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What Happened in 2010: Iraq and Afghanistan

Monday, December 20, 2010

The year in Iraq and Afghanistan was marked by grim milestones in the US occupation, fraudulent and confusing elections, sudden changes in military command, and a lot of leaked information. Here's what you may have missed.

January 24

AFGHANISTAN Afghanistan election commission postpones parliamentary elections from May until September amidst insecurity about more violence in the wake of the US troop surge, potential voting fraud, and other logistical concerns.


February 13

AFGHANISTAN Coalition forces launch Operation Moshtarak, a NATO-Afghan joint offensive that aimed to remove the Taliban from the town of Marja, the last Taliban stronghold in the Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan. It is the largest joint operation of the war up to this point. The operation is considered an immediate success, but months later reports of violence in the area indicate that the insurgency has either returned or was never fully expunged.

Welsh soldiers raise the flag of Afghanistan in the country's Helmand Province. Source: Wikimedia Commons


February 28

IRAQ A US embassy cable reports that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki fired up to 376 officers from the Iraqi defense and interior ministries and replaced them with inexperienced political officers loyal to his Shiite party. The change is done under the guise of purging members left over from Sadaam Hussein's extinct Baath party.


March 7

IRAQ Iraqi elections are held. Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's secular party wins a narrow majority of parliament seats over Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's coalition, but not enough seats to create a majority government. Stalemate ensues, and parties begin long series of negotiations on how to set up a new government.

Allawi and his party received most of their support from Sunnis, who boycotted the last parliamentary elections in 2005. It is feared that if Allawi's party is not given sufficient power in the new government, effectively sidelining the Sunni minority who voted for them, instability in the country could increase ahead of the US military withdrawal set for the end of 2011.

Allawi, left, and al-Maliki. Source: Wikimedia Commons.


April 5

IRAQ WikiLeaks releases a video entitled "Collateral Murder," which shows an American helicopter opening fire on and killing over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad. Two of those killed were Reuters employees. The victims were suspected by the helicopter crew of being insurgents; but lacking conclusive evidence in either direction, the video sparked considerable debate about American Rules of Engagement and whether these soldiers acted irresponsibly and killed innocent civilians.


May 28

AFGHANISTAN Total number of US military deaths in and around Afghanistan since the war began reaches 1,000.


June 7

AFGHANISTAN The Afghanistan war enters its 104th month, making it the longest war in American history (that's taking the start of the Vietnam war to be the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964, though some dispute that fact.)


June 23

AFGHANISTAN Obama relieves General Stanley McChrystal of his command of military operations in Afghanistan over his controversial remarks made in a Rolling Stone magazine interview.

Source: Flickr user isafmedia

We are asking the decision makers to send him back to Afghanistan, this is the request of all people of the south. He is the kind of person who says little but does much, and his replacement would not be like him. We want him back in Afghanistan. If he is not back in Afghanistan, I think the ongoing work will remain incomplete and obviously there would be a big vacuum.

- Ahmed Wali Karzai, president Hamid Karzai's half brother.


June 30

AFGHANISTAN Senate unanimously confirms General David Petraeus as new commander of the Afghanistan war. Petraeus formerly led combat operations in Iraq from 2007 to 2008.


July 1

AFGHANISTAN Website icasualties.org issues a report showing that June 2010 was the bloodiest month for Western forces in the war's nine years. 103 coalition troops, 61 of them Americans, are listed as casualties. In July, forces suffer 63 American casualties, again breaking the record for US deaths in a month.

Coalition Forces Fatalities in Operation Enduring Freedom by Year and Month

Year

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Total

2001

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

5

4

12

2002

10

13

15

10

1

3

0

3

1

5

1

8

70

2003

4

7

12

2

3

7

2

4

2

6

8

1

58

2004

11

2

3

3

9

5

2

4

4

8

7

2

60

2005

2

3

6

19

4

29

2

33

12

10

7

4

131

2006

1

17

13

5

17

22

19

29

38

17

9

4

191

2007

2

18

10

20

25

24

29

34

24

15

22

9

232

2008

14

7

20

14

23

46

30

46

37

19

12

27

295

2009

25

25

28

14

27

38

76

77

70

74

32

35

521

2010

43

53

39

34

51

103

88

79

57

65

58

12

682

Source: icasualties.org


July 7

AFGHANISTAN Afghanistan Electoral Complaint Commissions disqualifies 36 candidates in parliamentary elections for ties to illegal private militias. It is expected that many more candidates with such ties went unpunished or unnoticed.


August 4

AFGHANISTAN General Petraeus revises Afghanistan rules of engagement, retaining NATO's counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy but placing more emphasis on the appropriateness of lethal force.


August 31

IRAQ In his second-ever televised address from the Oval Office. Obama delivers speech declaring combat operations in Iraq over. "It's time to turn the page," he says. For the 50,000 US troops remaining, their mission changes to assisting the Iraqi army.


September 18

AFGHANISTAN Afghanistan holds parliamentary election after being postponed from May 22nd. Fear of the Taliban insurgency keeps many voters away from the polls, especially in the Pashtun region of south and east Afghanistan. Fourteen people are killed. Following the election, the Electoral Complaints Commission receives more than 2,000 legitimate claims about unfair election proceedings.


