq. The Multi-National Force Iraq , an international group command, was responsible for day-to-day and long-term instruction and supervision of the occupying forces. It also acted as an interface between the interests of the occupying countries, the Iraqi federal government and the civilian population.

On January 30, 2005, the first free elections were held in Iraq. There were 275 seats in the new Iraqi parliament, at least a third of which, according to the transitional constitution, had to go to women. The election was overshadowed by fear of terrorism and calls for a boycott by Sunni clergy. Many Sunnis then boycotted the election, as had been feared. However, the turnout was around 58%, as the majority of the Shiites and Kurds voted. The predominantly Shiite United Iraqi Alliance emerged as the winner with 48% of the votes, the second strongest force was the Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan, and the third most votes was given to the secular Iraqi list led by Iyad Allawi. The UIA and the Kurdish party alliance formed a government coalition. On March 16, 2005, the National Assembly had its first session. After lengthy negotiations, the National Assembly nominated a Speaker of Parliament and his two deputies on April 4th. On April 6th, the congregation elected a president and two vice-presidents. The first president of Iraq was Jalal Talabani , a Kurd; Adil Abd al-Mahdi , a Shiite, and Ghazi al-Yawar , a Sunni , were deputies . This Presidential Council nominated a Prime Minister, who was confirmed by the National Assembly on April 28 with his (up to then incomplete) cabinet. First Prime Minister was Ibrahim al-Jafari , a Shiite, deputy Rodsch Nuri Shawais , a Kurd, and Abid Mutlaq al-Jiburi , a Sunni, and Ahmad Abd al-Hadi al-Jalabi .

In 2008, the United States signed a statute of forces with Iraq aimed at the gradual restoration of Iraqi sovereignty. It provided for the withdrawal of the occupying forces from Iraqi metropolitan areas by 2009 and the withdrawal of all combat troops by December 31, 2011. Characteristic for the duration of the occupation was a violent insurrection against the presence of the coalition of the willing, which emanated from a majority of Iraqi and non-Iraqi actors for a variety of reasons. A political, strategic and operational realignment of the occupation forces in 2007, initiated by the non-partisan American Iraq Study Group , implemented by General David H. Petraeus , and accompanied by changes in Iraqi politics itself, alleviated the intensity of this violence without completely reducing it break up. This reversal became known worldwide under the term surge , and the President of the United States from 2009, Barack Obama , commissioned Petraeus from 2010 to implement a modified implementation in Afghanistan .

Iraq was not fully politically stabilized when the United States withdrew. In military terms, the occupation underpinned the importance of the war of insurrection and contributed to the proliferation and prominence of unconventional explosive devices and incendiary devices , while highlighting numerous political and legal challenges in the use of private military service providers.


Patrol the US Army in Baghdad's district Karrada (2008)

Military occupation

As a result of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship on April 7, 2003 by the fall of Baghdad to the 3rd US Infantry Division , an interim administration was set up. The occupation regime created a transitional government with limited sovereignty . While the armed forces of the United States and the United Kingdom in particular led the invasion, 29 other members of the Coalition of the Willing sent troops to assist in the reconstruction of Iraq .

Major military operations during the occupation

A US tank in Baghdad

Baker Commission

On March 16, 2006, the American Congress set up the Baker Commission to develop an independent assessment of the situation in Iraq and recommendations for future strategies and actions. The Baker Commission then proposed a withdrawal of combat troops by 2008. Following the recommendations of the Baker Commission, the US House of Representatives decided to withdraw US troops from Iraq on April 1, 2008.

Partial troop withdrawal

On September 14, 2007, George W. Bush announced a partial withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The reason for this is success, so that not so many soldiers are needed anymore. He said: "The more successful we are, the more American soldiers can come home." Under the American President Barack Obama, the last US combat troops left Iraq on August 19, 2010. The approximately 56,000 remaining US soldiers in Iraq are said to be be used, among other things, to train the Iraqi army . They were also withdrawn by the end of 2011.

The UK withdrew most of its troops from Iraq in May 2009, a process that began in late March 2009.

End of occupation

In October 2011, US President Barack Obama announced the withdrawal of soldiers at the end of 2011. The US troop withdrawal was officially completed on December 18, 2011 when a troop convoy of 500 soldiers crossed the border from Iraq to Kuwait. Four days earlier, Obama had symbolically declared the mission over in a ceremony at the Fort Bragg military base .

Consequences of war and occupation

US soldiers care for a victim of an insurgent attack
Statistics on attacks in Iraq 2003–2006

Between the beginning of the war and the end of 2007, at least 80,000 Iraqi civilians died as a result of violence. At the same time, around 2.5 million people in Iraq are internally displaced, including 1 million before the war, the others since 2003 with a dramatic increase since February 2006 with around 1.3 million internally displaced persons. In addition, there have been over 2 million refugees outside Iraq since 2003.

