/i rak", i rahk"/, n.
a republic in SW Asia, N of Saudi Arabia and W of Iran, centering in the Tigris-Euphrates basin of Mesopotamia. 22,219,289; 172,000 sq. mi. (445,480 sq. km). Cap.: Baghdad.
Also, Irak.

* * *


Introduction Iraq -
Background: Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq became an independent kingdom in 1932. A "republic" was proclaimed in 1958, but in actuality a series of military strongmen have ruled the country since then, the latest being SADDAM Husayn. Territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive and costly eight-year war (1980-88). In August 1990 Iraq seized Kuwait, but was expelled by US-led, UN coalition forces during January-February 1991. The victors did not occupy Iraq, however, thus allowing the regime to stay in control. Following Kuwait's liberation, the UN Security Council (UNSC) required Iraq to scrap all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles and to allow UN verification inspections. UN trade sanctions remain in effect due to incomplete Iraqi compliance with relevant UNSC resolutions. Geography Iraq
Location: Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iran and Kuwait
Geographic coordinates: 33 00 N, 44 00 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 437,072 sq km water: 4,910 sq km land: 432,162 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly more than twice the size of Idaho
Land boundaries: total: 3,650 km border countries: Iran 1,458 km, Jordan 181 km, Kuwait 240 km, Saudi Arabia 814 km, Syria 605 km, Turkey 352 km
Coastline: 58 km
Maritime claims: continental shelf: not specified territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate: mostly desert; mild to cool winters with dry, hot, cloudless summers; northern mountainous regions along Iranian and Turkish borders experience cold winters with occasionally heavy snows that melt in early spring, sometimes causing extensive flooding in central and southern Iraq
Terrain: mostly broad plains; reedy marshes along Iranian border in south with large flooded areas; mountains along borders with Iran and Turkey
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m highest point: Haji Ibrahim 3,600 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, sulfur
Land use: arable land: 11.89% permanent crops: 0.78% other: 87.33% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 35,250 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: dust storms, sandstorms, floods Environment - current issues: government water control projects have drained most of the inhabited marsh areas east of An Nasiriyah by drying up or diverting the feeder streams and rivers; a once sizable population of Shi'a Muslims, who have inhabited these areas for thousands of years, has been displaced; furthermore, the destruction of the natural habitat poses serious threats to the area's wildlife populations; inadequate supplies of potable water; development of Tigris-Euphrates Rivers system contingent upon agreements with upstream riparian Turkey; air and water pollution; soil degradation (salination) and erosion; desertification Environment - international party to: Law of the Sea, Nuclear
agreements: Test Ban signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography - note: strategic location on Shatt al Arab waterway and at the head of the Persian Gulf People Iraq -
Population: 24,001,816 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 41.1% (male 5,003,755; female 4,849,238) 15-64 years: 55.9% (male 6,794,265; female 6,624,662) 65 years and over: 3% (male 341,520; female 388,376) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.82% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 34.2 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 6.02 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/ female total population: 1.02 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 57.61 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 67.38 years female: 68.5 years (2002 est.) male: 66.31 years
Total fertility rate: 4.63 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: less than 0.01% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Iraqi(s) adjective: Iraqi
Ethnic groups: Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian or other 5%
Religions: Muslim 97% (Shi'a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian or other 3%
Languages: Arabic, Kurdish (official in Kurdish regions), Assyrian, Armenian
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 58% male: 70.7% female: 45% (1995 est.) Government Iraq -
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Iraq conventional short form: Iraq local short form: Al Iraq local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Iraqiyah
Government type: republic
Capital: Baghdad Administrative divisions: 18 provinces (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Anbar, Al Basrah, Al Muthanna, Al Qadisiyah, An Najaf, Arbil, As Sulaymaniyah, At Ta'mim, Babil, Baghdad, Dahuk, Dhi Qar, Diyala, Karbala', Maysan, Ninawa, Salah ad Din, Wasit
Independence: 3 October 1932 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration)
National holiday: Revolution Day, 17 July (1968)
Constitution: 22 September 1968, effective 16 July 1970 (provisional constitution); new constitution drafted in 1990 but not adopted
Legal system: based on Islamic law in special religious courts, civil law system elsewhere; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President SADDAM Husayn (since 16 July 1979); Vice Presidents Taha Muhyi al-Din MARUF (since 21 April 1974) and Taha Yasin RAMADAN (since 23 March 1991) elections: president and vice presidents elected by a two-thirds majority of the Revolutionary Command Council; election last held 17 October 1995 (next to be held NA 2002) election results: SADDAM Husayn reelected president; percent of vote - 99%; Taha Muhyi al-Din MARUF and Taha Yasin RAMADAN elected vice presidents; percent of vote - NA% cabinet: Council of Ministers; note - there is also a Revolutionary Command Council or RCC with eight members as of 2001 (Chairman SADDAM Husayn, Vice Chairman Izzat IBRAHIM al-Duri) which controls the ruling Ba'th Party; the RCC is the highest executive and legislative body and the most powerful political entity in the country; new RCC members must come from the Regional Command Leadership of the Ba'th Party head of government: Prime Minister SADDAM Husayn (since 29 May 1994); Deputy Prime Ministers Tariq Mikhail AZIZ (since NA 1979), Hikmat Mizban Ibrahim al-AZZAWI (since 30 July 1999), Ahmad Husayn al-KHUDAYIR (since NA July 2001), and Abd al- Tawab Mullah al-HUWAYSH (since NA July 2001)
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Majlis al-Watani (250 seats; 30 appointed by the president to represent the three northern provinces of Dahuk, Arbil, and As Sulaymaniyah; 220 elected by popular vote; members serve four-year terms) elections: last held 27 March 2000 (next to be held NA March 2004) election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA
Judicial branch: Court of Cassation Political parties and leaders: Ba'th Party [SADDAM Husayn, central party leader] Political pressure groups and any formal political activity must
leaders: be sanctioned by the government; opposition to regime from Kurdish groups and southern Shi'a dissidents International organization ABEDA, ACC, AFESD, AL, AMF, CAEU,
participation: CCC, EAPC, ESCWA, FAO, G-19, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO Diplomatic representation in the US: none; note - Iraq has an Interest Section in the Algerian Embassy headed by Akram AL DOURI; address: Iraqi Interests Section, Algerian Embassy, 1801 P Street NW, Washington, DC 20036; telephone: [1] (202) 483-7500; FAX: [1] (202) 462- 5066 Diplomatic representation from the none; note - the US has an Interests
US: Section in the Polish Embassy in Baghdad; address: P. O. Box 2051 Hay Babel, Baghdad; telephone: [964] (1) 718-9267; FAX: [964] (1) 718-9297
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black with three green five-pointed stars in a horizontal line centered in the white band; the phrase ALLAHU AKBAR (God is Great) in green Arabic script - Allahu to the right of the middle star and Akbar to the left of the middle star - was added in January 1991 during the Persian Gulf crisis; similar to the flag of Syria which has two stars but no script and the flag of Yemen which has a plain white band; also similar to the flag of Egypt which has a symbolic eagle centered in the white band Economy Iraq
Economy - overview: Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided about 95% of foreign exchange earnings. In the 1980s financial problems caused by massive expenditures in the eight-year war with Iran and damage to oil export facilities by Iran led the government to implement austerity measures, borrow heavily, and later reschedule foreign debt payments; Iraq suffered economic losses from the war of at least $100 billion. After hostilities ended in 1988, oil exports gradually increased with the construction of new pipelines and restoration of damaged facilities. Iraq's seizure of Kuwait in August 1990, subsequent international economic sanctions, and damage from military action by an international coalition beginning in January 1991 drastically reduced economic activity. Although government policies supporting large military and internal security forces and allocating resources to key supporters of the regime have hurt the economy, implementation of the UN's oil-for-food program in December 1996 has helped improve conditions for the average Iraqi citizen. For the first six, six- month phases of the program, Iraq was allowed to export limited amounts of oil in exchange for food, medicine, and some infrastructure spare parts. In December 1999 the UN Security Council authorized Iraq to export under the program as much oil as required to meet humanitarian needs. Oil exports are now more than three-quarters prewar level. However, 28% of Iraq's export revenues under the program are deducted to meet UN Compensation Fund and UN administrative expenses. The drop in GDP in 2001 was largely the result of the global economic slowdown and lower oil prices. Per capita food imports have increased significantly, while medical supplies and health care services are steadily improving. Per capita output and living standards are still well below the prewar level, but any estimates have a wide range of error.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $59 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: -5.7% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $2,500 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 6% industry: 13% services: 81% (1993 est.) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 60% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 4.4 million (1989) Labor force - by occupation: agriculture NA%, industry NA%, services NA%
Unemployment rate: NA%
Budget: revenues: $NA expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA
Industries: petroleum, chemicals, textiles, construction materials, food processing Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: 27.3 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 98.17% hydro: 1.83% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 25.389 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, dates, cotton; cattle, sheep
Exports: $15.8 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: crude oil
Exports - partners: US 46.2%, Italy 12.2%, France 9.6%, Spain 8.6% (2000)
Imports: $11 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: food, medicine, manufactures
Imports - partners: France 22.5%, Australia 22%, China 5.8%, Russia 5.8% (2000)
Debt - external: $62.2 billion (2001 est.) Economic aid - recipient: $327.5 million (1995)
Currency: Iraqi dinar (IQD)
Currency code: IQD
Exchange rates: Iraqi dinars per US dollar - 0.3109 (fixed official rate since 1982); black market rate - Iraqi dinars per US dollar - 2,000 (December 2001), 1,910 (December 1999), 1,815 (December 1998), 1,530 (December 1997), 910 (December 1996); note - subject to wide fluctuations
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Iraq - Telephones - main lines in use: 675,000 (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: NA; service available in northern Iraq (2001)
Telephone system: general assessment: reconstitution of damaged telecommunication facilities began after the Gulf war; most damaged facilities have been rebuilt domestic: the network consists of coaxial cables and microwave radio relay links international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean), 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region), and 1 Arabsat (inoperative); coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Jordan, Kuwait, Syria, and Turkey; Kuwait line is probably nonoperational Radio broadcast stations: AM 19 (5 are inactive), FM 51, shortwave 4 (1998)
Radios: 4.85 million (1997) Television broadcast stations: 13 (1997)
Televisions: 1.75 million (1997)
Internet country code: .iq Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 12,500 (2001) Transportation Iraq -
Railways: total: 2,339 km standard gauge: 2,339 km 1.435- m gauge (2001)
Highways: total: 45,550 km paved: 38,400 km unpaved: 7,150 km (1996 est.)
Waterways: 1,015 km note: Shatt al Arab is usually navigable by maritime traffic for about 130 km; channel has been dredged to 3 m and is in use; Tigris and Euphrates Rivers have navigable sections for shallow-draft boats; Shatt al Basrah canal was navigable by shallow-draft craft before closing in 1991 because of the Gulf war
Pipelines: crude oil 4,350 km; petroleum products 725 km; natural gas 1,360 km
Ports and harbors: Umm Qasr, Khawr az Zubayr, and Al Basrah have limited functionality
Merchant marine: total: 25 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 186,709 GRT/278,575 DWT ships by type: cargo 14, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 8, roll on/roll off 1 (2002 est.)
Airports: 108 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 73 over 3,047 m: 20 2,438 to 3,047 m: 34 914 to 1,523 m: 6 under 914 m: 7 (2001) 1,524 to 2,437 m: 6 Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 35 under 914 m: 12 (2001) over 3,047 m: 3 2,438 to 3,047 m: 6 914 to 1,523 m: 10 1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
Heliports: 4 (2001) Military Iraq -
Military branches: Army, Republican Guard, Navy, Air Force, Air Defense Force, Border Guard Force, Fedayeen Saddam Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 6,135,847 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 3,430,819 (2002
service: est.) Military manpower - reaching military males: 274,035 (2002 est.)
age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $1.3 billion (FY00)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of NA%
GDP: Transnational Issues Iraq - Disputes - international: despite restored diplomatic relations in 1990, lacks maritime boundary with Iran and disputes land boundary, navigation channels, and other issues from eight-year war; in November 1994, Iraq formally accepted the UN-demarcated border with Kuwait which had been spelled out in Security Council Resolutions 687 (1991), 773 (1993), and 883 (1993); this formally ends earlier claims to Kuwait and to Bubiyan and Warbah islands although the government continues periodic rhetorical challenges; dispute over water development plans by Turkey for the Tigris and Euphrates rivers

* * *

officially Republic of Iraq

Middle Eastern country, northwest of the Persian Gulf.

Area: 167,975 sq mi (435,052 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 24,002,000. Capital: Baghdad. The population consists mainly of an Arab majority and a Kurd minority. Language: Arabic (official). Religion: Islam (official); two-thirds Shīʽites, one-third Sunnites. Currency: dinar. The country can be divided into four major regions: the Tigris-Euphrates river basin in central and southeastern Iraq; Al-Jazīrah, an upland region in the north between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers; deserts in the west and south, covering about two-fifths of the country; and highlands in the northeast. Iraq has the world's second largest proven reserves of petroleum, and it has substantial reserves of natural gas. Agriculture employs one-eighth of the labour force. Iraq is a republic with one legislative house; its head of state is the president. Called Mesopotamia in Classical times, the region gave rise to the world's earliest civilizations, including those of Sumer, Akkad, and Babylon. Conquered by Alexander the Great in 330 BC, the area later became a battleground between Romans and Parthians, then between Sāsānians and the Byzantines. Arab Muslims conquered it in the 7th century AD, and various Muslim dynasties ruled until the Mongols took over in 1258. The Ottoman Empire took control in the 16th century and ruled until the British occupied the country during World War I (1914–18). The British created the kingdom of Iraq in 1921 and occupied Iraq again during World War II (1939–45). The monarchy was restored following the war, but a revolution caused its downfall in 1958. Following a series of military coups, the socialist Bath Party, eventually led by Saddām Hussein, took control and established totalitarian rule in 1968. The Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s and the Persian Gulf War of 1990–91 caused extensive death and destruction. The economy languished under a UN economic embargo imposed on Iraq in the 1990s. The embargo began to erode by the early 21st century, but in 2003 an Anglo-American invasion drove the Baʽth Party from power.

* * *

▪ 2009

434,128 sq km (167,618 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 29,492,000 (including nearly 2,300,000 Iraqi refugees, of which about 1,400,000 are in Syria and about 500,000 are in Jordan)
Head of state:
President Jalal Talabani
Head of government:
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki

      Despite acts of violence, including kidnappings and suicide bombings, the security situation improved noticeably in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq in 2008. The decline in violence was due in large part to the “surge” of U.S. forces and the commitment of U.S.-backed Sunni militias—the Awakening Councils—who in 2006 had turned against al-Qaeda. These militias, known as “Sons of Iraq,” numbered about 100,000. On October 1 the Shiʿite-dominated Iraqi government, eager to assert its control, took command of the Sunni Awakening Councils from the U.S., pledging to pay their salaries and to integrate them into the armed forces or the civil service.

      The overall performance of the Iraqi government in providing services, such as electricity, clean water, and fuel, and fostering a reduction in unemployment, remained well below government promises. Inflation remained high—at 16% in May, though it eased to 12.9% in September.

      In March, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki personally directed military operations in Basra to bring to heel the militias that had controlled the city, terrorized the population, and prevented the normal flow of oil from terminals in Basra to the rest of the country. The Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr was the main target. After a long week of fighting, the city came under the control of government forces when Sadr ordered his militia off the streets of Basra. Despite Sadr's call for a renewal of the six-month cease-fire in February, fighting by some Mahdi militia elements spread in March and April to other Shiʿite cities, such as Amarah and Kut, and Sadr City district within Baghdad. It was not until the end of May that Iraqi government forces, with help from the U.S., were able to pacify Sadr City.

      These actions gave a boost to the Maliki government. Another shift toward national reconciliation occurred when Iraq's largest Sunni bloc, the Iraqi National Accord (INA), ended a nearly yearlong boycott and, on July 19, rejoined the cabinet, retaking six cabinet ministries. The INA had left Maliki's cabinet in 2007 at the height of violence between Sunni and Shiʿite Arabs.

      After months of debate and delay, the Iraqi parliament on September 24 passed a crucial election law that was signed by the Presidency Council in October. The law aimed at organizing the important provincial elections to be held on Jan. 31, 2009, except for the three provinces in the Kurdish region (which were to schedule elections later) and Kirkuk. Passage of the law fulfilled a major benchmark requested by the U.S. and marked an important advance in the political sphere. Much of the delay had been caused by the controversial Kirkuk issue and the debate over who should control the oil-rich province. Kirkuk was excepted from the election, and the issue was given to a committee for further study. Although Kurds claimed the province as part of their autonomous region (and wanted an election to cement their control), resistance to this claim came from Arab and Turkmen inhabitants of the province and a large part of the Arab Iraqi population, whether Shiʿite or Sunni. By fall 2008 there were active preparations among political parties and groups to compete in the election, which was expected to be a bellwether for the parliamentary elections in January 2009.

      The Chaldean archbishop of Mosul, Faraj Rahho, was kidnapped February 29 and found murdered on March 13. By October, Iraqi Christians had become a clear target of harassment. Hundreds living in Mosul were threatened and forced to leave their homes and flee the city. The threats came from as-yet-unidentified groups. During the year Mosul was the focus of intensive joint U.S.-Iraqi operations against al-Qaeda in Iraq.

      Arab Sunnis in Iraq and many of Iraq's Sunni-led Arab neighbours continued to show concern over growing Iranian influence in Iraq; this concern was shared by U.S. officials, who claimed that Iran was involved in training and funding a “shadow” army of Shiʿite militias aimed at removing U.S. forces from Iraq. The Iraqi government publicly said that it had no evidence of Iran's having trained Iraqi militias.

      Though Iraq's long-awaited oil law was still stalled in the parliament at year's end, this did not prevent Royal Dutch Shell from concluding a natural gas agreement with the state-run Southern Oil Co. on September 22 and setting up an office in Baghdad. It was the first major international oil and gas firm to go back into Iraq since the nationalization of the Iraqi oil industry in 1972.

      On August 11 King Abdullah II of Jordan paid a historic visit to Iraq. He was the first Arab head of state to visit Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. With the encouragement of the U.S., Abdullah's visit was followed by those of other high-level Arab officials. Several Arab countries (including Syria) sent ambassadors to Iraq, signaling an Arab thaw toward the Shiʿite-led government in Baghdad. Although Kuwait sent an ambassador to Baghdad in October, a much-anticipated visit by Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nassar Muhammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah did not occur. Kuwait had not forgiven an estimated $17 billion in Iraqi debts, and bitterness persisted over the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the resulting 1991 Persian Gulf War.

      During the year Iraq engaged in crucial negotiations and hard bargaining with the U.S. over a security agreement that would decide the future of U.S. forces in Iraq. The final accord, known as the Status of Forces Agreement, called for U.S. forces to leave Iraqi towns and villages by June 2009 and for a total withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of 2011. Iraqi authorities were granted extensive power over the operations of U.S. forces, and Iraq was given the right to prosecute U.S. soldiers and defense contractors in cases of serious crimes committed off duty and off bases. The agreement was approved by the cabinet on November 16 and went to the parliament, where a vigorous debate took place. Parliamentary approval came on November 27, with a vote of 149 out of 198 deputies present, despite criticism from some Shiʿite hard-liners, especially Sadrists, who demanded unconditional U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. The deal was passed only after the Shiʿite-led government agreed to a mainly Sunni demand for a popular referendum on the agreement to be held no later than July 30, 2009. A second Strategic Framework Agreement covered future bilateral relations between the U.S. and Iraq. The Iraqi government considered the agreements a crucial step toward regaining the country's full sovereignty.

Louay Bahry

▪ 2008

434,128 sq km (167,618 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 28,993,000 (including nearly 2,500,000 Iraqi refugees, of which about 1,400,000 are in Syria and about 750,000 are in Jordan)
Head of state:
President Jalal Talabani
Head of government:
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki

 The Iraqi government, composed of different ethnic and sectarian factions, proved to be too weak to achieve much progress in any direction in 2007. The main problem was the absence of a shared vision for the future of Iraq, even within the various sectarian groups themselves, and the absence of leaders capable of reaching beyond their own narrow constituencies. Divisions within the majority Shiʿite community became evident with armed confrontations between Shiʿite militias in many parts of the country, including the oil-rich province of Basra in southern Iraq. The most significant intra-Shiʿite confrontation, however, took place on August 27 in Karbala between the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr (Sadr, Muqtada al- ) and forces belonging to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. In mid-September, Sadr withdrew his group from the United Iraqi Alliance, the main Shiʿite bloc in the parliament. The action was the most dramatic sign of political transformation in Iraq, signaling the fraying of old alliances and the possibility of new groupings.

      Among the Sunni, the situation was not much better. The main Sunni group in the government, the Iraqi Accord Front, announced in August that it was withdrawing its six ministers to protest, among other things, an alleged “genocide campaign” against Sunni. Meanwhile, key legislation remained hostage to protracted negotiations in an unwieldy parliament that could barely muster a quorum.

      Acts of violence by Sunni insurgents, al-Qaeda partisans, and Shiʿite militias against the U.S. and Iraqi government forces continued throughout the year. The most spectacular act of violence since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 occurred on August 14, when a series of truck bombs struck two villages (inhabited by members of the ancient Yazidi sect) in northern Iraq. The incident left at least 500 persons dead and at least 1,000 wounded. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attacks.

      Some success was achieved in reducing violence in Al-Anbar province, a Sunni Arab stronghold in western Iraq. In September 2006 Sunni Arab tribes there, with the backing of the U.S., had formed a unified front called the Anbar Salvation Council; its aim was to use local tribesmen to fight al-Qaeda. In the following months the tribes were quite successful in this endeavour. In early September 2007, U.S. Pres. George W. Bush visited the province and met with members of the council, including its head, Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha. Ten days later the sheikh was killed by a roadside bomb aimed at his car. He was immediately replaced by his brother, Sheikh Ahmad Abu Risha. As Al-Anbar calmed down, scores of young men from the province joined the national police force and the army. Success in Al-Anbar encouraged the U.S. to expand the model to other provinces, including the Shiʿite areas of central and southern Iraq, in an attempt to persuade tribes there to combat extremist Shiʿite militias and even to patrol the sensitive Iran-Iraq border. The U.S. also tried to bring about some reconciliation between Shiʿite and Sunni tribes in the volatile eastern province of Diyala, urging them to cooperate in the fight against insurgents and al-Qaeda groups.

      Early in the year the U.S. decided, in cooperation with the Iraqi government, to increase the number of its troops in Iraq, in a “surge” designed to pacify Baghdad and other parts of Iraq. Some 30,000 additional U.S. forces were sent to Iraq. By midsummer, joint U.S.-Iraqi operations had yielded some results. There was a decrease in the number of attacks and casualties in Baghdad and western Iraq. On September 10, however, Gen. David Petraeus (Petraeus, David ), commander of the U.S. forces in Iraq, told the U.S. Congress that he envisioned a gradual withdrawal of these 30,000 troops from Iraq starting in the spring of 2008. By November the violence had declined substantially in Baghdad, and Iraqi military commanders hinted that some restrictions imposed to reduce violence might soon be lifted in the city.

      Despite the surge, acts of violence and fighting continued between Shiʿite and Sunni militias. (See Special Report (Sunni-Shi'ite Division Within Islam ).) Beginning in 2006, fighting between the two sects had intensified and affected the demographic structure of Baghdad. Hundreds of thousands of Baghdadis were forced to leave their homes, either on their own or because of threats from others. By the end of 2007, ethnic and sectarian change in Baghdad had left eastern parts of the city with mainly Shiʿite inhabitants (with pockets of Sunni areas mainly in the north and downtown Baghdad). The Sunni settled in western Baghdad, and there were some mixed Shiʿite-Sunni areas on both sides of the city. Massive internal migration also intensified; it was estimated that some two million Iraqis were dispersed internally. Iraqis (mostly Sunni) continued to flee to neighbouring countries, mainly Syria and Jordan; Iraqi refugees in Syria were said to number 1.4 million; those in Jordan, 750,000. In September Syria decided to impose visa requirements on Iraqis (Jordan had already prescribed such requirements in 2005). Both countries justified their actions by citing economic, social, and other burdens that had resulted from Iraqi refugees; Damascus and Amman also asked for help from the UN.

      Both U.S. and Iraqi officials accused Iran of interfering in Iraq's internal affairs and attempting to destabilize the country by supplying arms and training to militias. Direct talks on these issues began in March in Baghdad between Iranian, U.S., and Iraqi officials. Though the talks were not very successful, the parties agreed to set up a committee to work on Iraq's stabilization.

      Early in September the British government reduced its troop levels and began to withdraw those that remained from the city of Basra to bases outside the city. These moves were aimed at paving the way for a complete withdrawal in the future. Iraqi security forces took over positions previously held by the British.

      On August 17 Turkey and Iraq agreed to clear Turkish Kurdish rebels from northern Iraq. Turkey threatened to halt cross-border guerrilla attacks by these Kurdish rebels by force if necessary. Iraqi Kurds and the U.S. expressed opposition to any incursion of Turkish troops into Iraq.

      In an effort to stop the ethnic and sectarian strife that had risen steadily in Iraq since 2003, the U.S. Senate passed a nonbinding resolution in September aimed at partitioning Iraq along ethnic and sectarian lines—Kurdish, Sunni, and Shiʿite; these units, however, would be kept inside Iraq in a loose federation. Though the Kurds welcomed the resolution, the plan was met with criticism by other Iraqis and by Arab countries.

Louay Bahry

▪ 2007

434,128 sq km (167,618 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 28,513,000 (including Iraqi refugees numbering about 700,000 in Syria and about 800,000 in Jordan)
Head of state:
President Jalal Talabani
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Ibrahim al-Jaafari and, from May 20, Nuri al-Maliki

      Political life in Iraq in 2006 was influenced by the results of the Dec. 15, 2005, general elections, in which the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) of Shiʿite religious parties captured 128 of 278 seats in the parliament. This fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to rule without a coalition of partners, however. The Sunni and Kurdish blocs finished second and third. The UIA bloc nominated Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the interim prime minister, to serve as Iraq's first full-term prime minister in the post-Saddam era. Jaafari faced opposition from the Sunni Arab and Kurdish blocs, however, and he was unable to secure the votes needed for confirmation in the National Assembly because both Sunni and Kurds considered him a divisive figure unable to form a government of national unity. Finally, after four months of stalemate, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki (Maliki, Nuri al- ) (see Biographies) of the Islamic Daʿwah (Shiʿite) Party, emerged as a compromise candidate. The National Assembly met on April 21 and reelected Jalal al-Talabani to be president of the country for the next four years. Talabani nominated Maliki as prime minister, and the Assembly approved the selection. Maliki's national unity cabinet was sworn in on May 20. It included Shiʿite, Sunni, and Kurdish ministers.

      In his first statements Maliki vowed to curb violence, restore law and order, and fight corruption in the country, stressing that he was the prime minister of all Iraqis. At the end of June, Maliki presented the nation and the National Assembly with an ambitious 24-point plan of national reconciliation. While the Kurds and most Shiʿites welcomed the plan, the Sunni gave only conditional approval, and some Sunni rejected it outright. They demanded that any such plan include unconditional amnesty for insurgents and a scheduled withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign troops from Iraq before negotiations for reconciliation began.

      The year was marked by a substantial increase in violence in Iraq, notably between the Arab Sunni and Shiʿite communities. The violence brought the country to the brink of civil war and led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people on all sides of the struggle. Most of the killings were carried out by armed militias belonging to the Shiʿite Jaysh al-Mahdi, the military force of the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and the Firqat-Badr militia of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. These two militias were able to infiltrate the police force and organize death squads, which carried out violence and retaliation against Sunni. The Sunni militants were mainly armed terrorist Islamic groups, such as al-Qaeda, which fought alongside secular Sunni nationalist contingents, such as former Baʿthists. They also carried out acts of insurgency against the central government and U.S.-led coalition troops in Iraq. Most of the sectarian violence was concentrated in the greater Baghdad area and Diyala, the province to the east of Baghdad, in the so-called mixed Sunni and Shiʿite areas. Violence included killings, kidnappings for ransom, torture, suicide bombings, and beheadings. Hundreds of thousands of Sunni and Shiʿites—including many middle-class doctors, lawyers, artists, and businessmen and their families— fled to safer areas, both inside the country and in neighbouring Syria and Jordan. The sectarian violence increased after a Sunni-backed group of al-Qaeda terrorists on February 22 bombed and seriously damaged the much-revered Shiʿite shrine of al-Askaria in the city of Samarraʾ, north of Baghdad. Shiʿite militias retaliated by destroying Sunni mosques or simply converting them to Shiʿite mosques. More than 1,000 people were killed in the days following the bombing. Many Iraqis believed that some neighbouring countries were helping to fuel the violence. The Sunni accused Iran (Iran's Power Dilemma ) of intervening to help the Shiʿites (see Iran: Special Report (Iran's Power Dilemma ), above), while the Shiʿites accused Syria and some Arab Gulf countries of helping Sunni insurgents and Islamists.

