Islam and the Middle East; key historical events
Events in North Africa relating to the Islamic World also covered here
See separate page for Egypt
See Israel for events relating to the Palestinian State
See also Eastern Europe for events relating to Muslims in former Yugoslavia
See also Africa for main events in Algeria.
See also Iran
ISIS (not Syria) from 2013
Syrian Civil War 2011-now
Iraq USA War II 1991-2010
Iraq Kuwait War I 1990-91
Iran-Iraq Gulf War 1980-88
Lebanese conflict, hostages 1975-91
World War Two
Formation of Saudi Arabia
Anglo-French division of Middle East
Arab – Byzantine conflict
Syria – see Appendix One
31/12/2017, Cholera cases in Yemen, since April 2017, now stood at 994,751, with 2,226 cholera deaths, out of a total population of 28 million. Worst hit was the Yemeni port city of Al Hudaydah, with nearly 150,000 cholera cases in a population of 400,000.
26/9/2017, Saudi Arabia lifted the ban on women driving.
25/9/2017, Iraqi Kurdish independence vote. This vote was opposed by countries neighbouring Iraq because it might promote secession in their Kurdish regions. 93% in favour of independence from Iraq, on a turnout of 72%. Some anti-independence voters boycotted the poll. Turkey threatened sanctions, including a boycott of Kurdish oil exports.
5/6/2017, Two weeks after US President Trump visited the Middle East and expressed backing for Saudi Arabia, the Saudis and their allies in the region cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and closed the border. They alleged that Qatar was supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Iran.
2/1/2016, Saudi Arabia announced the execution of a prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr-al-Nimr, along with 46 others accused of promoting violent dissent. There were violent protests by Shia Muslims across the Middle East.
28/12/2015, Iraq retook Ramadi from ISIS
24/9/2015, 717 pilgrims died and 863 were injured in a stampede at Mina during the Haj, Mecca.
11/9/2015, A crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque, Mecca, killing 109 worshippers.
26/6/2015, Islamist gunmen stormed a tourist beach at Sousse, Tunisia, shooting dead 38 holidaymakers. The Tunisian holiday industry subsequently collapsed. Simultaneous terrorist attacks took place in France and Kuwait.
26/1/2015, Saudi Arabia led air strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen.
19/8/2014, ISIS beheaded a western hostage, James Foley.
15/8/2014, The United Nations passed a resolution backing sanctions on any country supplying, fighting for, or funding IS (ISIS).
14/8/2014, Mr Nuria al Maliki resigned after 8 years as Iraqi Prime Minister. He had backed the Shias against other ethnic groups, and his replacement, Haider al Abadi, 62, was to be more inclusive.
29/6/2014, ISIS declared a Caliphate’.
8/8/2014, The US carried out its first air strike against ISIS on Iraqi territory.
6/2014, Mosul, Iraq, fell to ISIS forces.
4/1/2014, ISIS forces took Fallujah, Iraq.
9/5/2013, ISIS was formed.
11/1/2013, The French army began operations against Islamic militants in northern Mali.
11/9/2012, Islamists attacked the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. The US Ambassador and three other US diplomats were killed.
1/9/2012, Islamist rebels captured the town of Douentza in Mali.
17/7/2012, In Libya, the General National Congress came to power. However it could not maintain stability in the country.
7/7/2012, Libya held its first post Ghaddaffi elections; the country was still politically unstable.
6/4/2012, Islamic militants unilaterally declared the secession of northern Mali as the republic of Azawad. Europe feared a new area of Jihadism in the Sahara.
27/2/2012, Protests in Yemen connected with the Arab Spring forced the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
22/1/2012, The head of the Transitional Council of Liberation in Libya resigned in protest over the slow pace of improvements in Libya.
20/10/2011, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed in Sirte, as National Transitional Council forces took control of the country.
20/8/2011, In Libya, Arab Spring rebels began to take over the capital, Tripoli.
18/8/2011, US President Barack Obama called on Syria’s President Assad to resign, and froze Syrian assets in the US.
3/6/2011, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh fled the country.
30/4/2011, NATO strikes in Libya killed Gadhafi’s youngest son.
21/3/2011, British MPs voted 557 to 13 in favour of airstrikes against Gaddafi.
19/3/2011, Arab Spring: civil war continued in Libya. NATO intervened to help the rebels.
17/3/2011, The UN Security Council authorised a no-fly zone over Libya. This effectively authorised French and Uk airstrikes against Gaddafi.
15/3/2011, Arab Spring: state of emergency in Bahrain.
10/3/2011, Saudi police opened fire on protestors.
25/2/2011, Arab Spring protests in Jordan.
22/2/2011, Arab Spring protests in Algeria.
20/2/2011, Arab Spring protests in Morocco and Iraq. Meanwhile over 200 people were killed during protests in Benghazi, Libya.
18/2/2011, Police opened fire on protestors in Bahrain.
15/2/2011, Arab Spring protests in Libya.
14/2/2011, Arab Spring protests in Bahrain and Jordan, also Benghazi in Libya.
12/2/2011, Clashes between demonstrators and police in Algiers.
3/2/2011, Arab Spring protests in Yemen.
See also Egypt for protests against Preisdent Mubarak
25/1/2011, Arab Spring protests in Egypt and Lebanon,
14/1/2011, In the turmoil of the Arab Spring, the Tunisian Government fell after a month of protests.
4/1/2011, Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi died after setting fire to himself on 17/12/2010. This sparked anti-government protests in Tunisia and other Arab nations, which became known as the Arab Spring.
1712/2010, The Arab Spring began when a Tunisian graduate set fire to himself in protest at police who stopped him trading without a permit, after he had failed to secure paid employment.
3/8/2010, US President Obama announced the end of official combat operations in Iraq.
3/1/2010, The UK and USA closed their embassies in Yemen due to threats of civilian unrest and Al Quaeda activity.
30/12/2006, Saddam Hussein was hanged for crimes against humanity.
5/11/2006, Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by the Iraqi Special Tribunal. He was hanged on 30/12/2006.
12/1/2006, 364 pilgrims were killed at the Haj, Mecca, during the ‘stoning of the Devil’ ritual.
2005, A referendum in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq gave a 99% vote for outright secession as the independent State of Kurdistan. This region had been beyond the de-facto rule of Baghdad since 1991. However by 2016 no actual declaration of independence had been made, largely due to competing factions within the Kurdish adminstrators of the region; this despite the break-up of Syria and establishment of Kurdish control in the north-east of that country too. The Kurdish ethnoc region also covers parts of western Iran and a large part of south-eastern Turkey too.
15/12/2005, Iraq held its first Parliamentary elections under its new constitution.
25/10/2005, US deaths in Iraq now amounted to 5,000.
19/10/2005, The trial of Saddam Hussein began.
26/9/2005, US Army Reservist Lynndie England was convicted by a military jury on 6 of 7 counts in connection with prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison, Iraq.
26/4/2005, Syria withdrew the last of its 14,000 soldiers from Lebanon, ending a 29-year military occupation of that country.
9/4/2005, Tens of thousands of demonstrators, many of them supporters of the radical cleric Moqtadr el Sadr, protested in Baghdad against the US occupation, two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, in the square where his statue was toppled in 2003.
14/2/2005, Rafik Hariri, Prime Minister of Lebanon, died.
30/1/2005, Iraq held its first elections, following the transfer of authority from America to Baghdad. Braving the risk of suicide bombers, some 8.5 million people, 60% of the electorate, turned out. However the Sunnis, 20% of the population, largely boycotted the poll. A Shi’ite coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance, won with 48% of votes cast; the Kurdistan Alliance came second with 26%. The Iraqi List Party, supporting Iraq’s US-backed interim Prime Minister, Ayad Alawi, came a distant third with 13% of votes cast.
18/1/2005, In Iraq, an archbishop was kidnapped by Iraqi gunmen. Violence and bombings occurred on a daily basis in Iraq as the elections scheduled for the end of January approached.
11/11/2004, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (born 1929) died of a brain haemorrhage and was buried in Cairo, aged 74. Mahmoud Abbas took over as head of the PLO.
8/11/2004, 10,000 US troops attacked Iraqi insurgents in the town of Fallujah.
28/6/2004, The US-led coalition formally handed back power to the Iraqi Government, led by Iyad Allawi, from the Shia majority.
3/2/2004, The CIA admitted there was no threat from weapons of mass destruction before the USA invaded Iraq.
1/2/2004, 251 pilgrims were killed at the Haj, Mecca, during a stampede at Mina, in the ‘stoning of the Devil’ ritual.
13/12/2003. Saddam Hussein was captured in a hole in the ground at a farm 10 miles south of his home town, Tikrit, by US and Kurdish forces.
9/11/2003, In Riyadh a suicide bomber blew up his lorry outside a housing compound, killing 17 people, mostly Saudi expatriate workers.
8/11/2003. The Red Cross pulled all their staff out of Baghdad and Basra, Iraq, calling the situation ‘extremely dangerous’. A bomb blast at the Red Cross HQ on 27/10/2003 had killed 12 people.