On September 8, 2004, the number of American casualties passed the psychologically critical mark of 1,000, which favored the election campaign of the opposition Democrats in the USA . As of December 31, 2016, a total of 4,832 coalition soldiers had died in Iraq, 4,512 of them Americans. In addition, over 8,000 Americans were wounded (counting only serious combat injuries that required air evacuation). The total number of US soldiers wounded amounts to 32,223.

In 2009 and 2010, the bombings and suicide attacks were increasingly targeted against important personalities, including candidates for local elections, governors, mayors, military personnel, judges and clergy. On December 8, 2009, several attacks were directed against ministries and the public administration in Baghdad, in which 110 Iraqis were killed and over 200 injured.

War crimes during the occupation

War crimes were committed by actors on all sides during the occupation of Iraq . Special attention learned this the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse in which American intelligence officials, soldiers and employees of private security firms Iraqi prisoners in a prison near Baghdad tortured and at the same time by degrading photos part of a sexual nature humbled that violent when it became known reactions both in Arabic as also provoked in the western world. (See also: WikiLeaks Publication of the Iraq War Diary )

Furthermore, the air strikes in Baghdad on July 12, 2007 , in which unarmed reporters were shot under heavy fire and killed, are under heavy criticism after recordings of this attack were published by the whistleblower platform WikiLeaks .

A video published by Harper's Magazine in 2010 also shows mercenaries from the US private security company Blackwater , how its employees chase civilians with armored vehicles and shoot them as if they were being hunted.

Apart from the international law generally illegal use in Iraq (see justification for the Iraq war ), which due to the lack of UN mandate as a war of aggression is true, Jürgen Link also criticized that there is in Iraq targeted killings - mostly only because of denunciation has come - , in which innocent civilians were also killed (" collateral damage " which was planned as a collateral damage estimate ). Unmanned aerial vehicles were also often used.

Interim administrations

On May 22, 2003, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted draft resolution 1483 on Iraq, presented by the USA, the United Kingdom and Spain. The UN is thus supporting the US-led interim administration in Iraq until a democratically elected government is set up and sanctions are lifted, with the exception of the arms embargo.

Status of the reconstruction

According to the US armed forces, the reconstruction of Iraq is progressing. In July 2007 the economy picked up again and 3,000 of nearly 3,400 projects of the Iraqi Relief and Reconstruction Fund had been completed. 60% of the contractors for contracts are Iraqis. Most important is the restoration of comprehensive medical care and the continuous supply of Baghdad with electricity (in 2007 eight hours a day).

Legal status of the coalition crew

Through their military presence, the members of the coalition have significant influence in the country and are fighting the paramilitary resistance with the newly established Iraqi armed forces .

UN Security Council Resolution 1546 recognized the end of the official occupation of Iraq by the coalition and the simultaneous assumption of full sovereignty by the Iraqi interim government . As a result, both the United Nations and several of its member countries established diplomatic relations with Iraq and supported the transitional government in preparing for elections and drafting a constitution.

John Negroponte , US Ambassador to Iraq, indicated that the US would pull out of Iraq if the interim government so requested:

“If that's the wish of the government of Iraq, we will comply with those wishes. But no, we haven't been approached on this issue - although obviously we stand prepared to engage the future government on any issue concerning our presence here. "

“If that [note: the trigger] is what the government of Iraq wants, we will act accordingly. But so far we have not been approached with this intention - even if we are obviously ready to deal with any topic that the government intends to raise with regard to our presence here. "


The continued presence of US forces in Iraq, for which US public opinion is waning, has been a dominant issue on the Bush administration's political agenda . Tangible consequences are, for example, the steadily growing budget deficit and the continuing difficulty of the armed forces in finding suitable recruits, so that they have increased salaries and lowered entry barriers. Nevertheless, the morale of the troops remains poor and the armed forces, above all the army , are threatened with serious deprofessionalization tendencies. Conservatives criticize Obama's implementation of his election promise to end the operation in Iraq: the troop withdrawal caused instability where a lasting victory would have been possible.

Attitude of the Iraqi people to the occupying power


After one in October 2006 where, by whom? According to a secret survey published by the British Army, 82 percent of Iraqis rejected the occupation, 67 percent felt more insecure by the foreign troops, 72 percent had no confidence in the occupation troops, 71 percent did not have clean water, and 70 percent had no sewage systems bad, 47 percent did not have enough electricity and 40 percent of southern Iraqis were unemployed.


Local residents talking to US soldiers

In February 2008, the American television broadcaster ABC, together with the BBC , ARD and NHK, carried out a survey of the Iraqi civilian population, which dealt with their attitude towards the occupying power five years after the invasion of the country, and compared these values ​​with them polls already published from August 2007. The Multi-National Force Iraq of just 26% were desired. In contrast, the desire for the United States and the United Kingdom to withdraw immediately from 47 percent to 38 percent. Iraqis are divided over the likely outcome of a final withdrawal, with 46% expecting the security situation to improve, while the rest believe it will stagnate or worsen. An overwhelming majority of Iraqis believed that US involvement in standard diplomacy, such as the continued instruction and supply of domestic security forces, would be desirable. Cooperation in the fight against terrorism was particularly popular, which 80% hoped for.

