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1991 uprisings in Iraq

1991 uprisings in Iraq

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The 1991 uprisings in Iraq were a series of anti-governmental rebellions in southern and northern Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 during the aftermath of the Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

. The revolt was fueled by the perception that the power of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

 was vulnerable at the time; as well as by heavily fueled anger at government repression and the devastation wrought by two wars in a decade, the Iran-Iraq War and the Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

. United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 also played a role in encouraging the uprisings, which were then controversially not aided by the U.S. forces present on Iraqi soil.

The revolts in the Shia-dominated southern Iraq involved demoralized Iraqi Army
Iraqi Army
The Iraqi Army is the land component of the Iraqi military, active in various forms since being formed by the British during their mandate over the country after World War I....

 troops and the anti-government Shia parties, in particular the Islamic Dawa Party
Islamic Dawa Party
The Islamic Dawa Party or Islamic Call Party is a political party in Iraq. Dawa and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council are two of the main parties in the religious-Shiite United Iraqi Alliance, which won a plurality of seats in both the provisional January 2005 Iraqi election and the longer-term...

 and Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Another wave of insurgency broke out shortly afterwards in the Kurdish
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 populated northern Iraq; unlike the spontaneous rebellion in the South, the uprising in the North was organized by two rival Kurdish party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

-based militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

s: the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan is a Kurdish political party in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan was founded on June 1, 1975, by coordinations between Jalal Talabani and Nawshirwan Mustafa...

 (PUK), and some long-term planning had taken place.

Although they presented a serious threat to the Iraqi Ba'ath Party regime, Saddam managed to suppress the rebellions with massive and indiscriminate force and maintained power. They were ruthlessly crushed by the loyalist forces spearheaded by the Iraqi Republican Guard
Iraqi Republican Guard
The Iraqi Republican Guard was a branch of the Iraqi military during the presidency of Saddam Hussein. It later became the Republican Guard Corps, and then the Republican Guard Forces Command with its expansion into two corps....

 and the population was successfully terrorized. During the few weeks of unrest tens of thousands of people were killed. Many more died during the following months, while nearly two million Iraqis fled for their lives. In the aftermath, the government intensified the forced relocating of Marsh Arabs
Marsh Arabs
The Marsh Arabs , also known as the Maʻdān , are inhabitants of the Tigris-Euphrates marshlands in the south and east of Iraq and along the Iranian border....

 and the draining of the Iraqi marshlands
Tigris-Euphrates river system
The Tigris–Euphrates river system is part of the palearctic Tigris-Euphrates alluvial salt marsh ecoregion, in the flooded grasslands and savannas biome, located in West Asia.-Geography:...

, while the Allies established the Iraqi no-fly zones
Iraqi no-fly zones
The Iraqi no-fly zones were a set of two separate no-fly zones , and were proclaimed by the United States, United Kingdom and France after the Gulf War of 1991 to protect the Kurdish people in northern Iraq and Shiite Muslims in the south. Iraqi aircraft were forbidden from flying inside the zones...

.

U.S. radio broadcasts


On February 15, 1991, President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

 announced on the Voice of America
Voice of America
Voice of America is the official external broadcast institution of the United States federal government. It is one of five civilian U.S. international broadcasters working under the umbrella of the Broadcasting Board of Governors . VOA provides a wide range of programming for broadcast on radio...

 radio saying:
On the evening of February 24, several days before the Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

 ceasefire
Ceasefire
A ceasefire is a temporary stoppage of a war in which each side agrees with the other to suspend aggressive actions. Ceasefires may be declared as part of a formal treaty, but they have also been called as part of an informal understanding between opposing forces...

 was signed in Safwan
Safwan
Safwan is a town in southeast Iraq on the border with Kuwait. It was the site of an Iraqi Air Force base.-Gulf War:Safwan is located in the south of Iraq at Iraqi Kuwaiti border , along the infamous Highway of Death from the Gulf War of 1991. The cease-fire negotiations between Gen...

