Iraq war

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Iraq war
Clockwise from top left: a patrol in Samarra;  a statue of Saddam is demolished;  an Iraqi soldier in action;  a bomb explodes near a US convoy in southern Baghdad.
Clockwise from top left: a patrol in Samarra; a statue of Saddam is demolished; an Iraqi soldier in action; a bomb explodes near a US convoy in southern Baghdad.
date March 20, 2003 to May 1, 2003
place Iraq
Casus Belli alleged threat to the USA from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction; see justification of the Iraq war
output US Army victory after the Army of Iraq surrenders
consequences Occupation of Iraq 2003–2011
Parties to the conflict

Iraq 1991Iraq Iraq Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad ar-Rafidain Islamic Army in Iraq
Flag of al-Qaeda in Iraq.svg

United StatesUnited States United States United Kingdom " Coalition of the Willing "
United KingdomUnited Kingdom 


Iraq 1991Iraq Saddam Hussein

United StatesUnited States George W. Bush Tommy Franks ( USCENTCOM ) David D. McKiernan ( 3rd US Army / CFLCC )
United StatesUnited States 
United StatesUnited States 

Troop strength
375,000+ regular troops of Iraq ~ 300,000 regular troops of the "coalition of the willing"
  • 28,800-37,400 dead
  • unknown number of wounded
  • 4,804 dead
  • 32,753+ wounded (U.S. Forces 31,102)

approx. 115,000–600,000 dead by the end of the occupation in 2011

unknown but far higher number of wounded

The Iraq War or Third Gulf War (also Second Iraq War ) was a military operation of the USA , Great Britain and a " coalition of the willing " in Iraq . It began bombing selected targets in Baghdad on March 20, 2003 and led to the conquest of the capital and the overthrow of the then Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein . On May 1, 2003, US President George W. Bush declared the war to be victorious.

The Bush administration had been considering overthrowing Saddam Hussein since January 2001. She justified this as a necessary preventive war to prevent an allegedly imminent attack by Iraq with weapons of mass destruction on the USA. The USA and Great Britain interpreted UN resolution 1441 as a UN mandate for military intervention. In it, the UN Security Council condemned Iraq for failing to meet its obligations to eliminate and control its weapons of mass destruction, to support terrorism and to suppress its population, and authorized all UN member states to use "all necessary means" to ensure compliance enforce the UN resolutions. However, the US and Great Britain did not receive an explicit mandate from the Security Council to launch a military attack. Many lawyers therefore consider the Iraq war to be a breach of the prohibition of war of aggression in the UN Charter and thus contrary to international law . However, with their veto power , the United States and Great Britain prevented the UN Security Council from condemning the Iraq war. Since no weapons of mass destruction and no evidence of acute attack intentions were found in Iraq apart from old remnants, the arguments put forward for the Iraq war have been proven to be false.

After the declared end of the war, the occupation of Iraq from 2003-2011 resulted in conditions similar to civil war , thousands of terrorist attacks, acts of war and violent crime , both against each other by various Iraqi groups and against the Western occupation forces. They claimed an unknown number of deaths and injuries, particularly among Iraqi civilians. Even after the withdrawal of the foreign troops in 2011, there was no pacification in the country. The expansion of Islamic State in the 2014 Iraq crisis is judged in part to be a consequence of the Iraq war.


Political decisions

From 1979 to 1990 Iraq's regent Saddam Hussein was an ally of the West. Before and in his war of aggression against Iran (1980–1988), he received numerous armaments from many countries. He received components and materials for weapons of mass destruction mainly from US and West German companies, the export of which broke international and national laws. He used these weapons for grave human rights violations such as the poison gas attack on Halabja (March 1988). There were no protests from the West.

After Iraq's attack on the neighboring state of Kuwait (August 1990), a UN-mandated war alliance led by the USA drove the Iraqi army out of the occupied territories ( Second Gulf War 1991), but left Saddam Hussein in office. The UN Security Council extended the economic sanctions imposed in 1990 to enforce the destruction of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles and the termination of all related arms programs in Iraq under international supervision. In addition, the USA, Great Britain and France imposed two no-fly zones in the north and south of Iraq without a UN mandate . The economic sanctions barely hit the regime, but led to the deaths of millions of Iraqis from malnutrition, according to reports from WHO , UNICEF and WFP . The Food for Oil program, permitted in 1996, hardly improved the situation. From May 1991 to December 1998, the UNSCOM and IAEA inspectors destroyed around 90% of all Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the materials and production facilities required for them, as well as 980 out of 1,000 rockets with ranges over 150 km. Their final report also confirmed the end of the Iraqi nuclear program. Only the whereabouts of 20 missiles remained open, and further basic substances for biological and chemical weapons were suspected.

Between 1996 and 1998 the UN Security Council passed several resolutions criticizing Iraq's obstacles to weapons inspections.

The members of the neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC) had been calling for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein as a step towards reorganizing the Middle East since 1996, and in 1998, in a letter to US President Bill Clinton , called for this regime change to be the goal of US foreign policy close. The Iraq Liberation Act of the US Congress of October 1998 called for this regime change to be promoted without military intervention by helping a democratic opposition in Iraq. Clinton signed it, but wanted his successor to implement it. On October 31, 1998, the Iraqi government announced that it would end all cooperation with the UNSCOM inspectors, but the inspectors were not asked to leave. From December 16-20, Clinton had facilities in Iraq allegedly intended for the construction of weapons of mass destruction bombed ( Operation Desert Fox ). Therefore the inspectors had to leave. Because their location data had been used for the air strikes, Saddam Hussein then refused them re-entry.