September 31

IRAQ Iraq sets world record for a parliamentary system's delay between election day and the creation of a new government. Elections held on March 7th have taken almost seven months to be resolved.


October 1

IRAQ Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki releases members of the Mahdi army from prison to win support of Sadrists, members of an anti-American Shiite Islamic movement and perennial "kingmakers" of Iraqi politics. 

The Mahdi are a Sadrist militia that contributed to instability in the country and promoted violence against Sunni minorities. In 2008, Prime Minister al-Maliki was credited with rounding up and imprisoning the Mahdi. By releasing them in 2010, al-Maliki in effect makes peace with and receives backing from the Sadrists in parliamentary negotiations.


October 20

IRAQ Bahram Salih, prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, which has long sought an independent state in the northern enclave of Iraq, sets up a Kurdish security council that will weld the militias of the two Kurdish political parties into a single, 80,000-troop army. This comes as a reaction to the withdrawal of US forces, a key military ally for Kurds since the invasion in 2003, and al-Maliki’s packing Iraq's defense and interior ministries with Shiite loyalists.

The Kurdistan region of Iraq. Source: Wikimedia Commons


October 22

IRAQ WikiLeaks releases over 400,000 classified US documents on the Iraq war. The leak allegedly shows instances of prisoner abuse that went un-investigated, and 15,000 Iraqi civilian deaths that were previously un-reported by the US government.


First week of November

IRAQ Vice President Joe Biden and Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman travel to Iraq to ask Kurdish parties to cede presidency to a Sunni muslim from Allawi’s party, fearing that having Malaki’s party in power, backed by Shiite Sadrists, would cause further instability in the country. They are unsuccessful.


November 11

IRAQ Parties reach a power-sharing agreement. In the compromise, al-Maliki would remain Prime Minister while Allawi would lead new National Council for Strategic Policies, offering a check on al-Maliki’s power. President Jalal Talabani would also retain his position.

Ayad Allawi leads his party in a walkout from parliament to express dissatisfaction with the power-sharing agreement. The group was upset that parliament had not voted on the power-sharing agreement before voting for the president.

Two days later, Allawi's party returns to negotiations, and parliament approves the power-sharing agreement.


November 27

AFGHANISTAN U.S. occupation of Afghanistan now ranks longer than the Soviet War in Afghanistan of the 1980s.


November 28

IRAQ Allawi agrees to preside over National Council for Strategic Policies after meeting the U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad and commander of the U.S. forces.


December 1

AFGHANISTAN Complete results of September elections announced. Results widely perceived to be tainted by fraud, including bribery of election officials, individuals casting thousands of illegitimate votes, etc. At least 25 percent of ballots are thrown out. Big winners are the wealthiest candidates and those with connections to warlords. Pashtuns, who live in areas where the Taliban insurgency is active, come out under-represented.

The Karzai government announces that it will challenge the results, calling them "premature." Karzai himself is dissatisfied that only 100 of 249 seats in parliament are expected to be loyal to him.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. Source: Getty Images


December 7

IRAQ Ayad Allawi tells British newspaper that he is threatening to quit Iraq's power-sharing government, saying that it would not work the way it is being set up. A week later, he indicates to the New York Times that he will join it after all. Allawi's wavering puts Iraq's political stability in question, because by law, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki must form his new government by December 25.


December 13

AFGHANISTAN Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, dies at the age of 69.


December 16

AFGHANISTAN President Obama delivers a speech following the annual review of the Afghanistan war, which concluded that American troops could begin to withdraw in July 2011. The President reiterates that the United States' focus is on dismantling Al-Qaeda, not nation-building. "This continues to be a very difficult endeavor," he says, "but we are on track to achieve our goals."


December 21

IRAQ After nine months of political deadlock, Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approve a new government with Nouri al-Maliki retaining his post as Prime Minister and Ayad Allawi heading up the new National Council for Strategic Policies. This comes after Allawi was offered the post in November, then threatened to quit the government little more than a week later.

Want to know what else happened in 2010?

What Happened in 2010: Jobs and the Economy

What Happened in 2010: Health Care

What Happened in 2010: Climate and Energy

What Happened in 2010: Immigration

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Comments [1]

Barb from Colorado

Rules of Engagement are not only KEEPING our troops there much longer than necessary but are getting them killed or wrongly imprisoned! These "rules" are convoluted and give the enemy the UPPER HAND while unnecessarily endangering our troops. CATCH AND RELEASE IS A FAILED POLICY. WAITING TO BE FIRED UPON BEFORE FIRING IS A FAILED POLICY. LETTING OUR ENEMIES DROP THEIR WEAPONS AND SUDDENLY MORPH INTO ANOTHER "INNOCENT CIVILIAN" IS CONVOLUTED!
If you think our soldiers lives are more precious than our enemies, JOIN US:
http://www.facebook.com/WhiteHouse#!/pages/ROE-Rules-of-Engagement-US-Military/133982856628453

Dec. 25 2010 11:36 PM

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