      The al-Qaeda network in Iraq suffered an important loss on June 7 when an American air raid killed their leader, the Jordanian-born Iraqi Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (Zarqawi, Abu Musab al- ) (see Obituaries), while he was in one of his hideouts in Diyala. After a few days, al-Qaeda announced that it had chosen Abu Ayyub al-Masri as the new leader of its Iraqi operations. On November 9 the Iraqi minister of health estimated that some 150,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed since the invasion in 2003. Violence and instability in Iraq led to semiparalysis of the economy (some 40% of the able workforce was unemployed) and a stall in reconstruction. Such social imbalances led to a substantial increase in corruption among government employees and officials.

 On December 30 Iraq executed former president Saddam Hussein. (Hussein, Saddam ) (See Obituaries.) On November 5 Saddam and two of his co-defendants (one was his half-brother Barzan Ibrahim al-Hasan) had received the death penalty for the crime of having 148 people killed or executed for an alleged attempt in 1982 to assassinate Saddam while he was visiting the village of Dujail. Other defendants received various penalties.

      In October the National Assembly adopted by a very thin margin a law that would allow the establishment of federal regions in Iraq. While one of the major Shiʿite parties and the Kurds supported this law, Sunni leaders and a number of Shiʿite deputies opposed it bitterly, saying it would allow the establishment of a semiautonomous Shiʿite province in the south, which would lead to more violence in the country and weaken the authority of the central government. The Kurdish community in the north remained more peaceful than the rest of the country and busied itself during the year with building up its own institutions and enacting legislation to create a semiautonomous region.

      Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Iraqi National Museum, which once housed a wealth of treasures from ancient Mesopotamia, had lost some 15,000 items of antiquity owing to theft and vandalism. By 2006, however, the museum had recovered about 3,700 of these lost pieces. Fearing more acts of vandalism, the government permanently sealed the entrances of the museum with concrete.

Louay Bahry

▪ 2006

434,128 sq km (167,618 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 27,818,000
Head of state:
Presidents Ghazi al-Yawer and, from April 7, Jalal Talabani
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Ayad Allawi and, from May 3, Ibrahim al-Jaafari

      The first general elections to be held in Iraq following the U.S. occupation took place as scheduled on Jan. 30, 2005. While the Kurdish and Shiʿite populations voted massively in their areas of concentration, Sunni Arabs generally stayed home, either because of intimidation by insurgents or because they were boycotting the election. In the view of many Sunni, the elections were illegal, since they took place under foreign occupation. The vote produced a transitional National Assembly in which the Shiʿite religious parties won 51% of the seats, the Kurdish alliance claimed 27%, and the secular Shiʿite list led by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi took 14%. Only 16 of the 275 Assembly members elected were Sunni. On April 6 the new parliament elected Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, as the new Iraqi president. Ibrahim al-Jaafari (Jaafari, Ibrahim al- ) (see Biographies), head of the Islamic Daʿwah Party, was chosen as prime minister. Jaafari was sworn in, along with the cabinet he selected, on May 3.

      The main task of the transitional parliament was to write a permanent constitution for Iraq by mid-August. To this end a constitutional committee of 55 members was selected from the parliament. Since the majority of its members were either Shiʿites or Kurds, the Sunni protested that their representation was insufficient. To rectify this problem, some Sunni were added, but they were able to join the committee only after its work was well under way. The committee had difficulty meeting its schedule, but a draft was finally approved by the National Assembly, and it was submitted to a popular referendum on October 15.

      The draft constitution was narrowly approved. A two-thirds rejection in three separate provinces was required for defeat. Two of Iraq's 18 provinces did reject the document by a two-thirds vote, while a simple majority rejected it in a third province. In contrast to the January elections for the parliament, there was substantial Sunni participation in the referendum, and it was mainly the Sunni-dominated provinces that voted “no.” The new Iraqi constitution called for a federated state in Iraq with a weak central government. Many of the details, which were left vague or unfinished, were to be filled in after a permanent National Assembly was elected on December 15. Preparations for the December elections started immediately after the referendum. Some 228 candidates or entities were registered to run. This time a number of Sunni parties and candidates decided to compete. Iraqis voted along ethnic and sectarian lines. The religiously oriented Shiʿite bloc won a large plurality but fell short of a majority. They were followed by Sunni and Kurdish blocs. This result guaranteed that Iraq's next government would be a coalition.

      During the year there was a noticeable deterioration of public services, including electricity, clean water, and garbage collection. As a result of acts of sabotage, especially against pipelines and oil facilities, oil exports were disrupted. Among males, unemployment reached 50–60%; the rate was even higher among women. Random acts of kidnapping, assassination, and murder ravaged areas of the country. University professors, medical doctors, and other members of the Iraqi elite were targeted, and many left the country. Militias belonging to political parties or individuals were active and visible in policing certain areas. Corruption reportedly expanded among government officials at all levels despite repeated promises by the Iraqi government to investigate and punish offenses.

      A rising tide of tensions and hostilities became apparent between the Shiʿite and Sunni communities. There were increasing reports of killings, kidnappings, and reprisals between members of these two communities, reportedly reaching tens of thousands of victims. These attacks were encouraged by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of the al-Qaeda terrorist network in Iraq. He declared war against the Shiʿites, accusing them of being “infidels” and of cooperating with the American “occupiers.”

       Insurgents and terrorist groups in Iraq—foreign terrorists, Iraqi nationalists, and loyalists to deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein—attacked both Iraqis and U.S. troops. Their attacks took many forms—armed street fights, suicide bombings, roadside bombs, and car bombings. In particular, insurgents aimed attacks at police stations, police and military recruiting centres, U.S. forces and facilities, and other public places such as markets and even mosques. In one tragic case, on August 31—after rumours spread of a terrorist attack—some 1,000 Shiʿite pilgrims in Baghdad on their way to visit a holy shrine died in a stampede as they crossed a bridge over the Tigris River. Attacks were also aimed at foreign diplomats working in Iraq; Ihab al-Sharif, the Egyptian envoy to Baghdad, was kidnapped on July 2 and executed five days later.

      At least half of all attacks occurred in four Sunni-dominated provinces— Anbar, Salah al-Din, Nineveh, and Baghdad. Iraq's borders, especially with neighbouring Syria, were only lightly guarded, and hundreds of fighters crossed to join the Iraqi insurgents. The new Iraqi government, eager to restore law and order, began increasing the number of police and armed forces. In an effort to assuage Sunni discontent, the government on November 2 called junior officers in Saddam's disbanded army back into service, openly canceling a U.S. directive issued in 2003. The trial of Saddam and of a number of his aides officially began on October 19. The prosecution started with the case of the 1982 massacre of 143 people in the village of Dujail, which Saddam allegedly ordered after an attempt on his life was made. His trial was expected to take several months.

      An Arab League meeting aimed at national reconciliation among Iraqis was held in Cairo in November. The talks were attended by high-level Iraqi government leaders, including the president and the prime minister, as well as leading Sunni opposition groups, among them the Association of Muslim Scholars and the National Dialogue Council. On November 21, at the end of the three-day meeting, the group called for the “withdrawal of foreign troops according to a timetable,” a position that satisfied an important demand of the Sunni opposition.

      A crisis between Iraq and Kuwait over border demarcation was averted in the summer of 2005 as leaders of the two countries called for calm and restraint. Although top officials in Iraq and Iran exchanged visits, many Iraqis voiced concern over increased Iranian influence in Iraq, especially in the south. Relations with Syria deteriorated, with Iraqi officials accusing the country of tolerating the infiltration of foreign fighters into Iraq from Syria. In October and November, Iraqi and U.S. troops launched joint operations against suspected insurgents in western Iraqi towns near the Syrian border. These operations led to the killing or capture of hundreds of suspected insurgents.

Louay Bahry

▪ 2005

434,128 sq km (167,618 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 25,375,000
Head of state:
occupation regime headed by Director of the Coalition Provisional Authority L. Paul Bremer III; from June 28, 2004, President Ghazi al-Yawer
Head of government:
Governing Council of Iraqi leaders with a rotating presidency; from July 1, 2004, Prime Minister Ayad Allawi

      The year 2004 In Iraq was marked by a sharp degradation of the security situation while the U.S.-led coalition occupation forces struggled to rebuild the Iraqi nation. (See Special Report (Character and Future of Nation Building ).) The numbers of shadowy underground insurgent groups launching attacks against American forces and Iraqi government targets were legion. Most notorious among them was a group under the control of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born terrorist with ties to the al-Qaeda terrorist network. These groups attracted both homegrown insurgents and non-Iraqi volunteer fighters from Arab and Islamic countries who had entered Iraq across poorly guarded borders, mainly via Syria and Iran. Insurgents also comprised remnants of the old Iraqi Baʿth regime, Arab nationalists, and Sunni Islamic fundamentalists. They were responsible for countless acts of killing, sabotage, destruction of public property, hostage taking, and suicide bombings. Their targets included hotels, police- and army-recruiting centres, electrical installations, and oil pipelines; attacks on petroleum-producing facilities effectively disrupted the export of oil from Iraq. These groups did their utmost to destabilize the new Iraqi government and inflict losses on the U.S. and other coalition forces stationed in Iraq. Several coalition partners were persuaded to withdraw their troops from Iraq; major reconstruction projects were halted; and the flow of passengers and goods to and from Syria and Jordan was disrupted. Among the prominent casualties of car-bomb attacks was Izz al-Din Salem, the president of the Iraq Governing Council, on May 11.

      The insurgency was concentrated mainly in Baghdad and the Sunni areas north and west of the capital, especially in the town of Fallujah, where the rebels dug in and in April repelled an attempt by U.S. and central government forces to regain control of the city. The military effort was renewed in November, and Fallujah was recaptured with heavy losses inflicted on the insurgents and a large part of the city destroyed.

      In general, the Shiʿite areas of Iraq remained calm after fighting that lasted until September between U.S. and Iraqi forces and those of Muqtada al-Sadr, a radical young Shiʿite cleric, which took place mainly in Karbalah and Najaf. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (see Biographies (Sistani, Ali al- )), the highest Shiʿite authority in Iraq, was able to mediate this dispute and put an end to the fighting. The ethnic Kurdish areas in northern Iraq generally remained outside the circle of violence, although Kurdish leaders were increasingly vocal in demanding greater autonomy. Ethnic and sectarian tensions, including some violence, continued between Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmen, who constituted the population of the city of Kirkuk, claimed by the Kurds as part of their autonomous zone.

      Under pressure from the resistance movement, the U.S. authorities decided to return sovereignty to the Iraqis earlier than scheduled. The Governing Council that had been installed by the U.S. in July 2003 was dissolved, and in its place an interim administration was appointed with the task of preparing for general elections to be held by Jan. 30, 2005. UN Special Adviser Lakhdar Brahimi (see Biographies (Brahimi, Lakhdar )) selected Ghazi al-Yawar, a Sunni sheikh trained as an engineer, to be president and head of the interim administration. On June 8 the UN Security Council approved his appointment. Subsequently, Ayad Allawi (see Biographies (Allawi, Ayad )) was elected prime minister of the interim Iraqi government. On June 28, two days ahead of schedule, L. Paul Bremer III, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, handed over sovereignty to the newly created Iraqi leadership—but without any withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country. John D. Negroponte assumed some of Bremer's functions as the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

      The Transitional Administrative Law was adopted by the Governing Council on March 8. The document proclaimed Islam as a source of legislation and granted individual rights to all Iraqis. It did not expand the Kurdish self-governing area. The new Iraqi parliament, which was supposed to be elected by the end of January 2005, would be responsible for drawing up a permanent constitution for Iraq.

      Despite concentrated efforts by the U.S. to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, none were found. The presumed possession of such weapons by deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had been a principal argument used by the U.S. government to justify its invasion of Iraq. A special court was established on Dec. 9, 2003, to try Saddam Hussein and his top aides for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, and he was captured four days later. In January 2004 Saddam was declared a prisoner of war, and in July legal custody was handed over to the new Iraqi government. He was arraigned in court, where he heard the charges brought against him, publicly denied any wrongdoing, and was returned to his prison cell to await trial. On March 20 the U.S. military charged several members of the U.S. Army police with assault and mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad. Several of the accused military personnel were brought to trial, and some were found guilty and received punishment. (See Military Affairs: Special Report (POWs and the Global War on Terrorism ).)

      Although salaries of Iraqi civil servants and some workers increased during the year, unemployment remained very high (about 60%). Components of the infrastructure, such as roads, and municipal services (sewage, water, and distribution of electricity) were further degraded owing to a shortage of funds and the worsening civil violence. The central bank, however, was able to keep the value of the Iraqi dinar stable at nearly 1,450 dinars to the dollar.

      Iraqis started to enjoy rights and freedoms that had been denied them under Saddam Hussein's regime. These included the right to obtain a passport and travel abroad, freedom of the media, and the right to form professional associations and political groups. By the end of 2004, nearly 300 political parties and civil groups had emerged. Many of these aimed to compete in the January 2005 general election, but six main groups emerged. Four were pro-American—the Kurdistan Democratic Party; the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan; the Iraqi National Congress, headed by Ahmed Chalabi; and the Iraqi National Accord, headed by Prime Minister Allawi. In addition, there were two important Shiʿite religious parties, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, led by Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim, and the Daʾwa Party, headed by Ibrahim al-Jaʾfari. A few political groups went into opposition and declared their intention to boycott the elections because Iraqis were still under foreign (i.e., U.S.) occupation. Other parties sought to form alliances before the election deadline.

Louay Bahry

▪ 2004

434,128 sq km (167,618 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 24,683,000
Head of state and government:
President and Prime Minister Saddam Hussein until April 9; thereafter, coalition occupation regimes headed by Director of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance Jay M. Garner (April 21–May 12) and Director of the Coalition Provisional Authority L. Paul Bremer III (from May 12); a Governing Council of Iraqi leaders with a rotating presidency was established on July 13

      By the end of 2002, Iraq had announced that it would cooperate with the inspectors on the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) on weapons of mass destruction (WMD). (See Military Affairs: Sidebar (Defining Weapons of Mass Destruction ).) Thereafter, UN inspection teams worked for several weeks in Iraq, but their final report was inconclusive. Meanwhile, the U.S. and the U.K. continued to build up military forces around Iraq (mainly in Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain). They claimed that Iraq was still concealing some WMD and threatened military action if Iraq did not disarm. Other countries, notably France, Germany, and Russia, demanded that UN inspectors be allowed more time to reach conclusive results. The U.S. and the U.K., however, decided to act on the authority of UN Resolution 1441. This resolution, adopted unanimously by the Security Council on Nov. 8, 2002, demanded that Iraq accept rigorous arms inspection.

      On March 17, 2003, U.S. Pres. George W. Bush issued an ultimatum demanding that Iraqi Pres. Saddam Hussein (see Biographies (Hussein, Saddam )) and his cohorts leave the country within 48 hours. The U.S. ultimatum was rejected, and the UN inspection team left Iraq. On March 20 the first air attacks on Baghdad began, and soon afterward U.S. and British ground forces invaded southern Iraq from Kuwait. Turkey rejected U.S. requests that it allow U.S. troops to traverse its territory and open a second front in northern Iraq.

      Coalition (mainly U.S. and British) forces met stiff resistance before taking the southern city of Basra, but coalition troops thereafter advanced steadily toward Baghdad with less resistance, except around Nasiriyah and Najaf. By April 6 Baghdad was under siege, with defenders digging trenches in urban neighbourhoods filled with elite Republican Guards, regular army troops, and militiamen. On April 9 Iraqi resistance melted, and Baghdad fell to the coalition; by April 18 most of the country was under the control of U.S. forces. On May 1 President Bush officially declared that major combat had ended.

      Even while military operations were taking place, the U.S. began airlifting hundreds of members of an exile group, the Iraq National Congress, meant to be the vanguard of a new Iraqi army. The Pentagon appointed a retired army lieutenant general, Jay M. Garner, as Iraq's new administrator. He was soon replaced, however, by L. Paul Bremer III, a diplomat. (See Biographies (Bremer, L. Paul, III ).)

      The fall of Baghdad was followed by widespread acts of looting, vandalism, sabotage, and burning of public buildings and residences, especially those belonging to leading members of the fallen regime. The National Museum of Iraq, which held some of the finest treasures of ancient Mesopotamia, was looted; however, many of the artifacts that were feared lost were later found or returned to the museum. Iraq entered a cycle of violence and instability combined with a breakdown of the electrical-power grid and telephone services, especially in Baghdad.

 Almost immediately after the occupation, various forms of Iraqi resistance arose. U.S. forces and Iraqis who were cooperating with the coalition forces became targets of attacks in an increasingly focused and organized guerrilla campaign. On the whole, the Iraqi Shiʿite community remained relatively calm, as did the areas in the north that were under control of Kurdish opposition parties. Anti-American sentiments and daily attacks against U.S. forces were concentrated in areas of Baghdad and in the Arab Sunnite cities in the centre and west of the country, an area that came to be known as the “Sunni triangle.” (For distribution of ethnic and religious groups in Iraq and vicinity, see Map—>.) By November the number of U.S. forces killed after Bush announced the end of major combat exceeded the number of those killed in the war.

      The resistance increasingly undertook spectacular acts of violence, including suicide bomb attacks. On August 29 in the religious city of Najaf, a bomb attack killed some 80 people, including Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, an important Shiʿite cleric. On August 19 a blast caused by a suicide bomber devastated the Baghdad headquarters of the UN, killing at least 22 people, among them the top UN envoy to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello. (See Obituaries (Vieira de Mello, Sergio ).)

      Saddam's two sons, Uday and Qusay, were killed on July 22 in a firefight with U.S. troops in Mosul. (See Obituaries (Hussein, Uday, and Hussein, Qusay ).) The two men were among those on a U.S. list of 55 persons described as the “most wanted” personalities of the former regime. By the end of the year, 42 people on that list had been either captured or killed. On December 13, U.S. forces tracked Saddam to a farm outside Tikrit, where he was found hiding in a “spider hole”; he surrendered without a fight.

      Several countries responded favourably to U.S. requests for troops to be sent to Iraq to help provide peace and security, among them Poland, Italy, Spain, Denmark, The Netherlands, Slovakia, and Ukraine. Others, notably France and Germany, insisted that the UN had to be given more authority for the administration of Iraq before they would consider sending troops.

      Months after the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and despite intensive searching, no chemical or biological WMD had been found. Some people accused the U.S. and British governments of having gone to war in Iraq on the basis of outdated and inconclusive intelligence—or worse.

      On July 13, under pressure from Iraqis for more self-government, U.S. authorities in Iraq nominated a 25-member body, called the Iraqi Interim Governing Council. Its members included 13 Shiʿites, 5 Arab Sunnites, 5 Kurds, 1 Turkmen, and 1 Assyrian Christian. The council was given limited powers but was asked to come up with a process for drafting a constitution and holding a general election in Iraq before the end of 2004. These steps were considered a prelude to a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and a restoration of a sovereign Iraqi government. The Governing Council was able to meet some important challenges. In the first week of October, all schools and universities were reopened for a new school year, and in mid-October a new Iraqi currency was introduced to replace the old one that bore Saddam's picture.

      The economic situation in Iraq deteriorated after the occupation of the country. Unemployment was high, anywhere between 50% and 80% of the adult population. Foreign companies were reluctant to invest or work in Iraq because of a lack of security. On May 22 the UN voted to lift sanctions, and an international donors conference in Madrid on October 24 promised more than $33 billion for Iraq's reconstruction over a four-year period. By year's end several creditor countries were contemplating restructuring or forgiving portions of Iraq's massive foreign debt.

Louay Bahry

▪ 2003

435,052 sq km (167,975 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 24,002,000
Head of state and government:
President and Prime Minister Saddam Hussein

      The hard-line policy of the United States toward Iraq escalated dramatically after Jan. 29, 2002, when Pres. George W. Bush, addressing Congress in the annual state of the union speech, accused Iraq—along with Iran and North Korea—of being part of an “axis of evil.” Bush charged Iraq with being hostile toward the U.S. and supporting terrorism. Early in the year, President Bush adopted the notion of replacing Pres. Saddam Hussein with a democratic regime by any means, including the use of U.S. military force. Iraqi officials vowed to fight this change. The war of words continued throughout the year.

      In preparation for a possible invasion, the U.S. increased its military presence at its bases in the Middle East and pressured Arab and European countries to join in an anti-Iraq political and military alliance. Among the countries approached by the U.S., Great Britain evinced the most support for military action against Iraq, while German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder was outspoken in his opposition. France and Russia objected to U.S. unilateralism, claiming that punitive action could be taken only within the framework of the United Nations and only in the event that Iraq continued to defy UN resolutions.

      By the summer, international attention was focusing on the return of UN inspectors to Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction, including biological and chemical weapons, and to destroy any that were found. Iraq had agreed in 1991 to accept weapons inspections as part of the cease-fire agreement (UN Security Council Resolution 687) imposed on it after its defeat in the Persian Gulf War. Obdurate Iraqi refusal to cooperate had obliged the UN inspectors to leave in December 1998; their return became the pivotal demand of the international community. Iraq objected to the return of inspectors, claiming that they had finished their work and that in any event Iraq no longer possessed chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons or proscribed long-range missiles. During 2002 three rounds of talks over the resumption of inspections were held between Iraq and the UN in New York and Vienna. All of these talks failed as Iraq continued to object to an unconditional return of inspectors.

      Faced with U.S. threats and international pressure, Baghdad suddenly changed its policy and, on September 16, announced that it would accept a new round of weapons inspections. This move succeeded in dividing the members of the UN Security Council over how to proceed. France, Russia, and China declared that they were satisfied with Iraq's acquiescence; the U.S. and Britain believed that this was merely a tactical move, and they continued to work for a tough UN resolution on weapons inspections. These two countries repeated their wish for a regime change in Iraq, even by the use of force if necessary, and they tried to show that Iraq had links with international terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda. President Bush sought domestic support for his hard-line position, courting congressional leaders and submitting a resolution to Congress that would allow military intervention. By the end of September, the Bush administration had proposed giving Iraq a seven-day deadline to accept a new UN resolution with stiff conditions for weapons inspections. Iraqi leaders said that they would not abide by such a resolution, however. In October, Congress gave the president the right to use force in Iraq.

      In late November the first UN weapons inspectors arrived, and in December Iraq submitted a 12,000-page declaration on the status of its weapons program, which indicated that in the past it had secretly attempted to get equipment from a number of countries for nuclear weapons.

      After several months of discussion, on May 14 the Security Council adopted a new resolution easing UN economic sanctions on Iraq, imposed after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. According to the new resolution, Iraq would be permitted, without seeking advanced approval, to import all products needed for nonmilitary civilian use.

      The year saw an improvement in Iraq's diplomatic status. On March 26, at an Arab summit conference in Beirut, Iraq officially reconciled differences with both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Relations with both had badly deteriorated after Iraq's failed occupation of Kuwait. Iraq also improved political and economic ties with Syria and Egypt. Relations with Iran remained uneasy, however, despite the return home of some Iraqi families exiled in Iran and the exchange of the remains of some servicemen who had died in the Iran-Iraq War (1980–88).

      In August the Revolutionary Command Council, with the approval of the National Assembly, nominated Saddam Hussein as the sole candidate for a new seven-year term as president. A national plebiscite on his leadership took place on October 15 and gave Hussein a massive 100% vote.

      The central government in Baghdad attempted to strengthen its control over the Kurdish area of northern Iraq, lost after the rebellion of 1991, by distributing more than four million textbooks to pupils in preparation for the 2002–03 school year. The books included literature and grammar in Kurdish and Arabic, and Kurdish-Arabic dictionaries were printed for the first time.

Louay Bahry

▪ 2002

435,052 sq km (167,975 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 23,332,000
Head of state and government:
President and Prime Minister Saddam Hussein

      In the wake of the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, Iraq was virtually alone among countries in failing to offer official condolences to the U.S. In line with his adversarial relationship with the U.S., Pres. Saddam Hussein publicly opposed the U.S.-led war on terrorism and called on other Islamic countries to help defeat it. He also decried the military action in Afghanistan, calling it a spark that could set “the world on fire.” In response, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell suggested that once the U.S. had concluded its campaign in Afghanistan, it would deal with Iraq's weapons program as part of its effort against terrorism. Meanwhile, the U.S. focused on persuading Russia to sign off on a “smart sanctions” package that would ease the restrictions on civilian goods imported into Iraq but tighten restrictions on military supplies. The package also included measures to prevent Iraq from smuggling oil to the outside world, as it continued to do. Pending action on new UN measures, in November the existing “oil-for-food” program was renewed, while the U.S. and its allies dealt with Afghanistan. Hussein reiterated that UN arms inspectors would not be allowed to return to Iraq unless international sanctions against the country were lifted.

      U.S. and British airplanes continued to attack Iraqi radar installations and other military targets throughout the year. The Iraqis strengthened their military capacity and announced that they had downed three unmanned U.S. surveillance planes patrolling the no-fly zone in southern Iraq. The Pentagon confirmed in September that it had lost contact with the planes.

      Iraq put major efforts into improving relations with its neighbours, with considerable success. Relations between Iraq and Syria warmed considerably during the year. Railroad links between the two countries were reestablished in May. In June Syria abolished visa requirements for Iraqis visiting Syria, and in August, accompanied by a huge delegation, Syrian Prime Minister Mustafa Mero made a three-day visit to Iraq. The two countries signed several trade agreements. Regular commercial air travel resumed between Damascus (Syria) and Baghdad and between Amman (Jordan) and Baghdad.

      Relations between Turkey and Iraq also improved during the year despite continued Turkish military incursions into northern Iraq in pursuit of Turkey's Kurdish rebels. The two countries resumed railway links, and the first train to go from Turkey to Iraq in more than 20 years arrived in Baghdad in early May. In July the two countries agreed to open a second border crossing in northern Iraq, at a point yet to be determined. A new Turkish ambassador presented his credentials to Baghdad on January 19 and thereby upgraded diplomatic relations between the two countries.

      Relations between Iraq and Iran remained strained, however. Each country accused the other of continuing to hold prisoners of war from the 1980–90 Iran-Iraq War, and each country harboured organized groups opposed to the other's regime.

      The economic situation inside Iraq did not improve substantially during the year. There were increases in the basic monthly food rations, sold to the population at nominal prices, but other food items and most consumer goods remained beyond the reach of the general public because of high prices. Iraqis were paid very low salaries, and inflation remained high. The government made efforts to stimulate the economy. It announced loan programs for Iraqi businessmen to establish local industries and created free-trade zones with Syria and Egypt, which were designed to increase the flow of Egyptian and Syrian goods to Iraq. Smuggling operations of various kinds remained strong, providing Iraqi local markets with goods that were not allowed under the sanctions, such as electronics and computers. Smuggling of Iraqi archaeological treasures out of the country continued. The Iraqi government admitted the existence of such operations and announced severe measures to curb them.

      Politically, the year saw the consolidation of power in the hands of Hussein's youngest son, Qusay. The 34-year-old Qusay headed elite units of army and security forces. On May 17 he was elected to membership of the Regional Command of the ruling Arab Socialist Baʾth Party, and on May 19 Hussein named him one of the two deputy commanders of the influential military branch of the Baʾth Party. The rise of Qusay's star strengthened the prospect that he would succeed his father. Previously, Hussein's eldest son, Uday, had been thought to be next in line, but his prospects dimmed after he was badly wounded in an assassination attempt in 1996.

Louay Bahry

▪ 2001

435,052 sq km (167,975 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 22,676,000
Head of state and government:
President and Prime Minister Saddam Hussein

      After lengthy discussions the UN Security Council finally passed Resolution 1284 on Iraq in December 1999. It promised a temporary suspension of economic sanctions on Iraq for four months (renewable) if Iraq demonstrated “cooperation” on all aspects of the UN-mandated program to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction and agreed to the readmission of UN arms inspectors. There were important differences in the Security Council between France, Russia, and China on the one hand and the U.S. and Great Britain on the other over the definition of cooperation and implementation of the program should Iraq accept the resolution. A new UN agency, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, was formed to replace the former inspection team, which had left Iraq in December 1998 on the eve of U.S. and British air strikes against Baghdad. Hans Blix of Sweden was appointed to head the commission. Iraq, however, refused to allow the return of arms inspectors if sanctions, which had been imposed on Iraq when that country invaded Kuwait in August 1990, were not completely abolished. Throughout the year American and British airplanes continued to fly over Iraqi territory and to bombard radio and surface-to-air missile sites in the no-fly zones. These raids left casualties among Iraqi military and civilians.