Under US President George W. Bush, many PNAC members received high government offices. They gave the "Iraq question" priority in US foreign policy and since January 2001 they have also considered a military invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein. US Secretary of State Colin Powell retained the previous containment policy. In an immediate reaction to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 , US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called for a simultaneous attack on Afghanistan and Iraq, if necessary unilaterally and without evidence of their intent to attack, to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Bush urged security advisor Richard Clarke the following day to provide him with evidence of Iraq's involvement in the attacks, although Clarke stressed that this had been scrutinized and ruled out several times. On September 18, 2001, Bush declared an unlimited war on terror in which the US would make no distinction between terrorists and states that support them.

Iraq was the only UN member state that did not condemn the attacks. Since then, representatives of the US government have increasingly issued warnings against alleged weapons of mass destruction, contacts with terrorists and plans to attack Iraq. By April 5, 2002 at the latest, Bush decided to overthrow Saddam Hussein without a formal cabinet decision, if necessary without the help of Great Britain. British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Colin Powell persuaded Bush to seek new UN inspections and a UN mandate for an invasion until September 2002. In October, however, the US Congress passed the strategy presented by Bush for preventive wars without a UN mandate to protect national security and also allowed the unilateral invasion of Iraq if necessary. At the same time, the American and British governments intensified their campaigns on the Iraqi threat potential, also by means of targeted false statements.

After UN resolution 1441 issued an ultimatum to Iraq in November 2002, Saddam Hussein allowed the UN inspectors of the newly formed UNMOVIC to enter. On December 8, 2002, Iraq submitted a detailed armaments report to the UN Security Council, the information of which the inspectors in the following months largely confirmed as correct. They found no evidence of a new nuclear weapons program and none of the suspected substances for chemical and chemical weapons. However, they did not receive any evidence of the whereabouts of old stocks of weapons that Iraq had claimed to have been destroyed. These open questions should be clarified by March 2003.

Colin Powell before the UN Security Council, February 5, 2003

At the same time, the legality and necessity of the invasion were discussed worldwide. Many states allied with the United States remained waiting, demanding evidence and further attempts at diplomatic solutions. Majorities of the population in most European countries rejected the Iraq war. On February 5, 2003, US Secretary of State Colin Powell presented alleged evidence of biological, chemical and nuclear weapon components in Iraq, all of which was found to be false by mid-2004, at the crucial UN Security Council meeting. Because Russia, France, China and the non-permanent council member Germany rejected the Iraq war and supported the continuation of the inspections, the USA and Great Britain forged a “coalition of the willing” for international acceptance of the invasion. They interpreted resolution 1441 as a mandate to attack and started the war without a UN mandate and against the veto of a majority in the UN Security Council.

Military preparations

During the political debate about the legitimacy of the invasion of Iraq, the USA and Great Britain prepared it militarily. In mid-November 2001, Bush directed the Pentagon to update its contingency plans to invade Iraq. On November 27, 2001, Rumsfeld ordered the United States Central Command under General Tommy Franks to prepare militarily for the "beheading" of the Iraqi government, even before all invasion troops were ready: reinforcements would move up. In February 2002, the United States withdrew most of its Special Operational Forces from Afghanistan and relocated them to the Gulf region . From the spring of 2002, the Third US Army, the V Army Corps and the 101st Airborne Division prepared for the invasion. Starting in May, the US Air Force bombed Iraqi command centers in the no-fly zones. At the end of June 2002, Bush ordered the invasion forces to be transferred to the Gulf region. At the end of 2002 the USA and Great Britain moved major associations there. By March 2003, 200,000 Allied soldiers were standing on the borders of Iraq. Australian troops should come along. On February 21, 2003, Rumsfeld announced that the troops there were now sufficient to launch an attack on Iraq.

In Operation Southern Focus , the coalitionists stepped up their control flights over the southern no-fly zone in Iraq and, on express orders, took military-relevant targets under massive fire, especially radar systems and command facilities. At the same time, American and British special forces invaded Iraq through the Saudi Arabian and Kuwaiti borders and murdered border guards and patrols, leaving the coalition of the willing to control a quarter of the country by the time the invasion officially began. According to released documents, the US and UK hoped to provoke Iraq into a reaction that would give them a reason for war. According to the Times , soldiers from the British SAS were said to have operated undercover at Umm Kasr and along the border with Kuwait days before the war began .

According to Tommy Franks, the US High Command succeeded in deceiving Iraq about the actual war plans. An agent of the Iraqi intelligence service Mukhabarat , who was nicknamed “April Fool's Joke” based on the time of the war, is said to have succeeded in passing falsified staff plans to Saddam Hussein, so that he estimated 13 divisions to defend northern Iraq while the United States took the actual blow led almost exclusively from the south.


Military course of the Iraq war. The majority of the coalition forces approached from the south. Due to the Turkish refusal, the US had to open the second front by air landing in the west.

Bombardments and ground offensive

A cruise missile is fired at Iraqi positions from a US cruiser in the Mediterranean
Burning Iraqi T-55 at An Nu'maniyah

On March 17, 2003, US President Bush issued Saddam Hussein an ultimatum to leave Iraq within 48 hours, otherwise Iraq would be attacked. At Hussein's refusal, the war coalition launched the war known as Operation Iraqi Freedom with targeted bombing in Baghdad on the night of March 19-20 . The US fired 40 cruise missiles at the government district in Baghdad and alleged whereabouts of Saddam Hussein. This so-called Shock and Awe campaign was intended to destroy Iraq's communications infrastructure and demoralize Iraqi troops.