27/10/2003. 35 people killed in Baghdad in the bloodiest day since the war ‘ended’.
8/9/2003. George W Bush secured US$ 87 billion from Congress for the reconstruction of Iraq, and military spending over the coming year, bringing the grand total of US projected spending in Iraq to US$ 130 billion.
29/8/2003. Car bomb at a mosque in Najaf, Iraq, killed at least 83, including a top Shi’ite leader, Ayatollah Mohammed al Hakim. 175 were wounded.
21/8/2003. Saddam Hussein’s cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majd, known as chemical Ali, was captured by US forces.
19/8/2003. 22 people killed, including the UN envoy to Iraq, as a truck bomb hits the UN headquarters in Baghdad.
7/8/2003, (1) Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, who played a key role in the Bali nightclub bombing in 2002, was sentenced to death by firing squad.
(2) 17 killed and 60 wounded when a truck bomb exploded outside the Jordanian Embassy compound in Baghdad. Also today another US soldier shot dead elsewhere in Baghdad.
1/8/2003. The Hutton inquiry began into the BBC/Iraq dossier affair, see 22/5/2003 and 18/7/2003.
26/7/2003. Three US soldiers guarding a children’s hospital in Iraq killed and four wounded in a grenade attack. Two days earlier 3 US soldiers killed and 2 more persons wounded in an attack on a US convoy in Iraq. There had been regular killings of US soldiers in Iraq, about 2 or 3 a week.
24/7/2003. The US released gruesome photos of Saddam Hussein’s dead sons, Uday and Qusai, killed in a raid by US forces on 22/7/2003.
22/7/2003, Saddam Hussein’s sons, Udai and Qusai, died during a US air raid on Mosul, Iraq.
5/7/2003, A bomb killed seven Iraqi police recruits at a graduation ceremony in Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad.
30/6/2003. Nine Iraqis, including an Imam, killed in an explosion beside a mosque in Falluja. The US later claimed it was an accident during a bomb-making lesson.
24/6/2003. Six British military personnel killed and 8 wounded in two incidents in southern Iraq, both near Amara. Regular attacks on and killings of US soldiers continued in Iraq.
27/5/2003. Two US soldiers killed and 9 wounded in attack on army unit at Falluja.
26/5/2003. Further US soldiers died in Iraq as a US vehicle hit a landmine in Baghdad, killing one and injuring 3 soldiers. Also enemy fire killed a US soldier in a convoy near Haditha.
22/5/2003. Scientist David Kelly met with BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan, in a Charing Cross hotel. On 29/5/2003 Andrew Gilligan’s report was broadcast by the BBC on ‘Today’. It was claimed that the intelligence community was not happy with the claims in the ‘Iraq dossier’ (see 24/9/2002). Tony Blair denied this claim. On 1/6/2003 Andrew Gilligan claimed that Alistair Campbell, in The Mail on Sunday, had ‘sexed up’ the Iraq dossier. On 6/6/2003 Campbell complained to the BBC about Gilligan. On 26/6/2003 Campbell demanded an apology from the BBC, and on 27/6/2003 Gilligan told a BBC news reporter of his source (Kelly). On 4/7/2003 the MoD warned Kelly against further contact with the media. On 6/7/2003 BBC governors defended the Gilligan report. On 7/7/2003 Parliament cleared Campbell of ‘sexing up’ the dossier. On 9/7/2003 the press named Kelly as Gilligan’s source. On 18/7/2003 Kelly went missing and was found dead, allegedly having committed suicide. See 1/8/2003.
16/5/2003, In Casablanca, Morocco, 5 simultaneous suicide bombings struck at US and Israeli targets, killing 45.
13/5/2003. In Britain, Development Secretary Claire Short resigned over Iraq. The killings of US soldiers continued despite Bush’s declaration that ‘the war was over’, with a US soldier killed in an ambush on his convoy at Diwaniya. On 8/5/2003 a US soldier was shot dead whilst directing traffic in Baghdad.
12/5/2003, Synchronised suicide bombings against four western compounds killed 35 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
1/5/2003. President George Bush declared the Iraq war to be over. US troops controlled, in theory, much of |Iraq; however sporadic attacks on Allied troops, acts of sabotage on oil, water, and other infrastructure, and car bomb attacks on the UN building continued since then, throughout 2003.
16/4/2003. A huge demonstration by Shiites in Baghdad. The Coalition said this was proof that new liberties were available in Baghdad.
9/4/2003, US tanks rolled into Baghdad, to scenes of joy. A crowd pulled down a statue of Saddam Hussein, with help from US soldiers, and the head of the statue was dragged around the streets.
7/4/2003, The Iraqi city of Basra was captured from Saddam Hussein’s forces.
21/3/2003, The city of Baghdad was ablaze under the USA’s ‘Shock and Awe’ campaign in Iraq.
20/3/2003. A coalition led by the USA and the UK attacked Iraq. This was without UN authorisation, see 5/2/2003.
19/3/2003, The USA bombed Baghdad.
18/3/2003, British MPs voted 412 to 149 in favour of using force against Iraq.
16/2/2003, Millions of people worldwide protested against the US threat of war on Iraq.
5/2/2003, Against the opinion of UN weapons inspectors, US Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed to have evidence of weapons of mass destruction and weapons research facilities in Iraq. The USA and UK pressurised the UN for authorisation to attack Iraq, see 20/3/2003. Tony Blair, later dubbed ‘Tony Bliar’, claimed Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction at 45 minutes notice.
7/12/2002. Iraq issued a 12,000 page dossier of its weapons programme, but claimed it had no banned arms.
8/11/2002. The UN passed Resolution 1441, by 15 votes to 0, giving Iraq a final chance to comply with disarmament.
12/10/2002. A large bomb hit the Sari nightclub in Bali, a popular holiday destination for Australians and other Westerners, and the only Hindu island in the otherwise Muslim republic of Indonesia. 202 died and over 300 were injured, mostly Australian tourists. Al Quaeda, the organisation which hit the USA on '9-11', 2002, was blamed. Australia had been instrumental in helping East Timor to achieve independence from Indonesia, and the decadence of Bali did not fit with Islamic ideals.
11/10/2002, US Congress authorised the use of military force in Iraq.
24/9/2002. In Britain, a ‘dossier’ on Iraq’s alleged weapons capability was published. In it, Tony Blair claimed Iraq could launch ‘weapons of mass destruction’ at 45 minutes notice. See 22/5/2003.
12/9/2002. President Bush of the USA warned the UN that the USA will act if the UN cannot deal with Iraqi violations of sanctions. See 8/11/2002.
12/11/2001. Iraq said it approved of the World Trade Centre attack on 11/9/2001.
See USA for events relating to ‘9-11’attacks
16/2/2001, US and UK warplanes bombed the suburbs of Baghdad, killing 3 people.
12/10/2000, Suicide bombers rammed a dinghy full of explosives into the side of the US warship USS Cole in Aden, killing 17 sailors.
20/7/1999, The death of King Hassan II of Morocco prompted widespread mourning across the Arab world.
7/2/1999, King Hussein of Jordan (born 1935) died of cancer. His son became King Adbullah II of Jordan.
16/12/1998. Unscom withdrew weapons inspectors from Iraq after continued obstruction from visiting various sites. Between 16 and 19 December, US and Britain bombed Iraq (Operation Desert Fox) to destroy its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programmes.
31/10/1998. Iraq ceased all co-operation with the UN Special Commission which was set up to oversee the destruction of Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (Unscom).
3/10/1998, Al Quaeda joined with local Somali tribesmen in battle with US forces, and shot down two US helicopters, an incident known as ‘Black Hawk Down’.
29/9/1998, The US passed the Iraq Liberation Act, stating the US intention to remove Saddam Hussein from power and replace his regime with a democratic government.
20/8/1998, The USA launched attacks against the Al Shifa pharmaceuticals and chemical plant in Sudan and cruise missile attacks against Al Quaeda bases in Afghanistan in retaliation for the 7/8/1998 embassy bombs.
7/8/1998. Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda terrorists bombed the USA embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 people, and wounding over 4,000.
5/8/1998, Iraq suspended all co-operation with UNSCOM officials.
29/10/1997, Iraq banned UN weapons inspectors from its territory.
15/4/1997, A fire in a tent camp at the Haj in Mecca killed 340 and injured over 1,500.
3/9/1996. The US extended the southern Iraq no-fly-zone, established on 26/8/1992 south of 32 degrees, up to 33 degrees, just south of Baghdad.
31/8/1996, Iraqi forces launched a major offensive into the northern no-fly-zone and captured the city of Erbil from the Kurds.
12/7/1996. Saddam Hussein, Iraqi President, was reported to have foiled a coup attempt by 50 military officers.
25/6/1996. Bin Laden’s Al Quaeda group bombed the Khobar Towers HQ of the US Air Force in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. 19 Americans died.
