Time Line

August 1990: Iraqi troops invade Kuwait and seize Kuwaiti oil fields. In response, the United Nations (UN) imposes economic sanctions against Iraq.

January 1991: Under President George H. W. Bush, a military coalition led by the U.S. assembles in the Middle East. The Persian Gulf War (also called Operation Desert Storm) begins on January 17, when coalition warplanes strike Iraqi targets.

February 1991: Coalition forces liberate Kuwait and negotiate a cease-fire with Iraq. The Gulf War ends on February 28, 1991.

April 1991: The UN Security Council passes a resolution ordering Iraq to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, and to allow UN inspectors to verify Iraqi compliance.

1991–1992: The U.S. and Great Britain establish "no-fly" zones in northern and southern Iraq to protect Kurds in the north and Shiites in the south.

January 1993: President Bill Clinton accuses Iraq of moving missiles into southern areas of the country. Coalition forces attack suspected missile sites and a nuclear facility. Six months later, the U.S. fires cruise missiles at an Iraqi intelligence center after learning of a plot to assassinate former President George H. W. Bush.

August 1996: Operation Desert Strike: After Iraqi troops seize Erbil, a Kurdish city inside the northern "no-fly" zone, President Bill Clinton orders the U.S. military to launch cruise-missile attacks against Iraqi military targets.

December 1996: Oil for Food: The UN begins a program that allows Iraq to export oil in exchange for food for the Iraqi people.

Fall 1997: Claiming that U.S. members of UN inspection teams are spies, Iraqi leaders expel them. The UN withdraws other inspectors in protest. Diplomatic efforts lead to the re-admission of UN inspectors into Iraq.

December 1998: UN inspectors claim that Iraq is blocking their work, and they begin to leave the country. On December 16, President Bill Clinton announces Operation Desert Fox: Joined by British forces, the U.S. bombs suspected nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons sites in Iraq.

January 2002: President George W. Bush accuses Iraq of possessing weapons of mass destruction and says that the nation is part of an "axis of evil." Bush later insists that the world must confront the "grave and gathering danger" of Iraq. The President also says that the U.S. will act alone, if necessary.

November 2002: The UN warns Iraq to disarm or face severe consequences.

February 10, 2003: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) faces a crisis when France, Germany, and Belgium refuse to provide military support for Turkey in case of a war with Iraq. The military alliance of 19 Western nations reaches agreement a week later by bypassing France.

February 14, 2003: UN weapons inspectors tell the Security Council that they have found no weapons of mass destruction, but that Iraq omitted chemical agents and stocks of anthrax from its declarations. The inspectors also reported that Iraq had tested a long-range missile in violation of UN resolutions.

February 15, 2003: Protests against a possible war with Iraq take place in more than 350 cities worldwide, including New York, San Francisco, London, Paris, Rome, Moscow, and Cairo.

March 20, 2003: The U.S. goes to war with Iraq, dropping bombs on Baghdad.