On this day in 2002, the object known as Asteroid 2002 MN 15 hit the earth less than a block from Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's presidential palace in Baghdad.
The event triggered chaos throughout Iraq, eventually leading to the final overthrow of the Saddam regime less than two months later.
On this day in 2002, scientists at Harvard University held a press conference to announce their preliminary findings in an investigation of the asteroid strike in Baghdad three days earlier; according to their calculations and to evidence obtained from their Iraqi colleagues, the impact of Asteroid 2002 MN 15 -- now known in most media reports as 'the Baghdad asteroid' --generated an explosive force equivalent to the detonation of a 26-kiloton nuclear warhead.
That same day, an Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman confirmed that Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay had been among those people killed in the June 15th asteroid strike. Given the barbaric acts of which the brothers had been accused in the past, few tears were shed over their demise; in fact, U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney was rumored to have said "Good riddance to those b-stards" when told of Uday and Qusay's deaths.
On this day in 2002, the Arab satellite TV news channel al-Jazeera showed video footage of Saddam Hussein touring the impact site of the Baghdad asteroid strike; this footage helped dispel rumors that Saddam had been killed along with his sons when the asteroid hit.
On this day in 2002, religious and secular opponents of Saddam Hussein united for a rally in Baghdad to demand what one Shiite cleric referred to as "the abolition of a godless regime"; some of the bolder protestors took their grievances directly to the headquarters of Saddam's Revolutionary Command Council.
On this day in 2002, Kuwait placed its armed forces on full alert in response to the turmoil engulfing Iraq.
On this day in 2002, Saddam Hussein declared martial law in Baghdad after Iraqi foreign minister Tariq Aziz and six of Aziz's senior deputies were killed in a grenade attack on Aziz's office in the Iraqi foreign ministry headquarters.
On this day in 2002, Iranian president Mohammed Khatami ordered Iran's armed forces placed on full alert in response to the domestic turmoil in Iraq.
On this day in 2002, thirty Iraqi dissidents were hanged at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison as punishment for their involvement in the June 24th anti-Saddam rallies in Baghdad.
On this day in 2002, Iraqi-Americans in Detroit held a rally to denounce the Saddam regime's repressive actions in the wake of the Baghdad asteroid strike.
On this day in 2002, President George W. Bush met with the Saudi, Kuwaiti, and UAE ambassadors in Washington to offer his assurance that the United States would assist its Persian Gulf allies in safeguarding their frontiers against the turmoil engulfing Iraq.
|George W. Bush|
|Republican Guard Forces|
On this day in 2002, three Iraqi Republican Guard troops were court-martialed and executed for refusing to fire on civilians during an anti-Saddam rally in Kirkuk.
On this day in 2002, a car bomb attack at the Baathist Party's Karbala regional offices killed seven people and injured twenty-eight.
On this day in 2002, the French embassy in Baghdad was temporarily closed after the French ambassador's office was hit by rocket fire.
On this day in 2002, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington that the United States was dispatching 50,000 troops to Kuwait in response to the growing internal unrest in Iraq.
|US Sec Def|
On this day in 2002, a group of Iraqi regular army generals alarmed by the looming threat of civil war in their homeland secretly met to begin planning the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
On this day in 2002, a U.S. Navy carrier battle group headed by the USS Ronald Reagan was deployed to the Persian Gulf to defend U.S. interests in the region against the instability that had been engulfing Iraq since the the MN15 asteroid strike.
On this day in 2002, British prime minister Tony Blair directed the Foreign Secretary's office to evacuate all remaining non-essential personnel from the UK embassy in Baghdad.
On this day in 2002, Saddam Hussein was toppled in a military coup; the new interim Iraqi government pledged free elections within 60 days and announced plans to convene a special tribunal which would prosecute the fallen dictator for crimes against humanity.
Within a matter of days Iran would stand down its armed forces from full alert and the United States would restore diplomatic relations with Iraq, which had been severed after Saddam's occupation of Kuwait twelve years earlier.
The provisional Iraqi government also released hundreds of pages of documents pertaining to Saddam's efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction, particularly biological and nuclear weapons.
On this day in 2002, U.S. diplomats and representatives of the provisional Iraqi government met in Cairo to work out a timetable for the resumption of full diplomatic relations between Washington and Baghdad.
On this day in 2002, an American diplomatic team arrived in Baghdad to choose a site for the new U.S. embassy in Iraq.
On this day in 2002, the U.S. Congress approved a multi-million dollar aid package for the Iraqi provisional government to expedite the next stage of post-MN15 impact recovery efforts in and around Baghdad.
On this day in 2002, the Iraqi interior ministry announced nationwide elections to choose a new government would be held on October 1st, five days ahead of the provisional administration's original self-imposed deadline.
Also on this day, the U.S. State Department made its final decision on where to locate the new United States embassy in Baghdad.
On this day in 2002, Iraq held its first democratic elections since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Longtime Iraqi National Congress chairman Ahmed Chalabi narrowly won the balloting to become the country's new prime minister; voters also ratified a new Iraqi constitution and approved a series of legal reforms meant to eliminate the human rights abuses which had been routine police and court practice under Saddam's rule. Chalabi's first official act as new Iraqi prime minister was to arrange a summit with the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.