13/11/1995, Seven died as a bomb exploded at a US military base in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
10/11/1995, Iraqi disarmament crisis; the UN intercepted 240 Russian gyroscopes and accelerometers en route from Russia to Iraq.
14/4/1995. The UN allowed Iraq to resume partial exports of its oil to pay for essential food and medicine. Iraq did not implement this until December 1996.
15/10/1994. The UN demanded that Iraq withdrew military units positioned near the border with Kuwait. Iraq complied.
7/7/1994, Troops from North Yemen occupied Aden.
14/12/1993. Yasser Arafat, PLO leader, made his first official visit to Britain.
27/6/1993. US forces launched cruise missile attack on Baghdad Intelligence HQ in retaliation for an attempted assassination of US President George Bush in April 1993.
8/1/1993. President Saddam Hussein of Iraq continued to defy calls by Britain, France, The USA, and Russia to move surface-to-air missiles away from the air exclusion zone in southern Iraq. Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz was defiant; however the missiles were in fact soon moved, to a location unknown to the Allies due to poor weather.
27/10/1992. Turkey sent tanks into northern Iraq as a security measure against Kurdish separatist guerrillas.
27/8/1992. The US established a ‘no-fly’ zone over southern Iraq, south of latitude 32 degrees.
3/8/1992. The US began forces manoeuvres in Kuwait, as a warning to Iraq.
7/7/1992. Iraq again obstructed UNSCOM weapons inspectors, refusing them access to the Ministry of Agriculture, where there may have been details of Iraq’s chemical weapons programme.
28/2/1992. Baghdad was still obstructing UN weapons inspectors teams, until sanctions were relaxed.
3/2/1992, The discovery of the lost city of Ubar, dated around 2000 BC, in the Arabian desert on the Omar-Yemen border, was announced.
1/1992, The self-proclaimed Muslim Parliament of Great Britain met for the first time. This meeting was prompted by the Salman Rushdie affair.
4/12/1991. The American correspondent Terry Anderson was freed by Islamic Jihad after 2,454 days in captivity. Held since 16/3/1985, he was the longest-held kidnap victim in Lebanon.
18/11/1991, Terry Waite was released from captivity in Lebanon (see 20/1/1987), along with another hostage, Tom Sutherland.
6/11/1991. The last of the oil wells set alight in Kuwait by retreating Iraqis was extinguished.
21/10/1991. The American Jesse Turner was released after five years as a hostage in Lebanon.
15/8/1991. Iraq was required by the UN to provide a list of all proscribed weapons and weapon development programmes.
8/8/1991. Hostage John McCarthy came back to the UK after 5 years and 3 months kidnapped in Beirut.
2/5/1991. The UN set a six-day deadline for Iraqi troops to withdraw from the Iraq/Kuwait border.
13/4/1991. Iran opened its borders and asked for Western help to deal with 1.5 million Kurdish refugees, as hundreds died each day from cold, hunger, and disease. Iran felt more help had been given to Turkey, which had not been as hospitable to the Kurds as Iran had. On 19/4/1991 the Allies took over ground for Kurdish refugees just inside Iraq.
10/4/1991. The USA ordered Iraq to cease all military activity within its borders.
9/4/1991. Customs officers in the West Midlands arrested four men from two firms over alleged export of machine tools to Iraq.
8/4/1991. The establishment of a UN safe haven for Kurds in northern Iraq was approved.
7/4/1991. Iran closed its border to fleeing Kurds, saying it had no more resources to cope with them. Iraqi forces heavily suppressed rebellions in the Shiite south and Kurdish north since the Gulf war ceasefire in March 1991.
5/4/1991. President Bush ordered US transport planes to drop supplies to Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq.
3/4/1991. Unscom demanded that Iraqi missiles with a range of over 150 kilometres must be removed, destroyed, or made harmless. UN Resolution 687 set out Iraq’s disarmament obligations.
2/4/1991. Turkey sought UN help as its army turned away thousands of Kurds at the border fleeing the Iraqi army. President Bush said he would not allow US troops to risk their lives in what was an Iraqi civil war. John Major sent £20 million of food aid to the Kurds but also would not intervene militarily.
31/3/1991, Kirkuk was recaptured by Iraqi forces, see 19/3/1991.
23/3/1991. Kurds were fleeing over the Iraqi border to Turkey and Iran after the Iraqi army, having defeated the Shiites in the south, turned on the Kurdish Peshmerga rebels. Many refugees died of cold in the mountains on the border.
19/3/1991. Kurdish rebels claimed to have captured Kirkuk, the main oil city of northern Iraq. See 31/3/1991.
16/3/1991. (1) Saddam Hussein, speaking publicly for the first time since the end of the Gulf war, claimed the Shiite rebellion in the south had been crushed. He admitted the fighting with Kurdish rebels continued in the north.
(2) Bush and Major said they would maintain sanctions against Iraq till it paid for the Kuwaiti war and got rid of its weapons of mass destruction.
10/3/1991, US troops began to leave the Persian Gulf.
5/3/1991. Republican Guards loyal to Saddam Hussein fired on Shia rebels in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. The Kurds in the north were also preparing to try for independence. Baghdad Radio announced that the annexation of Kuwait was annulled.
4/3/1991, The Kuwaiti Crown prince returned to Kuwait. There was massive destruction in Kuwait and much had been looted. Almost all of Kuwait’s 950 oil wells had been set on fire, creating a vast pall of black smoke and an oil slick covering hundreds of square kilometres in the Gulf. The Kuwaiti authorities began to impose martial law but there were determined calls for democratic reform in Kuwait.
3/3/1991. A peace agreement was reached between Allied and Iraqi forces after the Gulf War. In 1990 Iraqi forces under Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait, on August 2nd. A week later USA forces arrived in the Gulf and in January 1991 operation Desert Storm was launched against Iraq, supported by the USA, Saudi Arabia, and 27 other countries.
28/2/1991. Ceasefire in the Gulf. Fears of massive Allied casualties never materialised, and in the event Iraqi resistance crumbled and 250 Allied personnel were killed. Iraqi casualties are not known exactly but were probably between 35,000 and 100,000. President Bush called for the Iraqi people to overthrow Saddam Hussein, but gave no actual assistance and both a Shia uprising in southern Iraq and a Kurdish rebellion in the north failed. Iraq viciously reasserted its power and hundreds of thousands of refugees especially Kurds fled to Turkey across inhospitable mountain terrain. President Bush feared the coalition would collapse if his forces went as far as Baghdad and overthrew Saddam Hussein, an action not covered by the UN mandate.
27/2/1991, Saudi forces entered Kuwait City, evacuated by Iraqi invaders. US forces had moved in behind the Iraqi army and cut off its retreat. The US lost 184 men; the Allies took 80,000 Iraqi prisoners and an estimated 80-100,000 Iraqi soldiers died. Kuwait would take an estimated US$ 50 billion to rebuild, and Iraq would cost US$ 200 billion.
25/2/1991. Iraqi tanks and troops fled from Kuwait. The Allies pounded the retreating troops, not wishing to see Iraq keep its armour intact. Over 270 Iraqi tanks were destroyed and over 25,000 Iraqi soldiers captured as POWs. Many Iraqi conscript soldiers surrendered without a fight.
24/2/1991. Allies began land offensive against Iraq. Heading Operation Desert Storm was ’Stormin’ Norman’ US General H Norman Schwarzkopf. US troops crossed from Saudi Arabia into Kuwait and also crossed the Saudi border further west into Iraq, to wheel north and east and encircle Iraqi forces around Kuwait. This manoeuvre surprised Saddam Hussein, who may have been hoping to repeat the tactic of the Iraq/Iran war by luring US troops into frontal attacks and then massacring them.
22/2/1991. The USA said it would begin a full-scale land attack if Iraq did not withdraw from Kuwait by noon 23/2/1991. Iraq began systematically setting fire to Kuwaiti oil wells. 150 wells were fired, sending a huge pall of black smoke across the Gulf area. Five million gallons of oil a day were being destroyed.
18/2/1991. The US assault ship Tripoli and the guided missile cruiser Princeton were damaged by mines in the Persian Gulf during the Gulf War.
16/2/1991, During the Gulf War, two Scud missiles hit Israel; one fell in the Negev Desert near the Dimona nuclear reactor. Meanwhile a poll in Europe showed 1 in 3 people in favour of using nuclear weapons on Saddam Hussein if he used chemical weapons in the Gulf War.
13/2/1991. 500 Iraqi civilians were killed when the US bombed a civilian bomb shelter, believing it to be a military bunker.
28/1/1991. Iraqi troops invaded the Saudi border town of Khafji, abandoned by its residents as Operation Desert Storm began on 16/1/1991. Allied forces recaptured it on 31/1/1991.
27/1/1991. The Iraqis had laid 1 million mines in Kuwait to halt an Allied advance.
26/1/1991. Seven Iraqi warplanes fled to Iran.