The invasion of western ground forces began on the same day from Kuwait and Jordan. In the first two days they penetrated about 200 km inland, on March 24th they were about 95 kilometers from Baghdad. This was also attributed to the strictly centralized command structure of the Iraqi army, which manifested itself in rigid command tactics and an unnecessary burden on high officers who even had to approve tactical decisions. It paralyzed the Iraqi troops against the subsidiary tactics and the modular troop structure of the US Army.

During the following days the war took place in five main theaters:

  1. The British troops in southern Iraq focused on taking the port city of Umm Kasr , securing the oil wells in the south of the country, and encircling and then taking the city of Basra .
  2. US Army special forces took over the security of the H-3 and H-2 airfields in western Iraq.
  3. The 3rd US Infantry Division advanced from the south along the Euphrates towards Baghdad. The US 1st Marine Division advanced along the Tigris .
  4. In northern Iraq, the Iraqi positions on the border with the autonomous Kurdish regions were apparently under massive air fire. There the Iraqi troops increasingly withdrew. Kurdish troops, supported by special forces of the Americans and some airborne troops, moved into the vacant spaces: On March 26, one thousand paratroopers from the 173rd US Airborne Brigade landed in the Kurdish areas in the north to open a northern front.
  5. The air domination of the Americans, which had existed de facto since the end of the Second Gulf War , was used to fly permanent attacks on tactical or strategic targets in cities and to support the ground forces.

The troops advancing against Baghdad met with fierce resistance. After about ten days this advance came to a standstill. There were several reasons for this: On the one hand, a very violent sandstorm that put weapon systems such as helicopters at great risk, resistance from Iraqi troops who tried to protect critical passages across the Euphrates , and the rapid initial advance that left a long supply line relatively unsecured. The American troops launched the first attacks on the Republican Guard on March 30th. CENTCOM claims to have maintained the pressure on the Iraqi military for the duration of the sandstorm by means of increased bombardment from the air.

But then the Iraqi resistance (not the militia) quickly collapsed. Basra was besieged by British troops for about a week. On April 7th, the British invaded this second largest city in Iraq. There was no significant resistance, but losses on the Iraqi side. According to speculation by the French newspaper Le Journal de Dimanche and the Egyptian newspaper al Usbu , a close confidante of Saddam Hussein, General Mahere Sufian al-Tikriti, was bribed by the CIA with $ 25 million and then withdrew the troops of the Republican Guard .

Battle of Baghdad

M1A1 Abrams main battle tank in front of the
Hands of Victory Arch
Discovery of a buried Iraqi Mig-25 fighter aircraft in al-Taqqadum in August 2003

The Iraqi capital was reached by US ground forces around April 5th. The city's airport was captured on April 4th. On April 7, American troops advanced into the city center for the first time. Although there was no house-to-house fighting , as had been feared, there were heavy losses on the Iraqi side. The American forces brought the city largely under their control within the next four days, but there was still little fighting. The city of Kirkuk also fell to Kurdish fighters on April 11th. US Army officials later announced a reason for the low resistance (the highways through the desert had remained completely intact, there were no mines and virtually no resistance around Baghdad): some officers had been bribed in advance of the fighting. On April 14, the war was declared over by the Pentagon, as the last contested city of Tikrit could also be taken. Saddam Hussein was nowhere to be found.

During the symmetrical combat operations, the United States operated several relatively new strategies . Based on their assumption that the entire Iraqi state depended on his control center, Saddam Hussein, they targeted him with the strategy of the decapitation . The success of this strategy, which did not materialize due to a lack of accuracy or unclear information about Hussein's whereabouts, should, together with the fight against other subordinate nodes of the strictly hierarchical warfare, lead to the psychological and factual paralysis of the opposing troops. The US armed forces had tried to protect themselves against any similar warfare by the enemy, in addition to armaments that had been forced for years with various defense policy measures. As a result of the Joint Vision 2010 and Joint Vision 2020 strategy papers , they had developed network-centric warfare , by which the political and military leadership was limited to setting the goals and providing the necessary means, while execution was to be reserved for the tactical and operational batches.

The armed forces of Iraq limited themselves to a largely passive approach with many defensive structures such as trenches and paramilitary bonds.

Occupation and arrest of Hussein

A car bomb attack in southern Iraq
Arrest of Saddam Hussein

Following the war, Iraq was occupied by the coalition of the willing , which lasted until 2011 . On May 22, 2003, the UN Security Council 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.

On December 13, 2003, Saddam Hussein was arrested by US occupation forces 15 kilometers from his hometown of Tikrit. He surrendered without a fight, was later sentenced to death by a military tribunal for war crimes and crimes against humanity on November 5, 2006 , and hanged on December 30, 2006.

In the following period a new democratic form of government was established in Iraq, today's Republic of Iraq . On January 30, 2005, the first free elections were held in Iraq. On March 16, 2005, the National Assembly had its first session.

US troops left Baghdad on June 29, 2009 and withdrew from other Iraqi parts of the country by 2012.


Worldwide there were reports in the media about the officially named and suspected reasons for the war and the course of the war.

In the USA itself, the reasons for the war published by the government were largely adopted by the American mass media and hardly any explanations to the contrary were published. The New York Times wrote on July 18, 2004 that the entire American press had not been sufficiently skeptical of the US government's justification for war.

