BAGHDAD – Here are the main dates of the eight years in power of Iraq’s divisive prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, who finally bowed out under international pressure on Friday:
– February 22: Revered Shiite shrine in Samarra blown up, triggering later a sectarian war that will continue to rock Iraq until 2008, killing tens of thousands.
– April 22: President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd asks Maliki, a Shiite, to form a new government to replace Ibrahim Jaafari who was contested by Sunnis and Kurds.
– May 21: A national unity cabinet is sworn in, dominated by Maliki’s United Iraqi Alliance which won most seats in parliamentary election.
– October 11: Parliament passes law allowing the 18 provinces to hold referendums to merge themselves into larger federal regions with a measure of self-government. It is opposed by Sunnis who fear their community would be left with a rump territory in the barren west and centre of the country.
– August 14: More than 400 are killed in attacks targeting members of the minority Kurdish-speaking Yazidi community in northern Nineveh province. Al-Qaeda is blamed. The violence is the worst since dictator Saddam Hussein was overthrown in the 2003 US-led invasion.
– March 7: Inconclusive parliamentary elections unleashes political crisis between Sunnis and Shiites.
– November: Political leaders announce deal stating the president of Iraq would be a Kurd, the prime minister a Shiite and the speaker of parliament a Sunni. Talabani reappoints Maliki as government chief.
– February 3: Protests demanding improved public services, more jobs, less corruption and broader political reforms erupt.
– December 18: US troops complete their withdrawal, ending nearly nine years of occupation..
– December 19: Arrest warrant issued for Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who takes refuge in Kurdistan. His Iraqiya bloc boycotts the cabinet.
– September: Formation of a new federal military command covering disputed territory in Kirkuk in northern Iraq sends already-poor relations between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan region plummeting.
– December 23: The start of major protests, particularly in the Sunni province of Anbar, demanding Maliki’s ouster and accusing him of monopolising power and discriminating against Sunnis.
– April 23: Start of a week of clashes in Hawijah in northern Iraq between security forces and anti-government protesters allegedly infiltrated by militants that leave more than 240 dead.
According to the NGO Iraq Body Count, 2013 was the deadliest year since 2008, with 9,475 civilians killed.
– January 2-4: Iraq loses control of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi in Anbar province to Al-Qaeda-linked fighters, after security forces cleared an anti-government protest camp in December.
– April 30: Maliki wins the most seats in the first general election since US troops departed, but his State of Law alliance falls short of an overall majority.
– June 10: Arab militants, led by radicals, seize second biggest city Mosul. Government forces take flight. The fighters go on to seize broad swathes of territory in the north and the west.
– August 8: US jets strike fighters positions.
– August 11: President Fuad Masum nominates Shiite Haidar al-Abadi as new prime minister. Maliki says it will take a court ruling for him to leave power.
– August 14: Maliki concedes defeat, bowing to huge domestic and international pressure, notably from former allies the United States and Iran. Washington hails the decision as a “major step forward”. The UN speaks of a “historic milestone”.