25/1/1991. (1) Baghdad now had no water or electricity after continued bombing. Sewage pumping had ceased because of no electricity. Bridges had also been destroyed. However the Allies now realised that Saddam would not give in because of bombing alone and a land offensive will be needed. 16 Allied aircraft had been lost to anti-aircraft missiles in 10,000 sorties; most of the Iraqi air force remained protected in bomb-proof bunkers. The RAF bombed Iraqi runways.
(2) Iraq began pumping huge quantities of oil into the Gulf, to hinder Allied amphibious operations. A slick formed, two miles wide by ten miles long, harming wildlife.
24/1/1991. (1) The Gulf war was costing the UK nearly £30 million a day in munitions, lost equipment, and operations spending.
(2) The Allies captured the Kuwaiti island of Qaruh, the first part of Kuwait to be liberated from Iraq.
23/1/1991. Iraq suspended sales of petrol and diesel because half its refining capacity had been destroyed by Allied bombing.
22/1/1991, Iraq set fire to two Kuwaiti oil refineries and oil wells near the Saudi border. By the end of the war 732 of Kuwait’s oil wells had been set on fire.
21/1/1991. Iraq threatened to use shot-down Allied airmen as human shields against bomb attacks. Captured US airmen were paraded on Iraqi TV.
19/1/1991. More bombing of Baghdad, more Scuds hit Tel Aviv. Scud missiles were also fired on Riyadh, the Saudi capital.
18/1/1991. (1) Baghdad launched Scud missiles on Tel Aviv and Haifa. Saddam Hussein hoped to provoke Israel into attacking the Arabs, thereby getting the Arab world on his side. President Bush called on Israel not to retaliate and promised to equip Israel with Patriot missiles to destroy the Scuds in mid-air.
(2) Anti-Gulf war protests across the USA, with 1,400 demonstrators arrested. Many more protested in European cities, including Bonn, Berlin and Paris. However US polls showed 75% in favour of the war, up from 50% just before the war began; 80% were in favour in the UK. Anti-Western demonstrations took place across the Muslim world.
17/1/1991. Baghdad was heavily bombed, also other Iraqi military targets; Iraq fired 8 Scud missiles into Israel.
16/1/1991. Operation Desert Storm began. Phase One involved heavy bombing of Iraq, as US warships in the Gulf launched Cruise Missiles on Baghdad. also gaining US air superiority. In the first 24 hours, US aircraft flew 400 missions against 60 targets in Iraq. Phase Two involved destroying any Iraqi nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons capability, and Phase Three involved pounding the Iraqi Army from the air to pave the way for a ground invasion. Iraq attacked |Israel, which had taken no action against Iraq.
15/1/1991. The UN deadline for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait passed, see 31/8/1990 and 29/11/1990.
12/1/1991. The US Congress authorised the use of force against Iraq.
22/12/1990. Saddam Hussein announced that he would never relinquish Kuwait and, if attacked, would launch missiles and chemical weapons on Israel.
6/12/1990, Saddam Hussein announced that all 34,000 foreign hostages held in Iraq since the invasion of Kuwait were now free to leave.
29/11/1990. The United Nations, in Resolution 678, authorised the use of ‘all necessary means’ if Saddam Hussein did not leave Kuwait by 15/1/1991, five weeks away. This was the first authorisation of the use of force by the UN since the Korean War.
19/11/1990. Saddam Hussein sent another 250,000 troops to Kuwait.
11/11/1990. The UN Security Council passed Resolution 688, giving Iraq until 15/1/1991 to withdraw from Kuwait.
9/11/1990. President Bush announced a doubling of US forces in the Gulf.
24/10/1990. Edward Heath returned from Iraq with hostages. On 21/10/1990 Heath had had a 3-hour meeting with Saddam Hussein to negotiate the hostages’ release.
13/10/1990, Syrian forces invaded Lebanon and ousted General Michel Aoun’s government. This consolidated Syria’s 14-year occupation of Lebanon.
19/9/1990, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein offered to release all Western hostages if the US withdrew from the Gulf and ended its blockade.
6/9/1990, (1) Margaret Thatcher told the Commons that British troops would be sent to the Gulf as part of a Coalition Force to re-establish the independence of Kuwait.
(2) Saudi Arabia invited US troops and aircraft onto its territory. President Bush sent 200,000 troops to Saudi Arabia to forestall any invasion by Iraq.
5/9/1990. President Gorbachev held fruitless talks with the Iraqi foreign minister, Tariq Aziz.
31/8/1990. The UN began talks with Iraq. 60,000 US troops were now in the Gulf. UN Resolution 678 authorised the use of force against Iraq if it had not withdrawn from Kuwait by 15/1/1991. Saddam Hussein urged on Islamic fundamentalists who argued for war against the US and linked the issue to the cause of West Bank Palestinians, calling for Israeli withdrawal there and from the Gaza Strip.
29/8/1990. In Vienna, OPEC states agreed to boost production to make up for the shortfall caused by sanctions on Iraq.
28/8/1990. Iraq formally annexed Kuwait as its ‘19th province’; Kuwait City was renamed ‘Kadimah’.
27/8/1990, The US expelled 36 of the 55 staff at Iraq’s Washington Embassy.
26/8/1990. The US said it would allow time for sanctions to bite before attacking Iraq.
24/8/1990, The Irish hostage Brian Keenan was released from Beirut.
23/8/1990, Saddam Hussein made a propaganda blunder when he appeared on TV with Western hostages, stroking the hair of 5-year-old Stuart Lockwood.
22/8/1990. Jordan closed its Iraqi border to stem a flood of refugees. Over 40,000 had already fled to Jordan, mainly people of Egyptian, Far Eastern, or Indian/Pakistani origin. Jordan hosted 140,000 refugees, mostly destitute.
16/8/1990. The US began a massive arms build-up in the Gulf, called Operation Desert Storm. The US sent 20 Stealth Fighters, 30,000 troops, and anti-tank weapons. Britain, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, and Saudi forces were also on alert, and to a lesser extent, USSR naval forces. On 19/8/1990 Pakistan denounced the invasion of Kuwait and sent 5,000 troops to Saudi Arabia.
13/8/1990. Iraq ordered all Westerners in Iraq to assemble at three hotels prior to being taken to key military installations to serve as ‘human shields’. Britain protests to Iraq after Iraqi border guards shoot dead a British businessman attempting to flee Iraqi-occupied Kuwait.
10/8/1990. 13 of the 21 members of the Arab League agree to send forces against Iraq.
9/8/1990, US forces began arriving in Saudi Arabia, en route to liberate Kuwait.
8/8/1990, Iraq announced the official annexation of Kuwait.
7/8/1990. Saudi Arabia and Turkey closed Iraqi oil pipelines running through their territory.
6/8/1990. The UN imposed sanctions on Iraq.
4/8/1990. President Bush ordered US troops to the Gulf. The European Community froze Kuwaiti assets, against use by Iraq.
2/8/1990. Iraq invaded Kuwait, taking control after eight hours. Iraq accused Kuwait of stealing oil from Iraqi oilfields. The Kuwaiti Royal family fled to Saudi Arabia and Iraq installed a puppet government, claiming Kuwait as ‘Iraq’s 19th province’. Iraqis seized 35 British servicemen in Kuwait. The USA sent troops to the Gulf. Egypt demanded that Iraq withdraw. Of the Gulf states, Egypt and Iran were most hostile to Iraq; Libya and the PLO were most sympathetic. Oil prices rose to $26 a barrel (see 27/7/1990). Jordan was caught in the middle, with links to Iraq and vulnerable to any UN embargo against Iraq. There were concerns that Iraq would go on to attack Saudi Arabia, as Saddam Hussein called for an uprising to topple the Saudi Royal Family, and a Jihad (Holy War) against Israel.
Oil production (barrels/day)
Saddam Hussein claimed to have been invited to invade by a ‘free interim government’, which had supposedly seized control from the Emir of Kuwait. He also claimed Kuwait was no longer an independent state but the 19th province of Iraq.
1/8/1990. Talks in Jeddah to resolve Iraq’s claim against Kuwait failed.
29/7/1990. King Hussein of Jordan travelled to Baghdad to try and ease tension between Iraq and Kuwait.
27/7/1990 In an attempt to avert military action by Iraq, OPEC agreed to cut production and raise the price of oil, for the first time in ten years. The oil price was to rise from $18 to $21 a barrel; Kuwait had been openly flouting OPEC production quotas. Iraq demanded that Kuwait forgive a US$25 billion loan extended during the Iraq/Iran war, claiming Iraq was also defending Kuwait. In 2013 the oil price was around US$ 100 a barrel.
24/7/1990. Iraq sent 30,000 troops to the Kuwait border, accusing Kuwait of stealing Iraqi oil. Most observers believed this was only a bluff. See 19/7/1990, and 3/8/1990.
23/7/1990. The US State Department declared it had ‘no special defence or security commitments to Kuwait’.