On October 4, 2008, the Polish troops handed over control of the Multi-National Division Central-South (MNDSC) to the US armed forces and on October 29, 2008, the deployment in Iraq was ended.


On October 15, 2013, the University of Washington , Johns Hopkins University and Simon Fraser University published a study on the fatalities between 2003 and mid-2011 in the PLoS Medicine magazine Researchers found that 405,000 Iraqis were killed, directly or indirectly, through acts of war during the period.

The organization and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Doctors Against Nuclear War (International Doctors for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Doctors in Social Responsibility) estimates the victims of the American occupation at over 1 million in a publication from 2015.

See also


  • Kenan Engin: Nation-Building '- Theoretical Consideration and Case Study: Iraq. (Dissertation), Nomos, Baden-Baden 2013, ISBN 978-3-8487-0684-6
  • Kenan Engin: Investigation into Conflict Management in Iraq. Saarbrücken 2010, ISBN 978-3-639-23766-5
  • Michael R. Gordon, Bernard E. Trainor: The Endgame: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama . Vintage Books, New York 2013, ISBN 978-0-307-38894-0


  • Only the Dead, Iraq, 77 min., 2015, directed by Michael Ware

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Wikileaks.org WikiLeaks Iraq War Diaries , October 22, 2010
  2. Source: Iraq Body Count
  3. cf. BBC News : US flag ceremony ends Iraq operation , December 16, 2011. Accessed December 16, 2011.
  4. cf. BBC News: UK combat operations end in Iraq , April 30, 2009. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  5. UN Resolution 1483 of May 22, 2003
  6. ↑ Interesting facts about the Iraq elections 2005
  7. Welt Online: House of Representatives decides to withdraw from Iraq, July 13, 2007
  8. Bush wants total withdrawal only in case of "success"
  9. US combat troops leave Iraq ( Memento from August 20, 2010 in the Internet Archive ), tagesschau.de from August 19, 2010; Accessed August 19, 2010
  10. ↑ top v .: UK troops begin Iraqi withdrawal , in: BBC Online , March 31, 2009. Accessed April 2, 2009.
  11. Reuters: Barack Obama defends troop withdrawal in Iraq
  12. Focus : Last US troops withdrew from Iraq , December 18, 2011.
  13. Focus : “Welcome home” - Obama symbolically ends the Iraq war , December 15, 2011.
  14. Source: Iraq Body Count
  15. Iraq Assessments & Statistics Report of the International Organization for Migration in Iraq, bi-weekly, as of March 1, 2008
  16. US death toll in Iraq passes 1,000 CNN report of September 8, 2004. Date of discovery: April 14, 2007.
  17. Source: Iraq Operation Casualty Count , accessed July 30, 2010
  18. Source: Iraq Operation Casualty Count , accessed July 30, 2010
  19. ^ Growing Use of Contractors Added to Iraq War's Chaos - Iraq War Logs - WikiLeaks Documents . In: The New York Times , October 23, 2010. 
  20. ^ Video of a Blackwater war crime , accessed September 10, 2012
  21. Jürgen Link: It doesn't count to make people worry . In: kultuRRevolution. journal for applied discourse theory . No. 58 , May 2010, ISSN  0723-8088 , p. 15th f .
  22. UN Security Council lifts sanctions against Iraq / Security Council lifts Sanctions on Iraq. In: ag-friedensforschung.de. May 26, 2003, accessed March 1, 2015 .
  23. Source: Iraq Rebuilding Shifts from Western Contracts to Iraqis. United States Army report of July 6, 2007. Accessed July 8, 2007.
  24. US and UK look for an early way out of Iraq - “The USA and Great Britain are looking for the fastest possible withdrawal from Iraq”, Guardian article from January 22, 2005. Date of discovery: March 17, 2007
  25. "US Army before the Collapse". FOCUS report from April 13, 2007. Date found: November 1, 2007
  26. ^ Gene Healy: The Iraq War Was a Bipartisan Disaster - in: The DC Examiner on June 24, 2014.
  27. Anthony Cordesman : US Troop Levels And Iraqi Perceptions of the US ( Memento of August 13, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 216 kB). Published July 20, 2008. Accessed August 4, 2008
  28. Half a million people died as a result of the Iraq war
  29. http://www.bundeswehr-journal.de/2015/rund-13-millionen-tote-durch-krieg-gegen-den-terror/
  30. Christian Dewitz Around 1.3 million deaths - in: bundeswehr journal ("independent")