, the Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

-based Voice of Free Iraq radio station, funded and operated by the CIA
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

, broadcasted a message to the Iraqis telling them to rise up and overthrow Saddam. The speaker on the radio was Salah Omar al-Ali
Salah Omar Al-Ali
Salah Omar Al-Ali was a member of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council, and Iraqi Minister of Culture and Information, serving from 1968 to 1970, and subsequently served as ambassador to Sweden, Spain and the United Nations from 1973 to 1981...

, a former member of the Ba'ath Party and the ruling Revolutionary Command Council
Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council
The Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council was established after the military coup in 1968, and was the ultimate decision making body in Iraq before the 2003 American-led invasion. It exercised both executive and legislative authority in the country, with the Chairman and Vice Chairman chosen by a...

. Al-Ali's message urged the Iraqis to overthrow the "criminal tyrant
Tyrant
A tyrant was originally one who illegally seized and controlled a governmental power in a polis. Tyrants were a group of individuals who took over many Greek poleis during the uprising of the middle classes in the sixth and seventh centuries BC, ousting the aristocratic governments.Plato and...

 of Iraq":
Al-Ali's radio broadcast encouraged Iraqis to "stage a revolution
Revolution
A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.Aristotle described two types of political revolution:...

" and claimed that "[Saddam] will flee the battlefield when he becomes certain that the catastrophe has engulfed every street, every house and every family in Iraq."

The uprisings



The turmoil began in Basra
Basra
Basra is the capital of Basra Governorate, in southern Iraq near Kuwait and Iran. It had an estimated population of two million as of 2009...

 on March 1, 1991, one day after the Gulf War ceasefire, when a T-72
T-72
The T-72 is a Soviet-designed main battle tank that entered production in 1970. It is developed directly from Obyekt-172, and shares parallel features with the T-64A...

 tank gunner returning home after Iraq's defeat in Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

 fired a shell into a portrait of Saddam and the other soldiers applauded. In Najaf
Najaf
Najaf is a city in Iraq about 160 km south of Baghdad. Its estimated population in 2008 is 560,000 people. It is the capital of Najaf Governorate...

, a demonstration
Demonstration
Demonstration may refer to:* Demonstration , a political rally or protest* Demonstration , a conclusive mathematical proof* Demonstration , a method of teaching by example rather than simple explanation...

 near the city's great Imam Ali Mosque
Imam Ali Mosque
The Imām ‘Alī Holy Shrine , also known as Masjid Ali or the Mosque of ‘Alī, located in Najaf, Iraq, is the third holiest site for some of the estimated 200 million followers of the Shia branch of Islam. ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib, the cousin of Muhammad, the fourth caliph , the first Imam is buried here...

 became a gun battle between Shia deserters
Desertion
In military terminology, desertion is the abandonment of a "duty" or post without permission and is done with the intention of not returning...

 and Saddam's security forces; the rebels seized the shrine as Ba'ath members fled the city or were killed. The uprising spread within days to all of the largest Shia cities of southern Iraq: Karbala
Karbala
Karbala is a city in Iraq, located about southwest of Baghdad. Karbala is the capital of Karbala Governorate, and has an estimated population of 572,300 people ....

, Hilla, Nasiriyah
Nasiriyah
Nasiriyah is a city in Iraq. It is on the Euphrates about 225 miles southeast of Baghdad, near the ruins of the ancient city of Ur. It is the capital of the province of Dhi Qar...

, Amarah
Amarah
Amarah , is a city in southeastern Iraq, located on a low ridge next to the Tigris River waterway south of Baghdad about 50 km from the border with Iran. It lies at the northern tip of the marshlands between the Tigris and Euphrates....

, Samawa, Kut
Kut
Al-Kūt is a city in eastern Iraq, on the left bank of the Tigris River, about 160 kilometres south east of Baghdad. the estimated population is about 374,000 people...

, and Diwaniya; smaller cities were also swept up in the revolt. There was also unrest in the Shi'ite slum of Sadr City
Sadr City
Sadr City is a suburb district of the city of Baghdad, Iraq. It was built in 1959 by Prime Minister Abdul Karim Qassim and later unofficially renamed Sadr City after deceased Shia leader Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr....

 (then-called Saddam City), in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

. On the day that each city rebelled, masses of unarmed civilians and small contingents of rebels converged in the streets. They descended on government buildings shouting anti-regime and pro-Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

ian slogans before staging an attack. Government forces fought back, but were either killed, captured or allowed to flee. Once in control, the rebels flung open the regime's prisons and interrogation centers and seized small caches of weapons.