19/7/1990. Saddam Hussein expressed his anger at other Arab oil states who were ‘overproducing’, so holding down the price of oil, and ‘damaging the Iraqi economy’. States such as Kuwait had considerable shareholdings in Western companies, so benefited by a lower oil price. Iraq, on the other hand, was building up a huge army from its large and growing population, so wanted a high oil price to fund this. This was one of Iraq’s reasons for invading Kuwait. See 24/7/1990.
9/7/1990. (1) The Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, denied he had nuclear weapons.
(2) Israeli jets struck at Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon.
2/7/1990. 1,426 Muslims were killed in a stampede in a pedestrian tunnel in Mecca. In 43 Centigrade heat, air conditioning failed in a tunnel containing 5,000 pilgrims. Panic and a stampede broke out, and 1,400 were crushed to death.
22/5/1990, The leaders of the Yemen Arab Republic and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen agreed to merge their two countries.
23/4/1990, Robert Polhill, aged 55, kept hostage in Beirut for 39 months, was released. Libya’s Colonel Gaddaffi had called for all Western hostages to be released. Radical groups such as Abu Nidal held more captives.
11/4/1990, British customs seized what were allegedly parts for an Iraqi ‘supergun’, 130 feet long, to be shipped from Teesport, Middlesbrough. The gun was expected to be able to fire a 36-inch shell for over 200 miles, which could be conventional, nuclear or biological. The manufacturers, Sheffield Forgemasters, said the pipes were for the oil industry. On 2/4/1990 the gun’s designer, Canadian-born designer, Dr Gerald Bull, was mysteriously killed in Brussels, allegedly by the Mossad, the Israeli secret service.
28/3/1990. Customs officials in the UK intercepted a cargo of 40 nuclear detonators bound for Iraq.
10/3/1990, Farzad Bazoft, a reporter working for The Observer, was sentenced to death in Iraq for spying. He was hanged on 15/3/1990.
11/1989, Iraq forcibly moved between 100,000 and 500,000 people (mostly Kurdish villagers) away from its borders with Iran and Turkey in order to create an uninhabited ‘sccurity zone’.
22/11/1989, A bomb exploded in West Beirut near the motorcade of the Lebanese President, Rene Moawad, killing him and 23 others.
23/10/1989, 62 members of the Lebanese Parliament agreed to an equal power distribution between Christians and Muslims.
24/9/1989. The Arab League negotiated a ceasefire in Lebanon.
4/1/1989, British Muslims in Bradford ritually burnt a copy of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses.
8/8/1988. The Iran-Iraq war ended after 8 years, and 1 million casualties. A further 1.7 million were wounded, 1.5 million made homeless, and US$ 400 billion of the two country’s resources had been expended. Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran accepted resolution 598 of the UN Security Council calling for a ceasefire, despite earlier pledging to fight until total victory had been achieved.
25/5/1988. The Iranians suffered reverses on land in their war against Iraq. They were driven off the Fao Peninsula and off land east of Basra (both in Iraq).
1/4/1988, Iraq was accused of using poison gas on Kurdish villagers.
20/3/1988. Iraqi planes attacked the Iranian oil terminal at Kharg Island, killing 54. Two supertankers were hit and exploded into flames. The Iraqis had more fighter planes than the Iranians. Iraq and Iran continued to fire missiles into each other’s capital cities.
16/3/1988. News broke that Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons on Halabja, a Kurdish town. 5,000 Kurds died.
20/12/1987. Iraq claimed it had repulsed an attack by two Iranian brigades 125 miles north of Basra. Iran claimed it was a successful lightning raid.
31/7/1987, 400 Iranian pilgrims died in clashes with Saudi security forces in Mecca.
17/5/1987. Iraqi Exocet missiles hit the USS Stark in the Gulf, killing 37 and injuring 21 sailors. Baghdad said it was an accident.
20/1/1987. Terry Waite, envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, was taken hostage in Lebanon. He was not released until 18/11/1991. His captors knew he was linked to the Irangate scandal and believed he was a CIA spy. In fact he had been sent by the Archbishop of Canterbury to negotiate the release of other hostages in Lebanon.
28/10/1986, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia dismissed Sheikh Yamani from his post at the Oil Ministry. King Fahd was dissatisfied with the low price Yamani had set for Saudi oil.
27/12/1985, At Rome and Vienna airports, Abu Nidal terrorists opened fire, killing 18 and injuring 120.
7/10/1985. Palestinian terrorists hijacked the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro in the Mediterranean, killing a US passenger. The terrorists surrendered two days later.
17/8/1985, Iraqi jet fighters carrying French Exocet missiles bombed the main Iranian oil terminal at Kharg Island.
1/6/1985, A TWA airliner flying from Athens to Rome was hijacked by Islamist terrorists and forced to fly to Beirut, where the hostages were held for 17 days.
18/3/1985. Both Iran and Iraq claimed victory in one of the biggest battles in the Gulf War, six days after an Iranian offensive began near Basra.
16/3/1985, American journalist Terry Anderson was kidnapped in Lebanon, see 4/12/1991.
9/10/1984, Jordan mended relations with Egypt when Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak visited Amman. Egypt had been despised by the Arab world since the late President Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty with |Israel at Camp David in 1979. Now King Hussein of Jordan met with Arab hostility for mending relation with Egypt, a move sparked by problems in the Jordanian economy arising from a downturn in trade resulting form the Iran-Iraq war.
4/9/1984. A large car bomb killed 23 at the US Embassy in Beirut.
20/12/1983, The PLO were forced out of Lebanon. The Syrian Army forced Yasser Arafat and 4,000 supporters to leave Tripoli, under arrangement of safe passage out by the UN.
5/8/1983, A bomb killed 15 at a Lebanese mosque.
18/4/1983, The US Embassy in Beirut was hit by a car bomb, killing 63 people.
7/2/1983, Iran opened a new offensive in the south-east of Iraq.
13/6/1982. King Khalid of Saudi Arabia died. His brother, Fahd, became King.
24/5/1982, Iranian troops retook Khorramshahr.
31/3/1982. A new offensive by Iran in the 16-month old Iran/Iraq war broke the military stalemate that had already taken 100,000 lives. By the end of March the Iranians claimed to have taken 16,000 Iraqi prisoners, and by May the Iranians had taken the key border town of Khorramshahr and begun to invade Iraqi territory. In the next few months all Iranian territory was freed from Iraqi forces. President Saddam Hussein of Iraq reacted by launching air attacks on Iranian oil installations in the Gulf. Iraq was losing the war and called for a ceasefire but Iran was determined to press on and oust President Hussein from power.
See also Israel for Israeli attacks in Lebanon
15/12/1981, A car bomb destroyed the Iraqi Embassy in Beirut, killing 61 people. This was the first modern suicide bombing. Syria was blamed.
22/6/1981, Hamas attacked a travel agent in Greece, killing two people.
7/6/1981. Israeli planes bombed an Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak, Iraq.
24/9/1980. Iraq invaded Iran, making initial territorial gains. But by 1981 these were lost and Iran occupied some border areas of Iraq. The Iranians could not capture Baghdad or Basra, despite sending 250,000 men into battle. Iraq probably responded with poison gas. In 1984 the action switched to the Persian Gulf. Iraq attacked ships visiting Iranian ports, probably hoping for an Iranian blockade of Iraqi oil exports, which would have angered the West. Iran attacked ships serving Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, to deter them from supporting Iraq. Iran suffered more, as its tanker oil revenues plummeted. By March 1988 Iranian gains in Iraq had been recaptured and the border was virtually unchanged; Iran then agreed to a ceasefire.
23/9/1980. Iranian planes attacked the petro-chemical complex at Zubayr, Iraq. Four Britons and three Americans were killed.
22/9/1980. Iraqi aircraft attacked Iranian bases after some weeks of fighting on the Iran-Iraq border. Iraqi troops also entered Iranian territory. This was the beginning of the Gulf War; Iraq wanted total control of the Shatt-El-Arab waterway, for oil exports, but Iran claimed their mutual border ran down the middle of this waterway.
9/1/1980, Saudi Arabia beheaded 63 Shi’ite Muslim fanatics for their role in the siege of the Grand Mosque in Mecca from 23 November 1979. 500 armed extremists had held thousands of Muslim pilgrims hostage, and Saudi Arabia feared Iranian attempts to overthrow its government. Iran protested at the executions, and the US was concerned about complications to the Iranian US hostages crisis.
24/11/1979, Saudi troops stormed the Great Mosque in Mecca to evict Iranian religious fanatics.
23/11/1979. Militant Sunni Muslims occupied the Grand Mosque
16/7/1979, Iraqi President Hasan al Bakr resigned. Vice President Saddam Hussein replaced him.
1978, The Regents Park Mosque opened in London.
14/12/1978. Newsweek looked at the growing influence of Islam in
13/8/1978, A large bomb in
24/6/1978, The President of North Yemen was killed by a bomb as he received the Credentials of a new ambassador from South Yemen.