      During 2000 UN sanctions on Iraq gradually eroded in practice as hundreds of businessmen and foreign government officials traveled to Baghdad to conclude trade deals with the Iraqi government. Illegal smuggling into Iraq also intensified. Between September and December several European and Arab planes landed at Saddam International Airport in Baghdad. Some of them landed without prior UN approval in defiance of the air-travel ban on Iraq. A railroad link between Iraq and Syria resumed service after some 19 years of interruption.

      During the first nine months of the year, relations between Iraq and Iran continued to deteriorate. On several occasions Baghdad was struck by rockets that caused civilian casualties. One such attack, on March 22, struck a residential apartment building, leaving 4 civilians dead and about 40 injured. Iraq accused Iranian agents of launching the missiles and held the Iranian government responsible. For its part the Iranian government accused the Iraqis of helping the Mujaheddin-e-Khalq, an exiled Iranian opposition group with military bases in Iraq that had made frequent cross-border attacks inside Iran. Iran launched car bomb and missile attacks against Mujaheddin bases in Iraq.

      Iran and Iraq continued to exchange prisoners of war still held in captivity from the Iran-Iraq War (1980–90). During the year Iran released some 3,300 Iraqi prisoners of war, although each country continued to accuse the other of holding more. Relations between the two countries took a step forward in September, however, when Iranian Pres. Mohammad Khatami met with Iraqi Vice Pres. Taha Yasin Ramadhan during the summit meeting of OPEC in Caracas, Venez. The meeting raised expectations that both countries would begin to address long-standing problems between them.

      In September a renewed crisis occurred between Iraq and Kuwait, causing a further deterioration of relations between the two countries. Iraq accused Kuwait of “stealing” oil from fields in southern Iraq and threatened to take unspecified measures against Kuwait. Kuwait denied the Iraqi charges. The crisis prompted the U.S. to declare, on September 15, that it would use military force if Iraq attacked Kuwait.

      Relations between Iraq and four other Arab countries in the Persian Gulf region—Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman—improved during the year. Three of those four countries (Oman never closed its doors) reopened their embassies in Baghdad as a first step toward enhancing trade with Iraq. A maritime link between Doha (Qatar) and Iraq was inaugurated in October. Later in October Iraq for the first time in 10 years was invited to a summit meeting of the Arab League, called in response to the outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

      Iraq made considerable economic gains from oil sales during the year; its gross income from oil was estimated at $18 billion–$20 billion in 2000. Iraq was allowed to sell oil under a UN-sponsored “oil for food” program that permitted the nation to use the oil revenues to buy food, medicine, and other items that could not be used for military purposes. Since 1996, when the oil for food program went into effect, Iraq had sold more than $37 billion in oil. The nation had made deductions for a fund to compensate victims of the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and had paid set-asides for programs in Kurdish areas. Baghdad, however, had been left with $19 billion from the UN program to buy civilian goods. Although a wide range of items were available in Iraqi markets, they remained beyond the reach of the Iraqi general public because of their high prices. The country also experienced further deterioration of its agricultural production. One reason was a lower level of water downstream in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers owing to dams built by Turkey and Syria on the upstream sections. A second factor was a lack of rainfall in the country for a second consecutive year. The drought forced thousands of Iraqi farmers to abandon their parched land.

Louay Bahry

▪ 2000

435,052 sq km (167,975 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 22,427, 000
Head of state and government:
President and Prime Minister Saddam Hussein

      The year 1999 was dominated by U.S. and British air raids on Iraqi missile bases and other military targets. The low-intensity air raids, which occurred almost daily, were undertaken because Iraq persisted in contesting the legality of “no-fly” zones imposed on northern and southern parts of the country by firing at planes patrolling these zones. The raids began after Richard Butler, head of the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM), reported to the UN Security Council in early December 1998 that Iraq was continuing to obstruct UN inspections designed to eliminate the country's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and Iraq's means to produce those weapons. UNSCOM observers were subsequently withdrawn from Iraq, after which four nights of intense air strikes were conducted by U.S. and British war planes on December 16–19.

      Throughout 1999 the five permanent members of the Security Council remained divided on the kinds of policies that should be adopted in order to sanction Iraq. Russia, China, and France were in favour of lifting the economic embargo imposed on Iraq, either fully and immediately (Russia and China) or partially and gradually (France). The U.S. and the U.K. insisted on full Iraqi compliance with UN resolutions and the readmission of UN weapons inspectors before any lifting of sanctions. While the five permanent members continued their deliberations, the sanctions issue was complicated by Iraq's declaration that it had already complied with UN resolutions on WMD and would not accept any UN-sponsored inspection system.

      Domestically, 1999 was a turbulent year for Iraq as well, with a number of reported acts of violence. Chief among these was the mysterious assassination on February 19 of the Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq as-Sadr, the highest ranking Shiʿite cleric in the country. His two sons, Mustafa and Muaʿmal, were killed along with him. Although no one immediately claimed responsibility for his death, many Iraqis believed that the government was involved. Sadr had been increasingly critical of government policies, and his assassination was followed by incidents of unrest among the Shiʿite population in southern Iraq and parts of Baghdad itself. The government later executed four men for Sadr's murder.

      Iraqi relations with Syria saw a measured improvement during the year. Diplomatic relations between Baghdad and Damascus had been broken during the Iran-Iraq War (1980–90), during which Syria sided with Iran. In March 1999, however, Iraq and Syria agreed to establish diplomatic “interest sections” in each other's capitals. Meanwhile, commercial (especially truck) traffic between the two countries increased substantially. There was a corresponding decrease in road traffic from Turkey transiting northern Iraq.

      By contrast, Iraq's relations with Iran took a turn for the worse. The two countries continued to accuse each other of holding prisoners of war and of harbouring opposition groups hostile to their regimes. In June the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, an Iranian opposition group with bases in Iraq, was the target of several incidents, one involving a car bomb and another an attack by Iranian missiles. In July Saddam Hussein threatened Iran with another war if Iranian “provocations” did not stop.

      Iraq's economic situation under international sanctions improved marginally during 1999, but inflation continued to rise and prices of most goods, including food, remained beyond the means of the general population. Iraqis depended on government rations for sustenance. On October 3 the Security Council unanimously approved a one-time increase in Iraqi oil sales under the UN-Iraq “oil for food” agreement, allowing Iraq to export nearly $8.3 billion of oil for six months in exchange for food, medicine, and other necessities of life; the $8.3 billion figure was an increase from the normal six-month limit of about $5.3 billion of oil imposed by the agreement. In December the “oil for food” agreement was extended for an additional six months.

      Iraq experienced a serious drought during the year, caused in part by the lowest rainfall in 50 years and in part by a substantial reduction in the water levels of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers because of dams built at their headwaters in Turkey. The drought devastated Iraq's already weak agricultural sector, particularly in the northwestern region. The drought caused a massive migration of farmers and livestock, including millions of sheep and goats, into the Kurdish-controlled northern mountains. UN organizations operating in northern Iraq dug hundreds of new wells to increase the water supply.

Louay Bahry

▪ 1999

      Area: 435,052 sq km (167,975 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 21,722,000

      Capital: Baghdad

      Head of state and government: President and Prime Minister Saddam Hussein

      In December 1998 relations between Iraq and the international community took a turn for the worse. On December 14 the UN chief weapons inspector, Richard Butler, submitted a report to the UN accusing Iraq of failing to cooperate with the UN inspectors. Three days later, on December 17, the United States and Great Britain began a four-day air attack on selected targets in Iraq, including key military installations, government buildings, and communications centres, that were believed either to facilitate Iraq's capabilities for producing weapons of mass destruction or to pose a threat to its neighbours. Both countries also announced that they would support efforts of the Iraqi opposition to unseat the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein.

      Since the fall of 1997, Iraq had toughened its stand against sanctions and the international weapons inspectors and monitors. These sanctions were to remain until the UN Security Council had been assured that Iraq had destroyed all its weapons of mass destruction and the means to produce them. In February there was a major crisis between Iraq and the UN Security Council over Iraq's refusal to allow weapons inspectors access to "presidential" and "sensitive areas." The UN Security Council denounced the Iraqi refusal, and the U.S., supported by Great Britain, mobilized military forces in the Persian Gulf and threatened Iraq with the use of force to guarantee the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspectors access to all areas in Iraq as needed. A military confrontation was avoided when UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan reached an agreement with Iraq on February 22 in which Iraq withdrew its objections to UNSCOM's spot inspections. Cooperation broke down again on August 5, however, when Iraq suspended relations with the UNSCOM inspectors while allowing monitoring of known sites to continue. The UN Security Council rejected this action and on September 9 canceled the regular bimonthly review of the sanctions, a move that effectively continued them indefinitely. Late in December after the bombing had stopped, Iraq fired missiles at U.S. and British aircraft that were patrolling the "no-fly" zones (barred to Iraqi aircraft) in northern and southern Iraq. No planes were shot down, and they retaliated by bombing an Iraqi air-defense battery.

      On February 20 the UN Security Council passed a resolution increasing the amount of oil Iraq would be allowed to export under the "oil for food" program. The decision was made after it became obvious that the income generated by current oil sales was insufficient for satisfying the population's basic needs. Now in their eighth year, sanctions had taken a heavy toll on the Iraqi people. The standard of living was drastically lowered, and the rate of inflation remained high. Hardest hit was the once-flourishing middle class, which had suffered so much that its continued existence as a social force was threatened.

      The two main Kurdish parties, the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) of Mas!ud al-Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of Jalal at-Talabani, continued to control separate parts of northern Iraq. The two groups had been fighting since 1994, despite mediation by the U.S. and several past agreements to end their feuds. In September the U.S. brokered an agreement between the two leaders that included revenue and power sharing, a general election, and a security arrangement including a pledge to circumscribe the activities of the anti-Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq. The two sides also endorsed a form of "federalism," the details of which were not specified, for the Kurds in Iraq after Pres. Saddam Hussein left power. Turkey was alarmed by this agreement, which appeared to recognize a "Kurdish political entity" in northern Iraq. Mindful of the restiveness of its own Kurdish population, Turkey announced on September 27 that it would restore full diplomatic relations with Iraq and sent a Turkish ambassador to Baghdad for the first time since 1992.

      Iraq also improved relations with Syria and Iran. On July 14 an agreement to open the oil pipeline connecting Iraq's Kirkuk field to the Syrian port of Banias was announced. The pipeline was shut down by Syria in 1982 during the Iran-Iraq war. Iraq and Syria also met in the fall of 1998 to discuss distribution of waters from the Euphrates River, an important source of irrigation for both countries. The source of the Euphrates is in Turkey, and both Iraq and Syria accused Turkey of affecting downstream flow by building dikes and other irrigation works. Turkey declined an invitation to attend these meetings. An overland border station between Iran and Iraq was opened, and on April 2, 1998, the two countries exchanged 862 prisoners captured during the Iran-Iraq war. It was also agreed that Iraq would allow Iranian pilgrims to visit the Shi!ite holy cities in Iraq, and in mid-August the first group of Iranian pilgrims crossed the border into Iraq.


▪ 1998

      Area: 435,052 sq km (167,975 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est): 22,219,000

      Capital: Baghdad

      Head of state and government: President and Prime Minister Saddam Hussein

      During 1997 UN Security Council Resolution 986 permitted Iraq to export $2 billion of oil each six months for a maximum of $4 billion in order to meet the country's humanitarian needs. The proceeds were to be used for food, medicine, and other necessities of life; as reparations to victims of the war against Kuwait; and as payment for the costs of UN operations in Iraq. Still under a general sanctions regime, Iraq had no direct control over oil revenues; the oil income went into an escrow account, and contracts for purchases had to be approved by a UN sanctions committee. After many previous rejections of the plan, Iraq announced its acceptance of the "oil for food" resolution, and oil began flowing on Dec. 10, 1996.

      The second six-month period of oil exports was delayed by the Iraqi government and the UN until a new distribution plan could be worked out. An agreement was finally reached, and on Aug. 19, 1997, Iraq once again began exporting oil. According to the agreement, Iraq was responsible for the distribution of food and medicine in central and southern Iraq, but in doing so it was closely monitored by UN inspection teams. In the northern, Kurdish-controlled areas of Iraq, the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs was responsible for the distribution.

      Goods purchased by Iraq under the terms of the agreement started to arrive in Iraq in March. The government, however, complained that the UN was too slow in approving contracts that Iraq had signed with foreign companies.

      In the summer of 1997, Ambassador Rolf Ekeus stepped down as head of the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) on Iraq and was replaced by Richard Butler, the Australian ambassador to the UN and an expert on arms control. Butler assumed his new position on July 1, 1997, and visited Baghdad later that month. Previously, on June 21, after several incidents designed to prevent UNSCOM officials from inspecting locations in search of documents and weapons, the UN Security Council threatened Iraq with additional sanctions if it continued to hinder the work of the UNSCOM search teams.

      In October, after further challenges, the UN Security Council, led by the U.S., debated adding new sanctions on Iraq but was unable to produce a unanimous resolution; instead, it decided to postpone applying new sanctions. Iraq, on its part, announced on October 29 that it would expel the American members of the UNSCOM team. This act generated a new crisis with the UN. The Security Council condemned Iraq and insisted that inspectors of all nationalities remain on the UNSCOM team. On November 4 Iraq agreed to postpone the date when the Americans would be expelled. On November 13 Iraq expelled six American weapons inspectors. The U.S. then threatened military action against Iraq, and on November 20 Iraq allowed the U.S. inspectors to return. A conflict then arose over sites, particularly the many palaces of Saddam Hussein, that remained closed to the inspectors, and at the year's end it had not been resolved.

      After bloody fighting in 1996, the two rival Kurdish parties, the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), led by Masˋud al-Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, led by Jalal at-Talabani, signed a cease-fire agreement on Oct. 23, 1996. After intermittent skirmishing, the cease-fire broke down on Oct. 12, 1997, with serious military clashes between the two parties. In May and again in October 1997, Turkey undertook major military incursions into northern Iraq in pursuit of guerrillas of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), a separatist group of Turkish Kurds that was using northern Iraq as a base for raids into Turkey. The incursion inflicted heavy losses on the PKK fighters. The Turks allied themselves with Barzani and the KDP, whose forces helped the Turks in their offensives and to whom they relinquished some territory.

      Relations between Iraq and its Arab neighbours, particularly Syria and Jordan, improved in 1997. Relations between Syria and Iraq, both ruled by competing factions of the Arab Socialist Baˋth Party, had deteriorated in 1980 when Syria sided with Iran during the Iran-Iraq War. Syria took the initiative in easing relations by sending a commercial delegation to Baghdad in May 1997. In August the two countries opened an official border crossing point and exchanged several trade delegations. Iraqi-Jordanian relations also improved when King Hussein of Jordan appointed ˋAbd as-Salam al-Majali prime minister.


▪ 1997

      A republic of southwestern Asia, Iraq has a short coastline on the Persian Gulf. Area: 435,052 sq km (167,975 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 21,422,000. Cap.: Baghdad. Monetary unit: Iraqi dinar, with (Oct. 11, 1996) an exchange bureau rate of 1,000 dinars to U.S. $1 (1,575 dinars = £ 1 sterling). President and prime minister in 1996, Saddam Hussein.

      On Feb. 20, 1996, two sons-in-law of Pres. Saddam Hussein, who had been living in Jordan since their defection in August 1995, returned to Baghdad after an official offer of pardon. Three days later the official Iraqi media announced their deaths in a shoot-out with members of their extended family. The perpetrators stated they were avenging the dishonour brought on their clan by the defectors. On December 12 Hussein's son Uday was wounded in an assassination attempt in Baghdad.

      On March 24 the country held elections for 220 seats in the National Assembly. The Assembly had little real power, however, as effective control remained in the hands of Hussein and the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC). The election resulted in the Ba'thists' gaining 160 seats; the remainder went to "independent" candidates.

      The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by Mas'ud al-Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), headed by Jalal at-Talabani, continued their feud that had begun in 1994. During the year Turkish and Iranian forces penetrated several times into the Iraqi Kurdish area to pursue Turkish and Iranian Kurdish rebels who staged hit-and-run operations against Turkey and Iran, respectively, from bases inside Iraq.

      Events in northern Iraq took a dramatic turn for the worse on August 22. The KDP, fearing an accord between Iran and the PUK, formed an alliance with Hussein. On August 31, apparently responding to an appeal from Barzani, the Iraqi government seized the Kurdish city of Irbil. After a short but bloody purge of Hussein's enemies in Irbil, Iraq withdrew its forces from the city, leaving its administration to its new ally, Barzani. On September 9 Barzani pushed his Kurdish troops farther south and without much bloodshed occupied the city of As-Sulaymaniyah, a stronghold of Talabani and the rival PUK. Hussein then lifted a trade and travel ban that had separated the north from the rest of the country. On October 23 efforts sponsored by the U.S. to mediate the conflict between the KDP and the PUK achieved a shaky cease-fire.

      The events of August through October, together with the entente between Barzani and Hussein, opened the door to the penetration of the Iraqi government forces into the northern Kurdish areas and put an end to the presence in the north of the Iraqi National Council, an umbrella opposition group composed of Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims and Kurds.

      The capture of Irbil by Iraqi forces triggered a strong response from the United States, which saw the move as a violation of the cease-fire accord signed after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The U.S. government on September 3 announced a northward extension of the southern no-fly zone over Iraq from latitude 32° N to latitutde 33° N. This act further weakened Iraq's sovereignty in its southern region. Hussein denounced this move and rejected the no-fly zones. The U.S. then launched cruise missiles on military targets in the new no-fly zone, and Iraq fired missiles on what it claimed were U.S. planes patrolling the extended zone. On September 13 Iraq reversed its position, announcing that it would temporarily suspend attacks on U.S. or coalition aircraft in the zone, and the crisis died down.

      This conflict led to the postponement of UN resolution 986 ("oil for food"), which Iraq had previously accepted on May 20 after numerous earlier rejections. This resolution, finally implemented in December 1996, permitted a partial lifting of the UN-imposed oil embargo by allowing Iraq to sell $2 billion in oil every six months to buy food and medicine for the Iraqi people, under strict control of the UN. Oil began to be pumped in December, but full sanctions remained in effect. (LOUAY BAHRY)

▪ 1996

      A republic of southwestern Asia, Iraq has a short coastline on the Persian Gulf. Area: 435,052 sq km (167,975 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 20,413,000. Cap.: Baghdad. Monetary unit: Iraqi dinar, with (Oct. 12, 1995) a black-market rate of 2,600 dinars to U.S. $1 (4,095 dinars = £1 sterling). President and prime minister in 1995, Saddam Hussein.

      UN sanctions continued to take a heavy toll on the Iraqi people in 1995. Agricultural production suffered, despite an increase in the purchase price of agricultural commodities. Sporadic food shortages were reported, and the ration allotment for the population was lowered. The government raised interest rates and introduced another bond issue in an attempt to reduce soaring inflation, estimated at a rate of 250% a year. The World Health Organization reported that health care and water-treatment systems had collapsed, with some resulting spread of disease.

      On May 17 a violent rebellion against the regime by the Sunni Muslim tribes of Dulaim took place in and around the city of ar-Ramadi. Sparked by the execution of a Dulaimi air force general for conspiracy, the unsuccessful revolt left thousands killed, wounded, or imprisoned. It was the first time that important elements in the country's Sunni centre, considered the regime's strongest base of support, had challenged the Baghdad government in such a direct and bloody way.

      Relations with Iran improved, but a number of issues stood in the way of better ties. Iraq claimed that Iran held several thousand Iraqi prisoners of war, while Iran was dissatisfied with the refuge Iraq gave to a major group opposing the regime in Tehran.

      In March some 35,000 Turkish army units with heavy armaments and air support crossed the Iraqi border and penetrated deep into northern Iraq. Their objective was to halt attacks across the frontier by the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) from their bases inside northern Iraq. The Turks subsequently declared the operation a success and withdrew their forces, but some attacks continued.

      Fighting continued between Kurdish factions in northern Iraq in a zone uncontrolled by the Baghdad government but under air protection by U.S., U.K., and French forces under UN mandate. The two main Kurdish parties, the Kurdish Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, feuded over leadership in the north and control over land and customs revenues collected from truck traffic passing from Turkey through northern Iraq to Baghdad or Iran. The U.S., attempting to mediate the dispute, met twice in Ireland with representatives of the parties, Turkish representatives, and the Iraq National Congress, an umbrella opposition group to which the Kurdish parties belonged. On August 11 the parties reached an agreement to share the revenues and to reconvene the previously elected Kurdish congress. Fresh fighting was reported between the two parties after that. A second meeting on September 12-15 ended without any additional progress.

      On August 8 Jordan announced that two of Saddam Hussein's sons-in-law and their wives had been granted political asylum in Amman. The defection of Lieut. Gen. Hussein Kamel Hasan al-Majid was a particularly serious blow to the regime. Kamel had been minister of industry and minerals, head of the military industrial organization, and the man responsible for the development of Iraq's chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons program. Baghdad tried to deflect the damage by accusing Kamel of being a CIA agent, responsible for withholding sensitive information on these programs from the UN. Kamel's defection prompted Baghdad to invite Rolf Ekeus, head of the UN Special Commission (Unscom), to Baghdad, where he was given a huge cache of documents supposedly hidden by Kamel. Ekeus announced it would take months to study the documents, which might delay the time when Unscom could declare Iraq in compliance with UN resolutions.

      The defections gave rise to a flurry of intense diplomatic activity. King Hussein of Jordan distanced himself from Saddam Hussein, and both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, encouraged by the U.S., made some efforts to mend ties with Jordan, broken when that country sympathized with Iraq during the Persian Gulf War.

      On October 15 Saddam Hussein held a national referendum in which he was confirmed as president for seven more years with 99.96% of the vote. There were reports late in the year that Iraqi troops were massing on the Kuwaiti border. (LOUAY BAHRI)

▪ 1995

      A republic of southwestern Asia, Iraq has a short coastline on the Persian Gulf. Area: 435,052 sq km (167,975 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 19,869,000. Cap.: Baghdad. Monetary unit: Iraqi dinars, with (Oct. 1, 1994) an official rate of 500 dinars to U.S. $1 (795.25 dinars = £1 sterling). President in 1994, Saddam Hussein; prime ministers, Ahmad Husayn Khudayir as-Samarrai and, from May 29, Saddam Hussein.

      UN sanctions were the dominant issue for Pres. Saddam Hussein in 1994, tempting him to take a desperate gamble by staging military maneuvers against Kuwait and to enforce harsh internal repression to retain his grip on power. In early October he dispatched two divisions of Republican Guards, along with tanks and armoured personnel carriers, to the border area with Kuwait. In addition, a contingent of bedouins (stateless Arabs)—described as members of the League of People with Rights but in reality Iraqi soldiers in disguise—were encamped on the border. In rapid response to the crisis, several thousand U.S. troops were sent to Kuwait within days.

      Although describing the deployment as "an internal matter," Iraq had taken a chance on gaining international sympathy for its economic plight by staging the crisis, but even Saddam's erstwhile allies Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat and King Hussein of Jordan declined to back him. By October 11 Iraq had begun pulling back its units.

      On November 10 the Iraqi parliament agreed to recognize Kuwait's sovereignty and the existing Iraq-Kuwait border as delineated by the UN. In early November Saddam also declared that his country was no longer at war with Israel. Despite these moves, which were clearly designed to improve Iraq's standing with the West, the UN Security Council on November 14 agreed to keep sanctions in place. The Western allies considered Iraq's recognition of Kuwait to be insufficient and doubted the regime's sincerity.

      In late May Saddam abruptly sacked Prime Minister Ahmad Husayn Khudayir as-Samarrai, making him the scapegoat for the collapse of the Iraqi dinar, which was by then valued on the black market at 510 to the U.S. dollar, compared with 54 to the dollar when the prime minister was appointed in September 1993. Saddam announced that he was taking over the post, and on November 27 he was also taking charge of foreign policy. Planning Minister Majid Faraj was demoted to minister of state without portfolio after his office issued a report estimating the annual rate of inflation at 24,000%.

      In June Saddam declared that Islamic penalties of amputation would be applied to robbers, car thieves, and farmers who refused to sell their crops to the government. A ban on the public sale of alcohol was also decreed. In increasingly grandiose statements the president said that he would build the world's largest mosque, with a white dome and eight minarets, on one of the airport sites used in the Persian Gulf war. Lavish celebrations again marked Saddam's birthday in April.

      The president's sons Uday and Qusai Hussein together with Ali Hassan al-Majid, a relative by marriage and the former governor of Kuwait, were adamantly opposed to compromise with the UN. Uday's views gained influence through his newspaper. On September 8 an antigovernment demonstration took place in Baghdad, which opposition sources said was dispersed by troops. The exiled Iraqi National Congress, the principal umbrella anti-Saddam grouping, tried repeatedly to negotiate an end to armed clashes between groups in the Kurdish-controlled northern enclave. A peace settlement was finally accepted in late November. In April U.S. missiles accidentally brought down two U.S. helicopters in the north, killing 26.

      Conservationists, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), expressed growing alarm at the progress of Iraqi plans to drain the marshlands of southern Iraq in order to harass opponents of the regime. In late April work on the 108-km (70-mi) Umm al-Maarik (Mother of All Battles) Canal was completed. The WWF said that if the canal building program continued as scheduled, the marshes would disappear as a habitat in 10 to 20 years.

      In early August Turkey reopened a border crossing with Iraq. Trade was to be limited to food and medicines, but reports persisted that violators were running other cargoes through the border post, while officials turned a blind eye. Iraq was accused by Lebanon of involvement in the assassination in Beirut of Sheikh Taleb Ali as-Suheil, an opposition leader normally based in London. As a result of unsatisfactory explanations from the Iraqis, Lebanon broke off diplomatic relations with Baghdad in late April.


▪ 1994

      A republic of southwestern Asia, Iraq has a short coastline on the Persian Gulf. Area: 435,052 sq km (167,975 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 19,435,000. Cap.: Baghdad. Monetary unit: Iraqi dinar, with (Oct. 4, 1993) an official rate of 0.31 dinar to U.S. $1 (free rate of 0.47 dinar = £ 1 sterling); a truer value of the dinar was on the black market, where in late September about 90 dinars = U.S. $1 (about 137 dinars = £1 sterling). President in 1993, Saddam Hussein; prime ministers, Muhammad Hamzah az-Zubaydi and, from September 5, Ahmad Husayn Khudayir as-Samarrai.

      Pres. Saddam Hussein celebrated his 56th birthday on April 28, 1993, with an ancient Babylonian-style procession, parading in a gold carriage drawn by six black horses. The folk dancing, military march past, and air-force flyover were seen as signs of Baghdad's defiance of the international community. Two days later the U.S. State Department named Iraq—with Iran, Syria, Cuba, Libya, and North Korea — as a country that sponsors "state terrorism."

      Tension erupted in the Shatt al-Arab waterway in April when an Iraqi gunboat seized an Iranian vessel, although details of the incident were not reported until July. In mid-July, Iraq also was reported to the UN by Saudi Arabia for "border provocation" when its troops opened fire on Saudi border positions. On November 24 the speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Saadi Mahdi Salih, said Iraq would not agree to long-term monitoring of its military industries without guarantees that compliance would result in the UN Security Council's lifting sanctions.

      Tensions with the U.S. rose in mid-January when the Iraqis were given until January 15 to dismantle six police posts close to the Kuwaiti border. In the final hours of U.S. Pres. George Bush's term of office, Tomahawk cruise missiles once again hammered the Iraqi capital, with attacks on a factory in a Baghdad suburb suspected as being part of the government's nuclear-weapons-building capability. The al-Rashid Hotel, home to visiting foreign journalists, was also hit, and three civilians were killed. The U.S. subsequently said the hotel had not been a target and blamed the civilian deaths on Iraqi interception of a missile. In a blatantly political gesture, Hussein declared a "cease-fire" on the day before Pres. Bill Clinton's inauguration. By January 23 hostilities had temporarily ceased. At the end of June, however, U.S. warships fired 23 missiles on Baghdad in a bid to destroy the Iraqi intelligence-service headquarters. Six civilians were killed when three missiles strayed off their target, but the Clinton administration said the attack had been a success in "crippling Iraq's intelligence capability." By November 14 the Iraqi government was claiming that its intelligence headquarters had been rebuilt. The attack was in apparent retaliation for an alleged Iraqi plot to assassinate Bush while he was on a visit to Kuwait. The Kuwaiti government claimed to have evidence of three separate conspiracies to kill Bush—two by car bombs and one by a suicide bomber. U.S. investigators confirmed the allegations, which were based on the interrogation of 16 suspects.