Musicians who were critical of the war were no longer played by some American radio stations. For example the Dixie Chicks , whose singer Natalie Maines said she was "ashamed" of being from the same state (Texas) as Bush .

The US mass media, through repetition of proven false claims, succeeded in making Iraq appear a threat to the US people and creating a climate of fear ( mass hysteria ) in the US population , ultimately leading to an overwhelming majority the US citizen advocated a war of aggression against Iraq.

Al-Jazeera news agency showed pictures of dead Iraqi civilians and captured American soldiers. The station's correspondent on the New York Stock Exchange ("Wall Street") was banned from the exchange on the grounds that it had no resources. During the war, the station tried to set up an English-language website, which was barely accessible during the war due to hacker attacks and technical problems.

During the Afghan war, the station's office in Kabul was hit by a US precision missile. During the Iraq war, a hotel in Basra, where the employees of Al-Jazeera were staying, was shot at by an Allied artillery position , and the hotel was hit by four shells. When Baghdad was captured, the Al-Jazeera office was shelled by US forces. A correspondent died and a cameraman was wounded.

Also when Baghdad was captured, the Palestine Hotel was shot at by a tank. Numerous foreign journalists stayed at the hotel. Two people were killed and several were injured. US General Buford Blount said the tank was shot at from the hotel. Several reporters present reported that the tank had not been shot at from the hotel.

The use of so-called embedded journalists was particularly criticized (they were “involved” in fighting troops from the USA and Great Britain). Among other things, it was feared that journalists might be presented with falsified (e.g. embellished) excerpts from reality.


The figures for the victims of the Iraq war and the subsequent period of occupation vary between less than 100,000 and more than 1,000,000 people, depending on the source. The political scientist Stephan Bierling , who compared the available figures from the beginning of the invasion to 2008, considers a figure of 151,000 dead by the beginning of 2008, which includes civilians and members of the security forces on all sides, to be realistic. Other estimates are significantly less optimistic and point to the difficulties in collecting realistic data.

Civilians killed

A US soldier carries a wounded child to a hospital

The information is very different, official information is not available. In addition, the studies cannot reliably check how many of the civilians killed as a result of coalition violence and how many were killed as a result of the numerous terrorist attacks.

  • Iraqbodycount counts at least 108,000 civilians killed by the end of 2011 based on at least two matching reports from different media outlets . The site states that their numbers are believed to be below actual casualty numbers. Because she relies on reports from reputable news organizations and independent journalists are believed to keep their distance from the particularly hotly contested areas, many of the fatalities would not be covered by the media.
  • A study by Johns Hopkins University compares mortality in Iraq from 14.6 months before the invasion began in March 2003 with the following 17.8 months. It comes to up to 100,000 (excluding Fallujah ) additional deaths.
  • A study by the Geneva University Institute for International Studies of July 12, 2005, based on a study by the prestigious medical journal The Lancet , assumes that 39,000 civilians were killed by direct violence in the period from January to December 2003.
  • For April 2006 the BBC gives the number of 1,091 civilians killed for Baghdad alone. This corresponds to about 30 deaths per day.
  • A study published in October 2006 by The Lancet and carried out by the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore estimates 392,979 to 942,636 additional deaths in Iraq from the consequences of the war, which corresponds to an average of 654,965 deaths, around 2.5 percent of the population. As in the previous studies, it is again pointed out that the results of the statistical method are imprecise. The study, much cited by opponents of the war, came under massive criticism because the authors did not monitor the work of the Iraqi employees and, despite being requested to do so, did not make their data available for review. At the beginning of 2009, Gilbert M. Burnham, who was responsible for conducting the study, was reprimanded by Johns Hopkins University for this. 
  • Iraq Coalition Casualty Count counts 50,152 civilians killed since March 2005 (as of July 2011).
  • According to the ORB (Opinion Research Business) , between 946,000 and 1,120,000 Iraqis died between March 2003 and August 2007 (as of January 2008). The company's method of investigation is controversial.
  • According to internal documents of the US Department of Defense (see Iraq War Logs ), which were published on October 22, 2010 via the Internet platform WikiLeaks , 66,081 civilians were among the 109,000 victims between 2004 and 2009.
  • Between 2003 and 2010, 230 media workers were murdered, including 172 journalists, almost 90 percent of them of Iraqi origin.

When the USA invaded Baghdad on April 8, 2003, a controversial incident occurred. At 11:45 a.m., an Abrams tank from the 4th Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division fired a grenade upstairs in the Meridien Palestine Hotel . The cameraman José Couso and his Ukrainian colleague Taras Protsyuk died a little later from the injuries caused by the impact. In the controversy that followed, the German Association of Journalists accused the tank crew of murder. In contrast, an investigation by the Central Command found that all journalists working at the hotel were negligent. They had been warned several times against the deployment in such close proximity to the front. In conjunction with inaccurate maps and the soldiers' lack of local knowledge, an unfortunate incident occurred when the tanks were prevented from crossing the Jumhuriya Bridge over the Tigris by Iraqi artillery fire. A reflection from the hotel building suggested to the tank crew that a scout was there who apparently directed the artillery fire.