20/6/1976, Unrest in
17/6/1976, The US Ambassador to Lebanon, Francis Meloy, was assassinated in Beirut. Washington advised all US citizens to leave Lebanon.
22/1/1976, Ceasefire agreement in
12/1/1976, The UN Security Council voted 12-1 to admit the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
1975, The Shah of Iran and Saddam Hussein of Iraq concluded the Algiers Agreement. Under its terms, Iraq ceded ceded border areas north of the Shatt el Arab to iran, and agreed that the Iran-Iraq border should run down the middle of this waterway, not along the Iranian low-water mark on the north. In return Iran ceased military assistance to the Kurdish rebeks in northern Iraq. Saddam Hussein’s subsequent abrogation of this Agreement effectively started the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88).
15/9/1975. Civil war broke out in
broke out in Beirut between Christians and Moslems.
The fighting was sparked by a Phalangist attack on a Palestinian bus in Ain El
Remmeneh, and led to 13 years of civil war in
7/1/1975, OPEC agreed to raise crude oil prices by 10%.
14/10/1974, The United Nations recognised the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
23/12/1973. OPEC quadrupled the price of crude oil.
10/4/1973, Israeli special forces completed an operation in Lebanon to attack terrorist targets there.
For Yom Kippur war see Israeli history.
28/11/1972, North and South Yemen agreed to unify.
7/7/1972, Talal bin Abdullah, King of Jordan, died.
1/6/1972. Iraq nationalised the Iraq Petroleum Company.
2/12/1971. United Arab Emirates established.
1/9/1971, Qatar became independent.
14/8/1971. Bahrain became independent.
27/9/1970, PLO leader Yasser Arafat signed a truce with King Hussein of Jordan after the PLO had been ejected from Jordan in a 10-day fight known to the PLO as Black September.
30/6/1969, Spain returned the enclave of Ifni to Morocco; however the towns of Ceuta and Melilla were retained.
30/11/1967. The British withdraw from Aden, and the Republic of South Yemen was formed.
1/9/1967, At a meeting in Khartoum, the Arabs decided to lift the oil embargo that had been imposed on the West since the Six Day War.
2/9/1965, Tahir Yahya was forced to resign as Prime Minister of Iraq. The vacancy was filled four days later by Arif Abd ar-Razzaq, who fled the country on September 17 after only 10 days in office.
2/11/1964. King Faisal became King of Saudi Arabia, succeeding his brother.
3/5/1964, In the Lebanese general election, Independent candidates won the majority of seats, on a voter turnout of 53.0%.
14/5/1963, Kuwait was admitted to the United Nations.
21/3/1963. Aden joined the South Arabian Federation.
1962, Oil production began in Abu Dhabi.
12/1962, Libya centralised its government. The previous federal system, of four provincial governments and one central authority, produced too much inter-provincial rivalry.
20/7/1961, In a move to thwart Iraqi claims on Kuwait, the Arab League admitted Kuwait as a member.
1/7/1961. British troops were stationed in
Kuwait in case of an attack by Iraq. In
25/6/1961, Iraq claimed newly-independent Kuwait as Iraqi, on the grounds that both had been part of the Ottoman Empire and arbitrarily divided by Britain.
19/6/1961, Kuwait became independent.
21/12/1960. King Saud took over the Saudi Arabian government.
7/1959, After two years of unsuccessful exploration by oil companies in Libya, the large Zelten Field was discovered in the Sirte Basin. In 1963, Libyan crude oil exports exceeded 20 million tons, and reached 125 million tons in 1968.
16/3/1959. The USSR lent money to Iraq.
2/11/1958. Last British troops left Jordan.
30/7/1958, A left-wing coup overthrew the Iraqi monarchy. The West feared a Middle Eastern domino effect.
15/7/1958, US troops landed near Beirut to protect US lives and property during rioting.
14/7/1958. King Faisal of Iraq was assassinated in a military coup led by General Kasseem, and a Republic was declared.
2/5/1958, State of
9/3/1958, Yemen merged with the
14/2/1958, The Arab Federation of Iraq and Jordan was proclaimed.
1957, The Eisenhower Doctrine was declared by the USA. President Eisenhower stated that the Middle east was vital to its interests and it would give military aid to any country on the region that requested it. This Doctrine was aimed at curbing the influence of the USSR in the region.
11/7/1957. The Aga Khan died in
16/1/1957. UK forces repelled an
attempted invasion of the colony of Aden by Yemeni forces.
31/3/1956, The last British soldiers left Egypt, and 74 years of British military presence in Egypt ended, as the Grenadier Guards and Life Guards embarked at Port Said, Suez.
21/11/1955, The first meeting of the Permanent Council of the Baghdad Pact, later called CENTO, was held.
9/11/1953, King Ibn Saud (1880-1953) of
2/5/1953, King Hussein II became King of Jordan, succeeding his father King Talal, who was deposed in August 1952.
11/8/1952. Hussein became King of Jordan. He was pro-Western, like the Saudi ruler, King Saud, and supported Arab Nationalism against a growing movement for Arab Socialism. His father, King Talal, had been deposed by the Jordanian Parliament due to mental illness.
23/4/1952, The oil pipeline between
26/1/1952, In response to the incident of 25/1/1952 mobs in Cairo led by the Muslim Brotherhood attacked British buildings; Cairo police declined to intervene until the evening.
25/1/1952, British troops captured the police headquarters in Ismalia, Egypt; 46 Egyptians were killed.
1/1/1952, Libya became independent. An Italian colony from 1911, when Italy took the territory from the Ottoman Turks, the region had come under British administration in 1942.
20/7/1951. King Abdullah of Jordan was shot dead in
2/3/1950, Tawfik Abu al-Huda resigned as Prime Minister of Jordan for reasons of health, but also because he did not want to ‘be party to a settlement with Israel’.
2/6/1949. Transjordan was renamed
2/12/1947, Anti-Jewish riots broke out in the British colony of Aden (90% Muslim, 5% Jewish, 5% other). 82 Jews, 38 Arabs and 3 others were killed.
30/9/1947, Pakistan and
24/8/1946, Elijah Muhammad was released from prison in Milan, Michigan after four years, and became the Nation of Islam's undisputed leader.
25/5/1946. Transjordan (Jordan) proclaimed its independence, with Emir Abdullah ibn Husayn as King. Husayn (born 1882) was assassinated in Jerusalem in 1951.
10/3/1946. Britain and
2/12/1945, The Arab world began a general boycott of Israel, to geographically isolate the country. The boycott was to cover not just companies trading with Israel or with Israeli companies but also companies doing business with these companies. In 1977 the US, under President Carter, declared it illegal for US companies to participate in this boycott. In the 1990s Israel insisted upon the dismantling of the boycott, which was estimated to have cost the country some US$ 40 billion, as part of the Peace Process. In 2001, however, the Arab League’s Boycott Office resumed activities as part of its support for the Palestinians during the Intifada.
22/3/1945, The Arab League was formed.
The treaty was signed in
24/2/1945, Egypt declared war on Germany, largely to secure a place in the post-War United Nations. The announcement of war was made to the Egyptian Parliament by Ahmed Maher; as Maher left the Parliament he was assassinated, probably by the Muslim Brotherhood.
11/11/1943. French troops arrested the Lebanese government after it declared itself independent.
2/4/1942, The British under Sir Miles Lampson forced their way into the Abdin Palace, Cairo, and demanded that King Farouk either abdicate or invite Nahas to form a Wafd Party government. King Farouk was friendly with the Italians, and like many Egyptians had pro-Axis sympathies, simply because they believed an Axis vixtory would rid Egypt of the British. Meanwhile Rommel was advancing from Libya into western Egypt. Success for Rommel would cut the Suez Canal and sever naval communications with India. Lampson hoped that Farouk would abdicate but instead he chose to appoint Nahas, whose Wafd Party were pro-British.
For main European events of World War Two see France-Germany
14/7/1941, A crisis caused by a pro-Axis coup in Syria in May 1941 came to a conclusion. The Vichy French administration in Syria had allowed Germans the use of Syrian airfields to support Iraqi Nationalist rebels fighting British administration in Iraq. Britain declared that Marshal Petain had breached an undertaking not to act against the former allies of France, and invaded Syria with a mixed army of British and Free French troops. Heavy fighting occurred around Beirut between 8/7 and 14/7, although Damascus was spared. An armistice signed on 14/7 gave French troops and civilians in Syria and Lebanon the choice of repatriation to France or joining Free French forces.
1/7/1940. Britain was concerned that the French colonial administration in Lebanon and Syria had submitted to Vichy rule. Britain was determined that Axis forces should not occupy this region and mounted a naval blockade of Syria and Lebanon, causing severe shortages in both countries. Meanwhile Arab Nationalists were demanding independence from French control.
4/4/1939, King Ghazi of
23/2/1938, Oil was discovered in Kuwait.
11/8/1937, General Bake Sidqi, dictatorial ruler of Iraq, was killed by a Kurdish assassin.
