The Iraq War and Its Aftermath
After the Gulf War, Iraq was in a weakened state. The U.S. established "No-Fly Zones" in the south and north of the country, destroying any Iraqi military aircraft that wandered into the area. This was to help protect both the Kurds and Shiites who were chaffing under Saddam's harsh government. During the interlude between the Gulf War and the Iraq War, Saddam worked assiduously to build his military, and consolidate his hold on the country. There were many mass killings, concentration camps, torture chambers and prisons used against the Iraqi people. Estimates are that over 300,000 people were killed by the regime. Even children were imprisoned in harsh conditions to ensure the good behavior of their parents.
Because Saddam Hussein consistently flaunted the provisions of the peace agreement, economic sanctions were imposed on the country. Saddam attempted to get around these sanctions by bribery of foreign government officials in the highest places as well as within the United Nations. Oil and contracts were exchanged for goods and favors. He flouted U.N. mandates and inspection regimes regarding his development of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical, and biological). Many of these efforts were located, and Iraq was forced to dismantle them.
Yet, by the late 1990s and early in the new millennium Iraq seemed again to be working on weapons of mass destruction. All efforts by the U.N. to get Saddam Hussein to discontinue this process were met by a bureaucratic stone wall. To make matters worse, Saddam instituted a program where he paid the families of suicide bombers $10,000.00 to attack Israel. After an attack on U.S. soil by terrorists in 2001 at the Twin Towers and the U.S. Pentagon, the United States became very concerned about the possibility that Saddam Hussein's government was close to developing a super weapon that could be placed in the hands of terrorists. Intelligence estimates confirmed that this was not just possible but likely. The actions of Saddam in resisting U.N. inspections confirmed worldwide belief that the presumed weapons programs actually existed.
After many attempts by the U.N. to get Saddam to allow inspectors to do their job within Iraq, and an untold number of resolutions demanding he do so, the United States, Great Britain and several other allies decided to end the threat imposed by Saddam Hussein once and for all. Iraq itself was invaded. Iraqi forces were swiftly defeated in a textbook campaign by the allies. Saddam was deposed and captured, eventually to be tried and hung by a new Iraqi government.
In subsequent years there was a degree of turmoil. A republican form of government was established. However, violence and division continued for some time within the state, probably because of the diverse ethnic groups within the population (especially the Sunni and Shiite Muslim sects) as well as the infiltration of foreign terrorists bent on destabilizing the regime. At the time of this writing this process is continuing with U.S. and coalition forces maintaining a strong presence within the country in an effort to bring stability to Iraq and by extension to the region which surrounds it.