Soldiers killed and injured

In this bomb attack on an armored US vehicle near Haditha , 14 US Marines of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force were killed
A local memorial in North Carolina counts fallen US soldiers; December 2007.
Repatriation of Army Specialist Israel Candelaria Mejias, 2009

until the declared end of major fighting on May 1, 2003

  • Allies: 171 soldiers, including
    • 138 Americans
    • 33 British
  • Iraq (US estimate)
    • at least 2,300 soldiers

total since the beginning of the war (as of February 29, 2012)

  • 4,804 soldiers, including:
    • 4,486 U.S. soldiers
    • 179 British soldiers
    • 139 soldiers from other nations
  • 10,125 Iraqi soldiers and police killed (as of July 31, 2011)
  • 468 family members killed by private security and military companies such as Blackwater Worldwide (as of November 30, 2011)
  • 32,200 US soldiers wounded since the beginning of the war (data as of September 30, 2011)

While the official figures only show the immediate casualties, the Veterans Association of the US Armed Forces lists 17,847 deaths among the Gulf War veterans deployed between August 1990 and March 2007.

Prisoners of war

  • Iraq: Over 7,000 Iraqi soldiers and foreign fighters (mostly from other Arab countries) were held captive in several makeshift camps and in the British main prison camp at Umm Qasr (later Camp Bucca ) during the first weeks of the war . The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) began its prisoner visits there on March 31, 2003. Many remained imprisoned for months, sometimes years later.
  • USA: Seven soldiers were held captive in a farm north of Baghdad and released when the US Army advanced. The ICRC tried to gain access, but this was no longer granted because of the precipitous events. Nothing is known about abuse.

Malformations from uranium ammunition

The coalition of the willing fired 1,000 to 2,000 tons of armor-piercing uranium ammunition during the war. The health effects of uranium ammunition are controversial. In 2003, a twenty-fold increase in radioactive levels was measured at locations from earlier tank battles. A decade later, measurements in Basra showed a basic radiation between eight and eleven micro-rems, which is considered to be harmless to health. However, the radioactive exposure of old tank wrecks is in places 180 times higher than the natural radiation exposure . In hospitals, the number of leukemia and other types of cancer is sometimes more than ten-fold. Malformations in children are also increasing dramatically.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, there is no scientifically proven connection between uranium ammunition and increased cancer rates or other health problems.

Cultural assets

In the wake of the American conquest of Baghdad, numerous cultural assets of the city and the entire country with its rich history were destroyed. The National Library was completely destroyed by fire and the poorly secured National Museum was plundered ( art theft ). Inventory databases of the National Museum were set on fire, which, among other things, destroyed evidence of the origin of the stolen objects. First-rate evidence of the millennia-old history of cultures in Mesopotamia has been lost or damaged. Much disappeared in the illegal art trade. American experts and UNESCO had drawn attention to the endangerment of the great cultural assets in the country in the run-up to the war, but their advances were hardly heard and the invasion troops failed to secure the cultural institutes immediately. After the conquest of Baghdad, Allied troops stationed heavy vehicles among other things in ancient ruins and damaged the structural structures with heavy traffic.

Some of the initially missing and looted cultural assets have reappeared since the war. The American authorities say they have seized many manuscripts and works of art from the National Museum in Baghdad. Other objects had been hidden by the Iraqi authorities in the basements of the National Museum or moved to other buildings (some of them as early as the second Gulf War) and survived the turmoil.

With the collapse of the former state administration, the supervisory and protection organizations over the regional monuments and museums disintegrated. Since then, organized illegal robbery excavations have destroyed some of the known ruin sites on a large scale and stole valuable finds in order to bring them to illegal trade. Individual sites were also devastated or badly affected by the acts of war itself (see also Nimrud ).

Under the umbrella of UNESCO, an International Coordinating Committee for Safeguarding the Cultural Heritage of Iraq began its work in May 2004. The University of Pennsylvania Museum coordinates the documentation on the loss of Iraqi cultural assets with other institutions: “The looting of the Iraq National Museum and other art and archeology museums in Iraq is a tragedy of vast proportions to the Iraqi people, and to all those who care about understanding our shared human heritage. ”The International Foundation for Art Research is also dealing with the looting in Iraq.

Assessments under international law and war crimes

Abu Ghraib torture scandal : Charles Graner and Sabrina Harman pose with naked prisoners piled in a pyramid

Some international lawyers and historians consider the Iraq war to be an illegal war of aggression that violates international law because of the provisions of the UN Charter and the lack of a UN mandate .

Actors on all sides committed war crimes against soldiers and civilians during the course of the war and during the subsequent occupation of Iraq .

There were targeted killings of informers .

In the Abu Ghuraib torture scandal , US intelligence officials, soldiers and employees of private security companies tortured and humiliated Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghuraib prison near Baghdad. The well-known photographs of the perpetrators triggered violent reactions in the Arab and Western world (see also: Publication of the war diary of the Iraq war by WikiLeaks ). In the November 2005 massacre at Haditha , US soldiers murdered 24 Iraqi civilians, including children, in retaliation.

Mercenaries from various security companies were responsible for many escalations with incalculable threats to civilians and military personnel. In a single such incident on September 16, 2007, Blackwater Company personnel were responsible for the deaths of 17 civilians.



  • 79 billion US dollars for the war and its aftermath, of which 62.6 billion US dollars were pure war costs
  • About $ 497.2 billion since the war began as of February 24, 2008; $ 616 billion as of July 24, 2008; officially 700 billion US dollars by the end of 2009, whereby the total costs should be "far higher".
  • According to Joseph Stiglitz , the "real cost" by the end of February 2008 is already around $ 3 trillion (Zeit article, February 26, 2008)

Great Britain

  • 3 billion pounds = 3.7 billion euros

According to BBC research, mismanagement and fraudulent activities took place on a large scale in the vicinity of war activities, which, according to estimates by the BBC, lost up to 23 billion US dollars in dark channels.