Hussein was born in
Al Awja village, near
1/4/1937, Aden, administered by the British Government in India since 16/1/1839,
became a Crown Colony.
13/12/1936. Aga Khan born.
19/1/1936, The Aga Khan III, leader of the Ismaili community, was given his weight in gold, 16 stone, worth about £25,000 to mark his Golden Jubilee (£3.5 million in 2016) to use on social projects.
31/12/1935, King Salman of Saudi Arabia was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
14/11/1935, King Hussein of
19/5/1935. T.E. (Thomas Edward) Lawrence, or Lawrence of
Arabia, died six days after a motorcycle accident in a country lane
in Moreton, Dorset; he swerved to avoid two boys on bicycles, and crashed. Colonel Lawrence was sent to Saudi Arabia
to gain information about an Arab revolt in the Arabian desert. Lawrence
realised this revolt could be used to disrupt the Turkish war effort. He
persuaded the British Army in
2/5/1935. Faisal II, King of Iraq, was born.
14/1/1935, The Iraq – Mediterranean (
20/5/1934, A brief war between Saudi Arabia under Prince Faisal and Yemen under Imam Yahya over possession of Asir province ended with victory to Saudi Arabia. The moderate terms of the peace treaty imposed by Faisal ensured friendly relations between him and Yahya for life.
6/5/1934. Saudi Arabian
forces captured the Yemeni city of
8/9/1933. Iraqi King Feisal I, King since 1921, died in
Iraq joined the
20/9/1932, The Sultanate of Nejd, the Kingdom of Hejaz, and their conquered dependencies were united as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
4/6/1931, Ibn Hussein, King of the
1930, In the USA, the Nation of Islam was founded by Wali Farad (originally Wallace D Fard), who proclaimed that Black Americans were descendants of an ancient Muslim tribe.
30/6/1930. Britain recognised the independence of Iraq.
1929, Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, was born (died 2004).
7/12/1929, Agha Khan III was married at a private ceremony in Aix les Bains, France, to a former candy store clerk and dressmaker. He was founder and first President of the all-India Muslim League.
20/2/1928. Britain recognised the independence of the Kingdom of Transjordan (now Jordan).
15/10/1927. Iraq made its first oil strike, at
20/5/1927. Britain recognised the independence of Saudi Arabia, under the Treaty of Jeddah.
8/1/1926. The new King, Ibn Saud,
43, renamed Hejaz as
17/12/1925, The siege of Jeddah ended in victory for Ibn Saud.
5/12/1925, Medina capitulated to Ibn Saud.
18/10/1925. The French fleet bombarded
18/7/1925, Insurrection by the Druze in Syria, against French rule..
4/2/1925, Robert Koldeway, the archaeologist who excavated Babylon, died.
20/10/1924, Ibn Saud seized control of Mecca, defeating the Hashemites.
25/5/1923, The State of Transjordan, now Jordan, became independent.
21/7/1921, The Spanish army was defeated by Moroccan nationalists at Annual. The Spanish sustained over 12,000 casualties. Adb-E-Krim, nationalist leader, was eventually defeated by a Franco-Spanish force in 1926. Abd E Krim was held on the island of Reunion till 1947 but was then given permission to live in France. However he succeeded in escaping to Egypt where he became an inspiration to Arab nationalism generally.
23/8/1921. Emir Faisal was crowned King of Iraq with British consent.
However he then asserted his independence from
11/7/1921. The Iraqi Council of State unanimously voted for Faisal to be King.
23/6/1921, Emir Faisal arrived at Basra, after an Iraqi plebiscite showed 96% approval for his appointment as King of Iraq.
1/9/1920. France proclaimed
the creation of the state of
31/8/1920, Under the decree of General Giraud, France enlarged the Sanjak of Lebanon (Mount Lebanon) at Syria’s expense, adding Tripoli, Sidon, Tyre and the Bekaa plain. Greater Lebanon now had a small Christian majority, but the Muslim population had a higher birth rate.
24/7/1920. A French
expeditionary force occupied
5/5/1920, Britain and France rejected a declaration of Syrian independence and, hastily convening a meeting of the Supreme Council of the League of Nations, they declared the intention of dividing Lebanon from Syria (both under French control) and Iraq (undivided) under British control.
9/10/1919, The General Company for the Ports of Iraq was established. It is a Government department responsible for the management of Iraqi ports and navigation in Iraqi territorial waters.
21/6/1916. Hussein, the Grand Sheikh of
9/6/1916. Sherif Hussein of Mecca led a revolt against the Ottoman Turks. The Arabs were angered by the Young Turks nationalist and secular policies.
For main European events of World War One see France-Germany
declared war on Turkey, having been assured
of the neutrality of other European countries. The Italian Navy bombarded Preveza, and
Italian forces landed at
3/8/1910. Muslim Druzes killed 100 Jews in
14/4/1903, Bulgarians massacred 165 Muslims in
20/1/1902, The beginnings of Saudi Arabia. The Bedouin warrior, Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, 20-year old Emir of the Wahhabi, seized Riyadh, capital of the Nejd. He became a focus for the Arab nationalist movement.
1890, Britain’s first mosque opened, at Woking, Surrey.
23/3/1889, The Ahmadiyya Islamic Movement was founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in India.
15/8/1888, T E (Thomas Edward) Lawrence, British soldier and writer known as Lawrence of Arabia, was born at Tremadoc, Wales.
20/5/1883, Faisal I, King of Iraq was born.
3/7/1880, Morocco’s independence was recognised by the European powers and by Russia.
1867, The Deoband, or House of Learning, was established as a centre of Islamic theology in India by Muhammad Abid Husain in the Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh.
16/1/1839. The British took over Aden, annexing it to British India. This followed the mistreatment of a British crew shipwrecked there in 1837 and the Sultan’s failure to sell the town to the British as promised by his father.
1806, The Wahabis took Mecca.
1760, The Wahabi branch of Islam was founded by Muslim scholar, Abd-el-Wahab (1703-92). He wanted to restore a pure, original, version of Islam, His teachings gained credence across much of the Arabian Peninsula.
1734, The Koran was first translated into English.
See also Turkey for more on Ottoman Empire
27/5/1529, Ad-Din Barbarossa completed his conquest of Algeria (Algiers fell, 1518), bringing the Ottoman Empire to its peak.
1500, Islam reached Brunei.
1440, Islam reached Ternate, the Spice Islands.
1414, Islam, having reached Sumatra in the late 1300s, came to Malacca in 1414.
24/2/1304, Ibn Battutah, Arab explorer, was born in Tangier Morocco.
1471, The Portuguese captired the Moroccan port of Tangier.
10/2/1258. The Siege of Baghdad ended with a battle in which the Hulagu Khan's (grandson of Ghangiz Khan) Mongol forces overran Baghdad, then the leading centre of Islamic culture and learning and capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. They burned the imperial city to the ground in a looting spree lasting seven days, killing as many as 1,000,000 citizens. The attack was in revenge for the murder of three diplomnatic envoys sent by the Mongols to the court of Khwarazm-Shah, ruler of Baghdad.
2/12/1187. Jerusalem surrendered to Saladdin (see 2/11/1192). Saladdin was born in 1138, in Tikrit (Saddam Hussein’s native town) of Kurdish parents and was educated in Syria. In 1164 he accompanies his uncle on a military campaign in Egypt. The aim was to substitute Sunni for Shia Islam there, and also to drive the Crusader Franks out of the Levant. The local Syrian leader died in 1174 and Saladdin defeated his 11 year old successor and seized power. The Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad gave Saladdin power over all the lands from Morocco to Syria; Saladdin later extended his rule into Mesopotamia. Saladdin also subdued the Assassins, a Muslim sect that had twice tried to kill him. He now attacked the Crusaders, and on 1 July 1187 captured Tiberias after a six day siege.
After the capture of Jerusalem by Saladdin, the Franks were almost evicted from the region, holding on only at Antioch, Tripoli, and Tyre. European states set aside their differences in panic and three rulers; Richard I of England, Frederick Barbarossa of Germany, and Philip Augustus of France, set out on a third Crusade. The Crusaders marched on Muslim-held Acre, Saladdin arrived, and there ensued a long battle, control swinging back and forth. After two years, Acre fell to the Crusaders. Peace negotiations began, (see 2/11/1192), the end result being a marriage of his daughter with Saladdin’s brother, Al-Malik, who was knighted by Richard. The peace gave the coast to the Europeans and the interior to the Muslims. In February 1188 Saladdin fell ill with a fever and died 12 days later aged 55.
30/7/762, The city of Baghdad was founded by Caliph al-Mansur. The city was completed in 766, by 100,000 labourers; it was circular and 1.5 miles in diameter.
749, The Abbasid Dynasty was established in Baghdad, ruling until the Mongol Invasion of 1258. They claimed descent from Abbas, uncle of Mohammed.
682, Arab Islamic armies seized what is now Morocco from the Vandals. The Vandals had taken the region, thern known as Mauretania, from the Roman Empire in 429 AD.
