The Chilcot inquiry: The timeline of events from 9/11 to the latest delay in publishing the Chilcot report

The Iraq Report – Part 4: Timeline of events

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The Independent Online

11 September 2001

Terrorists belonging to al-Qaeda use hijacked aeroplanes to kill 2,996 people in attacks on the east coast of the US.

12 September 2001

Tony Blair promises George W Bush that the UK will support the US, whatever the President decides to do.

14 September 2001

Congress authorises President Bush to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against terrorists.

7 October 2001

A US-led coalition begins its aerial attacks on Afghanistan. By the time combat operations come to a formal end on 28 December, the Taliban has been overthrown; but Osama bin Laden remains at large.

25 March 2002

Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary, warns Blair that invading Iraq would be legally dubious

4 April 2002

An MI6 briefing appears to convince Blair that the WMD threat from Libya is far more serious than that from Iraq

6 April 2002

Tony Blair visits President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.  Some witnesses report that,  following a private meeting  between the two, Blair’s stance  on Iraq “tightened”; but Blair himself has disputed claims that  he gave an “undertaking in blood” to go to war in Iraq.

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Blair and Bush remained close allies throughout the conflict (Getty)

7 April 2002

Blair explicitly mentions the possibility of “regime change” in a speech.

May 2002

General Tommy Franks, commander of US forces, tells Air Chief Marshal Sir Brian Burridge that he hopes the UK would be “alongside” the US in attacking Iraq.

June 2002

Tony Blair asks defence officials to outline options for UK participation in military action against Iraq.

16 July 2002

Blair tells MP  “no decisions... have been taken about military action.”

23 July 2002

Senior members of the government meet with senior defence and intelligence figures to discuss the build-up to war. A note of the meeting, known as the “Downing Street memo”, was later published, appearing to confirm that military action was now considered inevitable.

24 September 2002

The government publishes a dossier about the threat from Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. A foreword  by Tony Blair states that Saddam Hussein’s “military planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them”. It is subsequently alleged that  this dossier was “sexed up” for  political reasons.

2 October 2002

Congress authorises President Bush to use military force against Iraq.

8 November 2002

UN Security Council passes resolution 1441, insisting that weapons inspectors be allowed back into Iraq and calling on the regime to give up its WMD or face the consequences.

12 May 2003

Paul Bremer becomes Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

23 May 2003

Paul Bremer dissolves the Iraqi army, along with other key elements of the Baathist state.

2 June 2003

In a BBC interview, former International Development Secretary Clare Short accuses Tony Blair of having misled the Cabinet on the eve of war.

13 July 2003

Iraqi Governing Council established.

18 July 2003

David Kelly, an expert in biological warfare, is found dead after being named as the source of quotations used by the BBC’s Andrew Gilligan to suggest that the dossier of September 2002 had been “sexed up”. Lord Hutton is appointed to chair a judicial inquiry into his death.

3 September 2003

New Iraqi government established.

2 October 2003

Report of Iraq Survey Group reveals absence of evidence of WMD in Iraq.

13 December 2003

Saddam Hussein is captured near Tikrit, after nine months in hiding.

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Saddam Hussein on trial (Getty Images)

28 January 2004

The report of the Hutton Inquiry is published.

3 February 2004

Lord Butler is appointed to chair an official review of the intelligence on WMD on which the British government reportedly based its decision to take part in the invasion of Iraq.

2 March 2004

Bombings in Baghdad and Karbala kill nearly 200 people: the worst attacks since the fall of Saddam.

28 April 2004

A CBS report brings photographic evidence of the abuse of prisoners by US forces in Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison to worldwide attention.

8 June 2004

UN transfers sovereignty from the Coalition Provisional Authority to the Iraqi Interim Government.

14 July 2004

The Butler Review is published. Its conclusion is that some of the intelligence used to justify attacking Iraq was unreliable and that “more weight was placed on the intelligence than it could bear”.

November 2004

More than 1,350 insurgents are killed when the US uses overwhelming force to recapture the rebel-held city of Fallujah.

14 September 2005

Bombs in Baghdad kill 160 people and injure more than 500.

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Families flee Basra in southern Iraq (EPA)

15 October 2005

Iraq’s new constitution is approved in a referendum.

15 December 2005

Iraq’s first post-Saddam parliamentary election.

30 December 2005

Saddam Hussein is executed.

20 May 2006

New Iraqi government succeeds transitional government.

10 January 2007

In the face of insurrection, the US announces a “surge” of 20,000 extra troops to increase security in Baghdad.

28 May 2009

The last British combat troops  leave Iraq.

15 June 2009

Gordon Brown, Tony Blair’s successor as Prime Minister, announces that  an inquiry will be set up, under  Sir John Chilcot, to “learn the lessons” of the conflict.

24 November 2009

The Chilcot inquiry holds its first public hearing.

7 March 2010

Inconclusive parliamentary elections result in the formation of a government in which Nouri al-Maliki continues as Prime Minister.

January 2011

In Syria, protests begin against the Assad regime; the civil war to follow will destabilise the entire region, including Iraq.

2 February 2011

The Chilcot inquiry holds its final public hearing.

12 May 2011

Sir John Chilcot says that his report will be published, at the earliest, in the autumn of 2011.

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Sir John Chilcot (AFP/Getty Images)

16 November 2011

The Chilcot inquiry announces that it cannot publish report before summer 2012 if it is to “do justice” to the complexities involved.

18 December 2011

The last US troops leave Iraq, after nearly nine years of combat that cost 4,488 US lives and left 32,226 soldiers injured.

16 July 2012

Sir John Chilcot says that he cannot report before mid-2013.

6 November 2013

The Chilcot inquiry announces that it cannot proceed with its work due to an impasse over the release of key documents (including exchanges between Blair and Bush).

29 May 2014

The Chilcot inquiry says that it will publish the “gist” of exchanges between Blair and Bush, but that full transcripts will remain secret.

10 June 2014

The extremist group known as Isis captures Mosul, along with large swathes of northern and western Iraq.

29 June 2014

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of Isis, declares a new “caliphate” over 250,000sq km of Iraq and Syria.

16 October 2014

William Hague and David Cameron say they hope the report will be published before the 2015 general election.

21 January 2015

Sir John Chilcot confirms that his report will not be published before the general election in May 2015.

***

After six years and nearly £9m, the report of Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war remains unpublished – and, we were told this week, will not be published this side of the general election.

Will the British public ever be told the truth about a conflict that millions of them opposed, whose lethal fallout can still be felt across the world today? In the absence of an official account, this series of articles – based on evidence given to the inquiry and other accounts that are already in the public domain – is an attempt to set down in writing, as objectively as possible, the known facts and unresolved questions of one of the most bitterly controversial episodes in recent British history.

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