      On August 2, the third anniversary of Iraq's seizure of Kuwait and called the Yom al-Nidaa (Day of Calling), Iraqi newspapers issued belligerent and unrepentant statements aimed at destabilizing Kuwait. Al-Thawra said in an editorial that Kuwait had always been part of Iraq and that this fact could not be subject to negotiation. Kuwait's response was to proceed with building border defenses. On November 18, and again two days later, Iraqi farmers and other workers demonstrated at Umm Qasr against the border fortifications. Iraq continued to hold Britons convicted of illegally entering Iraq through the Kuwaiti border but released Kenneth Beaty, a U.S. oil worker, after he had served six months of an eight-year jail sentence for an identical offense.

      On November 15 the British government released photographs of villages destroyed in the marshlands of southern Iraq. Evidence continued to mount of a deliberate strategy by the Baghdad government to drain the marshlands in a bid to extinguish Shi'ite rebel strongholds. It was reported that thousands of marsh Arabs had fled to nearby villages and into Iran. The Iraqi nuclear researcher Hussain Shahristiani, who had defected to the West, alleged that on September 26 Iraqi security forces had killed hundreds in a chemical weapons attack on villages in the south.

      Although the government remained in control of the country, a car bomb exploded in Baghdad on August 4. The president's son Uday Hussein escaped an assassination attempt in May, and an attempt on the president's life was reported in June. (JOHN WHELAN)

* * *

Iraq, flag of  country of southwestern Asia.

      During ancient times, the lands now comprising Iraq were known as Mesopotamia (Mesopotamia, history of) (“Land Between the Rivers”), a region whose extensive alluvial plains gave rise to some of the world's earliest civilizations, including those of Sumer, Akkad, Babylon, and Assyria. This wealthy region, constituting much of what is called the Fertile Crescent, later became a valuable part of larger imperial polities, including sundry Persian, Greek, and Roman dynasties, and after the 7th century became a central and integral part of the Islamic world. Iraq's capital, Baghdad, became the capital of the ʿAbbāsid Caliphate in the 8th century. The modern nation-state of Iraq was created following World War I (1914–18) from the Ottoman provinces of Baghdad, Al-Baṣrah, and Mosul and derives its name from the Arabic term used in the premodern period to describe a region that roughly corresponded to Mesopotamia (ʿIrāq ʿArabī, “Arabian Iraq”) and modern northwestern Iran (ʿIrāq ʿajamī, “foreign [i.e., Persian] Iraq”).

      Iraq gained formal independence in 1932 but remained subject to British imperial influence during the next quarter century of turbulent monarchical rule. Political instability on an even greater scale followed the overthrow of the monarchy in 1958, but the installation of an Arab nationalist and socialist regime—the Baʿth Party—in a bloodless coup 10 years later brought new stability. With proven oil (petroleum) reserves second in the world only to those of Saudi Arabia, the regime was able to finance ambitious projects and development plans throughout the 1970s and to build one of the largest and best-equipped armed forces in the Arab world. The party's leadership, however, was quickly assumed by Ṣaddām Ḥussein, a flamboyant and ruthless autocrat who led the country into disastrous military adventures—the Iran-Iraq War (1980–88) and the Persian Gulf War (1990–91). These conflicts left the country isolated from the international community and financially and socially drained, but through unprecedented coercion directed at major sections of the population—particularly the country's disfranchised Kurdish minority and Shīʿite majority—Ṣaddām himself was able to maintain a firm hold on power into the 21st century. He and his regime were toppled in 2003 during the Iraq War.

      Iraq is the easternmost country of the Arab world, located at about the same latitude as the southern United States. It is bordered to the north by Turkey, to the east by Iran, to the west by Syria and Jordan, and to the south by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Iraq has 12 miles (19 km) of coastline along the northern end of the Persian Gulf, giving it a tiny sliver of territorial sea. Followed by Jordan, it is thus the Middle Eastern state with the least access to the sea and offshore sovereignty.

Relief (Iraq)
 Iraq's topography can be divided into four physiographic regions: the alluvial plains of the central and southeastern parts of the country; Al-Jazīrah (Arabic: “the Island”), an upland region in the north between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers; deserts in the west and south; and the highlands in the northeast. Each of these regions extends into neighbouring countries, although the alluvial plains lie largely within Iraq.

Alluvial plains (floodplain)
 The plains of lower Mesopotamia extend southward some 375 miles (600 km) from Balad on the Tigris and Al-Ramādī on the Euphrates to the Persian Gulf. They cover more than 51,000 square miles (132,000 square km), almost one-third of the country's area, and are characterized by low elevation, below 300 feet (100 metres), and poor natural drainage. Large areas are subject to widespread seasonal flooding, and there are extensive marshlands, some of which dry up in the summer to become salty wastelands. Near Al-Qurnah, where the Tigris and Euphrates converge to form the Shatt al-Arab (Arab, Shaṭṭ Al-ʿ), there are still some inhabited marshes. The alluvial plains contain extensive lakes. The swampy Lake Al-Ḥammār (Hawr al-Ḥammār (Ḥammār, Lake)) extends 70 miles (110 km) from Al-Baṣrah (Basra) to Sūq al-Shuyūkh; its width varies from 8 to 15 miles (13 to 25 km).

Al-Jazīrah (Jazīrah, Al-)
 North of the alluvial plains, between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, is the arid Al-Jazīrah plateau. Its most prominent hill range is the Sinjār Mountains, whose highest peak reaches an elevation of 4,448 feet (1,356 metres). The main watercourse is the Wadi Al-Tharthār (Tharthār, Wadi), which runs southward for 130 miles (210 km) from the Sinjār Mountains to the Tharthār (Salt) Depression. Milḥat Ashqar is the largest of several salt flats (or sabkhahs) in the region.

      Western and southern Iraq is a vast desert region covering some 64,900 square miles (168,000 square km), almost two-fifths of the country. The western desert, an extension of the Syrian Desert, rises to elevations above 1,600 feet (490 metres). The southern desert is known as Al-Ḥajarah in the western part and as Al-Dibdibah in the east. Al-Ḥajarah has a complex topography of rocky desert, wadis, ridges, and depressions. Al-Dibdibah is a more sandy region with a covering of scrub vegetation. Elevation in the southern desert averages between 300 and 1,200 feet (100 to 400 metres). A height of 3,119 feet (951 metres) is reached at Mount ʿUnayzah (ʿUnāzah) at the intersection of the borders of Jordan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. The deep Wadi Al-Bāṭin runs 45 miles (75 km) in a northeast-southwest direction through Al-Dibdibah. It has been recognized since 1913 as the boundary between western Kuwait and Iraq.

The northeast
      The mountains, hills, and plains of northeastern Iraq occupy some 35,500 square miles (92,000 square km), about one-fifth of the country. Of this area only about one-fourth is mountainous; the remainder is a complex transition zone between mountain and lowland. The ancient kingdom of Assyria was located in this area. North and northeast of the Assyrian plains and foothills is Kurdistan, a mountainous region that extends into Turkey and Iran.

      The relief of northeastern Iraq rises from the Tigris toward the Turkish and Iranian borders in a series of rolling plateaus, river basins, and hills until the high mountain ridges of Iraqi Kurdistan, associated with the Taurus (Taurus Mountains) and Zagros (Zagros Mountains) mountains, are reached. These mountains are aligned northwest to southeast and are separated by river basins where human settlement is possible. The mountain summits have an average elevation of about 8,000 feet (2,400 metres), rising to 10,000–11,000 feet (3,000–3,300 metres) in places. There, along the Iran-Iraq border, is the country's highest point, Ghundah Zhur, which reaches 11,834 feet (3,607 metres). The region is heavily dissected by numerous tributaries of the Tigris, notably the Great and Little Zab rivers and the Diyālā (Diyālā River) and ʿUẓaym (Adhaim) rivers. These streams weave tortuously south and southwest, cutting through ridges in a number of gorges, notably the Rū Kuchūk gorge, northeast of Barzān, and the Bēkma gorge, west of Rawāndūz town. The highest mountain ridges contain the only forestland in Iraq.

      Iraq is drained by the Tigris-Euphrates river system, although less than half of the Tigris-Euphrates basin lies in the country. Both rivers rise in the Armenian highlands of Turkey, where they are fed by melting winter snow. The Tigris flows 881 miles (1,417 km) and the Euphrates 753 miles (1,212 km) through Iraq before they join near Al-Qurnah to form the Shatt al-Arab, which flows another 68 miles (109 km) into the Persian Gulf. The Tigris, all of whose tributaries are on its left (east) bank, runs close to the high Zagros Mountains, from which it receives a number of important tributaries, notably the Great Zab, the Little Zab, and the Diyālā. As a result, the Tigris can be subject to devastating floods, as evidenced by the many old channels left when the river carved out a new course. The period of maximum flow of the Tigris is from March to May, when more than two-fifths of the annual total discharge may be received. The Euphrates, whose flow is roughly 50 percent greater than that of the Tigris, receives no large tributaries in Iraq.

      Many dams are needed on the rivers and their tributaries to control flooding and permit irrigation. Iraq has giant irrigation projects at Bēkma, Bādūsh, and Al-Fatḥah. In the late 1970s and early '80s, Iraq completed a large-scale project that connected the Tigris and Euphrates. A canal emerges from the Tigris near Sāmarrāʾ and continues southwest to Lake Al-Tharthār, and another extends from the lake to the Euphrates near Al-Ḥabbāniyyah. This connection is crucial because in years of drought—aggravated by more recent upstream use of Euphrates water by Turkey and Syria—the river level is extremely low. In 1990 Syria and Iraq reached an agreement to share the water on the basis of 58 percent to Iraq and 42 percent to Syria of the total that enters Syria. Turkey, for its part, unilaterally promised to secure an annual minimum flow at its border with Syria. There is no tripartite agreement.

      Following the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi government dedicated considerable resources to digging two large canals in the south of the country, with the apparent goal of improving irrigation and agricultural drainage. There is evidence, however, that these channels were also used to drain large parts of Iraq's southern marshlands, from which rebel forces had carried out attacks against government forces. The first was reportedly designed to irrigate some 580 square miles (1,500 square km) of desert. The vast operation to create it produced a canal roughly 70 miles (115 km) long between Dhī Qār and Al-Baṣrah governorates. The second, an even grander scheme, was reportedly designed to irrigate an area some 10 times larger than the first. This canal, completed in 1992, extends from Al-Yūsufiyyah, 25 miles (40 km) south of Baghdad, to Al-Baṣrah, a total of some 350 miles (565 km).

      The two projects eventually drained some nine-tenths of Iraq's southern marshes, once the largest wetlands system in the Middle East. Much of the drained area rapidly turned to arid salt flats. Following the start of the Iraq War in 2003, some parts of those projects were dismantled, but experts estimated that rehabilitation of the marshes would be impossible without extensive efforts and the expenditure of great resources.

      The desert regions have poorly developed soils of coarse texture containing many stones and unweathered rock fragments. Plant growth is limited because of aridity, and the humus content is low. In northwestern Iraq, soils vary considerably: some regions with steep slopes are badly eroded, while the river valleys and basins contain some light fertile soils. In northwest Al-Jazīrah, there is an area of potentially fertile soils similar to those found in much of the Fertile Crescent. Lowland Iraq is covered by heavy alluvial soils, with some organic content and a high proportion of clays, suitable for cultivation and for use as a building material.

      Salinity, caused in part by overirrigation, is a serious problem that affects about two-thirds of the land; as a result, large areas of agricultural land have had to be abandoned. A high water table and poor drainage, coupled with high rates of evaporation, cause alkaline salts to accumulate at or near the surface in sufficient quantities to limit agricultural productivity. Reversing the effect is a difficult and lengthy process.

      Heavy soil erosion in parts of Iraq, some of it induced by overgrazing and deforestation, leaves soils exposed to markedly seasonal rainfall. The Tigris-Euphrates river system has thus created a large alluvial deposit at its mouth, so that the Persian Gulf coast is much farther south than in Babylonian times.

      Iraq has two climatic provinces: the hot, arid lowlands, including the alluvial plains and the deserts; and the damper northeast, where the higher elevation produces cooler temperatures. In the northeast cultivation fed by precipitation is possible, but elsewhere irrigation is essential.

      In the lowlands there are two seasons, summer and winter, with short transitional periods between them. Summer, which lasts from May to October, is characterized by clear skies, extremely high temperatures, and low relative humidity; no precipitation occurs from June through September. In Baghdad, July and August mean daily temperatures are about 95 °F (35 °C), and summer temperatures of 123 °F (51 °C) have been recorded. The diurnal temperatures range in summer is considerable.

      In winter the paths of westerly atmospheric depressions crossing the Middle East shift southward, bringing rain to southern Iraq. Annual totals vary considerably from year to year, but mean annual precipitation in the lowlands ranges from about 4 to 7 inches (100 to 180 mm); nearly all of this occurs between November and April.

      Winter in the lowlands lasts from December to February. Temperatures are generally mild, although extremes of hot and cold, including frosts, can occur. Winter temperatures in Baghdad range from about 35 to 60 °F (2 to 15 °C).

      In the northeast the summer is shorter than in the lowlands, lasting from June to September, and the winter considerably longer. The summer is generally dry and hot, but average temperatures are some 5–10 °F (3–6 °C) cooler than those of lowland Iraq. Winters can be cold because of the region's high relief and the influence of northeasterly winds that bring continental air from Central Asia. In Mosul (Al-Mawṣil), January temperatures range between 24 and 63 °F (−4 and 17 °C); readings as low as 12 °F (−11 °C) have been recorded.

      In the foothills of the northeast, annual precipitation of 12 to 22 inches (300 to 560 mm), enough to sustain good seasonal pasture, is typical. Precipitation may exceed 40 inches (1000 mm) in the mountains, much of which falls as snow. As in the lowlands, little rain falls during the summer.

      A steady northerly and northwesterly summer wind, the shamāl (shamal), affects all of Iraq. It brings extremely dry air, so hardly any clouds form, and the land surface is thus heated intensively by the sun. Another wind, the sharqī (Arabic: “easterly”), blows from the south and southeast during early summer and early winter; it is often accompanied by dust storms. Dust storms occur throughout Iraq during most of the year and may rise to great height in the atmosphere. They are particularly frequent in summer, with five or six striking central Iraq in July, the peak of the season.

Plant and animal life
      Vegetation in Iraq reflects the dominant influence of drought. Some Mediterranean and alpine plant species thrive in the mountains of Kurdistan, but the open oak forests that formerly were found there have largely disappeared. Hawthorns, junipers, terebinths, and wild pears grow on the lower mountain slopes. A steppe region of open, treeless vegetation is located in the area extending north and northeast from the Ḥamrīn Mountains up to the foothills and lower slopes of the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan. A great variety of herbs and shrubs grow in that region. Most belong to the sage and daisy families: mugwort (Artemisis vulgaris), goosefoot, milkweed, thyme, and various rhizomic plants are examples. There also are many different grasses. Toward the riverine lowlands many other plants appear, including storksbill and plantain. Willows, tamarisks, poplars, licorice plants, and bullrushes grow along the banks of the lower Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The juice of the licorice plant is extracted for commercial purposes. Dozens of varieties of date palm flourish throughout southern Iraq, where the date palm dominates the landscape. The lakesides and marshlands support many varieties of reeds, sedges, pimpernels, vetches, and geraniums. By contrast, vegetation in the desert regions is sparse, with tamarisk, milfoil, and various plants of the genera Ziziphus and Salsola being characteristic.

 Birds are easily the most conspicuous form of wildlife. There are many resident species, though the effect of large-scale drainage of the southern wetlands on migrants and seasonal visitors—which were once numerous—has not been fully determined. The lion and oryx have become extinct in Iraq, and the ostrich and wild ass face extinction. Wolves, foxes, jackals, hyenas, wild pigs, and wildcats are found, as well as many small animals such as martens, badgers, otters, porcupines, and muskrats. Marcia's gazelle survives in certain remote desert locations. Rivers, streams, and lakes are well stocked with a variety of fish, notably carp, various species of Barbus, catfish, and loach. In common with other regions of the Middle East, Iraq is a breeding ground for the unwelcome desert locust.

People (Iraq)

Ethnic groups
      The ancient Semitic peoples of Iraq, the Babylonians (Babylonia) and Assyrians (Assyria), and the non-Semitic Sumerians were long ago assimilated by successive waves of immigrants. The Arab conquests of the 7th century brought about the Arabization of central and southern Iraq. A mixed population of Kurds and Arabs inhabit a transition zone between those areas and Iraqi Kurdistan in the northeast. Roughly two-thirds of Iraq's people are Arabs, about one-fourth are Kurds, and the remainder consists of small minority groups.

Arabs (Arab)
      Iraq's Arab population is divided between Sunni Muslims and the more numerous Shīʿites. These groups, however, are for the most part ethnically and linguistically homogenous, and—as is common throughout the region—both value family relations strongly. Many Arabs, in fact, identify more strongly with their family or tribe (an extended, patrilineal group) than with national or confessional affiliations, a significant factor contributing to ongoing difficulties in maintaining a strong central government. This challenge is amplified by the numerical size of many extended kin groups—tribal units may number thousands or tens of thousands of members—and the consequent political and economic clout they wield. Tribal affiliation among Arab groups has continued to play an important role in Iraqi politics, and even in areas where tribalism has eroded with time (such as major urban centres), family bonds have remained close. Several generations may live in a single household (although this is more common among rural families), and family-owned-and-operated businesses are the standard. Such households tend to be patriarchal, with the eldest male leading the family.

Kurds (Kurd)
 Although estimates of their precise numbers vary, the Kurds are reckoned to be the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East, following Arabs, Turks, and Persians. There are important Kurdish minorities in Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria, and Iraq's Kurds are concentrated in the relatively inaccessible mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan (Kurd), which is roughly contiguous with Kurdish regions in those other countries. Kurds constitute a separate and distinctive cultural group. They are mostly Sunni Muslims who speak one of two dialects of the Kurdish language, an Indo-European language closely related to Modern Persian. They have a strong tribal structure and distinctive costume, music, and dance.

      The Kurdish people were thwarted in their ambitions for statehood after World War I, and the Iraqi Kurds have since resisted inclusion in the state of Iraq. At various times the Kurds have been in undisputed control of large tracts of territory. Attempts to reach a compromise with the Kurds in their demands for autonomy, however, have ended in failure, owing partly to government pressure and partly to the inability of Kurdish factional groups to maintain a united front against successive Iraqi governments. From 1961 to 1975, aided by military support from Iran, they were intermittently in open rebellion against the Iraqi government, as they were during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s and again, supported largely by the United States, throughout the 1990s.

      After its rise to power, the Baʿth regime of Ṣaddām Ḥussein consistently tried to extend its control into Kurdish areas through threats, coercion, violence, and, at times, the forced internal transfer of large numbers of Kurds. Intermittent Kurdish rebellions in the last quarter of the 20th century killed tens of thousands of Kurds—both combatants and noncombatants—at the hands of government forces and on various occasions forced hundreds of thousands of Kurds to flee to neighbouring Iran and Turkey. Government attacks were violent and ruthless and included the use of chemical weapons against Kurdish civilians; such incidents took place at the village of Ḥalabjah and elsewhere in 1988.

      Following a failed Kurdish uprising in the wake of the Persian Gulf War, the United States and other members of the coalition that it led against Iraq established a “safe haven” for the Kurds in an area north of latitude 36° N that was under the protection of the international community. Thereafter the Kurds were largely autonomous until the establishment of a new Iraqi provisional government in 2003.

Other minorities
      Small communities of Turks (Turkic peoples), Turkmen, and Assyrians survive in northern Iraq. The Lur, a group speaking an Iranian language, live near the Iranian border. In addition, a small number of Armenians are found predominantly in Baghdad and in pockets throughout the north.

      More than three-fourths of the people speak Arabic (Arabic language), the official language, which has several major dialects; these are generally mutually intelligible, but significant variations do exist within the country, which makes spoken parlance between some groups (and with Arabic-speaking groups in adjacent countries) difficult. Modern Standard Arabic—the benchmark of literacy—is taught in schools, and most Arabs and many non-Arabs, even those who lack schooling, are able to understand it. Roughly one-fifth of the population speaks Kurdish (Kurdish language), in one of its two main dialects. Kurdish is the official language in the Kurdish Autonomous Region in the north. A number of other languages are spoken by smaller ethnic groups, including Turkish (Turkish language), Turkmen (Turkmen language), Azerbaijanian, and Syriac (Syriac language). Persian (Persian language), once commonly spoken, is now seldom heard. Bilingualism is fairly common, particularly among minorities who are conversant in Arabic. English is widely used in commerce.

      Iraq is predominantly a Muslim (Islāmic world) country, in which the two major sects of Islam are represented more equally than in any other state. Slightly more than half (and according to some sources as many as three-fifths) of the population are Shīʿite, and about two-fifths are Sunni. Largely for political reasons, the government has not maintained careful statistics on the relative proportion of the Sunni and Shīʿite populations. Shīʿites are almost exclusively Arab (with some Turkmen and Kurds), while Sunnis are divided mainly between Arabs and Kurds but include other, smaller groups, such as Azerbaijanis and Turkmen.

Sunnis (Sunnite)
      Since the inception of the Iraqi state in 1920 the ruling elites have consisted mainly—although not exclusively—of minority Sunni (Sunnite) Arabs. Most Sunni Arabs follow the Ḥanafī (Ḥanafīyah) school of jurisprudence and most Kurds the Shāfiʿī (Shāfiʿīyah) school, although this distinction has lost the meaning that it had in earlier times.

Shīʿites (Shīʿite)
      Iraq's Shīʿites, like their coreligionists in Iran, follow the Ithnā ʿAsharī (Ithnā ʿAsharīyah), or Twelver, rite, and, despite the preeminence of Iran as a Shīʿite Islamic republic, Iraq has traditionally been the physical and spiritual centre of Shīʿism in the Islamic world. Shīʿism's two most important holy cities, Al-Najaf (Najaf, Al-) and Karbalāʾ, are located in southern Iraq, as is Al-Kūfah (Kūfah), sanctified as the site of the assassination of Alīʿ, the fourth caliph, in the 7th century. Sāmarrāʾ, farther north, near Baghdad, is also of great cultural and religious significance to Shīʿites as the site of the life and disappearance of the 12th, and eponymous, imam, Muḥammad al-Mahdī al-Ḥujjah. In premodern times southern and eastern Iraq formed a cultural and religious meeting place between the Arab and Persian Shīʿite worlds, and religious scholars moved freely between the two regions. Even until relatively recent times, large numbers of notable Iranian scholars could be found studying or teaching in the great madrasahs (religious schools) in Al-Najaf and Karbalāʾ; the Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (Khomeini, Ruhollah), for instance, spent many years lecturing at Al-Najaf while in exile.

Religious minorities
      Followers of other religions include Christians and even smaller groups of Yazīdīs, Mandaeans, Jew (Judaism)s, and Bahāʾīs. (See Mandaeanism; Bahāʾī faith.) The nearly extinct Jewish community traces its origins to the Babylonian Exile (586–516 BC). Jews formerly constituted a small but significant minority and were largely concentrated in or around Baghdad, but, with the rise of Zionism, anti-Jewish feelings became widespread. This tension eventually led to the massive Farhūd pogrom of June 1941. With the establishment of Israel in 1948, most Jews emigrated there or elsewhere. The Christian communities are chiefly descendants of the ancient population that was not converted to Islam in the 7th century. They are subdivided among various sects, including Nestorians (Assyrians), Chaldeans (Chaldean rite)—who broke with the Nestorians in the 16th century and are now affiliated with the Roman Catholic church— monophysite Jacobites, and members of the Eastern Orthodox churches.

Settlement patterns
      Iraq has a relatively low population density overall, but, in the fertile lowlands and the cities, densities are nearly four times the national average.

Rural settlement
      The distribution of towns and villages in Iraq follows basic patterns established thousands of years ago. Although the proportion of rural dwellers has fallen to less than one-fourth of the total population, the actual number remains comparatively high. Today several thousand villages and hamlets are scattered unevenly throughout the two-thirds of Iraq that is permanently settled. The greatest concentration of villages is in the valleys and lowlands around the Tigris and Euphrates. Most have between 100 and 2,000 houses, traditionally clustered tightly for defensive purposes. Their populations are engaged almost exclusively in agriculture, although essential services are located in the larger villages.

 Villages in the foothills and mountains of the largely Kurdish northeast tend to be smaller and more isolated than those of lowland Iraq, which befits a lifestyle that is based on animal husbandry and only rarely on agriculture. The arid and semiarid areas in the west and south have sparse populations. The arid regions, along with the extensive Al-Jazīrah region northwest of Baghdad, were traditionally inhabited by nomadic Bedouin tribes, but few of these people remain in Iraq. Another lifestyle under threat is that of the Shīʿite marsh dwellers (Madan) of southern Iraq. They traditionally have lived in reed dwellings built on brushwood foundations or sandspits, but the damage done to the marshes in the 1990s has largely undermined their way of living. Rice, fish, and edible rushes have been staples, supplemented by products of the water buffalo.

Urban settlement
 More than three-fourths of Iraq's population are urban dwellers, and almost two-fifths of those are concentrated in the five largest cities: Baghdad, Al-Baṣrah, Mosul, Arbīl, and Al-Sulaymāniyyah. The country's one major conurbation is Baghdad, a metropolis of nearly 5,000,000, but the majority of cities have populations between 50,000 and 500,000. There are also a considerable number of small towns, many of which are market centres, provincial capitals, or the headquarters of smaller local government districts. Attempts to stimulate the growth of selected small towns have had only modest success, and government efforts to stem the tide of people departing rural areas, through agricultural reform and other measures, have largely failed.

 For a variety of reasons, rural migrants have been particularly drawn to Baghdad, the country's political, economic, and communications hub. First, to minimize the danger of riots in the capital city, the Baʿth regime—in addition to a variety of security measures—made special efforts to maintain a minimal level of public services, even in the poorest neighbourhoods. This was especially important after the UN (United Nations) imposed an extended embargo on Iraqi trade in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, when food rationing became more necessary than ever before. Distributing rations has been more efficient in the capital area. Second, chances for employment typically have been better in Baghdad than in other cities. This was true as early as the 1930s, when migrants began to move to the city. Since that time, Shīʿite Arabs from the south have been the largest migrant group in the city, a trend that was enhanced during the Iran-Iraq War as many refugees fled the southern war zones. Efforts to limit this influx, and even to reverse it, have met with only limited success, and, by the beginning of the 21st century, Shīʿite Arabs represented a majority in the capital. The poor Shīʿite-Arab Al-Thawrah (“Revolution”) quarter—known between 1982 and 2003 as Ṣaddām's City—alone houses some two million people. According to official statistics in the early 1990s, more than one-fifth of the country's population lived in the governorate of Baghdad, almost all of them in the city itself. In reality, the figures were probably closer to one-third.

      It is no coincidence that Baghdad's celebrated predecessors, Babylon and the Sāsānian capital, Ctesiphon, were located in the same general region. Baghdad, itself a city of legend, is located at the heart of what has long been a rich agricultural region, and the modern city is the undisputed commercial, manufacturing, and service capital of Iraq. Its growth, however, has necessitated costly projects, including elaborate flood-prevention schemes completed largely in the 1950s, the rehousing of hundreds of thousands of inhabitants of squalid shantytowns (ṣarīfahs) in the 1960s (and, on a much smaller scale, in 1979–80), and the construction of major domestic water and sewerage projects. The city was damaged during both the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War and required major reconstruction of all parts of the infrastructure.

Regional centres
      Al-Baṣrah (Basra), on the west bank of the Shatt al-Arab and formerly Iraq's main port, is the centre of its southern petroleum sector and the hub of the country's date cultivation. One of the great cities of Islamic history and heritage, it was badly damaged and largely depopulated during the Iran-Iraq War and, though partially reconstructed following that conflict, again suffered during the Persian Gulf War and subsequent fighting between Shīʿite rebels and government forces. Much of the city's infrastructure (sewerage and potable water and health care facilities) remained in a state of disarray, with dire results for public health. Al-Baṣrah's function as a port has been taken over by Umm Qaṣr, a small shallow-water port on the gulf.

      Iraq's third city, though now its second largest in terms of population, is Mosul, which is situated on the Tigris near the ruins of the ancient Assyrian capital of Nineveh. Mosul is the centre for the upper Tigris basin, specializing in processing and marketing agricultural and animal products. It has grown rapidly, partly as a result of the influx of Kurdish refugees fleeing government repression in Iraqi Kurdistan. By the end of the 1990s, Mosul too had suffered from government neglect, and, relative to Baghdad, its infrastructure and health care facilities were in poor condition. As a result, the level of child malnutrition found in Mosul, though to a lesser extent than in Al-Baṣrah, is far higher than is experienced in the capital.