10/10/680. Al-Husayn, son of Ali, was killed in battle at Kerbala. He was fighting a rival caliph (successor), Yazid, a Sunni Moslem of the Ummayad dynasty. His death gave birth to Shi’ism; a dissident group of Moslems who claimed that only the descendants of Mohammed could rightfully interpret the Koran. They saw Al-Husayn as a martyr.
652, Death of Abbas, uncle of the Prophet Mohammed, who gave his name to the Abbasid Dynasty.
17/9/642. Alexandria, Egypt, surrendered to the Arabs led by Amr Ibn Al-As. Amr invaded Syria in 633 and attacked Egypt in 639, taking Pelusium in January 640 and Heliopolis in June 640. In 646 Amr defeated a Greek attempt to retake Alexandria. Amr died, as governor of Egypt, on 6/1/664. The Arabs moved on south to conquer Nubia, also conquering Cyrenicia and Tripolitania in 643.
6/7/640, The Battle of Heliopolis was fought between Arab Muslim armies and the Byzantine Empire.
15/8/636. The Byzantine army was crushed by the Moslem Arabs at the Battle of Yarmuk, on the River Yarmuk, east of the Sea of Galilee. The Arabs, who took Damascus in 635, now controlled all of Syria. In 637 the Arabs destroyed the Persian army at the Battle of Qadisiyya. Jerusalem was captured by the Arabs in 638 under Caliph Umar.
635, Basra was founded as a port and trading city at the estuaries of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
30/7/634, The Byzantine army of Emperor Heraclius, defending Damascus against an alliance of Arab raiders, was defeated by Khalid at the Battle of Ajnadayn in southern Palestine.
8/6/632. Mohammed died, aged about 62. He was buried in Mecca. See 16/7/622.
16/7/622. The traditional starting day of the Islamic era, when Mohammad fled persecution in Mecca for the city of Medina, then known as Yattrib. This flight is called the Hejirah. In Arabia around 610, Mohammed had called for an end to the demons and idols of the Arab religion and to convert to monotheistic worship of Allah. Born around 570, Mohammed was of the Quraysh tribe, a Bedouin tribe in the Arabian peninsula. This tribe occupied Mecca, a wealthy caravan trading centre, and Mohammed was married to a wealthy widow. Arabs also came to Mecca to worship at the Kaaba, a black meteoric stone of which the Qurayshi are guardians. Mohammed denounced the idol worship associated with the Kaaba, and made enemies of some wealthy merchants, especially with his calls to help the poor. Mohammed died on 8/6/632. He saw himself as an instrument of God. His new religion was called Islam, meaning submission; its adherents were Moslems, or those who submit. In 630 the citizens of Mecca accepted his new religion; in return Mohammed agreed that the Kaaba should remain as a place of pilgrimage for Moslems.
595, Mohammed, a 25-year-old camel driver, married his wealthy 40-year-old employer, the widow Khadija.
570, Mohammed was born.
For pre-Islamic events in North Africa see Roman Empire
For early history of Israel and the Jews, also Babylon, Assyria, see Judaism
For Persian Empire see Iran
Appendix One – Syria
7/9/2017, Four Israeli jets fired missiles at a Syrian facility believed to be a site of chemicals weapons production, killing two Syrians.
6/4/2017, US President Trump ordered the firing of 59 Tomahawk missiles at the Shayrat Airbase, Syria, in response to the gas attack of 2/4/2017. 4 were killed. Russia, an ally of Assad, was angry and said the incident had nearly started a war between Russia and the US. Trump said he might fire more missiles into Syria.
4/4/2017, 58 were killed by poison gas in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun. Government forces under Assad were blamed.
13/12/2016, Aleppo was completely taken by Syrian Government forces, after rebel fighters were defeated, with Russian assistance. However the Syrian civil war, which had begun in 2011, continued, and fighting was still reported in the Aleppo area.
24/8/2016, The United Nations determined that the Syrian government twice used helicopters to deploy chlorine gas against its opponents, in civilian areas in the northern Idlib province. A later report held the government responsible for a third attack. The attacks occurred in 2014 and 2015. The panel also found that ISIS had used mustard gas.
31/5/2016, 25 people died in airstrikes in Idlib, Syria.
24/11/2015, Turkey shot down a Russian jet fighter that was taking part in Russia’s pro-Assad campaign in Syria, against both ISIS and non-ISIS rebels. Turkey said the aircraft had transgressed into Turkish airspace, and was warned several times. Russia denied the warnings, and it appeared the jet had at most been in Turkish airspace for 2 or 3 seconds as it (might have) crossed a finger of Turkish territory jutting into Syria.
12/11/2015, ‘Jihadi John’ was killed by a US drone strike in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqah, northern Syria.
7/8/2015, The U.N. Security Council authorised investigators to probe reports of chemical weapons use in Syria, as reports circulated of repeated chlorine gas attacks by government forces against civilians in opposition-held areas. Chlorine gas, though not as toxic as nerve agents, can be classified as a chemical weapon depending on its use.
1/4/2015, ISIS forces took Palmyra.
29/10/2014, 150 Kurdish fighters set off from Erbil (Kurdish Iraq) to travel through Turkish territory to reinforce Kurdish fighters across the Turkish-Syria border battling ISIS in the Syrian border town of Kobani. ISIS began to lose ground there, as Syrian Kurds were reinforced by US arms drops and US air strikes against ISIS. The fight for Kobani assumed increased importance as the global TV media focussed on the battle from just across the border in Turkey. The issue of Turkey allowing Kurdish reinforcements across its territory was sensitive because Turkey has its own Kurdish minority region in the south-east.
22/9/2014, A US-led coalition began air strikes against ISIS in Syria.
23/6/2014, The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said it had removed the last of the Syrian government's chemical weapons. Syrian opposition officials maintained that the government's stocks were not fully accounted for, and that it retained supplies.
14/1/2014, ISIS forces took Raqqa, Syria.
3/1/2014, Anti-Assad groups in northern Syria united against ISIS.
14/10/2013, Syria became a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, prohibiting it from producing, stockpiling or using chemical weapons.
27/9/2013, The UN Security Council ordered Syria to account for and destroy its stocks of chemical weapons, following a surprise agreement between the USA and Russia, so averting US airstrikes. Use of force was threatened by the UN if Syria did not comply.
31/8/2013, US President Obama desired to carry out punitive airstrikes against the Syrian government, but Congress did not support the idea.
21/8/2013, Hundreds of people suffocated in rebel-held suburbs of the Syrian capital, with many suffering from convulsions, pinpoint pupils, and foaming at the mouth. U.N. investigators visited the sites and determined that ground-to-ground missiles loaded with sarin were fired on civilian areas while residents slept. The U.S. and others blamed the Syrian government, the only party to the conflict known to have sarin gas.
5/6/2013, In the Syrian civil war, the town of Qusayr was recaptured by pro-Assad forces.
7/4/2013, The Syrian government launched an air raid on rebels in Aleppo, killing 15 people.
19/3/2013, 26 Syrians, including a dozen Government soldiers, were killed in a gas attack on the town of Khan-al-Assal, northern Syria. A UN investigation found that sarin nerve gas had been used, but could not identify the source.
20/8/2012, US President Obama strongly cautioned the Syrian Government against any use of chemical weapons.
19/7/2012, Groups opposed to the regime of Syria’s leader, Bashar al Assad, attacked the city of Aleppo. Aleppo became divided into a pro-regime west and a pro-rebel east.
18/8/2011, US President Obama called on Syrian President Assad to resign, and froze Syrian assets in the US.
31/7/2011, In Syria, an army raid on the town of Hama killed over 120. So far the Syrian civil war had claimed 3,000 lives.
12/6/2011, Thousands of Syrians fled into Turkey to escape the civil war.
1/4/2011, Large protests by Syrian civilians against their Government after Friday prayers.
18/3/2011, Further protests in Deraa over the detention by security forces of a group of boys accused of painting anti-govermnment graffiti on the walls of their school. Earlier, on 15/3/2011, protests against the boys’ detention had taken place in Damascus. On 18/3/2011 Syrian government forces opened fire in Deraa, killing four people. These are regarded as the first deaths in the Syrian civil war.
6/3/2011, Unrest in Deraa, Syria.
10/6/2000, Hafez al Assad, President of Syria, died.
29/9/1961, Syria seceded from the
6/1936. Syria and France negotiated a Treaty of Independence, to take effect in 1939; Hashim al-Atassi was elected to be the first President of the newly independent country. However the French legislature never ratified the Treaty, and in 1940 France fell to the Nazis and the Vichy French Government took over. At this point British and Free French forces took over Syria, consolidating theor control over the country in July 1941. After World War Two, Syrian Nationalists forced the French to leave the country and a Republican Government took over the running of Syria.
1925, Druze revolt in Damascus. French High Commissioner General Sarrail ordered the bombardment of this area of the city.
For events in the Syria region during Roman and Byzantine times see Roman Empire
For events in the Syria region in pre-Roman times see Jewish