The rebellion in the North (Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region of Iraq. It borders Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west and the rest of Iraq to the south. The regional capital is Arbil, known in Kurdish as Hewlêr...

) erupted on March 4, in the town of Rania
Rania
-Places:India* Rania, Haryana, a City in Sirsa District, Haryana state of India.* Ranya, a district in Sulaymaniyah Governorate, Iraqi Kurdistan...

, northwest of Sulaymaniyah
Sulaymaniyah
Sulaymaniyah is a city in Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq. It is the capital of Sulaymaniyah Governorate. Sulaymaniyah is surrounded by the Azmar Range, Goizja Range and the Qaiwan Range in the north east, Baranan Mountain in the south and the Tasluje Hills in the west. The city has a semi-arid climate with...

. Within 10 days the rebels controlled every city in the North, except Kirkuk
Kirkuk
Kirkuk is a city in Iraq and the capital of Kirkuk Governorate.It is located in the Iraqi governorate of Kirkuk, north of the capital, Baghdad...

 and Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

. However, on March 20 the Kurdish rebels captured Kirkuk. In Sulaymaniyah, Kurdish rebels captured the regional headquarters of the Iraqi Intelligence Service
Iraqi Intelligence Service
The Iraqi Intelligence Service , also known as the Mukhabarat, General Directorate of Intelligence, or Party Intelligence, was the main state intelligence organization in Iraq under Saddam Hussein...

; inside, they found torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

 devices smeared with blood; in retaliation, the rebels brutally killed the captured secret police
Secret police
Secret police are a police agency which operates in secrecy and beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime....

men. Ordinary government soldiers were however spared in an amnesty
Amnesty
Amnesty is a legislative or executive act by which a state restores those who may have been guilty of an offense against it to the positions of innocent people, without changing the laws defining the offense. It includes more than pardon, in as much as it obliterates all legal remembrance of the...

 and were issued safe-conduct passes to traverse Kurdish-held territory on their way home. In Arbil
Arbil
Arbil / Hewlêr is the fourth largest city in Iraq after Baghdad, Basra and Mosul...

, the rebels also captured and handed over to western human rights organizations the government documents related to the genocidal
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 Operation Anfal
Al-Anfal Campaign
The al-Anfal Campaign , also known as Operation Anfal or simply Anfal, was a genocidal campaign against the Kurdish people in Northern Iraq, led by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein and headed by Ali Hassan al-Majid in the final stages of Iran-Iraq War...

.

The March 1991 uprising gathered momentum as many of the government's regular troops and militiamen switched sides to the rebels. The army contained substantial anti-government elements; Shia Arabs accounted for 80% of the fighting ranks but only 20% of the officers. In the North, the defection of the government-recruited Kurdish Jash
Jash
Jash , or fursan is a type of collaborator, usually a military unit composed of people of Kurdish descent that cooperates with enemy combatants against the Kurdish army, Kurdish rebels, or the Kurdish civilian population...

 home guard militia gave considerable force to the revolt.

Suppression of the uprisings


With little more than small arms
Small arms
Small arms is a term of art used by armed forces to denote infantry weapons an individual soldier may carry. The description is usually limited to revolvers, pistols, submachine guns, carbines, assault rifles, battle rifles, multiple barrel firearms, sniper rifles, squad automatic weapons, light...

, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and some captured tanks and artillery pieces, the rebels had few surface-to-air missiles, which made them almost defenseless against Iraqi Mil Mi-24s and indiscriminate artillery barrage
Barrage
Barrage may refer to:In music* Barrage , a Canadian violin ensemble, or* Barrage , their self-titled debut albumIn engineering...

s. The central government responded to the uprisings with crushing force. According to Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

:
The Kurdish uprising collapsed even more quickly than it had begun. After ousting the peshmerga
Peshmerga
Peshmerga or Peshmerge is the term used by Kurds to refer to armed Kurdish fighters. Literally meaning "those who face death" the Peshmerga forces of Kurdistan have been in existence since the advent of the Kurdish independence movement in the early 1920s, following the collapse of the Ottoman...