Demographic trends
      Iraq has the fourth largest population in the Middle East, after Iran, Egypt, and Turkey. Yet demographic information since 1980 has been difficult to obtain and interpret, and outside observers often have been forced to use estimates. From 1990 a UN embargo on Iraq, which made travel to and from the country difficult, contributed considerably to the lack of information, but most important was the rule of more than 30 years by the Baʿthist regime, which was intent on controlling the flow of information about the country. The former Iraqi government sought to downplay unflattering demographic shifts in its Kurdish and Shīʿite communities while highlighting the effects of the UN embargo on health, nutrition, and overall mortality—particularly among the country's children.

      UN studies indicate that general levels of health and nutrition declined markedly after the introduction of the embargo in 1990 and before Iraq accepted the provisions of a UN program in late 1996 that allowed Iraq to sell a set quantity of oil in order to purchase food, medicine, and other human necessities. This situation led to substantial declines in the rates of birth, natural increase, and fertility and a noticeable increase in the death rate. Overall vital statistics in Iraq during the 1990s, however, remained above world averages and by the 21st century had begun to return to their prewar levels.

      Because of Iraq's relatively low population density, the government has long promoted a policy of population growth, and although it is estimated that more than two-fifths of the population is under 15 years of age, the total fertility rate has declined since its peak during the late 1980s. This decline apparently resulted from the casualties of the two major wars—reaching possibly as many as a half million young and early-adult men—and subsequent difficulties related to the UN embargo, as well as an overall sense of insecurity among Iraqis. For the same reasons, it is reckoned that the rate of natural increase, though still high by world standards, had dropped markedly by the mid-1990s before it likewise rebounded. Life expectancy in 2001 was estimated to be some 66 years for men and 68 years for women.

      The associated hardships of the early to mid-1990s persuaded a number of Iraqis—at least those who were wealthy enough and willing to risk the wrath of the regime—to either leave the country or seek haven in the northern Kurdish region, where, thanks to international aid and a freer market, living conditions improved noticeably during the 1990s. Moreover, an estimated one to two million Iraqis—many of them unregistered refugees—fled the country to various destinations (including Iran, Syria, and Jordan) out of direct fear of government reprisal. Repatriation was slow after the demise of the Baʿthist regime.

      Beyond the out-migration of a significant number of Iraqis, the major demographic trends in the country since the 1970s have been forced relocation—particularly of the Iranian population and, more recently, of the Kurds—forced ethnic homogenization, and urbanization. Eastern Iraq has traditionally formed part of a transition zone between the Arab and Persian worlds, and, until the Baʿth regime came to power in 1968, a significant number of ethnic Persians lived in the country (in the same way large numbers of ethnic Arabs reside in Iran). Between 1969 and 1980, however, they—and many Arabs whom the regime defined as Persian—were deported to Iran.

      Kurds have traditionally populated the northeast, and Sunni Arabs have traditionally predominated in central Iraq. During the 1980s the Baʿth regime forcibly moved tens of thousands of Kurds from regions along the Iranian border, with many Kurds dying in the process, and subsequently relocated large numbers of Arabs to areas traditionally inhabited by Kurds, particularly in and around the city of Karkūk. Kurds in those regions have, likewise, been expelled, and many of Iraq's estimated half million internally displaced persons are Kurds. Further, the regime systematically compelled large numbers of Kurds and members of smaller ethnic groups to change their ethnic identity, forcing them to declare themselves Arabs. Those not acquiescing to this pressure faced expulsion, physical abuse, and imprisonment.

      Iraqis have been slowly migrating to urban areas since the 1930s. Population mobility and urban growth have, to some extent, created a religious and cultural mix in several large cities, particularly in Baghdad. (There has been little change in the overall ethnic patterns of the country, however, except through instances of forced migration.) Many Kurds have moved either to larger towns in Kurdistan or to larger cities such as Mosul or Baghdad. Few Kurds have moved willingly to the south, where Arab Shīʿites have traditionally predominated. The latter have moved in substantial numbers to larger towns in the south or, particularly during the fighting in the 1980s, to largely Shīʿite neighbourhoods in Baghdad. Sunnis migrating from rural areas have moved mostly to areas of Baghdad with majorities of their ethnic and religious affinities.

      From the mid-1970s until 1990, labour shortages drew large numbers of foreign workers, particularly Egyptians, to Iraq; at its height the number of Egyptians may have exceeded two million. Virtually all foreign workers left the country prior to the Persian Gulf War, and few, if any, have returned.


      Iraq's economy was based almost exclusively on agriculture until the 1950s, but after the 1958 revolution economic development was considerable. By 1980 Iraq had the second largest economy in the Arab world, after Saudi Arabia, and the third largest in the Middle East and had developed a complex, centrally planned economy dominated by the state. Although the economy, particularly petroleum exports, suffered during the Iran-Iraq War—gross domestic product (GDP) actually fell in some years—the invasion of Kuwait, Iraq's subsequent defeat in the Persian Gulf War, and the UN embargo beginning in 1990 dealt a far greater blow to the financial system. Little hard evidence is available on Iraq's economy after 1990, but the best estimates available indicate that, in the year following the Persian Gulf War, GDP dropped to less than one-fourth of its previous level. Under the UN embargo the Iraqi economy languished for the next five years, and it was not until the Iraqi government implemented the UN's oil-for-food program in 1997 that Iraq's GDP again began to experience positive annual growth.

      Oil production and economic development both declined after the start of the Iraq War, and the economy has continued to face serious problems, including a huge foreign debt, which has accumulated since the early 1980s largely through heavy war expenditures and continued high military spending. Other serious problems include a high rate of inflation; continuing political violence; an oil sector hampered by a shortage of replacement parts, antiquated production methods, and outdated technology; a population that has steadily moved away from agriculture; a high rate of unemployment; a seriously deteriorated infrastructure; and a private sector inexperienced in modern market practices. Following the initial phase (2003) of the Iraq War, the oil-for-food program was ended, sanctions were lifted, and civil administrators appointed by the United States took over Iraq's public sector.

      Oil revenues almost quadrupled between 1973 and 1975, and, until the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War, this enabled the Baʿth regime to set ambitious development goals, including building industry, reducing the quantity of imported manufactured goods, expanding agriculture (though Iraq has not attained self-sufficiency), and increasing significantly its non-oil exports. Investment in infrastructure was high, notably for projects involving irrigation and water supply, roads and railways, and rural electrification. Health services were also greatly improved. War with Iran in the 1980s, however, delayed many projects and heavily damaged the country's physical infrastructure, especially in the southeast, where most of the fighting occurred. There was little reprieve after the war was over, as the Persian Gulf War further devastated Iraq's infrastructure and undid many of the advances of earlier decades. Attacks by the U.S.-led coalition mainly affected the communication and energy systems. When electricity failed, other systems were seriously affected, and a lack of spare parts led to further deterioration. In many parts of the country, these conditions persisted into the 21st century and were worsened by the Iraq War.

State control
      Under the socialist Baʿth Party, the economy was dominated by the state, with strict bureaucratic controls and centralized planning. Between 1987 and 1990 the economy liberalized somewhat in an attempt to encourage private investment, particularly in small industrial and commercial enterprises, and to privatize unprofitable public assets. Entrepreneurs were encouraged to draw on funds that they had managed to transfer abroad, without threat of government reprisal or interference, and the government was able to divest itself of a number of enterprises. Yet, generally speaking, the privatization policy did not do well, mainly because elements within the bureaucracy and the security service—fearing that this course of action imperiled their interests and obviated socialist policy—objected to it but also because potential investors feared that the government might arbitrarily reverse the plan. In addition, many of the public assets offered for sale were unprofitable. After Iraq invaded Kuwait, the privatization policy died out, though private enterprise continued in the form of small- and medium-sized businesses and light industries.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
      About one-eighth of Iraq's total area is arable, and another one-tenth is permanent pasture. A large proportion of the arable land is in the north and northeast, where rain-fed irrigation dominates and is sufficient to cultivate winter crops, mainly wheat and barley. The remainder is in the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, where irrigation—approximately half of Iraq's arable land is irrigated (irrigation and drainage)—is necessary throughout the year. The cultivated area declined by about half during the 1970s, mainly because of increased soil salinity, but grew in the 1980s as a number of large reclamation projects, particularly in the central and northwestern areas, were completed. In addition, droughts in Turkey frequently reduced the amount of Euphrates water available for irrigation in the south. Although the Tigris is affected less by drought—because it has a wider drainage area, including tributaries in Iran—it has been necessary to construct several large dams throughout the river system to store water for irrigation. Careful management of the soils has been necessary to combat salinity, but the willingness of the upstream states, Turkey and Syria, to equitably divide the water of the two rivers, despite their own heavy demands, also has been vital to the maintenance of sufficient volume.

      Agriculture traditionally accounts for one-fourth to one-third of Iraq's GDP. However, the country's agricultural sector faces many problems in addition to soil salinity and drought, including floods and siltation, which impede the efficient working of the irrigation system. A lack of access to fertilizer and agricultural spare parts after 1990 and a lengthy drought in the early 21st century led to a decrease in agricultural production.

      Before the revolution of 1958, most of the agricultural land was concentrated in the hands of a few powerful landowners. The revolutionary government began a program of land reform, breaking up the large estates and distributing the land to peasant families and limiting the size of private holdings. The Baʿthist government that took over in 1968 originally encouraged public ownership and established agricultural cooperatives and collective farms, but those proved to be inefficient. After 1983 the government rented state-owned land to private concerns, with no limit on the size of holdings, and from 1987 it sold or leased all state farms. Membership in a cooperative and the use of government marketing organizations ceased to be obligatory.

      The chief crops are barley, wheat, rice, vegetables, corn (maize), millet, sugarcane, sugar beets, oil seeds, fruit, fodder, tobacco, and cotton. Yields vary considerably from year to year, especially in areas of rain-fed cultivation. Date production—Iraq was once the world's largest date producer—was seriously damaged during the Iran-Iraq War and approached prewar levels only in the early 21st century. Animal husbandry is widely practiced, particularly among the Kurds of the northeast, and livestock products, notably milk, meat, hides, and wool, are important.

      Timber resources are scarce and rather inaccessible, being situated almost entirely in the highlands and mountains of the northeast in Iraqi Kurdistan. The resources that are readily available are used almost exclusively for firewood and the production of charcoal. Limited amounts of timber are used for local industry, but most wood for industrial production (for furniture, construction, and other purposes) must be imported. Afforestation projects to supply new forest area and reduce erosion have met with limited success.

      Iraq harvests both freshwater and marine fish for local consumption and also supports a modest aquaculture industry. The main freshwater fish are various species of the genus Barbus and carp, which are pulled from Iraqi national waters and from the Persian Gulf by Iraq's small domestic fleet. Inland bodies provide by far the largest source of fish. Various types of shad, mullet, and catfish are fished in the lakes, rivers, and streams, and fish farms mostly provide varieties of carp. There is no industrial fish-processing sector, and most fish is consumed fresh by the domestic market. Fishing contributes only a tiny fraction to GDP.

Resources and power
petroleum and natural gas
      Petroleum is Iraq's most valuable mineral—the country has the world's second largest known reserves and, before the Iran-Iraq War, was the second largest oil-exporting state. Oil production contributes the largest single portion to GDP and constitutes almost all of Iraq's foreign exchange. Iraq is a founding member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) (OPEC), but disagreements over production quotas and world oil prices have often led Iraq into conflict with other members.

      Oil was first discovered in Iraq in 1927 near Karkūk by the foreign-owned Turkish Petroleum Company, which was renamed the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) in 1929. Finds at Mosul and Al-Baṣrah followed, and several new fields were discovered and put into production in the 1940s and '50s. New fields have continued to be discovered and developed.

      The IPC was nationalized in 1972, as were all foreign-owned oil companies by 1975, and all facets of Iraq's oil industry were thereafter controlled by the government through the Iraq National Oil Company and its subsidiaries. During the war with Iran, production and distribution facilities were badly damaged, and after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait—which was itself partly prompted by disagreements over production quotas and disputes over oil field rights—the UN embargo on Iraq halted all exports. Under the embargo Iraq exported little or no oil until the oil-for-food program was implemented. By the early 21st century, oil production and exports had risen to roughly three-fourths of the levels achieved prior to the Persian Gulf War. Oil production rebounded slowly following the initial phase of the Iraq War.

Oil pipelines (pipeline)
      Because Iraq has such a short coastline, it has depended heavily on transnational pipelines to export its oil. This need has been compounded by the fact that Iraq's narrow coastline is adjacent to that of Iran, a country with which Iraq frequently has had strained relations. Originally (1937–48) oil from the northern fields (mainly Karkūk) was pumped to the Mediterranean Sea through Haifa, Palestine (now in Israel), a practice that the Iraqis abandoned with the establishment of the Jewish state. Soon thereafter pipelines to the Mediterranean were built to Bāniyās, Syria, and through Syria to Tripoli, Lebanon. In 1977 a large pipeline was completed to the Turkish Mediterranean coast at Ceyhan. When the first Turkish line was completed, Iraq ceased using the Syrian pipelines and relied on the outlet through Turkey and on new terminals on the Persian Gulf (although export through Syria briefly resumed in the early 1980s). By 1979 Iraq had three gulf terminals—Mīnāʾ al-Bakr, Khawr al-Amaya, and Khawr al-Zubayr—all of which were damaged during one or the other of Iraq's recent wars. In 1985 Iraq constructed a new pipeline that fed into the Petroline (in Saudi Arabia), which terminated at the Red Sea port of Yanbuʿ. In 1988 that line was replaced with a new one, but it never reached full capacity and was shut down, along with all other Iraqi oil outlets, following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

      In December 1996 the Turkish pipeline was reopened under the oil-for-food program. Later the gulf terminal of Mīnāʾ al-Bakr also was revived, and in 1998 repairs were begun on the Syrian pipeline. Following the start of the Iraq War in 2003, Iraq's pipelines were subjected to numerous acts of sabotage by guerrilla forces.

Other minerals and energy
      Exploitation of other minerals has lagged far behind that of oil and natural gas. It seems likely that Iraq has a good range of these untapped resources. Huge rock sulfur reserves—estimated to be among the largest in the world—are exploited at Mishraq, near Mosul, and in the early 1980s phosphate (phosphate mineral) production began at ʿAkāshāt, near the Syrian border; the phosphates are used in a large fertilizer plant at Al-Qāʾim. Lesser quantities of salt and steel are produced, and construction materials, including stone and gypsum (from which cement is produced), are plentiful.

      Iraq's electrical production fails to meet its needs. Energy rationing is pervasive, and mandatory power outages are practiced throughout the country. This is largely because of damage by the Persian Gulf War, which destroyed the bulk of the country's power grid, including more than four-fifths of its power stations and a large part of its distribution facilities. Despite a shortage of spare parts, Iraq was able—largely through cannibalizing equipment—to reconstruct roughly three-fourths of its national grid by 1992. By the end of the decade, however, this level of energy production had decreased, in part as a result of a reduced level of hydroelectric (hydroelectric power) generation caused by drought but also because there continued to be a lack of replacements for aging components. Damage from the Iraq War has been less severe, but energy production remains below installed capacity.

      The bulk of electricity generation is by thermal plants. Even in the best of times—despite the many dams on Iraq's rivers—the hydroelectricity produced is below installed capacity. The largest hydroelectric plants are at the Ṣaddām Dam on the Tigris, the Dokan Dam on the Little Zab River, the Darbandikhan Dam on the Diyālā in eastern Kurdistan, and the Sāmarrāʾ Dam on Lake Al-Tharthār. A Chinese company completed a new plant near Karkūk in 2000 and has contracted to repair other facilities.

      The manufacturing sector developed rapidly after the mid-1970s, when government policy shifted toward heavy industrialization and import substitution. Iraq's program received assistance from many countries, particularly from the former Soviet Union. The state generally has controlled all heavy manufacturing, the oil sector, power production, and the infrastructure, although private investment in manufacturing was at times encouraged. Until 1980 most heavy manufacturing was greatly subsidized and made little economic sense, but it brought prestige for the Baʿth regime and later, during the Iran-Iraq War, served as a basis for the country's massive military buildup. Petrochemical and iron and steel plants were built at Khawr al-Zubayr, and petrochemical production and oil refining were greatly expanded both at Al-Baṣrah and at Al-Musayyib, 40 miles (65 km) south of Baghdad, which was designated as the site of an enormous integrated industrial complex. In addition, a wide range of industrial activities were started up, some of which were boosted by the Iran-Iraq War, notably aluminum smelting and the production of tractors, electrical goods, telephone cables, and tires. Petrochemical products for export also were expanded and diversified to include liquefied natural gas, bitumen, detergents, and a range of fertilizers.

      The combined results of the Iran-Iraq War, both the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War, and, most of all, the UN embargo eroded Iraq's manufacturing capacity. Within its first two years, the embargo had cut manufacturing—which was already well below its highs of the early 1980s—by more than half. After 1997, however, there was an increase in manufacturing output, in both the public and the private sectors, as replacement parts and government credit became available. By the end of the decade, large numbers of products long unavailable to consumers were once again on the market, and almost all the factories that were operating before the imposition of the embargo had resumed production, albeit at somewhat lower levels.

      All banks and insurance companies were nationalized in 1964. The Central Bank of Iraq (founded in 1947 and one of the first central banks in the Arab world) has the sole right to issue the dinar, the national currency. The Rafidain Bank (1941) is the oldest commercial bank, but in 1988 the state founded a second commercial bank, the Rashid (Rasheed) Bank. There are also three state-owned specialized banks: the Agricultural Co-operative Bank (1936), the Industrial Bank (1940), and the Real Estate Bank (1949). Beginning in 1991 the government authorized private banks to operate, although only under the strict supervision of the central bank. The Baghdad Stock Exchange opened in 1992.

      By 2004, after three major wars and years of international isolation, the national accounts were in disarray, and the country was saddled with an enormous national debt. At the end of the Persian Gulf War, the value of the formerly sound dinar plummeted in the face of rampant inflation. The UN embargo made it difficult for Iraqi banks to operate outside the country, and, under UN auspices, numerous Iraqi assets and accounts, including those in Iraq's financial institutions, were frozen and later seized by host governments in order to pay the country's numerous outstanding debts. Under the stipulations of the oil-for-food program, all revenues derived from the export of Iraqi oil were placed in escrow and supervised by the international community. After the initial phase of the Iraq War, the United States sought ways to refinance or forgive portions of the country's debt.

      Before the UN embargo, Iraq was a heavy importer. The chief imports included military ordnance, vehicles, industrial and electrical goods, textiles and clothing, and construction materials. About one-fourth of import spending was on foodstuffs. Exports—though dominated by oil, which accounted for nearly all of total export value—were relatively diverse and included such items as dates, cotton, wool, animal products, and fertilizers. All legal international trade ground to a virtual halt following the invasion of Kuwait and the imposition of the embargo. Only with the start of the oil-for-food program did Iraq again begin to engage in international trade—albeit under strict UN supervision. Beginning in 2002 the UN eased trade restrictions to allow a broader range of imports, and the following year the embargo was lifted. Foodstuffs are still imported in large quantities, as are consumer goods of all types. Exports now consist mostly of petroleum and petroleum products, which are shipped to a number of countries, including the United States, Italy, France, and Spain. Iraq is a member of the Arab Common Market.

      Like every other part of the economy, the service sector suffered during the embargo. Retail sales fell off as unemployment rose and as the buying power of the dinar sharply decreased. A large portion of every Iraqi's salary—even among the once-thriving middle class—went to such necessities as food and shelter. Iraq's somewhat isolated geographic location and its decades of near perpetual political instability have seriously impeded the possibility that tourism, in spite of the country's deep historical wealth, might soon become a major source of national income. The only sector of the service economy that consistently thrived throughout the embargo was the construction industry. The government invested a large portion of its limited resources in repairing the damage of the Persian Gulf War (particularly in and around Baghdad) and to constructing grandiose monuments and palaces for the regime and its leader, Ṣaddām Ḥussein.

Labour and taxation
      Labour laws enacted following the revolution offer protection to employees, including minimum wages and unemployment benefits; traditionally there have also been benefits for maternity, old age, and illness. It is unclear how these measures have been honoured since the early 1990s. Trade unions were legalized in 1936, but their effectiveness was limited by government and Baʿth Party control. Iraq's only labour organization (organized labour) is the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU), established in 1987, which is affiliated with the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions and the World Federation of Trade Unions. Under the Baʿth government, workers in the private sector were allowed to join only local unions associated with the GFTU, which in reality was closely tied to, and controlled by, the party and was largely a vehicle for Baʿthist ideology. Collective bargaining traditionally has not been practiced, and workers effectively have been barred from striking. Under labour laws adopted in that period, children under 14 years of age are allowed to work only in small family businesses, and those under 18 may work only a limited number of hours. In reality, however, the extreme economic situation that began in the 1990s forced many children to enter the workforce. Unemployment and underemployment were extremely high during the 1990s—a considerable change for a country that had traditionally imported labour—and continued into the 21st century. As in many Islamic countries, the standard workweek is Sunday through Thursday, but many labourers toil six or seven days per week, some at more than one job.

      Since the oil boom of the 1970s, the overwhelming majority of government revenue has been generated by the export and sale of petroleum. As a consequence, Iraq's system of taxation is only poorly developed. The government scrambled to find new sources of revenue after the UN embargo was imposed in 1990, but these were few and consisted largely of sporadic taxation, property confiscation (mainly from enemies of the regime), and the government monopoly over export trade—largely clandestine shipments of oil—in defiance of the embargo. After the oil-for-food program was established, oil revenues were held in escrow by the UN. Following the start of the Iraq War, the country relied on international aid to augment income from oil exports.

Transportation and telecommunications
      Iraq's transport system encompasses all kinds of travel, both ancient and contemporary. In some desert and mountain regions, the inhabitants still rely on camels, horses, and donkeys. Despite the disruption caused by events since 1980, the country's transportation systems are, by the standards of the region, reasonably high.

      The road network has been markedly improved since the 1950s, and more than four-fifths of the road mileage is paved. There are good road links with neighbouring countries, particularly with Kuwait and Jordan. The most extensive road network is in central and southern Iraq.

      The rail system is controlled by Iraqi Republic Railways. The main lines include a metre-gauge line from Baghdad to Karkūk and Arbīl and a standard-gauge line from Baghdad to Mosul and Turkey. To the south a standard-gauge line from Baghdad reaches Al-Baṣrah and Umm Qaṣr. A line links Iraq with the Syrian railway system. International rail service was interrupted during the political turmoil of the 1980s and was not reestablished with Syria until 2000 or with Turkey until 2001.

      Rivers, lakes, and channels have long been used for local transport. For large vessels, river navigation is difficult because of flooding, shifting canals, and shallows. Nevertheless, the Tigris is navigable by steamers to Baghdad, and smaller craft can travel upstream to Mosul. Navigation of the Euphrates is confined to small craft and large rafts that carry goods downstream. Oceangoing ships can reach Al-Baṣrah, 85 miles (135 km) upstream on the Shatt al-Arab, only through regular dredging. Until the Iran-Iraq War, Al-Baṣrah handled the great bulk of Iraq's trade, but since then—and even more so since 1996—Umm Qaṣr has been developed as an alternative port. It is linked with Al-Zubayr, 30 miles (50 km) inland, via the canalized Khawr al-Zubayr. Much Iraqi trade also passes through the Jordanian port of Al-ʿAqabah, from which goods are carried overland by truck. Since 1999 merchandise also has come through Syria's port city of Latakia.

      The national airline, Iraqi Airways, was founded in 1945, and domestic air traffic was relatively light at the outbreak of the Persian Gulf War. A ban on flights south of latitude 32° N (since 1996, 33° N) and north of 36° N (the so-called “no-fly zones”) that was established after the war forced domestic air traffic virtually to cease until late 2000. There are international airports at Baghdad (the country's main point of entry) and Al-Baṣrah, as well as four regional airports and several large military fields.

      Iraq's telecommunication network, once one of the best in the region, was heavily damaged during the Persian Gulf War and was further degraded in 2003. The network has been repaired only partially and has suffered from inadequate maintenance and a chronic lack of spare parts. Services that are available are of a poor quality. There are approximately three main telephone lines per hundred residents and only slightly greater access to television, with less than one set per 10 residents. About one-fifth of the population has regular access to radio. All television and radio broadcast stations were either directly or indirectly controlled by the government, but after 2003 restrictions were dropped, and television service via satellite boomed. Cellular telephone service, unavailable under the Baʿth government, is now accessible in urban areas, and Internet access is available to a much wider audience.

Government and society

Constitutional framework
      From 1968 to 2003 Iraq was ruled by the Baʿth (Baʿth Party) (Arabic: “Renaissance”) Party. Under a provisional constitution adopted by the party in 1970, Iraq was confirmed as a republic, with legislative power theoretically vested in an elected legislature but also in the party-run Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), without whose approval no law could be promulgated. Executive power rested with the president, who also served as the chairman of the RCC, supervised the cabinet ministers, and ostensibly reported to the RCC. Judicial power was also, in theory, vested in an independent judiciary. The political system, however, operated with little reference to constitutional provisions, and from 1979 to 2003 President Ṣaddām Ḥussein wielded virtually unlimited power.

      Following the overthrow of the Baʿth government in 2003, the United States and its coalition allies established the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), headed by a senior American diplomat. In July the CPA appointed the 25-member Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), which assumed limited governing functions. The IGC approved an interim constitution in March 2004, and a permanent constitution was approved by a national plebiscite in October 2005. This document established Iraq as a federal state in which limited authority—over matters such as defense, foreign affairs, and customs regulations—was vested in the national government. A variety of issues (e.g., general planning, education, and health care) are shared competencies, and other issues are treated at the discretion of the district and regional constituencies.

      The constitution is in many ways the framework for a fairly typical parliamentary democracy. The president is the head of state, the prime minister is the head of government, and there are two deliberative bodies, the Council of Representatives (Majlis al-Nawwāb) and the Council of Union (Majlis al-Itiḥād). The judiciary is free and independent of the executive and the legislature.

      The president, who is nominated by the Council of Representatives and who is limited to two four-year terms, holds what is largely a ceremonial position. The head of state presides over state ceremonies, receives ambassadors, endorses treaties and laws, and awards medals and honours. The president also calls upon the leading party in legislative elections to form a government (the executive), which consists of the prime minister and the cabinet and which, in turn, must seek the approval of the Council of Representatives to assume power. The executive is responsible for setting policy and for the day-to-day running of the government. The executive also may propose legislation to the Council of Representatives.

      The Council of Representatives does not have a set number of seats but is based on a formula of one representative for every 100,000 citizens. Ministers serve four-year terms and sit in session for eight months per year. The council's functions include enacting federal laws, monitoring the performance of the prime minister and the president, ratifying foreign treaties, and approving appointments; in addition, it has the authority to declare war.

      The constitution is very brief on the issue of the Council of Union, the structure, duties, and powers of which apparently will be left to later legislation. The constitution only notes that this body will include representatives of the regions and governorates, suggesting that it will likely take the form of an upper house.

Local government
      Iraq is divided for administrative purposes into 18 muḥāfaẓāt (governorates), 3 of which constitute the Kurdish Autonomous Region. Each governorate has a governor, or muḥāfiẓ, appointed by the president. The governorates are divided into 91 aqḍiyyah (districts), headed by district officers, and each district is divided into nāḥiyāt (tracts), headed by directors. Altogether, there are 141 tracts in Iraq. Towns and cities have their own municipal councils, each of which is directed by a mayor. Baghdad has special status and its own governor. The Kurdish Autonomous Region was formed by government decree in 1974, but in reality it attained autonomy only with the help of coalition forces following the Persian Gulf War. It is governed by an elected 50-member legislative council. The Kurdish Region was ratified under the 2005 constitution, which also authorizes the establishment of future regions in other parts of Iraq as part of a federal state.

      Judicial affairs in Iraq are administered by the Supreme Judicial Council, which nominates the justices of the Supreme Court, the national prosecutor, and other high judicial officials for approval by the Council of Representatives. Members of the Supreme Court are required to be experts in civil law and Muslim canon law and are appointed by two-thirds majority of the legislature. In addition to interpreting the constitution and adjudicating legal issues at the national level, the Supreme Court also settles disputes over legal issues between national government and lower jurisdictions. During the Baʿth era the judiciary was generally bypassed, and the regime instituted a wide variety of exceptional courts whose authority circumvented the constitution. The establishment of such courts is clearly proscribed under the 2005 constitution. All additional courts are to be established by due process of law.

