Lieutenant Colonel Tim Collins, Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, 5 March 2003. Lieutenant Colonel Tim Collins subsequently gave a widely reproduced 'eve of battle' address to his Royal Irish troops on 18 March 2003 shortly before the advance into Iraq began. The US led invasion succeeded in toppling Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime but marked the beginning of many years of violent insurgency as different groups competed for power.
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The end of the Cold War did not bring an end to conflict. Issues such as nationalism, national self-determination, liberation and religion continued to trigger war and instability. In the Gulf War, 1990-1991, an international coalition was formed to liberate Kuwait from an Iraqi invasion. During the 1990s, in ethnically diverse former Yugoslavia, constituent nationalities fought to secure their own states.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, international terrorism appeared to be the greatest threat to global peace. On 11 September 2001, al-Qaeda terrorists launched a series of attacks on the United States. Nearly 3,000 people died. An invasion of Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda’s leader Osama Bin Laden was believed to be sheltering, was launched in October 2001. The regime was replaced, but Taliban insurgents continued to operate and fighting continues today. Osama Bin Laden was finally traced and killed by US Special Forces on 2 May 2011.
In March 2003, the US led a coalition to invade Iraq to disarm the country of suspected weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein was removed, but disorder remained. Violence also came to Britain on 7 July 2005, when London was hit by terrorist attacks.
The Middle East continues to be affected by instability and conflict, both old and new. Tensions between Israel and Palestine remain unresolved. Violence has flared up in several Arab nations, including Libya, as populations have rebelled against long-standing repressive regimes.