 (Kurdish fighters) from Kirkuk on March 29, the Iraqi army rolled into Dahuk and Irbil on March 30, Zakho
Zakho
Zakho is a district and a town in Northern Iraq located a few kilometers from the Iraqi-Turkish border.Zakho is a province of the Dohuk Governorate. The city has 200,000 inhabitants. It may have originally begun on a small island in the Little Khabur which currently flows through the city...

 on April 1, and Sulaymaniyah, the last important town held by the rebels, over the next two days. The Kurds were pushed back to Kore, a small valley where a last stand was held. After the successful defense, Saddam ordered to halt his troops south of the valley. This battle is very famous within Kurdish lore and still inspires people to this day.

In the South, the government quelled all but scattered resistance by the end of March. On April 5, Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council announced "the complete crushing of acts of sedition
Sedition
In law, sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that is deemed by the legal authority to tend toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent to lawful authority. Sedition may include any...

, sabotage
Sabotage
Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is...

, and riot
Riot
A riot is a form of civil disorder characterized often by what is thought of as disorganized groups lashing out in a sudden and intense rash of violence against authority, property or people. While individuals may attempt to lead or control a riot, riots are thought to be typically chaotic and...

ing in all towns of Iraq."

The death toll was high throughout the country. The rebels had killed Baathist officials in many southern cities. In response, thousands of unarmed civilians were killed by indiscriminate fire from loyalist tanks, artillery and helicopters. Later, when security forces rolled into the cities, they detained and summarily executed
Summary execution
A summary execution is a variety of execution in which a person is killed on the spot without trial or after a show trial. Summary executions have been practiced by the police, military, and paramilitary organizations and are associated with guerrilla warfare, counter-insurgency, terrorism, and...

 people at random using the policy of collective responsibility.

Massacre of Iraqi Kurdish People by PMOI


According to the U.S. Department of State
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

 and the Foreign Affairs group of the Parliament of Australia
Parliament of Australia
The Parliament of Australia, also known as the Commonwealth Parliament or Federal Parliament, is the legislative branch of the government of Australia. It is bicameral, largely modelled in the Westminster tradition, but with some influences from the United States Congress...

, the Iraq-based Iranian rebel organization People's Mujahedin of Iran
People's Mujahedin of Iran
The People's Mujahedin of Iran is a terrorist militant organization that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran....

 (PMOI) is also accused of having assisted the Iraqi Republican Guard
Iraqi Republican Guard
The Iraqi Republican Guard was a branch of the Iraqi military during the presidency of Saddam Hussein. It later became the Republican Guard Corps, and then the Republican Guard Forces Command with its expansion into two corps....

 in brutally suppressing the uprisings. Maryam Rajavi
Maryam Rajavi
Maryam Rajavi is an Iranian politician who is President elect of National Council of Resistance of Iran, a front group for People's Mujahedin of Iran, since 1993. She is the wife of Massoud Rajavi, a founder of the People's Mujahedin of Iran...

, who assumed the leadership role of the PMOI after a series of years as co-leader alongside her husband Massoud Rajavi, has been reported by former members of the PMOI as having said: "Take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards
Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps
The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution , often called Revolutionary Guards, is a branch of Iran's military, founded after the Iranian revolution...

."
On July 13, 2003, New York Times published an article that in 1991 when Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

 used the People's Mujahedin of Iran
People's Mujahedin of Iran
The People's Mujahedin of Iran is a terrorist militant organization that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran....

 (Mujahedin-e Khalq, PMOI or MEK or MKO) and its tanks as advance forces to crush the Iraqi Kurdish people in the north and the Iraqi Shia people in the south, Maryam Rajavi
Maryam Rajavi
Maryam Rajavi is an Iranian politician who is President elect of National Council of Resistance of Iran, a front group for People's Mujahedin of Iran, since 1993. She is the wife of Massoud Rajavi, a founder of the People's Mujahedin of Iran...

 as then leader of PMOI's army forces commanded:
On December 14, 2006, Time Magazine published an article about PMOI and reported: "By the mid-1980s, the group (PMOI) had cozied up to Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

, who provided them with funds and a compound, Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad. The U.S. government has accused the group of helping Saddam
Saddam
–Saddam is an Arabic name which means "One who confronts", other meanings include: "One who frequently causes collisions", "Powerful collider", "One who causes a collision that had bad results", "Powerful confronter", "One who frequently crashes", or "Powerful commander"...

 brutally put down Iraqi Kurdish people in the early 1990s, and of launching numerous attacks inside Iran."