Political process
      The Baʿth Party was a self-styled socialist and Arab nationalist party once connected with the ruling Baʿth Party in Syria, although the two parties were often at odds. After the Baʿth Party came to power, Iraq became effectively a one-party state, with all governing institutions nominally espousing the Baʿth ideology. In 1973 the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) agreed to join a Baʿth-dominated National Progressive Front, and in 1974 a group of Kurdish political parties, including the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), joined. In 1979, after the ICP had suffered serious disagreements with the Baʿth leadership and a bloody purge, it left the Front, and it was subsequently outlawed by the government. In addition to the ICP, several other opposition parties were outlawed by the Baʿth. The best known among them are the KDP, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and two religious Shīʿite parties: the Daʿwah (“Call”) Islamic Party and the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Another group, the Iraqi National Congress, received strong, albeit intermittent, support of the U.S. government during the 1990s. All operated outside Iraq or in areas of the country not under government control.

      Following the Persian Gulf War, the KDP and the PUK, although often at odds with one another, operated in the Kurdish Autonomous Region with relative freedom and remained largely unhindered by the government. In the rest of Iraq, however, isolation and the UN embargo further consolidated power in the hands of the government. Following the overthrow of the Baʿthists in 2003, a number of small political parties arose, and the major expatriate parties resumed operations domestically.

      The Iraqi armed forces have often intervened in the country's political life. There were numerous military coups between 1936 and 1968, and though the Baʿth regime depended heavily on military support for its survival, its mistrust of the military caused it to distance the armed forces from politics. There were frequent purges of the officer corps in order to root out those suspected of disloyalty, and security duties were divided between a complex network of military, paramilitary, and intelligence services, many of which reported directly to the president and all of which were commanded by individuals whose allegiance to him was without question.

      In the 1970s Iraq began a systematic buildup of its armed forces, and by 1990 it had the most powerful army in the Arab world—and perhaps the fourth or fifth largest in the world. More than one million soldiers were under arms and had access to a plentiful supply of sophisticated weaponry. During the Persian Gulf War, the army suffered heavy losses in troops and matériel, and afterward it was trimmed to roughly one-third of its previous size. Remaining units were badly equipped, morale was low, and desertion was common. By the early 21st century, the regular army could still suppress internal revolts but was no match for the armies of neighbouring countries.

      Iraq had a small but growing navy that was designed primarily for river and coastal defense. A once larger naval force was completely paralyzed by Iranian superiority at sea during the Iran-Iraq War and was virtually destroyed during the Persian Gulf War. New ships purchased abroad never arrived owing to the UN embargo, under which Iraq was not allowed to rebuild naval forces. The Iraqi air force was formerly large and well-equipped, but roughly half of its combat aircraft either were destroyed or were flown into hiding (many to Iran, which has since refused to return them) during the Persian Gulf War. Half of Iraq's remaining aircraft were rendered inoperable owing to poor maintenance and a lack of spare components during the 1990s. However, Iraq devoted significant resources to air defense.

      Under Ṣaddām Ḥussein, major military programs centred on stockpiling chemical and biological weapons, developing a nuclear weapons program (or obtaining completed nuclear weapons), and creating a missile system capable of delivering chemical, biological, and nuclear warheads a distance of 600 to 800 miles (950 to 1,300 km). After the Persian Gulf War, the international community attempted to compel Iraq to stop developing such weapons, and reports that the country continued to stockpile those weapons and obtain associated matériel and technology served as the casus belli for the Iraq War. After the overthrow of the Ba'thists, members of paramilitary groups fled into hiding, and the CPA disbanded the armed forces. A new army of much smaller dimensions was recruited soon after.

Health and welfare
      Between 1958 and 1991 health care was free, welfare services were expanded, and considerable sums were invested in housing for the poor and for improvements to domestic water and electrical services. Almost all medical facilities were controlled by the government, and most physicians were (and still are) employed by the Ministry of Health. Shortages of medical personnel were felt only in rural areas. Cities and towns had good hospitals, and clinics and dispensaries served most rural areas. Still, Iraq had a high incidence of infectious diseases such as malaria and typhoid, caused by rural water supplies contaminated largely by periodic flooding. Substantial progress, however, was made in controlling malaria.

      The Persian Gulf War greatly damaged components of the infrastructure, which had the immediate effect of higher rates of mortality and increased instances of malnutrition (especially among young children). However, by 1997 overall levels of health care had begun to increase as the oil-for-food program began to generate revenue for food and medicine. By the early 21st century, medical care, though no longer free, was still affordable for most citizens and was much more readily available than it had been since the start of the embargo. Shortages remained, especially of medicine, potable water, and trained medical staff.

      Health care in most parts of the Kurdish Autonomous Region actually improved during the 1990s, and child mortality fell significantly. Malnutrition was much less common than in the remainder of Iraq, and by the 21st century potable water was available to four-fifths of the rural population (up from three-fifths in the mid-1990s). After 2003 the health care system relied heavily on donations from abroad and the efforts of international aid organizations.

      The availability of adequate housing remained a problem in Iraq at the beginning of the 21st century. This was partly attributable to the major demographic shifts that had occurred in preceding decades, with large numbers of Shīʿites fleeing the south to overcrowded Baghdad and large groups of Kurds, Turkmens, and Assyrians being displaced by government policy in the north. Access to adequate water, electricity, and sanitation remained a problem both for new housing constructions and for existing residences. Many new immigrants to the city have been forced to reside in urban slums lacking all modern conveniences, and internally displaced persons in the north have had to live for times in tents, shantytowns, and other temporary residences.

      Domestic architecture shows distinct regional variations, but the basic house types are similar to those of neighbouring countries. Mud brick is common throughout the south, while more stone is used in the north. Some of the larger villages are surrounded by mud-brick walls. The traditional reed houses of the marsh dwellers of the Al-ʿAmārah area, with their remarkable barrel-vaulted roofs, are unique to Iraq.

      The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research have been responsible for the rapid expansion of education since the 1958 revolution. The number of qualified scientists, administrators, technicians, and skilled workers in Iraq traditionally has been among the highest in the Middle East. Education at all levels is funded by the state. Primary education (ages 6 to 12) is compulsory, and secondary education (ages 12 to 18) is widely available. At one time many Iraqi students went abroad, particularly to the United States and Europe, for university and graduate training, but this became rare following the Persian Gulf War. Iraqi girls have also been afforded good opportunities in education, and at times the rate of female university graduates has exceeded that of males.

      Beginning in the early 1990s, however, enrollment, for both boys and girls, fell considerably at all levels as many were forced to leave school and enter the workforce. Moreover, lacking access to the latest texts and equipment, Iraqi schools slowly fell behind those of other countries in the region in terms of the quality of education they offered. The educational system had formerly been highly politicized, and, following the fall of the Baʿth Party, an entirely new approach was encouraged by the CPA and the Iraqi Governing Council.

Cultural life

Cultural milieu
      The fundamental cultural milieu of Iraq is both Islamic and Arab and shares many of the customs and traditions of the Arab world as a whole. Within Iraq, however, there is rich cultural diversity. A variety of peoples were embraced by Iraq when it was carved out of the Ottoman Empire in 1920. These included the nomadic tribes of the arid south and west (related to the Bedouin of neighbouring states), the peasant farmers of central Iraq, the marsh dwellers of the south, the dryland cultivators of the northeast, and the mountain herders of Kurdistan. Adaptations to these contrasting environments have generated a mosaic of distinctive regional cultures manifested in folk customs, food, dress, and domestic architecture. Such regional differences are reinforced by the ethno-religious contrasts between Kurds and Arabs and by the fundamental division within Islam between Shīʿites and Sunnis. These divisions are less marked than they were in the early 20th century but are still evident in the human geography of Iraq.

Daily life and social customs
      War always ravages daily life, and, following the start of the Iraq War, there were few aspects of daily social interaction that were unaffected by the shortages of water and electricity, damaged infrastructure, soaring unemployment, collapse of government facilities, or violence of postwar guerrilla action. In broader terms, however, over the course of the 20th century, one development was evident: rapid urban growth accelerated social change in Iraq as a higher proportion of the population was exposed to modern, largely Westernized, lifestyles. Traditional social relationships, in which the family, the extended family, and the tribe are the prime focus, have remained fundamentally important in rural areas but are under pressure in the towns. Alcoholic beverages and Western-style entertainment have become freely available, a circumstance much deplored by devout Muslims. Although the number of Muslims in Iraq embracing a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam has grown—as it has elsewhere in the Middle East—Islamic extremism has not presented a major social or political problem, given the nature of the former regime. The role of women has been changing, with a higher proportion participating in the labour force in spite of encouragement from the government to stay at home and raise large families.

      Although Iraqis generally are a religious and conservative people, there are strong secular tendencies in the country. This is reflected in the dress, which, while conservative by Western standards (short or revealing clothes for men or women are considered inappropriate), is quite relaxed by the standards of the region, particularly compared with neighbouring Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states. Men will frequently wear Western-style suits or, in more casual surroundings, the long shirtlike thawb. The traditional chador and veil, the ḥijāb, is common among conservative women—especially those from rural areas—but Western attire is common.

      Iraqi cuisine mirrors that of Syria and Lebanon, with strong influences from the culinary traditions of Turkey and Iran. As in other parts of the Middle East, chicken and lamb are favourite meats and are often marinated with garlic, lemon, and spices and grilled over charcoal. Flatbread is a staple that is served, with a variety of dips, cheeses, olives, and jams, at every meal. Fruits and vegetables are also staples, particularly the renowned Iraqi dates, which are plentiful, sweet, and delicious and, along with coffee, are served at the end of almost every meal.

The arts
      Despite Iraq's political hardships, literary and artistic pursuits flourish, especially in Baghdad, where Western artistic traditions—including ballet, theatre, and modern art—are juxtaposed with more traditional Middle Eastern forms of artistic expression. Poetry thrives in Iraq; 20th-century Iraqi poets, such as Muḥammad Mahdī al-Jawāhirī, Nāzik al-Malāʾika (one of the Arab world's most prominent woman poets), Badr Shākir al-Sayyāb, and ʿAbd al-Wahhāb al-Bayatī, are known throughout the Arabic-speaking world. Iraqi painters and sculptors are among the best in the Middle East, and some of them, such as Ismāʿīl Fattāḥ Turk, Khālid al-Raḥḥāl, and Muḥammad Ghanī, have become world renowned. The Ministry of Culture and Information has endeavoured to preserve traditional arts and crafts such as leatherworking, copper working, and carpet making.

      From 1969 the Baʿth Party made a concentrated effort to create a culture designed to establish a new national identity that reflected the territorial roots of the Iraqi people. Independent Iraqi artists and intellectuals had started a trend similar to this in the 1950s, and Iraq's leader during the latter part of that decade and in the early 1960s, General ʿAbd al-Karīm Qāsim, encouraged it during his rule. The Baʿth regime, however, assumed full control of the program and took it to its zenith: playwrights, novelists, film producers, poets, and sculptors were encouraged to demonstrate the historical and cultural connection between the modern Iraqi people and the ancient peoples and civilizations of Mesopotamia. Archaeological museums were built in every governorate, and a European-style version of Babylon was built on its ancient ruins. A plethora of “territorial” cultural festivals were introduced, the most important of which was the Babylon International Festival, held in September in a reconstructed Hellenistic theatre on the ancient city site.

      The regime also encouraged a return to tribal values and affinities and supported a return to Islamic tradition and law. Every aspect of this cultural rebirth, of course, was deeply penetrated by Ṣaddām's personality cult (not unlike the personalismo of Latin America). Images of the ruler, whether statues, photos, or portraits (his likeness adorned the national currency), were omnipresent, and his name was invoked at every public ceremony.

Cultural institutions
      The Iraq Museum (founded 1923), with its collection of antiquities, and the National Library (1961) are located in Baghdad. The city also has some fine buildings from the golden age of ʿAbbāsid architecture in the 8th and 9th centuries and from the various Ottoman periods. In the 1970s the government made an effort to renovate some of Baghdad's historical buildings and even whole streets, with partial success. A number of renowned archaeological sites are located in Iraq, and artifacts from these sites are displayed in excellent museums such as the national museum and the Mosul Museum (1951). In less-troubled times more than a million tourists would visit Iraq each year, many of them Shīʿites visiting much-revered shrines at Karbalāʾ and Al-Najaf. Since the start of the international embargo, tourism has almost completely stopped. After 1998 Iranian pilgrims were again allowed into the Shīʿite holy cities, and since 2003 virtually all limits have been removed from such travel.

Sports and recreation
      As it is in most other Arab countries, football (football (soccer)) (soccer) is Iraq's national passion. It became increasingly popular as a means of coping with the political and economic turmoil after 1980. A popular venue in Baghdad is Al-Shaʿb (“People's”) Stadium, where throngs of Iraqis wait outside the gates even after the stadium has filled. Millions more watch via television throughout the country. In 2006 the national football team participated in the Asian Cup finals for the first time in more than two decades; in 2007 they won the title.

      The Iraqi National Olympic (Olympic Games) Committee (INOC) was formed in 1948, and later that year the country made its Olympic debut in London. However, Iraq did not return to Olympic competition until the 1960 Summer Games, when it won its first medal (in weight lifting). Since missing the 1972 and 1976 Games, Iraqi athletes have consistently attended the Olympics, though they have not competed at the Winter Games.

      Under the Baʿth Party, sports were highly politicized. ʿUdayy Ḥussein, one of Ṣaddām's sons, was both the chairman of the INOC and the president of the Iraqi Football Federation. Iraq was suspended from the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) after the OCA president was killed by Iraqi troops during the Persian Gulf War. The country did not attend the Pan-Arab Games in 1992 or in 1997, and Kuwait and Saudi Arabia at times boycotted games in which Iraq participated.

Media and publishing
      The media in Iraq are well developed, though they have traditionally been conservative and conformist in nature. There are a national television service and a number of regional television stations, including a Kurdish-language station. The leading Arabic newspapers are Al-Thawrah (“The Revolution”), Al-ʿIrāq, and Al-Jumhūriyyah (“The Republic”), and a variety of other newspapers and periodicals are published. Most communications media were owned and fully controlled by the government, but after the start of the Iraq War in 2003, an explosion of new publications of all types occurred, and diverse political views began to be aired.

Gerald Henry Blake Ed.

      This discussion surveys the history of Iraq since the 7th century AD. For the earlier history, see Mesopotamia (Mesopotamia, history of).

Iraq from c. 600 to 1055
      In 600 Iraq was a province of the Persian Sāsānian (Sāsānian dynasty) empire, to which it had belonged for three centuries. It was probably the most populous and wealthy area in the Middle East, and the intensive irrigation agriculture of the lower Tigris and Euphrates rivers and of tributary streams such as the Diyālā and Kārūn formed the main resource base of the Sāsānian monarchy. The name Iraq was not used at this time; in the mid-6th century the Sāsānian empire had been divided by Khosrow I into four quarters, of which the western one, called Khvarvaran, included most of modern Iraq.

      The name Iraq is widely used in the medieval Arabic sources for the area in the centre and south of the modern republic as a geographic rather than a political term, implying no precise boundaries. The area of modern Iraq north of Tikrīt was known in Muslim times as Al-Jazīrah, which means “the Island” and refers to the “island” between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers (i.e., Mesopotamia). To the south and west lay the Arabian Desert, inhabited largely by Arab tribesmen who occasionally acknowledged the overlordship of the Sāsānian kings. Until 602 the desert frontier had been guarded by the Lakhmid (Lakhmid Dynasty) kings of Al-Ḥīra (Ḥīrah, al-), who were themselves Arabs but ruled a settled buffer state. In that year Khosrow II (Parvīz) (Khosrow II) rashly abolished the Lakhmid kingdom and laid the frontier open to nomad incursions. Farther north the western quarter was bounded by the Byzantine Empire. The frontier more or less followed the modern Syria-Iraq border and continued northward into modern Turkey, leaving Nisibis (modern Nusaybin) as the Sāsānian frontier fortress while the Byzantines held Dārā and nearby Amida (modern Diyarbakır).

      The inhabitants were of mixed background. There was an aristocratic and administrative Persian upper class, but most of the population were Aramaic-speaking peasants. A considerable number of Arabs lived in the region, most of them as pastoralists along the western margins of the settled lands but some as townspeople, especially in Al-Ḥīra. In addition, there were Kurds, who lived along the foothills of the Zagros Mountains, and a large number of Greeks, mostly prisoners captured during the numerous Sāsānian campaigns into Byzantine Syria.

      Ethnic diversity was matched by religious pluralism. The Sāsānian state religion, Zoroastrianism, was largely confined to the Persian ruling class. The majority of the people, especially in the northern part of the country, were probably Christians (Christianity). They were sharply divided by doctrinal differences into monophysites, linked to the Jacobite church (Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch) of Syria, and Nestorians. The Nestorians were the most widespread and were tolerated by the Sāsānian kings because of their opposition to the Christians of the Roman Empire, who regarded the Nestorians as heretics. The Monophysites were regarded with more suspicion and were occasionally persecuted, but both groups were able to maintain an ecclesiastical hierarchy, and the Nestorians had an important intellectual centre at Nisibis. By that time the area around the ancient city of Babylon had a large population of Jews, both descendants of the exiles of Old Testament times and local converts. In addition, in the southern half of the country, there were numerous adherents of the old Babylonian paganism, as well as Mandaeans (Mandaeanism) and Gnostics (Gnosticism).

      In the early 7th century, the stability and prosperity of this multicultural society were threatened by invasion. In 602 Khosrow II launched the last great Persian invasion of the Byzantine Empire. At first he was spectacularly successful; Syria and Egypt fell, and Constantinople (modern Istanbul) itself was threatened. Later the tide began to turn, and in 627–628 the Byzantines, under the leadership of the emperor Heraclius, invaded Iraq and sacked the imperial capital at Ctesiphon. The invaders did not remain, but Khosrow was discredited, deposed, and executed. There followed a period of infighting among generals and members of the royal family that left the country without clear leadership. The chaos had also damaged irrigation systems, and it was probably at this time that large areas in the south of the country reverted to marshlands, most of which remained until modern times. It was with this devastated land that the earliest Muslim raiders came into contact. (See also Islamic world: Conversion and crystallization [634–870] (Islāmic world).)

The Arab conquest and the early Islamic period
      The first conflict between local Bedouin tribes and Sāsānian forces seems to have been in 634, when the Arabs were defeated at the Battle of the Bridge. There a force of some 5,000 Muslims under Abū ʿUbayd al-Thaqafī was routed by the Persians. In 637 a much larger Muslim force under Saʿd ibn Abī Waqqāṣ defeated the main Persian army at the Battle of Al-Qādisiyyah and moved on to sack Ctesiphon. By the end of the following year (638), the Muslim (Islāmic world)s had conquered almost all of Iraq, and the last Sāsānian king, Yazdegerd III, had fled to Iran, where he was killed in 651.

      The Muslim conquest was followed by mass immigration of Arabs from eastern Arabia and Oman. These new arrivals did not disperse and settle throughout the country; instead they established two new garrison cities, at Al-Kūfah (Kūfah), near ancient Babylon, and at Al-Baṣrah (Basra) in the south. The intention was that the Muslims should be a separate community of fighting men and their families living off taxes paid by the local inhabitants. In the north of the country, Mosul began to emerge as the most important city and the base of a Muslim governor and garrison. Apart from the Persian elite and the Zoroastrian priests, whose property was confiscated, most of the local people were allowed to keep their possessions and their religion.

      Iraq now became a province of the Muslim Caliphate, which stretched from North Africa and later Spain in the west to Sind (now southern Pakistan) in the east. At first the capital of the caliphate was at Medina, but, after the murder of the third caliph, Uthmān ibn ʿAffānʿ, in 656, his successor, the Prophet Muḥammad (Muhammad)'s cousin and son-in-law Alīʿ, made Iraq his base. In 661, however, ʿAlī was murdered in Al-Kūfah, and the caliphate passed to the rival Umayyad (Umayyad Dynasty) family in Syria. Iraq became a subordinate province, even though it was the wealthiest area of the Muslim world and the one with the largest Muslim population. This situation gave rise to continual discontent with Umayyad rule that took various forms.

      In 680 ʿAlī's son al-Ḥusayn (Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī, al-) arrived in Iraq from Medina, hoping that the people of Al-Kūfah would support him. They failed to act, and his small group of followers was massacred at the Battle of Karbalāʾ (Karbalāʾ, Battle of), but his memory lingered on as a source of inspiration for all who opposed the Umayyads. In later centuries the city of Karbalāʾ and ʿAlī's tomb at nearby Al-Najaf (Najaf, Al-) became important centres of Shīʿite pilgrimage that are still greatly revered today. The Iraqis had their opportunity after the death in 683 of the caliph Yazīd I when the Umayyads faced threats from many quarters. In Al-Kūfah the initiative was taken by al-Mukhtār ibn Abī ʿUbayd (Mukhtār ibn Abū ʿUbayd al-Thaqafi, al-), who was supported by many mawālī (singular, mawlā; non-Arab converts to Islam), who felt they were treated as second-class citizens. Al-Mukhtār was killed in 687, but the Umayyads realized that strict rule was required. The caliph Abd al-Malikʿ (685–705) appointed the fearsome al-Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf al-Thaqafī (Ḥajjāj, al-) as his governor in Iraq and all of the east. Al-Ḥajjāj became legendary as a stern but just ruler. His firm measures aroused the opposition of the local Arab elite, and in 701 there was a massive rebellion led by Muḥammad ibn al-Ashʿath (Ibn al-Ashʿath). The insurrection was defeated only with the aid of Syrian soldiers. Iraq was now very much a conquered province, and al-Ḥajjāj established a new city at Wāṣit (Wāsiṭ) (“Medial”), halfway between Al-Kūfah and Al-Baṣrah, to be a base for a permanent Syrian garrison. In a more positive way, he encouraged Iraqis to join the expeditions led by Qutaybah ibn Muslim that between 705 and 715 conquered Central Asia for Islam. Even after al-Ḥajjāj's death in 714, the Umayyad-Syrian grip on Iraq remained firm, and resentment was widespread.

The ʿAbbāsid Caliphate (Abbāsid Dynastyʿ)
      Opposition to the Umayyads finally came to a head in northeastern Iran ( Khorāsān) in 747 when the mawlā Abū Muslim raised black banners in the name of the ʿAbbāsids, a branch of the family of the Prophet, distantly related to ʿAlī and his descendants. In 749 the armies from the east reached Iraq, where they received the support of much of the population. The ʿAbbāsids themselves came from their secluded estate at Ḥumaymah in southern Jordan, and in 749 the first ʿAbbāsid caliph, Abū al-ʿAbbās (Abū al-ʿAbbās as-Saffāḥ) (al-Saffāḥ), was proclaimed in the mosque at Al-Kūfah. This “ ʿAbbāsid Revolution” ushered in the golden age of Islamic Iraq. Khorāsān was too much on the fringes of the Muslim world to be a suitable capital, and from the beginning the ʿAbbāsid caliphs made Iraq their base. By this time Islam in Iraq had spread well beyond the original garrison towns, even though Muslims were still a minority of the population.

      At first the ʿAbbāsids ruled from Al-Kūfah or nearby, but in 762 al-Manṣūr (Manṣūr, al-) (754–775) founded a new capital on the site of the old village of Baghdad. It was officially known as Madīnat al-Salām (“City of Peace”), but in popular usage the old name prevailed. Baghdad soon became larger than any other city in either Europe or the Middle East. Al-Manṣūr built the massive Round City with four gates and his palace and the main mosque in the centre. This Round City was exclusively a government quarter, and soon after its construction the markets were banished to the Karkh suburb to the south. Other suburbs soon grew up, developed by leading courtiers: Ḥarbiyyah to the northeast, where the Khorāsānī soldiers were settled, and, across the Tigris on the east bank, a new palace quarter for the caliph's son and heir al-Mahdī (775–785). The siting of Baghdad proved to be an act of genius. It had access to both the Tigris and the Euphrates river systems and was close to the main route through the Zagros Mountains to the Iranian plateau. Wheat and barley from Al-Jazīrah and dates and rice from Al-Baṣrah and the south could be transported in by water. By the year 800 the city may have had as many as 500,000 inhabitants and was an important commercial centre as well as the seat of government. The city grew at the expense of other centres, and both the old Sāsānian capital at Ctesiphon (called Al-Madāʾin, “the Cities,” by the Arabs) and the early Islamic centre at Al-Kūfah fell into decline.

      The high point of prosperity was probably reached in the reign of Hārūn al-Rashīd (Hārūn ar-Rashīd) (786–809), when Iraq was very much the centre of the empire and riches flowed into the capital from throughout the Muslim world. The prosperity and order in the southern part of the country were, however, offset by outbreaks of lawlessness in Al-Jazīrah, notably the rebellion of the Bedouin Walīd ibn Ṭarīf, who defied government forces between 794 and 797. Even the most powerful governments found it difficult to extend their authority beyond the limits of the settled land.

      Much more serious disruption followed the death of Hārūn in 809. He left his son al-Amīn (Amīn, al-) (809–813) as caliph in Baghdad but divided the caliphate and gave his son al-Maʿmūn (Maʾmūn, al-) (813–833) control over Iran and the eastern half of the empire. This arrangement soon broke down, and there ensued a prolonged and very destructive civil war. The supporters of al-Amīn made an ill-judged attempt to invade Iran in the spring of 811 and were soundly defeated at Rayy (modern Rey, just south of Tehrān). Al-Maʾmūn's supporters retaliated by invading Iraq, and, from August 812 until September 813, they laid siege to Baghdad while the rest of Iraq slid into anarchy. The collapse of Baghdadi resistance and the death of al-Amīn did not improve matters, for al-Maʾmūn, now generally recognized as caliph, decided to rule from Merv in distant Khorāsān (near modern Mary, in Turkmenistan). This downgrading of Iraq united many different groups in prolonged and bitter resistance to al-Maʾmūn's governor and led to another siege of Baghdad. Finally, al-Maʾmūn was forced to concede that he could not rule from a distance, and in August 819 he returned to Baghdad.

      Once again Iraq was the central province of the caliphate and Baghdad the capital, but the prolonged conflict had left much of the city in ruins and caused great destruction in the countryside. It probably marked the beginning of a long decline in the prosperity of the area that became pronounced from the 9th century onward.

      Al-Maʾmūn sent his generals, including the highly effective Ṭāhir al-Ḥusayn, to bring Syria and Egypt back under ʿAbbāsid rule and set about restoring the government apparatus, many of the administrative records having been destroyed in the fighting. During al-Maʾmūn's reign in Baghdad (819–833), Iraq became the centre of remarkable cultural activity, notably translations of Greek science and philosophy into Arabic. The caliph himself collected texts, employed such translators as the celebrated Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, and established an academy in Baghdad, the Bayt al-Ḥikmah (“House of Wisdom”), with a library and an observatory. Private patrons such as the Banū Mūsā brothers followed his example. This activity had a profound effect not only on Muslim intellectual life but also on the intellectual life of western Europe, for much of the science and philosophy taught in universities in the Middle Ages was derived from these Arabic translations, rendered into Latin in Spain in the 12th century. Under al-Maʾmūn the Muʿtazilite (Muʿtazilah) creed (a school of theology greatly indebted to Hellenistic rationalism) was declared state dogma—one of the few instances of such an act in Islamic history—and was not abandoned until the caliphate of al-Mutawakkil some 20 years later.

      Politically the position was less rosy. Although Al-Maʾmūn regained control of much territory lost by the caliphate, he granted virtual autonomy to military governors, or emirs, such as Ṭāhir. This practice spiraled out of control under later caliphs, and eastern dynasties such as the Ṭāhirids (Ṭāhirid Dynasty) and Sāmānids (Sāmānid Dynasty) were the first of many independent entities to arise within the caliphal realm. Al-Maʾmūn was also unable to recruit sufficient forces to replace the old ʿAbbāsid army that had been destroyed in the civil war, and he became increasingly dependent on his younger brother, Abū Isḥāq, who had gathered a small but highly efficient force of Turkish mercenaries, many of them slaves or former slaves from Central Asia. When al-Maʾmūn died in 833, Abū Isḥāq, under the title al-Muʿtaṣim (Muʿtaṣim, al-) (833–842), succeeded him without difficulty. Al-Muʿtaṣim was no intellectual but rather an effective soldier and administrator. His reign marks the introduction into Iraq of an alien, usually Turkish, military class, which was to dominate the political life of the country, and much of the region, for centuries to come. From that time Iraqi Arabs were rarely employed in military positions, though they continued to be influential in the civil administration. (See Mamlūk.)