  • 15,000 precision bombs, 8,000 uncontrolled explosive devices and 800 cruise missiles were used in 30,000 sorties.
    • Brigadier General Stephen Mundt of the US Army declared on March 30, 2007 in Washington DC that the US had so far lost 130 helicopters in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, over 40 of which had been shot down. Most of the helicopters became unusable due to the difficult terrain or crashed. According to a study by the Brookings Institution, at least 33 helicopters have been lost since the beginning of the Iraq conflict in March 2003, at least 20 of which were shot down.

International reactions

Opposition in Europe

War opponents in London, 2002
No common EU position on the 2003 Iraq war

In advance, the international community divided into supporters and opponents of this war. The latter also included close allies of the USA such as Germany , France and Belgium , as well as neutral states such as Austria . Above all, they criticized:

  • lack of legitimation under international law,
  • lack of evidence of a threat from Iraq,
  • unused controls by the UN weapons inspectors,
  • possible consequences of war such as the strengthening of Islamic fundamentalism and thus also terrorism ,
  • Destabilization of the Near and Middle East,
  • Weakening the chances of success in the war in Afghanistan ,
  • future preventive wars of nuclear armed states like North Korea ,
  • high financial follow-up costs of occupation and reconstruction.

In doing so, they were able to rely on a broad rejection of the Iraq war among the population. Thus, until February 2003, an international anti-war movement emerged for the first time before the start of a war. On February 15, 2003, around nine million people demonstrated worldwide in the largest peace demonstration in history. a. was initiated and coordinated through the European Social Forum . The protests continued. Across Europe, a total of more than 70 trade union organizations in 38 countries responded to the call by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) to send a "sign for peace" on March 14th.

Opposition in Russia

On the day of the attack on Iraq, Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced his concern by describing the US military action as an act in violation of international law. External intervention aimed at overthrowing a political regime by force is unacceptable. Such a right would be available to the citizens of Iraq in this case.

Opposition in the US

A great many anti-war and anti-Bush films have been made since the beginning of the Iraq war. The best known of these films is Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore , who attracted attention worldwide. It is criticized that the director presents information out of context.

In the context of his speech at the Academy Awards for the film Bowling for Columbine (2002) Moore criticized the Iraq policy ("Shame on you Mr. Bush!") Of George W. Bush. Then they interrupted their speech, turned off the microphone and turned the music up again. Another relevant documentary is Why We Fight by Eugene Jarecki .


According to a Forsa survey in November 2002, 80% of the Germans questioned spoke out against any German involvement in the Iraq war. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's no in the federal election campaign was one of the reasons for the success of the Red / Green coalition in the 2002 federal election .

According to previous information, the Bundeswehr did not deploy any soldiers in Iraq or in command posts of coalition troops during the war. Germany supported their offensive with overflight rights , transports and protection of US military bases on German soil that were used for the war. 7,000 Bundeswehr soldiers were provided to guard US barracks. German crew members continued to fly aboard NATO's AWACS reconnaissance aircraft , which were used to explore Iraqi airspace from Turkey.

The German NBC defense battalion, which was stationed at Camp Doha ( Kuwait ) from February 2002 to June 2003 , was subordinate to the US Marine Corps Forces Central Command (MARCENT) as part of the multinational Combined Joint Task Force this to the US Supreme Command (CENTCOM). This Bundeswehr unit was reinforced with around 110 soldiers on March 21, 2003 and grew to around 210 soldiers by mid-April 2003. The association was prepared to be deployed in the entire area of ​​responsibility of the “Area of ​​Responsibility” (AOR) of CENTCOM. Joint training and exercises were carried out in the deployment area under US command on site. From Camp Doha, the Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC) center of operations directed the coalition forces' ground offensive. As a result, Camp Doha was attacked a total of 26 times with tactical weapons from the Iraqi army (including Al-Samoud-2 rockets ) from the Basra area (13 strikes). The US armed forces had expected this and therefore set up that multinational NBC defense unit there.

The Federal Administrative Court (BVerwG) ruled in 2005: "There were and still are serious legal concerns about the prohibition of violence in the UN Charter and other applicable international law." The same applies to the German "support services". The BVerwG ruled that “aiding and abetting an offense under international law is itself an offense under international law”. The BVerwG even goes further in its reasoning and says that the “neutral state” is required under international law to “reject any violation of its neutrality, if necessary with force”. The Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG) ruled in 2008 that the Federal Government at the time violated the Bundestag's right of participation when it deployed German soldiers to NATO air surveillance in Turkey without the consent of Parliament. Previously, the BVerfG had rejected an application from the FDP parliamentary group in which they wanted to demand that parliamentary resolution.

In January 2006 it was reported that two German agents of the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) had stayed in Baghdad during the Iraq war in 2003 and shared their knowledge with the US military intelligence service DIA . A BND agent is said to have received a US military medal for this. The BND confirmed the presence of two agents. It was an operation under the legal mandate.

The German activity is said to have consisted of spying on a bomb target; the luxury vehicles observed there were taken as evidence of the presence of Saddam Hussein. Several civilians were killed in the bombing of the building complex; Hussein wasn't hit. The BND denies the spying in advance and states that the agents in question only drove to the target after the bombing.