Exodus from cities


In March and early April, nearly two million Iraqis, 1.5 million of them Kurds, escaped from strife-torn cities to the mountains along the northern borders, into the southern marshes, and into Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and Iran. Their exodus was sudden and chaotic, with thousands of desperate refugee
Refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

s fleeing on foot, on donkeys or crammed onto open-backed trucks and tractors. Some were killed by army helicopters, which deliberately strafed
Strafing
Strafing is the practice of attacking ground targets from low-flying aircraft using aircraft-mounted automatic weapons. This means, that although ground attack using automatic weapons fire is very often accompanied with bombing or rocket fire, the term "strafing" does not specifically include the...

 columns of fleeing civilians in a number of incidents in both the North and South. Others were injured when they stepped on land mines planted by Iraqi troops near the eastern border during the war with Iran.

Beginning in March until July 1991 the U.S. and some of the Gulf War allies defended the Kurdish refugees from air attacks (shooting down two Iraqi Su-17
Sukhoi Su-17
The Sukhoi Su-17 is a Soviet attack aircraft developed from the Sukhoi Su-7 fighter-bomber. It enjoyed a long career in Soviet, later Russian, service and was widely exported to communist and Middle Eastern air forces, under names Su-20 and Su-22.-Development:Seeking to improve low-speed and...

 aircraft) and provided humanitarian assistance to them during Operation Provide Comfort
Operation Provide Comfort
Operation Provide Comfort and Provide Comfort II were military operations by the United States and some of its Gulf War allies, starting in April 1991, to defend Kurds fleeing their homes in northern Iraq in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War and deliver humanitarian aid to them.-Operation...

. In April, in Yasilova incident
Yasilova incident
The Yeşilova incident refers to an armed stand off that took place in April 1991 between the British Royal Marines and the Turkish Armed Forces at refugee camps for Kurds and Assyrians in Yeşilova , a small town in Turkey located 25 kilometers west of Iran.-Background:In March 1991, with the end of...

, British and Turkish forces confronted each other over the treatment of refugees in Turkey.

Draining of the Iraqi marshlands



In southeastern Iraq, thousands of Shia civilians, army deserters, and rebels began seeking precarious shelter in remote areas of the Hawizeh Marshes straddling the Iranian border. After the uprising, the Marsh Arabs
Marsh Arabs
The Marsh Arabs , also known as the Maʻdān , are inhabitants of the Tigris-Euphrates marshlands in the south and east of Iraq and along the Iranian border....

 were singled out for mass reprisals, accompanied by ecologically catastrophic drainage of the Iraqi marshlands and the large-scale and systematic forcible transfer
Population transfer
Population transfer is the movement of a large group of people from one region to another by state policy or international authority, most frequently on the basis of ethnicity or religion...

 of the local population.

Establishment of Kurdish Autonomous Republic




Fighting continued until October when an agreement was made for Iraqi withdrawal from parts of Iraq's Kurdish-inhabited region. This led to the establishment of the Kurdistan Regional Government
Kurdistan Regional Government
The Kurdistan Regional Government , , is the official ruling body of the predominantly Kurds-populated Kurdistan Region in Northern Iraq...

 and creation of a Kurdish Autonomous Republic in northern Iraq. A long positional war followed, and an estimated 100,000-150,000 Iraqi soldiers remained along the front, backed by tanks and heavy artillery and the Iraqi government established a blockade
Blockade
A blockade is an effort to cut off food, supplies, war material or communications from a particular area by force, either in part or totally. A blockade should not be confused with an embargo or sanctions, which are legal barriers to trade, and is distinct from a siege in that a blockade is usually...

 of food, fuel and other goods going to the new autonomous republic. The USAF
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 kept enforcing a no-fly zone
Iraqi no-fly zones
The Iraqi no-fly zones were a set of two separate no-fly zones , and were proclaimed by the United States, United Kingdom and France after the Gulf War of 1991 to protect the Kurdish people in northern Iraq and Shiite Muslims in the south. Iraqi aircraft were forbidden from flying inside the zones...

 over northern Iraq.