      The recruitment of this new military class provoked resentment among the Baghdadis, who felt that they were being excluded from power. This resentment led al-Muʿtaṣim to found a new capital at Sāmarrāʾ, the last major urban foundation in Iraq until the 20th century. He chose a site on the Tigris about 100 miles (160 km) north of Baghdad. There he laid out a city with palaces and mosques, broad straight streets, and a regular pattern of housing. The ruins of this city, which was expanded by the caliph al-Mutawwakil (847–861), can still be seen on the ground and, more strikingly, in aerial photographs, in which the whole plan can be discerned. Sāmarrāʾ became a vast city, but it had none of the natural advantages of Baghdad: communication by river and canal with the Euphrates and southern Iraq was much more difficult, and despite massive investment the water supply was always inadequate. Sāmarrāʾ survived only while it was the capital of the caliphate, from 836 to 892. When the caliphs returned to Baghdad, it showed no independent urban vitality and soon shrank to a small provincial town—which is why its remains can still be seen when all traces of early ʿAbbāsid Baghdad have disappeared.

      For nearly 30 years the new regime worked well, and Iraq was for the last time the centre of a large empire. Tax revenues from other areas enriched Sāmarrāʾ, and Baghdad continued to prosper under the rule of the Ṭāhirids. Al-Baṣrah remained a great entrepôt on the Persian Gulf. The employment of Turkish soldiers without any ties to the local community gave rise to political instability, however. In 861 al-Mutawwakil was assassinated in his palace in Sāmarrāʾ by disaffected troops, and there began a nine-year anarchy in which the Turkish soldiers made and deposed caliphs virtually at will. The office of the caliph's senior military officer, the amīr al-umarāʾ, became the most powerful position in Baghdad. In 865 open civil war raged between Sāmarrāʾ and Baghdad and resulted in another destructive siege of Baghdad.

      The anarchy played itself out, and in 870 stability was restored with the caliph al-Muʿtamid in Sāmarrāʾ as titular ruler and his dynamic military brother al-Muwaffaq exercising real power in Baghdad, but the anarchy had done real and lasting damage to Iraq. Almost all the provinces of the empire, both the Iranian lands in the east (where the Ṣaffārids (Ṣaffārid Dynasty) joined the Ṭāhirids and Sāmānids as an independent dynasty) and Syria and Egypt (where the Tūlūnids (Ṭūlūnid Dynasty) gained autonomy) to the west, had broken away. Worse, a major social revolt had broken out in southern Iraq itself. In the prosperous years of early Islamic Iraq, large numbers of slaves had been imported from East Africa to be used in grueling agricultural work in the marshes of southern Iraq. In an episode known as the Zanj rebellion (869–883), the slaves rose up, led by an Arab who claimed to be a descendant of ʿAlī. This rebellion was extremely serious for the ʿAbbāsid government: it laid waste to large areas of agricultural land, and the great trading port of Al-Baṣrah was taken and sacked in 871, the rebels burning mosques and houses and massacring the inhabitants with indiscriminate ferocity. Although Al-Baṣrah was soon recaptured, it never fully recovered, and trade shifted down the gulf to cities such as Sīrāf (modern Bandar-e Ṭāherī) in southern Iran. The crushing of this revolt involved long and hard amphibious campaigns in the marshes, led by al-Muwaffaq and his son Abū al-ʿAbbās (later the caliph al-Muʿtaḍid (Muʿtaḍid, al-)) from 879 until the rebel stronghold at Mukhtārah was finally taken in 883.

      During the reigns of al-Muʿtaḍid (Muʿtaḍid, al-) (892–902) and his son al-Muktafī (Muktafī, al-) (902–908), Iraq was united under ʿAbbāsid control. Once more Baghdad was the capital, although the caliphs had largely abandoned the Round City of al-Manṣūr on the west bank, and the centre of government now lay on the east bank in the area that has remained the centre of the city ever since. It was a period of great cultural activity, and Baghdad was home to many intellectuals, including the great historian al-Ṭabarī (Ṭabarī, aṭ-), whose vast work chronicled the early history of the Muslim state; however, it was no longer the capital of a great empire. During the reign of the boy caliph al-Muqtadir (908–932), the political situation deteriorated rapidly. The weakness of the caliph gave rise to endless intrigues among parties of viziers and to a growing tendency for the military to take matters into its own hands. Increasingly the government in Baghdad lost control of the revenues and lands of Iraq. In 935 the final crisis occurred when the caliph al-Rāḍī was obliged to hand over all real secular power to an ambitious general, Ibn Rāʾiq.

      The political catastrophe of the ʿAbbāsid Caliphate was accompanied by economic collapse. It is probable that the vicious circle of decline started with the civil war after Hārūn's death in 809, and there can be no doubt that it was exacerbated by the demands of the Turkish military for payment. Administrators increasingly resorted to short-term expedients such as tax farming (auctioning the right of taxation to the highest bidder), which encouraged extortion and oppression, and granting iqṭāʿs to the military. In theory, iqṭāʿs were grants of the right to collect and use tax revenues; they could not be inherited or sold. The purpose of an iqṭāʿ was for the soldiers themselves to collect what they could directly from lands assigned to them. Both these remedies put a premium on short-term exploitation of land rather than long-term investment. Except in the north, most Iraqi agriculture depended on investment in and upkeep of complex irrigation works, and these new fiscal systems proved disastrous. In 935, the same year in which al-Rāḍī handed over power to the military leader Ibn Rāʾiq, the greatest of the ancient irrigation works of central Iraq, the Nahrawān canal, was breached to impede an advancing army. The damage was never repaired, large areas went out of cultivation, and villages were abandoned. The destruction of the canal is symbolic of the end of the irrigation culture that had brought great wealth to ancient Mesopotamia and that had underpinned Sāsānian and early Islamic government.

The Būyid (Būyid Dynasty) period (932–1062)
      After a decade of chaos, during which Ibn Rāʾiq and other military leaders struggled for power, an element of stability was regained in 945 when Baghdad was taken by the Būyid (Būyid Dynasty) chief, Muʿizz al-Dawlah. The Būyids were leaders of the Daylamite people from the area southwest of the Caspian Sea. These hardy mountaineers had taken advantage of the prevailing anarchy to take over much of western Iran in 934, and they now moved into Iraq. Muʿizz al-Dawlah established himself in Baghdad, but his regime never ruled over all of Iraq. In the capital itself a state of tension developed between the Daylamites and the Turks, who had for many years been the main military force. Moreover, when the Būyids made known their adherence to the Shīʿite branch of Islam, there was further, often violent, tension between their supporters and the Sunnites (Sunnite), who were in the majority. Baghdad began to disintegrate into a number of small communities, each either Sunnite or Shīʿite and each with its own walls to protect it from its neighbours. Large areas, including much of the Round City of al-Manṣūr, fell into ruin. Further problems were caused by the loss of control of Al-Jazīrah in the north of Iraq, for it was from this area that Baghdad had traditionally received its grain supplies. The city was too populous to be fed from its own hinterland, and, when political conflict interrupted the grain supplies from Al-Jazīrah, famine was added to the other miseries of the people. In one area, however, the Būyids retained the old forms: rather than make a clean break, they allowed the ʿAbbāsid caliphs to remain in comfortable but secluded captivity in their palace in Baghdad. Those who forgot where real power lay, however, were soon brutally reminded.

      From the beginning of the 10th century, Iraq was usually divided politically, and the Būyids in Baghdad seldom controlled the whole area as their ʿAbbāsid predecessors had done. The area around Al-Baṣrah in the south was frequently in the hands of rival Būyid princes, and the north increasingly went its own way.

      The economic decline and the ruin of irrigation systems that had affected central and southern Iraq do not seem to have been as marked in Al-Jazīrah, where agriculture was largely dry farming, dependent on rainfall; the area was consequently less potentially wealthy than the south but also less vulnerable to political upset. Mosul had been the most important city in Al-Jazīrah since the Islamic conquest, and it now became an important regional capital. The area was dominated by the Ḥamdānid Dynasty (909–1004). Originally leaders of the Taghlib Bedouin tribe of Al-Jazīrah, members of this family had taken service in the ʿAbbāsid armies. In 935 their leader, Nāṣir al-Dawlah, was acknowledged as ruler of Mosul in exchange for a money tribute and the provision of grain for Baghdad and Sāmarrāʾ, though neither money nor grain was paid on a regular basis. The Ḥamdānids strengthened their position by recruiting Turkish soldiers for their army and by establishing good relations with the leaders of the Kurdish tribes in the hills to the north.

      In 967 Nāṣir al-Dawlah was succeeded by his son Abū Taghlib, but in 977 the greatest of the Būyids of Iraq, ʿAḍud al-Dawlah (Aḍud ad-Dawlahʿ), took Mosul and drove the Ḥamdānids out. This triumph did not unite Iraq for long; after ʿAḍud al-Dawlah died in 983, his more feeble successors allowed northern Iraq to slip from their hands. Increasingly power in the north was assumed by the sheikhs of the Banū ʿUqayl, the largest Bedouin tribe in Al-Jazīrah. By the early 11th century, the leader of the Uqaylid Dynastyʿ (990-1150), Qirwāsh ibn al-Muqallad, dominated Mosul and Al-Jazīrah. Unlike the Ḥamdānids and the Būyids, the ʿUqaylid sheikhs lived in desert encampments rather than in cities, and they relied on their tribesmen rather than on Turkish or Daylamite soldiers. By 1010 Qirwāsh's power extended as far south as Al-Kūfah, though Baghdad itself never came under Bedouin control, and he tried to arrange an alliance with the caliphs of the Fāṭimid Dynasty of Egypt. From then on his power declined, and in the early 1040s the Banū ʿUqayl found themselves threatened by a new enemy, the Oğuz Turkish tribes invading from Iran. In 1044, northwest of Mosul, these Turks and the Bedouin Arabs fought a major battle, in which the Turks were soundly defeated. Although little reported by historians, it is probable that this battle ensured that the people of the plains of northern Iraq remained Arabic-speaking, unlike the inhabitants of the steppelands of Anatolia to the north, who thereafter spoke Turkish.

      In the south too the Bedouin became increasingly powerful. On the desert frontier in the Al-Kūfah area, the Banū Mazyad, the leading sheikhs of the Asad tribe, established a small state that reached its apogee during the long reign of Dubays (1018–1081). During that time the main camp (Arabic: ḥillah) of the Mazyadid Dynasty (961–1150) became an important town and, under the name Al-Ḥillah (Ḥillah, Al-), replaced early Islamic Al-Kūfah as the largest urban centre in the area.

      Baghdad and the surrounding area from the lower Tigris south to the Persian Gulf remained more or less under Būyid rule. In 978 Baghdad was taken by the Būyid ruler of Fārs (southwestern Iran), ʿAḍud al-Dawlah (Aḍud ad-Dawlahʿ). In the five years before his death in 983, he made a serious attempt to rebuild the administration, to control the Bedouin, and to reunite Mosul with southern Iraq. In addition to being a patron of learning, he made efforts to restore damaged irrigation systems. Such determination, however, was rare, and after his death his lands were divided. The later Būyids had great difficulty in governing even Baghdad and the immediately surrounding area. Poverty compounded their problems; Jalāl al-Dawlah (1025–1044) was obliged to send away his servants and release his horses because he could no longer afford to feed them.

      Baghdad presented a picture of devastation in this period. Brigands maintained themselves by kidnapping and extortion, and disputes between the Sunnites and the Shīʿites became increasingly violent. The Shīʿites, though less numerous, were sometimes encouraged by Būyid princes who wished to win their support. This prompted the Sunnites to look to the ʿAbbāsid caliphs for leadership. The caliph al-Qādir (991–1031) assumed the religious leadership of the Sunnites and published a manifesto, the Risālat al-Qādiriyyah (1029), in which the main tenets of Sunnite belief were outlined. He did not, however, attain any significant political power. Despite this disorder and political chaos, Baghdad remained an intellectual centre. The lack of firm political authority meant that free debate and exchange of ideas could take place in a way that was not possible under more authoritarian regimes.

      This anarchic but culturally productive era in the history of Iraq came to an end in December 1055 when the Seljuq Turkish leader Toghrıl Beg (Toghrïl Beg) entered the city with his forces and rapidly established a secure government over most of Iraq. The country had seen many changes since the 7th century. Much of the ethnic and religious diversity of late Sāsānian Iraq had disappeared. Apart from the Turkish military and the Kurds of the mountainous areas, most people now spoke one dialect or another of Arabic. There were still Christian communities, especially in the northern areas around Tikrīt and Mosul, but the majority of the population was now Muslim. Within the Muslim community, however, there were serious divisions between Sunnites and Shīʿites. Iraq had also lost its position as the wealthiest area of the Middle East. There are no census figures, but it is reasonable to assume that the population had declined significantly, and it is clear that many able and enterprising people sought to escape the chaos by migrating to Egypt. Iraq had lost its imperial role forever. (See also Islamic World: Fragmentation and florescence [870–1041]: Iraq (Islāmic world).)

Hugh Kennedy

Iraq from 1055 to 1534
      During the subsequent five centuries, the name Iraq (ʿIrāq) referred to two distinct geopolitical regions. The first, qualified as Arabian Iraq (ʿIrāq ʿArabī), denoted the area roughly corresponding to ancient Mesopotamia or the modern nation of Iraq and consisted of Upper Iraq or Al-Jazīrah and Lower Iraq or Al-Sawād (“The Black [Lands]”). The town of Tikrīt was traditionally considered to mark the border between these two entities. The second region, lying to the east of Arabian Iraq and separated from it by the Zagros Mountains, was called foreign (i.e., Persian) Iraq (ʿIrāq ʿAjamī) and was more or less identical with ancient Media or the Umayyad and ʿAbbāsid province of Jibāl. Together these regions became known as “the Two Iraqs,” in contradistinction to the previous usage of the term in reference to the towns of Al-Baṣrah and Al-Kūfah, the two major urban settlements of Lower Iraq in early Islamic times.

      In addition, Arabian Iraq was subdivided into three political spheres: Upper Iraq, centred on the town of Mosul; Middle Iraq, or the area around Baghdad; and Lower Iraq, whose major centres were the towns of Al-Ḥillah, Wāṣit, and Al-Baṣrah. Upper Iraq had strong political ties to the provinces of Diyār Bakr and Diyār Rabīʿah in eastern Anatolia (now part of Turkey) and northern Syria as well as with Azerbaijan; Middle and Lower Iraq were bound politically both to Azerbaijan and to Persian Iraq. Traditionally all three spheres were subject to pressures from the greater powers of the Iranian plateau and the Nile valley.

      On the eve of the Turkish Seljuq invasion of the central Islamic lands, these spheres were dominated by three different groups. Upper Iraq was in the hands of the ʿUqaylids, a Shīʿite Arab dynasty of Bedouin origin. In Middle Iraq the Shīʿite Daylamite Būyid generalissimos had controlled both the city of Baghdad and the person of the caliph since the first half of the 10th century. Lower Iraq was held by another Shīʿite Bedouin Arab dynasty, the Mazyadids. Both the ʿUqaylids and the Mazyadids had initially gained their power bases (in Mosul and Al-Ḥillah, respectively) as dependents of the Būyids. Moreover, both had supported the Būyids in resisting the Seljuq invaders.

The Seljuqs (Seljuq) (1055–1152)
      The Sunnite Seljuq leader Toghrıl Beg (Toghrïl Beg) entered Baghdad in December 1055, arresting and imprisoning the Būyid prince al-Malik al-Raḥīm. Without meeting the ʿAbbāsid caliph, he proceeded against the ʿUqaylids in Mosul, taking the city in 1057 and retaining the ʿUqaylid ruler as governor there on behalf of the Seljuqs. On his return to Baghdad in 1058, Toghrıl was finally received by the caliph al-Qāʾim (1031–75), who granted him the title “king of the East and West.”

      In 1058, with Toghrıl busy elsewhere, the Būyid slave general Arslān al-Muẓaffar al-Basāsīrī and the ʿUqaylid ruler Quraysh ibn Badrān (1052–61) occupied Baghdad, recognizing al-Mustanṣir (Mustanṣir, al-), the Shīʿite Fāṭimid caliph of Egypt and Syria, and sending him the insignia of rule as trophies. Al-Basāsīrī expelled al-Qāʾim and, with the help of the Mazyadid Dubays I (1018–81), quickly extended his control over Wāṣit and Al-Baṣrah. Both the Fāṭimids and the Mazyadids withdrew their support, however, and al-Basāsīrī was killed by Seljuq forces in 1060. Toghrıl reinstated al-Qāʾim as caliph, who then gave him additional honours, including the title sultan (Arabic: sulṭān, “authority”), found on coins minted in the names of both the caliph and the sultan. The Seljuqs now tried to rid Iraq of all Shīʿite influences.

      Exchanging Shīʿite Būyid emirs for Sunnite Seljuq sultans, while perhaps ideologically appropriate, made little practical difference for the ʿAbbāsid caliphs, who remained captives in the hands of military strongmen. Though Baghdad continued as the seat of the caliphate, the Seljuq sultans ultimately established their capital at Eṣfahān in Persian Iraq. The relations between caliph and sultan were formalized by the great theologian al-Ghazālī (Ghazālī, al-) (d. 1111) as follows:

Government in these days is a consequence solely of military power, and whosoever he may be to whom the holder of military power gives his allegiance, that person is Caliph. And whosoever exercises independent authority, so long as he shows allegiance to the Caliph in the matter of his prerogatives [of sovereignty], the same is a sultan, whose commands and judgments are valid in the several parts of the earth.

      These and other politico-religious doctrines were universalized through the spread of a system of educational institutions ( madrasahs), associated with the powerful Seljuq minister Niẓām al-Mulk (d. 1092), an Iranian from Khorāsān. The institutions were called Niẓāmiyyahs in his honour. The best-known of them, the Baghdad Niẓāmiyyah, was founded in 1067. Niẓām al-Mulk argued for the creation of a strong central political authority, focused on the sultan and modeled on the polities of the pre-Islamic Sāsānians of Iran and of certain early Islamic rulers. Under the successors of Toghrıl, especially Alp-Arslan (1063–72) and Malik-Shah (Malik-Shāh) (1072–92), the so-called Great Seljuq empire did attain a certain degree of centralization, and the sultans and princes went on to conquer eastern and central Anatolia in the name of Islam and to eject the Shīʿite Fāṭimids from Syria.

      In the second half of the 11th and the first half of the 12th centuries, the Seljuq Turks gradually established more or less direct rule over all of Arabian Iraq. The ʿUqaylids of Upper Iraq were finally overthrown by Tāj al-Dawlah Tutush (1077–1095) of the Syrian branch of the Seljuq family. Upper Iraq now came under the rule of Seljuq princes and their governors, who were often of servile origin. One of these governors, ʿImād al-Dīn Zangī (Zangī), with the decline of the power of his Seljuq masters, founded an independent dynasty, the Zangids (Zangid Dynasty), and a branch of this dynasty ruled Mosul from 1127 to 1222. At the time of the Mongol invasions, Mosul was in the hands of the slave general Badr al-Dīn Luʾluʾ (1222–59). In Lower Iraq the Mazyadids were able to extend their influence; in the early 1100s they took the towns of Hīt, Wāṣit, Al-Baṣrah, and Tikrīt. In 1108, however, their king, Ṣadaqah, was defeated and killed by the Seljuq sultan Muḥammad Tapar (1105–18), and the dynasty never regained its former importance. The Mazyadids were finally dispossessed by the Seljuqs in the second half of the 12th century, and their capital, Al-Ḥillah, was occupied by caliphal forces.

The later ʿAbbāsids (Abbāsid Dynastyʿ) (1152–1258)
      With the death of Muḥammad Tapar, the Great Seljuq state was in effect partitioned between Muḥammad's brother Sanjar (1096–1157), headquartered at Merv in Khorāsān, and his son Maḥmūd II (1118–31), centred on Hamadān in Persian Iraq. These Iraq Seljuq sultans tried unsuccessfully to maintain their control over the ʿAbbāsid caliph in Baghdad, but in 1135 the caliph al-Mustarshid (1118–35) personally led an army against the sultan Masʿūd, although he was defeated and later was assassinated. Al-Mustarshid's brother, al-Muqtafī (1136–60), was appointed by Sultan Masʿūd to succeed him as caliph. After Masʿūd's death al-Muqtafī was able to establish a caliphal state based on Baghdad by conquering Al-Ḥillah, Al-Kūfah, Wāṣit, and Tikrīt.

      By far the most important figure in the revival of independent caliphal authority in Arabian Iraq and the surrounding area—after more than 200 years of secular military domination, first under the Būyids and then the Seljuqs—was the caliph al-Nāṣir (Nāṣir, an-) (1180–1225). For nearly half a century he tried to rally the Islamic world under the banner of ʿAbbāsid universalism, not only politically, by emphasizing the necessity for the support of caliphal causes, but also morally, by attempting to reconcile the Sunnites and the Shīʿites. In addition, he tried to gain control of various voluntary associations such as the mystico-religious (Sufi (Ṣūfism)) brotherhoods and the craft-associated youth (futuwwah) organizations. He also began the dangerous precedent of allying himself with powers in Khorāsān and Central Asia against the traditional caliphal adversaries in Persian Iraq. Through this policy he was able to rid himself of the last Iraq Seljuq sultan, Toghrıl III (1176–94), who was killed by the Khwārezm-Shah (Khwārezm-Shāh Dynasty) ʿAlāʾ al-Din Tekish (1172–1200), the ruler of the province lying along the lower course of the Amu Darya (ancient Oxus River) in Central Asia. When Tekish insisted on greater formal recognition from the caliph a few years later, al-Nāṣir refused, and inconclusive fighting broke out between the two. The conflict came to a head under Tekish's son, the Khwārezm-Shah ʿAlāʾ al-Dīn Muḥammad (1200–20), who demanded that the caliph renounce the temporal power built up by the later ʿAbbāsids after the decline of the Iraq Seljuqs. When negotiations broke down, Muḥammad declared al-Nāṣir deposed, proclaimed an eastern Iranian notable as anticaliph, and marched on Baghdad. In 1217 Muḥammad seized most of western Iran, but, just as he was about to fall on al-Nāṣir's capital, his army was decimated by a blizzard in the Zagros Mountains. These events afforded al-Nāṣir and his successors only a brief respite from dangers arising in the east.

The Mongol Īl-Khans (Il-Khanid Dynasty) (1258–1335)
      At the time of al-Nāṣir's death in 1225, the Mongols under Genghis Khan had already destroyed the state of the Khwārezm-Shahs and conquered much of northern Iran. The armies of the ʿAbbāsid caliph al-Mustanṣir (1226–42), al-Nāṣir's grandson, managed to drive off a Mongol attack on Arabian Iraq. Under his son, al-Mustaʿṣim (Mustaʿṣim, al-), Baghdad resisted a siege by the Mongols in 1245. A series of terrible floods in 1243, 1253, 1255, and 1256 undermined the defenses of the city, the prosperity of the region, and the confidence of the populace. In 1258 Baghdad was surrounded by a major Mongol force commanded by the non-Muslim Hülegü, a grandson of Genghis Khan, who had been sent from Mongolia expressly to deal with the ʿAbbāsids. The city fell on February 10, 1258, and al-Mustaʿṣim was executed shortly thereafter. Although the Mamlūk sultans of Egypt and Syria later raised a figurehead, or “shadow,” caliph in Cairo, and after the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517 the Ottoman sultans used the title caliph until the Ottoman “caliphate” was abolished by Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) in 1924, the death of al-Mustaʾṣim—the last universally recognized caliph—in fact represents the end of this great Islamic religio-political institution. Physically much of Baghdad was destroyed, and it is said that 800,000 of its inhabitants perished. Administratively the city was relegated to the status of a provincial centre. Other cities in Arabian Iraq, such as Al-Ḥillah, Al-Kūfah, and Al-Baṣrah, readily came to terms with the conqueror and were spared. In Upper Iraq, Mosul was made the capital of the provinces of Diyār Bakr and Diyār Rabīʿah. These provinces, like Arabian Iraq, were dependencies of the new Īl-Khan (Il-Khanid Dynasty) Mongol polity, which was based in Azerbaijan. (The Īl-Khans in turn were nominally subordinate to the Great Khan in China.) Although Baghdad may have retained a certain symbolic aura for Muslims, the city of Tabrīz in Azerbaijan rapidly replaced it as the major commercial and political hub of the region.

      Mongol rule in Baghdad and Mosul generally took the form of a condominium consisting of a Muslim, Christian, or Jewish civilian administrator seconded by a Mongol garrison commander. Although under the Muslim Juvaynī family of Khorāsān (1258–85) there is some evidence that Baghdad began to recover somewhat from the devastation it had suffered at the hands of the Mongols, in general Iraq experienced a period of severe political and economic decline that was to last well into the 16th century. Later on, despite the conversion to Islam of the Īl-Khan Maḥmūd Ghāzān (Ghāzān, Maḥmūd) (1295–1304) and the centralizing reforms of his minister Rashīd al-Dīn (Rashīd ad-Dīn) (d. 1318), according to one source, by 1335–40 state or dīwān revenues in Arabian Iraq had fallen to one-tenth of their pre-Mongol level.

Īl-Khanid successors (1335–1410)
      With the death of the last effective Īl-Khan, Abū Saʿīd Bahādur Khan in 1335, intense rivalry broke out among the chieftains of the Mongol military elite, especially the leaders of the Süldüz and Jalāyirid tribes. The Süldüz, also known as the Chūpānids, made Azerbaijan their stronghold, while the Jalāyirid took control in Baghdad. At first both groups raised a succession of Īl-Khanid figureheads to legitimize their rule.

      The most prominent of the Jalāyirids, Sheikh Uways (1356–74), finally wrested control of Azerbaijan from the Süldüz Chūpānids in 1360, creating a polity based on Arabian Iraq and Azerbaijan. In addition to engaging in this and other military exploits, he fostered trade and commerce and won renown as a patron of poetry, painting, and calligraphy. He also undertook a number of architectural projects in Baghdad.

      The later Jalāyirids, however, dissipated their energies in fruitless foreign adventures and fratricidal struggles. In 1393, during the reign of Sultan Aḥmad Jalāyir, Timur (Tamerlane), a new conqueror from Central Asia, took Baghdad and Tikrīt. Aḥmad was able to reoccupy his capital briefly, but Timur again besieged and sacked Baghdad in 1401, dealing it a blow from which it did not recover until modern times. Timurid (Timurid Dynasty) administration in Arabian Iraq, first under Timur and later under his grandson Abū Bakr, was sporadic and short-lived: they controlled the area during the years 1393–94, 1401–02, and 1403–05. After Timur's death Aḥmad regained Baghdad for a time, but in 1410 he was killed in a dispute with his former ally Kara Yūsuf, chief of the Kara Koyunlu (“Black Sheep”) Turkmen tribal confederation from eastern Anatolia, who had just driven the Timurids out of Azerbaijan. The remnants of the Jalāyirid dynasty were pushed south to Al-Ḥillah, Wāṣit, and Al-Baṣrah. They were finally extinguished by the Kara Koyunlu in 1432.

The Turkmen (1410–1508)
      In the 15th century two Turkmen tribal confederations vied for control of Iraq. The first of these was the Kara Koyunlu, which since about 1375 had ruled the area from Mosul to Erzurum in eastern Anatolia as supporters of the Jalāyirids. After seizing Arabian Iraq, Kara Yūsuf turned the province over to his son Shah Muḥammad, who held Baghdad until 1433. He in turn was dispossessed by his brother Ispān (or Eṣfahān) until yet another of Kara Yūsuf's sons, Jahān Shah (Jahān Shāh) (1438–67), took the city. He, his sons, and their deputies held Baghdad from 1447 to 1468, when they were ousted by their archrivals, the Ak Koyunlu (“White Sheep”) Turkmen confederation, led by Uzun Ḥasan (1457–78). Like the Kara Koyunlu, the Ak Koyunlu came from eastern Anatolia.

      Although significant achievements in the arts are recorded from the first half of the 15th century, scholars generally reckon this period one of the darkest in the history of the area. Ak Koyunlu rule in Baghdad (1468–1508) for the most part appears to have been somewhat less turbulent than that of the Kara Koyunlu, though later the Pūrnāk tribe—whose chieftains controlled the city intermittently from 1475 to 1508—were pitted against the Mawṣillū tribe in Upper Iraq. After the partitioning of the Ak Koyunlu state in 1500, Arabian Iraq became the final foothold of the last Turkmen ruler, Murād (1497–1508, d. 1514), until the Ṣafavid conquest.

      Both the Kara Koyunlu and the Ak Koyunlu governors of Baghdad were forced to deal with the messianic ultra-Shīʿite uprising of the Mushaʿshaʿ in Lower Iraq. In 1436 Muḥammad ibn Falāḥ, the founder of the Mushaʿshaʿ sect, made his appearance among the Arab tribes in the marshy regions around Wāṣit, conquered the town of Ḥawīza (modern Hoveyzeh, Iran), and mounted an expedition against Al-Baṣrah. His son ʿAlī took Wāṣit and Al-Najaf, raiding Baghdad and attacking pilgrim caravans. Toward the end of the 15th century, this movement was brought under control temporarily by the Turkmen regimes.

