On this day April 9, 2003
According to then President of the United States, George W. Bush and then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, the reasons for the invasion were “to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people.”
According to Blair, the trigger was Iraq’s failure to take a “final opportunity” to disarm itself of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that US and British officials called an immediate and intolerable threat to world peace. There also have been claims that the war was waged in order to take oil from Iraq. In 2005, the Central Intelligence Agency released a report saying that no weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq.
In a January 2003 CBS poll 64% of US nationals had approved of military action against Iraq, however 63% wanted President Bush to find a diplomatic solution rather than go to war, and 62% believed the threat of terrorism directed against the US would increase due to war. The invasion of Iraq was strongly opposed by some traditional US allies, including the governments of France, Germany, New Zealand, and Canada.
On February 15, 2003, a month before the invasion, there were worldwide protests against the Iraq war, including a rally of three million people in Rome, which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest ever anti-war rally. According to the French academic Dominique Reynié, between January 3 and April 12, 2003, 36 million people across the globe took part in almost 3,000 protests against the Iraq war.
Most of the Iraqi military was quickly defeated and Baghdad was occupied on April 9. Other operations occurred against pockets of the Iraqi army including the capture and occupation of Kirkuk on April 10, and the attack and capture of Tikrit on April 15. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the central leadership went into hiding as the coalition forces completed the occupation of the country. On May 1 an end of major combat operations was declared, ending the invasion period and beginning the military occupation period.