The general stalemate
Stalemate
Stalemate is a situation in chess where the player whose turn it is to move is not in check but has no legal moves. A stalemate ends the game in a draw. Stalemate is covered in the rules of chess....

 was broken during the 1994-1997 Iraqi Kurdish Civil War
Iraqi Kurdish Civil War
The Iraqi Kurdish Civil War was a military conflict which took place between rival Kurdish factions in Iraqi Kurdistan in the mid 1990s...

, when due to the PUK alliance with Iran, the KDP called in Iraqi support and Saddam sent his military into Kurdistan capturing Arbil and as-Sulaymaniyah, his forces however retreated due to the U.S. intervening by launching air raids on Iraq. Kurds further expanded their area of control after participating in the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

, which led to the recognition of Kurdish autonomy by the new Iraqi government.

Mass graves



Many of the people killed were buried in mass grave
Mass grave
A mass grave is a grave containing multiple number of human corpses, which may or may not be identified prior to burial. There is no strict definition of the minimum number of bodies required to constitute a mass grave, although the United Nations defines a mass grave as a burial site which...

s. Several mass graves containing thousands of bodies have been uncovered since the fall of Saddam Hussein in April 2003, notably in the Shia Arab south and Kurdish north. Of the 200 mass graves the Iraqi Human Rights Ministry had registered in the three years since the American-led invasion, the majority were in the South, including one located south of Baghdad that is believed to hold as many as 10,000 to 15,000 victims.

War crimes trial


The trial of 15 former aides to Saddam Hussein, including Ali Hassan al-Majid
Ali Hassan al-Majid
Ali Hassan Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti , , was a Ba'athist Iraqi Defense Minister, Interior Minister, military commander and chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service...

, over their alleged role in the suppression of a Shia uprising and the deaths of 60,000 to 100,000 people, took place in Baghdad in August 2007. Al-Majid had been already sentenced to death in June 2007 for genocide against the Kurds. He was convicted again and executed in January 2010.

U.S. non-intervention controversy


The Iraqi survivors and American critics of President George H. W. Bush say the president encouraged the rebellion after halting UN coalition forces at Iraq's southern border with Kuwait at the end of the Gulf War. Soon after the uprising began, however, fears of a disintegrating Iraq led the Bush Administration to distance itself from the insurgents.

Officials downplayed the significance of the revolts and spelled out a policy of non-intervention
Non-interventionism
Nonintervention or non-interventionism is a foreign policy which holds that political rulers should avoid alliances with other nations, but still retain diplomacy, and avoid all wars not related to direct self-defense...

 in Iraq's internal affairs. On March 5, Rear Admiral John Michael McConnell, director of intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Joint Chiefs of Staff is a body of senior uniformed leaders in the United States Department of Defense who advise the Secretary of Defense, the Homeland Security Council, the National Security Council and the President on military matters...

, acknowledged "chaotic and spontaneous" uprisings were under way in 13 Iraqi cities, but stated the Pentagon
The Pentagon
The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, Virginia. As a symbol of the U.S. military, "the Pentagon" is often used metonymically to refer to the Department of Defense rather than the building itself.Designed by the American architect...

's view that Saddam would prevail because of the rebels' "lack of organization and leadership." On the same day, Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney
Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney served as the 46th Vice President of the United States , under George W. Bush....

 said "it would be very difficult for us to hold the coalition together for any particular course of action dealing with internal Iraqi politics, and I don't think, at this point, our writ extends to trying to move inside Iraq."

U.S. Major General Martin Brandtner, deputy director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, added "there is no move on the [part of] U.S. forces...to let any weapons slip through [to the rebels], or to play any role whatsoever in fomenting or assisting any side." U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher
Richard Boucher
Richard A. Boucher is Deputy Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development . He took up post on 5 November 2009. Prior to joining OECD, he was the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, a post he took up on February 21, 2006...

 explained the next day on March 6: "We don't think that outside powers should be interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq." Consequently, U.S. occupation forces in Iraq stationed a few miles from Nasiriyah, Samawa, and Basra did nothing to help the anti-Saddam rebels.