In January 2005, Donald Rumsfeld stated in an interview with CNN that he had offered President Bush to resign twice, which Bush refused. After the Republicans were defeated in the 2006 congressional elections , Bush announced Rumsfeld's resignation as Secretary of Defense on November 8, 2006.

In November 2008, Thomas Bingham (1933-2010), a recently retired senior British judge, said the Iraq war was a violation of international law; he sharply criticized the position of then Attorney General Lord Goldsmith.

In October 2015, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair first admitted mistakes in the Iraq war. Arms arsenals did not exist “in the form”, and we “definitely had mistakes in our ideas of what would happen once the regime was overthrown”. Blair also admitted that the Third Gulf War helped al-Qaeda to rise in Iraq and also IS.

The final report of the Chilcot Commission commissioned by the British House of Commons in 2009 on July 6, 2016 criticized Tony Blair's decision in favor of Britain's participation in the Iraq war as being premature, neither factually nor legally supported by UN resolution 1441. He relied on incorrect intelligence information and greatly exaggerated the threat to British citizens from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.



See also

Web links

Commons : Iraq War  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. Icasualties: Coalition Military Fatalities By Year ( Memento of 27 September 2015, Internet Archive )
  2. Global War on Terrorism: Operation Iraqi Freedom by Casualty Category… Within Service. March 19, 2003 Through May 31, 2011 ( Memento from June 2, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 11 KiB)
  3. Iraqbodycount
  4. Gilbert Burnham, Riyadh Lafta, Shannon Doocy, Les Roberts: Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey. ( Memento from September 7, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) PDF (242 KiB). In: The Lancet. October 11, 2006.
  6. Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations: Measures in the event of a threat or breach of peace and in the event of acts of aggression ; Dominic McGoldrick: From '9-11' to the 'Iraq War 2003': International Law in an Age of Complexity. Irish Academic Press, 2004, ISBN 1-84113-496-1 , p. 50 and + of + various + anti-war + campaigners & hl = de & sa = X & ved = 0ahUKEwjbnLznytLlAhWJEVAKHZsODC4Q6AEIKzAA # v = onepage & q = this% 20was% 20the% 20position% 20of% 20many% 20stantiates% 20and% 20campious-warious &% 20and% 20cof% 20 .
  7. Hans von Sponeck, Andreas Zumach: Irak - Chronicle of a wanted war. Kiepenheuer and Witsch, 2002, pp. 14 and 108.
  8. Hans von Sponeck, Andreas Zumach: Irak - Chronicle of a wanted war. 2002, pp. 109-111.
  9. S / RES / 1060 (1996) - E - S / RES / 1060 (1996). Retrieved December 26, 2019 .
  10. S / RES / 1115 (1997) - E - S / RES / 1115 (1997). Retrieved December 26, 2019 .
  11. S / RES / 1154 (1998) - E - S / RES / 1154 (1998). Retrieved December 26, 2019 .
  12. S / RES / 1194 (1998) - E - S / RES / 1194 (1998). Retrieved December 26, 2019 .
  13. a b S / RES / 1205 (1998) - E - S / RES / 1205 (1998). Retrieved December 26, 2019 .
  14. Ryan C. Hendrickson: Clinton, Bush, Congress and War Powers. (PDF).
  15. 9833193E. Retrieved December 26, 2019 .
  16. Hans von Sponeck, Andreas Zumach: Irak - Chronicle of a wanted war. 2002, pp. 111-113.
  17. George Packer: The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014, p. 39 ( ).
  18. Nick Ritchie, Paul Rogers: The Political Road to War with Iraq: Bush, 9/11 and the Drive to Overthrow Saddam. Routledge 2007, p. 119 ( ).
  19. Richard Clarke: Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror. Freepress, 2004, ISBN 0-7432-6024-4 , p. 30; Bernd Greiner: 9/11. The day, the fear, the consequences. Beck, Munich 2011, pp. 81-83.
  20. Bernd Greiner: 9/11. The day, the fear, the consequences. Beck, Munich 2011, pp. 100-115.
  21. Hans von Sponeck, Andreas Zumach: Irak - Chronicle of a wanted war. 2002, pp. 113-116.
  22. ^ Stephan Bierling: History of the Iraq War. The fall of Saddam and America's nightmare in the Middle East. Beck, Munich 2010, pp. 62 and 96.
  23. Bernd Greiner: 9/11. The day, the fear, the consequences. Beck, Munich 2011, pp. 99-102.
  24. ^ The war before the war - Article ( Memento of March 27, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) by Michael Smith in the New Statesman of May 30, 2005. Date of discovery: October 31, 2007.
  25. a b Henning Hoff: General Tommy Franks tells how he won the war, but not how he lost the peace. In: The time . No. 1/2004, December 31, 2004.
  26. ^ Christiane Amanpour, et al .: US Boosts Northern Iraq Front. CNN March 27, 2003.
  27. ^ Helmut Volger: History of the United Nations . Oldenbourg, Munich, 2nd edition 2007, ISBN 978-3-486-58230-7 , p. 383; For the wording of the resolution, see also WG Peace Research: Iraq Resolution 1483 .
  28. Iraqis rejoice as US troops leave Baghdad. Reuters , June 29, 2009, accessed August 8, 2009 .
  29. Happy Talk News Covers a War. In: The New York Times. July 18, 2004.
  30. ^ Stephan Bierling: History of the Iraq War. The fall of Saddam and America's nightmare in the Middle East. CH Beck, Munich 2010, p. 173 f.
  31. (PDF).
  33. Joachim Guilliard, October 31, 2004: War and occupation killed one hundred to two hundred thousand people in Iraq