The Administration sternly warned Iraqi authorities on March 7 against the use of chemical weapons during the unrest, but equivocated Iraq's use of helicopter gunships. The question of helicopters was also ignored in the ceasefire agreement of March 3, which prohibited Iraqi use of fixed-wing aircraft
Fixed-wing aircraft
A fixed-wing aircraft is an aircraft capable of flight using wings that generate lift due to the vehicle's forward airspeed. Fixed-wing aircraft are distinct from rotary-wing aircraft in which wings rotate about a fixed mast and ornithopters in which lift is generated by flapping wings.A powered...

 over the country. Some say that the use of helicopters, employed by loyalist forces with impunity to attack rebels and civilians alike, proved to be instrumental in quelling the insurrection. Some others say the ban on helicopters would only prolong the uprisings, but would not change their ultimate outcome.

On April 2, in a carefully crafted statement, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler said that the Bush Administration had "never, ever stated as either a military or a political goal...the removal of Saddam Hussein." President Bush himself insisted three days later, just as the Iraqi loyalist forces were putting down the last resistance in the cities:

In film


The southern rebellions were subjects of the 1999 film Three Kings by David O. Russell
David O. Russell
David Owen Russell is an American film director and screenwriter. He has been praised for the loose, comic energy that characterizes his work, and is notorious for his explosive confrontations with cast members.-Early life:...

 and the 2008 film Dawn of the World
Dawn of the World
Dawn of the World is a feature film written and directed by the Iraqi-French film director Abbas Fahdel.Starring Venice Film Festival revelation Hafsia Herzi and Hiam Abbass , Dawn of the World gives an unexpected account of the multiple impacts of the Iran–Iraq War, the Gulf War and the 1991...

by Abbas Fahdel
Abbas Fahdel
Abbas Fahdel is an Iraqi-French film director, screenwriter and film critic, born in Babylon, Iraq.Based in France since the age of 18 years, he studied cinema at the Sorbonne University until Ph.D....

, as well as the 1993 Frontline documentary Saddam's Killing Fields by Michael Wood.

See also

  • 1991 Uprising in Karbala
    1991 Uprising in Karbala
    The Shiite Uprising in Karbala was one of many major points of unrest in Iraq following the Gulf War. The uprising started after demoralized troops throughout Iraq began to rebel against Saddam Hussein. From March 5 to March 19, 1991, the city of Karbala became chaotic battlefield between the...

  • Hezbollah Movement in Iraq
    Hezbollah Movement in Iraq
    The Hezbollah Movement in Iraq is a Shi'a Islamist, Iraqi political party that is part of the United Iraqi Alliance coalition. It is not affiliated with the Lebanese group Hezbollah or other groups using the name. Hezbollah, or more literally Hizb Allah , means "Party of God" in Arabic.The party...

  • Human rights in Saddam's Iraq
    Human rights in Saddam's Iraq
    Iraq under Saddam Hussein had high levels of torture and mass murder.Secret police, torture, murders, rape, abductions, deportations, forced disappearances, assassinations, chemical weapons, and the destruction of wetlands were some of the methods Saddam Hussein used to maintain control...

  • Iraqi no-fly zones
    Iraqi no-fly zones
    The Iraqi no-fly zones were a set of two separate no-fly zones , and were proclaimed by the United States, United Kingdom and France after the Gulf War of 1991 to protect the Kurdish people in northern Iraq and Shiite Muslims in the south. Iraqi aircraft were forbidden from flying inside the zones...

  • Trial of Saddam Hussein
    Trial of Saddam Hussein
    thumb|300 px| Saddam Hussein sits before an Iraqi judge at a courthouse in Baghdad, 1 July 2004.The Trial of Saddam Hussein was the trial of the deposed President of Iraq Saddam Hussein by the Iraqi Interim Government for crimes against humanity during his time in office.The Coalition Provisional...

  • Iraqi chemical weapons program

External links