  35. Iraq killings top 1,000 in April.
  36. Gilbert Burnham, Riyadh Lafta, Shannon Doocy, Les Roberts: Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey. ( Memento from September 7, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 248 KiB). In: The Lancet, Vol. 368 / No. 9545 (October 21, 2006), pp. 1421-1428. ( Summary )
  37. ^ Neil Munro, Carl M. Cannon: National Journal. January 4, 2008: Data Bomb ( Memento from September 21, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  38. John Bohannon: " Author of Iraqi Deaths Study Sanctioned " Science May 13, 2009.
  39. ^ " Iraq Researcher Sanctioned Washington Post February 24, 2009.
  40. Iraq Coalition Casualty Count ( Memento from October 4, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  41. January 2006 - Welsh Small Business Economic Confidence Survey ( Memento of February 8, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  42. ^ "Study reveals fundamental flaws to 2007 estimate of one million Iraqis killed" Royal Holloway University of London
  43. WikiLeaks Iraq War Diaries ( Memento of November 1, 2010 in the Internet Archive ), October 22, 2010.
  44. Reporters Without Borders, September 8, 2010: Balance sheet of the Iraq war 2003 to 2010: 230 media workers killed ( Memento from April 13, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  45. Reporters without Borders, August 2010: The Iraq War. A heavy Death Toll for the Media / 2003-2010 (PDF; 826 KiB)
  46. ^ Forster, Peter: Panzer against the press? In: Troop service . Issue 278, issue 4/2004. Accessed April 8, 2008.
  47. Operation Iraqi Freedom: Iraq Coalition Casualties: Contractors - A Partial List ( Memento of October 17, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  48. Iraq Coalition Casualties: US Wounded Totals ( Memento from September 26, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  49. ( Memento from August 13, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 391 KiB)
  50. Iraq: Uranium Ammunition - The Shining Legacy. In: Weltspiegel . 3rd February 2013.
  51. Jump up ↑ Uranium Ammunition in Iraq: The Shining Legacy of the Allies. In: Der Spiegel . December 16, 2003
  52. IRAQ: The children and the dust. In: Der Spiegel . December 17, 2012
    The children of the Iraq war: How ruthless can photos be? , SpiegelBlog on January 2, 2013
  53. IPPNW : uranium ammunition. , The health consequences of uranium ammunition. (PDF; 3.9 MiB), IPPNW Report 2012, December 2012.
  54. Focus Depleted Uranium. ( Memento of March 18, 2010 in the Internet Archive ), accessed July 4, 2014.
  55. ^ Cultural Heritage of Iraq
  56. ^ Art Loss in Iraq ( Memento of February 6, 2004 in the Internet Archive )
  57. ^ Stephan Bierling: History of the Iraq War: The Fall of Saddam and America's Nightmare in the Middle East. Beck, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-406-60606-9 , p. 84 ( ); Clemens E. Ziegler: NATO war in Kosovo in 1999 and war in Iraq in 2003: international law investigation into the universal ban on violence and its exceptions. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2009, ISBN 3-631-58021-5 , p. 354; Andreas von Arnauld, Michael Staack: Security versus Freedom? Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-8305-1705-4 , p. 15; Kai Ambos, Jörg Arnold (Ed.): The Iraq War and International Law. Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2004, ISBN 3-8305-0559-0 , p. 142.
  58. 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 .
  59. James Glanz, Andrew W. Lehren: Growing Use of Contractors Added to Iraq War's Chaos - Iraq War Logs - WikiLeaks Documents. In: The New York Times. October 23, 2010, accessed October 23, 2010 .
  60. From Errand to Fatal Shot to Hail of Fire to 17 Deaths in the New York Times on October 3, 2007
  61. ^ National Priorities Project: Cost of War. ( Memento from October 12, 2005 in the Internet Archive )
  62. ^ Costs of Major US Wars (PDF; 155 KiB), CRS Report
  63. ^ Stephan Bierling: History of the Iraq War. The fall of Saddam and America's nightmare in the Middle East. CH Beck, Munich 2010, p. 217.
  64. ^ Zeit article on Joseph Stiglitz from February 26, 2008
  65. BBC article: BBC uncovers lost Iraq billions , June 10, 2008
  66. В. Путин: Война в Ираке грозит катастрофой всему региону . In: РБК . ( [accessed September 27, 2017]).
  67. ^ Forsa survey: Germans Overwhelmingly Oppose War in Iraq-Poll , November 13, 2002
  68. ^ Judgment of the 2nd Military Service Senate of June 21, 2005 BVerwG 2 WD 12.04 ( Memento of November 13, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF)
  69. BVerfG, 2 BvE 1/03 of May 7, 2008
  70. BVerfG, 2 BvQ 18/03 of March 25, 2003
  71. ^ Matthias Gebauer: James Bond in jeans and a vest. In: Spiegel-Online report of January 16, 2006 on BND activities.
  72. ^ Richard Norton-Taylor: Top judge: US and UK acted as "vigilantes" in Iraq invasion. Former senior law lord condemns "serious violation of international law". In: The Guardian. November 18, 2008.
  73. Tony Blair says he's sorry for Iraq War 'mistakes,' but not for ousting Saddam. (Video) CNN , October 25, 2015, accessed October 25, 2015 .
  74. Download list (chapters, appendices, summary); Der Spiegel, July 6, 2016: Investigation report on the Iraq war: British invasion was premature.