The Ṣafavids (Ṣafavid Dynasty) (1508–34)
      In October 1508, Shah Ismāʿīl I, founder of the Shīʿite Ṣafavid Dynasty in Iran, entered Baghdad at the head of his Kizilbash Turkmen troops, driving out the Pūrnāk governor. Turning the city over to his chief of staff, he moved south against the Mushaʿshaʿ. As in the Turkmen period, tribal centrifugalism continued to dominate the politics of the region.

      In Upper Iraq parts of Diyār Bakr—including Mosul and the Kurdish regions east of the Tigris—came under Ottoman control after the Ṣafavids under Ismāʿīl were defeated by Sultan Selim I (1512–20) at the Battle of Chāldirān (Chāldirān, Battle of) in 1514. Arabian Iraq, however, remained in Ṣafavid hands, and the Mawṣillū chieftains, formerly confederates of the Ak Koyunlu, now in the service of the Ṣafavids, rose to power in Baghdad between 1514 and 1529. One of them, Dhū al-Fiqār, in fact declared himself independent of the Ṣafavids. The young Shah Ṭahmāsp I, the son of Ismāʿīl, retook Baghdad in 1529 and gave it to Muḥammad Sultan Khan Takkalū.

      In 1533 Selim's son, the Ottoman sultan Süleyman I (the Magnificent), set out on his campaign against “the Two Iraqs.” In November 1534 he took Baghdad from the Ṣafavid governor Muḥammad Sultan Khan. The city was then integrated into the Ottoman Empire, except for a brief Ṣafavid reoccupation from 1623 to 1638. Lower Iraq too was incorporated into the empire by the middle of the 16th century. As a result of the Ottoman conquest, Iraq underwent complete geopolitical reorientation westward.

John E. Woods

Ottoman (Ottoman Empire) Iraq (1534–1918)
      Ottoman Iraq was roughly approximate to the Arabian Iraq of the preceding era, though still without clearly defined borders. The Zagros Mountains, which separated Arabian Iraq from Persian Iraq, now lay on the Ottoman-Iranian frontier, but that frontier shifted with the fortunes of war. On the west and south, Iraq faded out somewhere in the sands of the Syrian and Arabian deserts. The incorporation of Arabian Iraq into the Ottoman Empire not only separated it from Persian Iraq but also reoriented it toward the Ottoman lands in Syria and Anatolia, with especially close ties binding the province (eyālet) of Diyār Bakr to the Iraqi provinces.

      For administrative purposes Ottoman Iraq was divided into the three central eyālets of Mosul, Baghdad, and Al-Baṣrah, with the northern eyālet of Shahrizūr, east of the Tigris, and the southern eyālet of Al-Hasa, on the western coast of the Persian Gulf. These provinces only roughly reflected the geographic, linguistic, and religious divisions of Ottoman Iraq. Most of the inhabitants of Mosul and Shahrizūr in the north and northeast were Kurds and other non-Arabs. The people of the plains, marshes, and deserts were overwhelmingly Arabic-speaking. Few Turkish speakers were to be found outside Baghdad, Karkūk, and some other towns. Centuries of political upheavals, invasions, wars, and general insecurity had taken their toll on Iraq's population, especially in the urban centres. Destruction and neglect of the irrigation system had restricted settled agriculture to a few areas, the most extensive of which were between the rivers north of Baghdad and around Al-Baṣrah in the south. As much as half of the Arab and Kurdish population in the countryside was nomadic or seminomadic. Outside the towns, social organization and personal allegiances were primarily tribal, with many of the settled cultivators having retained their tribal ties. Baghdad, situated near the geographic centre, reflected within itself the division between the predominantly Shīʿite south and the largely Sunnite north. Unlike the case in Anatolia and Syria, Iraq's non-Muslim communities were modest in size, but there was an active Jewish commercial and financial element in Baghdad, and Assyrian Christians were prominent in Mosul.

The 16th-century conquest of Iraq and the regime imposed by Süleyman I
      The 16th-century conquest of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and the Hejaz brought the holiest cities of Islam, the most important of the pilgrimage routes, and all the former seats of the caliphate under Ottoman rule and thereby reinforced the dynasty's claim to supreme leadership within the Sunnite Muslim world. In Iraq, Ottoman rule represented the victory of Sunnism. Although the Shīʿite notables of southern Iraq continued to enjoy considerable local influence and prestige, they were inclined to identify with Shīʿite Iran and to resent the Sunnite-dominated Ottoman administration. Control of the trade routes passing through the Red Sea and up the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and from Iran to Anatolia, Syria, and the Mediterranean was an important element in the sultan's efforts to ensure that east-west trade would continue to flow through his territories despite the newly opened sea routes around Africa. But, perhaps most important, Iraq served as a buffer zone, a shield protecting Ottoman Anatolia and Syria against encroachments from Iran or by the intractable Arab and Kurdish tribes.

      Süleyman's imposition of direct rule over Iraq involved such traditional Ottoman administrative devices as the appointment of governors and judges, the stationing of Janissaries (Janissary) (elite soldiers) in the provincial capitals, and the ordering of cadastral surveys. Timars (military fiefs), however, were few except in some areas in the north. Although the pasha of Baghdad was accorded a certain preeminence as governor of the most important city in Ottoman Iraq (as was the governor of Damascus in Syria), this in no way implied the unity of the five eyālets.

The local despotisms in the 17th century
      In the 17th century the weakening of the central authority of the Ottoman government gave rise to local despotisms in the Iraqi provinces, as it did elsewhere in the empire. A tribal dynasty, the Banū Khālid, ruled Al-Hasa as governors from the late 16th century to 1663; and in 1612 Afrāsiyāb, a military man of uncertain origin, purchased the governorship of Al-Baṣrah, which remained in his family until 1668. With the permission and even the encouragement of these autonomous governors, British, Dutch, and Portuguese merchants who were already actively involved in Red Sea trade gained a strong foothold in Al-Baṣrah.

      An officer and faction leader of the Janissary garrison in Baghdad, Bakr Ṣū Bāshī, revolted in the early 17th century and negotiated with the Ṣafavid Shah Abbās Iʿ in order to strengthen his position. In the ensuing struggle the Ottomans managed to retain control over Mosul and Shahrizūr, but central Iraq, including Baghdad, was under Ṣafavid rule from 1623 until the Ottoman sultan Murad IV drove the Iranians out again in 1638. Whereas the Ṣafavid occupation of Baghdad had been accompanied by the destruction of some Sunnite mosques and other buildings and had resulted in death or slavery for several thousand people, mostly Sunnites, many of the city's Shīʿite inhabitants lost their lives when the Ottomans returned to Baghdad.

      The Treaty of Qaṣr-e Shīrīn (also called the Treaty of Zuhāb) of 1639 brought an end to 150 years of intermittent warfare between the Ottomans and Ṣafavids and established a boundary between the two empires that remained virtually unchanged into modern times. Ottoman sovereignty had been restored in Baghdad, but the stability of central Iraq continued to be disturbed by turbulent garrison troops and by Arab and Kurdish tribal unrest. In the south too, even though the autonomous rule of the Afrāsiyāb dynasty was ended in 1668, Ottoman authority was soon challenged by the Muntafiq and Ḥawīza tribes of desert and marsh Arabs. Iranians took advantage of this disturbed state of affairs to infiltrate southern Iraq. Only after the Ottomans suffered defeat in a European war and negotiated the Treaty of Carlowitz (Carlowitz, Treaty of) in 1699 was the sultan able to dispatch troops to Iraq and recover Al-Baṣrah.

      Developments in Iraq in the mid- and late 17th century reflected the disordered state of affairs in Istanbul. The energetic and effective reign of Murad IV was followed by that of the incompetent İbrahim I (İbrahim) (1640–48), known as “Deli (the Mad) Ibrahim,” who was eventually deposed and strangled and was succeeded by his six-year-old son, Mehmed IV (1648–87). The protracted crisis in the capital had an unsettling effect everywhere in the empire, undoing the reforms of Murad IV and bringing political and economic chaos.

The 18th-century Mamlūk regime
      The early 18th century was a time of important changes both in Istanbul and in Baghdad. The reign of Sultan Ahmed III (1703–30) was marked by relative political stability in the capital and by extensive reforms—some of them influenced by European models—implemented during the “Tulip Period” (Lāle Devri, 1718–30) by Grand Vizier İbrahim Paşa.

      In Baghdad, Hasan Paşa (1704–24), the Ottoman governor of Georgian origin sent from Istanbul, and his son Ahmed Paşa (1724–47) established a Georgian mamlūk (slave) household, through which they exercised authority and administered the province. The mamlūks (Turkish: kölemen) were mostly Christian slaves from the Caucasus who converted to Islam, were trained in a special school, and were then assigned to military and administrative duties. Hasan Paşa made himself indispensable to the Ottoman government by curbing the unruly tribes and regularly remitting tribute to the treasury in Istanbul, and Ahmed Paşa played a crucial role in defending Iraq against yet another Iranian military threat. These pashas extended their authority beyond the eyālet of Baghdad to include Mārdīn, ʿUrfa, and much of Kurdish Shahrizūr and thus dominated the northern trade routes and secured additional sources of revenue. They also held sway over Al-Baṣrah and the trade lanes leading to the Persian Gulf, Arabia, and India. Mosul retained its separate provincial status and from 1726 to 1834 was governed by members of the powerful Jalīlī Family. But, whereas the Jalīlīs, whose relationship to the sultan had some characteristics of vassalage, regularly made military contributions to Ottoman campaigns beyond their provincial frontiers, the pashas of Baghdad did not. The military forces at their disposal remained in Iraq, guarding against tribal unrest and threats from Iran.

      After the collapse of Ṣafavid power in 1722, first the Afghans and later Nādir Shah (Nādir Shāh) (1736–47) seized power in Iran, which led to a resumption of hostilities in Ottoman Iraq. In 1733, before assuming the title of shah, Nādir unsuccessfully besieged Baghdad. He also failed to capture Mosul in 1742, and a settlement was reached in 1746 that confirmed the terms of the Treaty of Qaṣr-e Shīrīn. The assistance provided by the pashas of Baghdad and Mosul in countering the Iranian threat further enhanced their value in the eyes of the sultan's government and improved their position in their respective provinces.

      When Ahmed Paşa died in 1747, shortly after the death of Nādir Shah, his mamlūks constituted a powerful, self-perpetuating elite corps of some 2,000 men. After attempts to prevent these mamlūks from assuming power failed, the Ottomans were obliged to accept their rule. By 1750 Süleyman Abū Layla, son-in-law of Ahmed Paşa and already governor of Al-Baṣrah, had reentered Baghdad and been recognized as the first Mamlūk pasha of Iraq.

      In the second half of the 18th century, Iraqi political history is largely the story of the autonomous Georgian Mamlūk regime. This regime succeeded in suppressing revolts, curbed the power of the Janissaries, and restored order and some degree of prosperity to the region. In addition, it countered the Muntafiq threats in the south and made Al-Baṣrah a virtual dependency of Baghdad. Following the example set by the Afrāsiyābs in the preceding century, the Mamlūks encouraged European trade by permitting the British East India Company to establish an agency in Al-Baṣrah in 1763. Their failure to develop a regular system of succession and the gradual formation of several competing Mamlūk households, however, resulted in factionalism and instability, which proved advantageous to a new ruler of Iran.

      Karīm Khan Zand (Karīm Khān Zand (Moḥammad)) ended the anarchy after Nādir Shāh's assassination and from 1765 ruled over most of Iran from Shīrāz. Like the Mamlūk rulers of Iraq, he was interested in the economic returns derived from fostering European trade in the Persian Gulf. His brother, Ṣādiq Khan, took Al-Baṣrah in 1776 after a protracted and stubborn resistance directed by its Mamlūk governor, Süleyman Ağa, and held it until Karīm Khan's death in 1779. Süleyman then returned from Shīrāz, where he had been held captive, and in 1780 was given the governorship of Baghdad, Al-Baṣrah, and Shahrizūr by Sultan Abdülhamid I (1774–80). He was known as Büyük (the Great) Süleyman Paşa, and his rule (1780–1802) is generally acknowledged to represent the apogee of Mamlūk power in Iraq. He imported large numbers of mamlūks to strengthen his own household, curbed the factionalism among rival households, eliminated the Janissaries as an independent local force, and fostered trade and agriculture. His attempts to control the Arab Bedouin were less successful, and Wahhābī incursions from Arabia into Al-Hasa and along the fringes of the desert, climaxing in the sack of the Shīʿite shrine at Karbalāʾ in 1801, added to his difficulties.

The fall of the Mamlūks and the consolidation of British interests
      Britain's influence in Iraq had received a major boost in 1798 when Süleyman Paşa gave permission for a permanent British agent to be appointed in Baghdad. This increasing European penetration and the restoration of direct Ottoman rule, accompanied by military, administrative, and other reforms, are the dominant features of 19th-century Iraqi history. The last Mamlūk governor of Iraq, Dāʾūd Paşa (1816–31), turned increasingly to Europe for weapons and advisers to equip and train his military force and endeavoured to improve communications and promote trade; in this respect he resembled his contemporary in Egypt, Muḥammad ʿAlī Paşa (Muḥammad ʿAlī). But, whereas Muḥammad ʿAlī's Egypt drew closer to France, it was Great Britain that continued to strengthen its position in the Persian Gulf and Iraq.

      The fall of Dāʾūd can be attributed in part to the determination of Sultan Mahmud II (1808–39) to curtail provincial autonomy and restore the central authority of his government throughout the realm. Dāʾūd's removal, however, was facilitated by opposition within Iraq to the Mamlūk regime and, more immediately, by the floods that devastated Baghdad in 1831 and the plague that decimated its population in the same year. The Mamlūks had always been obliged to share power, to one extent or another, with groups of local notables—tribal sheikhs in the countryside and urban-based groups associated with the garrison troops, the bureaucracy, the merchants, or the religious elite. The last of these included not only high-ranking legal officials and scholars but also the heads of Sufi orders, the prominent noble (ashrāf) families, and the custodians of the great religious shrines—both Sunnite and Shīʿite. Nor were the Mamlūk pashas of Baghdad ever so independent of the sultan's government as it has sometimes been made to appear. Dāʾūd was not the first to be deposed by force. They usually paid tribute and, through their representatives in the capital, frequently distributed “gifts” to high officials in the palace and at the Sublime Porte who might assist in securing their reappointment.

      The arrival of a new Ottoman governor in Baghdad in 1831 signaled the end of the Mamlūk period and the beginning of a new era in Iraq. Direct rule was gradually imposed over the region. The Jalīlīs of Mosul submitted in 1834; the Bābān family of Al-Sulaymāniyyah followed suit in 1850 when Ottoman forces subjugated the Kurdish area; and by the 1850s the independent power of the Shīʿite religious elites of Karbalāʾ and Al-Najaf had been curtailed. To exercise some control in the tribal areas, the Ottomans continued to rely on the traditional methods of intervening in the competition for tribal leadership, making alliances, pitting one tribal group against another, and occasionally using military force. While the Arab and Kurdish tribes remained a problem, the reforms set in motion by the Ottomans did affect the tribal structure of Iraq and alleviate the problem to some extent.

Mid-19th-century Ottoman reforms
      The military reforms undertaken by Mahmud II after the Janissary corps was destroyed in 1826 were gradually extended to Iraq. The Iraqi Janissary regiments were reorganized and, together with new troops sent from the capital and soldiers recruited locally as military conscription was applied in various parts of Iraq, formed what later became the Ottoman 6th Army. So many Iraqis opted for a military career that, by the end of the 19th century, they formed the most numerous group of Arab officers in the Ottoman army. Most were Sunnites from modest families, educated in military schools set up in Baghdad and other provincial cities by the Ottoman government. Some were then admitted to the military academy in Istanbul; among them were Nūrī al-Saʿīd (Nuri as-Said) and Yāsīn al-Hāshimī, who became leading figures in the post-World War I state of Iraq.

      Apart from the military schools and the traditional religious schools, a number of primary and secondary schools were opened by the government and by foreign Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish missionary organizations. In 1865 the Alliance Israélite Universelle founded what is reputed to have been the best school in Baghdad; its graduates contributed to the great advances made by the Iraqi Jewish community during the next half century. Graduates of the government schools were expected to enter the provincial bureaucracy, and most did so. Some members of local notable families, among them the Jalīlīs of Mosul and the Bābāns of Al-Sulaymāniyyah, chose careers in administration, but it was Turkish speakers from Karkūk and descendants of the Caucasian Mamlūks who were especially well represented in the bureaucratic ranks. The highest administrative posts, however, were filled by appointees from Istanbul.

      As secular reforms were implemented and the role of the state expanded in the 19th century, Iraqi religious notables and officeholders—both Shīʿite and Sunnite—suffered a relative loss of status, influence, and wealth. Meanwhile, Ottoman civil administrators and army officers, virtually all of whom were Sunnites, came to constitute a political elite that carried over into post-1918 Iraq.

      Along with new military, administrative, and educational institutions, the communications network was expanded and modernized. Steamships first appeared on the Tigris and Euphrates in 1835, and a company was later formed to provide regular service between Al-Baṣrah and Baghdad. To handle the increasing volume of trade, the port facilities of Al-Baṣrah were developed. In the 1860s telegraph lines linked Baghdad with Istanbul, and in the 1880s the postal system was extended to Iraq. Roads were improved and new ones were built. Railroad construction, however, did not begin until the Germans built the Baghdad-to-Sāmarrāʾ line just before World War I.

Richard L. Chambers

The governorship of Midhat Paşa (Midhat Pasha)
      The most dramatic and far-reaching changes in Iraq are associated with the introduction of the new Ottoman provincial system and the governorship of Midhat Paşa (1869–72). Midhat was one of the chief architects of the Ottoman Vilayet Law of 1864, and he had applied it with great success to a vilayet elsewhere in the empire before arriving in Baghdad in 1869 with a handpicked corps of advisers and assistants.

      Midhat transformed the face of Baghdad by ordering the demolition of a section of the old city wall to allow room for rational urban expansion. He established a tramway to suburban Kāẓimayn, a public park, a water-supply system, a hospital, textile mills, a savings bank, paved and lighted streets, and the only bridge across the Tigris built in the city until the 20th century. Several new schools were opened; modern textbooks were printed on the press that Midhat founded; and Iraq's first newspaper, Al-Zawrāʾ, began publication. To develop the economy he promoted regular steamer service on the Tigris and Euphrates and shipping in the Persian Gulf, set up ship-repair yards at Al-Baṣrah, began dredging operations on the Shatt al-Arab, made some minor improvements in the irrigation system, and expanded date production in the south. Municipalities and administrative councils were established in accordance with the new vilayet regulations, and military conscription was enforced.

      But perhaps the most fundamental changes resulted from Midhat's attempt to apply the Ottoman Land Law of 1858, which aimed at classifying and regularizing land tenure and registering land titles to individuals who would be responsible for paying the applicable taxes. His objectives were to pacify and settle the tribes, encourage cultivation, and improve tax collection. However, the traditional system of tribal and communal landholding and the fear that land registration would lead to greater government control, heavier tax burdens, and extension of military conscription to the tribal areas—combined with inefficient and inequitable administration—limited the effectiveness of the reform and produced unintended results. Most land was registered not in the names of individual peasants and tribesmen but rather in the names of tribal sheikhs, urban-based merchants, and former tax farmers. Some tribal leaders became landlords, which tied them more closely to the Ottoman administration and widened the gap between them and their tribesmen. Other sheikhs refused to cooperate. A combination of developments stemming from the reforms begun by Midhat Paşa resulted in a decline of nomadism in Iraq; the proportion of nomads fell from about one-third of the population in 1867 to approximately half that figure by the end of the Ottoman period.

      Midhat's authority as vali (governor) of Baghdad and commander of the Ottoman 6th Army extended north to include Mosul, Karkūk, and Al-Sulaymāniyyah. In 1871 Midhat, in cooperation with Sheikh ʿAbd Allāh al-Sabāḥ, ruler of Kuwait, sent an expeditionary force to occupy Al-Hasa (which was situated along the coast south of Kuwait), which thereby gave Midhat effective control of Al-Hasa and Al-Baṣrah in the south. In recognition of his cooperation, ʿAbd Allāh was appointed an Ottoman qāʾim-maqām (subgovernor), although Kuwait remained independent throughout the entire Ottoman period and acknowledged Ottoman suzerainty only as a formality. Taking advantage of divisions within the Saʿūd family, Midhat also sought to reassert Ottoman sovereignty over the Wahhābī dominions in the Najd region of central Arabia. His success in the latter effort was ephemeral, as were many of the projects begun by Midhat. Nevertheless, his brief rule set in motion developments that profoundly changed virtually every aspect of life in Iraq and tied it more closely to Istanbul than ever before.

The end of Ottoman rule
      In the last decades of Ottoman rule, changes in administrative boundaries once more split Ottoman Iraq into three parts. For most of this period, both Al-Baṣrah (together with the subprovince [sanjak] of Al-Hasa) and Mosul (and its dependent sanjaks of Karkūk and Al-Sulaymāniyyah) were vilayets independent of the central province of Baghdad.

      In spite of the European commercial and consular presence in Iraq, it remained more isolated from European influences than the Arab lands adjacent to the Mediterranean. Iraq had relatively few Christians, and those few had had little exposure to foreign ideas. The prosperous Jewish community usually avoided politics but tended to be favourably disposed toward the Ottoman government. The tribal sheikhs and Shīʿite notables still couched their opposition in traditional terms, and many Turkish and Caucasian families enjoyed official status and other rewards as provincial administrators. Finally, a great majority of the population was illiterate. Thus, it is hardly surprising that Arab nationalism had made little impact on Iraq before World War I. In Syria, Arab nationalist and separatist organizations appeared after the Young Turk (Young Turks) Revolution of 1908. In Iraq, however, there was scant nationalist opposition to Ottoman rule, although some Iraqi Arab officers in the Ottoman army joined the secret al-ʿAhd (“Covenant”) society, which is reported to have advocated independence for the sultan's Arab provinces.

      It was the British, whose interests in the Persian Gulf and the Tigris-Euphrates region had grown steadily since the late 18th century, who ultimately brought an end to the Ottoman presence in Iraq. In the years just before World War I, the close ties between the governments of the kaiser in Berlin and the Young Turks in Istanbul were particularly troublesome to Great Britain. When Germany was awarded a concession to extend its railway line through Anatolia to Baghdad and acquired mineral rights to the land on both sides of the proposed route, heightened fear of German competition in Iraq and the Persian Gulf evoked strong protests from London. Soon afterward, the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (later the British Petroleum Company PLC (BP PLC)) began production on the Iranian side of the gulf, and there were indications that oil might be found elsewhere in the area. In 1912 a group representing British, German, and Dutch interests formed the Turkish Petroleum Company, which, on the eve of the war, was given a concession to explore for oil in the vilayets of Mosul and Baghdad. A convention between Britain and the Ottoman Empire acknowledging British protection of Kuwait was concluded in 1913 but was never ratified. In view of these developments and because they feared that the Germans might persuade the Ottomans to undertake military action against them, the British had already made plans to send an expedition from India to protect their interests in the Persian Gulf before the Ottoman Empire entered the war in early November 1914. After war was declared, a British expeditionary force soon landed at the head of the gulf and on November 22, 1914, entered Al-Baṣrah. In a campaign aimed at taking Baghdad, the British suffered a defeat at Al-Kūt (Kūt, Al-) (Kūt al-ʿAmārah) in April 1916, but a reinforced British army marched into Baghdad on March 11, 1917. An administration staffed largely by British and Indian officials replaced the Ottoman provincial government in occupied Iraq, but Mosul remained in Ottoman hands until after the Armistice of Mudros (Mudros, Armistice of) (October 30, 1918), which brought an end to the war in the Middle East. Under the Treaty of Lausanne (Lausanne, Treaty of) (1923), Turkey (the successor to the Ottoman Empire) gave up all claims to its former Arab provinces, including Iraq.

Richard L. Chambers Ed.

Iraq until the 1958 revolution
British occupation and the mandatory regime
      Merging the three provinces of Mosul, Baghdad, and Al-Baṣrah into one political entity and creating a nation out of the diverse religious and ethnic elements inhabiting these lands were accomplished after World War I. Action undertaken by the British military authorities during the war and the upsurge of nationalism afterward helped determine the shape of the new Iraqi state and the course of events during the postwar years until Iraq finally emerged as an independent political entity in 1932.

      British control of Iraq, however, was short-lived. After the war Britain debated both its general policy in Iraq and the specific type of administration to establish. Two schools of thought influenced policy makers in London. The first, advocated by the Colonial Office, stressed a policy of direct control to protect British interests in the Persian Gulf and India. Assessing British policy from India, this school may be called the Indian school of thought. The other school, hoping to conciliate Arab nationalists, advised indirect control. In Iraq itself British authorities were divided on the issue. Some, under the influence of Sir Arnold Wilson, the acting civil commissioner, advocated direct control; others, alarmed by growing dissatisfaction with the British administration, advised indirect control and suggested the establishment of an indigenous regime under British supervision. Britain was still undecided on which policy it should follow in 1920 when events in other Arab countries radically changed conditions in Iraq.

      Early in 1920 the emir Fayṣal I, son of the sharif Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī (then king of the Hejaz), who had led the Arab Revolt of 1916 against the Ottomans, established an Arab government in Damascus and was proclaimed king of Syria. Meanwhile, a group of Iraqi nationalists met in Damascus to proclaim the emir ʿAbd Allāh (Abdullāh Iʿ), older brother of Fayṣal, king of Iraq. Under the influence of nationalist activities in Syria, nationalist agitation followed first in northern Iraq and then in the tribal areas of the middle Euphrates. By the summer of 1920, the revolt had spread to all parts of the country except the big cities of Mosul, Baghdad, and Al-Baṣrah, where British forces were stationed.

      In July 1920 Fayṣal came into conflict with the French authorities over control of Syria. France had been given the mandate over Syria and Lebanon in April and was determined to obtain Fayṣal's acceptance of the mandate. Nationalists urged Fayṣal to reject the French demands, and the conflict that ensued between him and the French resulted in his expulsion from Syria. Fayṣal went to London to complain about the French action.

      Although the revolt in Iraq was suppressed by force, it prompted Iraq and Great Britain to reconcile their differences. In Britain a segment of public opinion wanted to “get out of Mesopotamia” and urged relief from further commitments. In Iraq the nationalists were demanding independence. In 1921 Britain offered the Iraqi throne to Fayṣal along with the establishment of an Arab government under British mandate. Fayṣal wanted the throne if it was offered to him by the Iraqi people. He also suggested the replacement of the mandate by a treaty of alliance. These proposals were accepted by the British government, and Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill (Churchill, Winston) promised to carry them out. He was advised by T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence, T E), known for his sympathy for the Arabs.

      In March 1921 a conference presided over by Churchill was held in Cairo to settle Middle Eastern affairs. Fayṣal was nominated to the Iraqi throne with the provision that a plebiscite be held to confirm the nomination. Sir Percy Cox (Cox, Sir Percy), recently appointed a high commissioner for Iraq, was responsible for carrying out the plebiscite. A provisional government set up by Cox shortly before the Cairo Conference passed a resolution in July 1921 declaring Fayṣal king of Iraq, provided that his “Government shall be constitutional, representative and democratic.” The plebiscite confirmed this proclamation, and Fayṣal was formally crowned king on August 23.

      The establishment of the monarchy was the first step in setting up a national regime. Two other steps followed immediately: the signing of a treaty of alliance with Great Britain and the drafting of a constitution. It was deemed necessary that a treaty precede the constitution and define relations between Iraq and Britain. The treaty was signed on October 10, 1922. Without direct reference it reproduced most of the provisions of the mandate. Iraq undertook to respect religious freedom and missionary enterprises and the rights of foreigners, to treat all states equally, and to cooperate with the League of Nations (Nations, League of). Britain was obligated to offer advice on foreign and domestic affairs, such as military, judicial, and financial matters (defined in separate and subsidiary agreements). Although the terms of the treaty were open to periodic revision, they were to last 20 years. In the meantime, Britain agreed to prepare Iraq for membership in the League of Nations “as soon as possible.”

      It soon became apparent that the substance, though not the form, of the mandate was still in existence and that complete independence had not been achieved. Strong opposition to the treaty in the press made it almost certain that it would not be ratified by Iraq's Constituent Assembly. Nor was British public opinion satisfied with the commitments to Iraq. During the general elections of 1922, there was a newspaper campaign against British expenditures in Iraq. In deference to public opinion in both Britain and Iraq, a protocol to the treaty was signed in April 1923, reducing the period of the treaty from 20 to 4 years. Despite the shortening of British tutelage, the Constituent Assembly demanded complete independence when the treaty was put before it for approval. Ratification of the treaty was accomplished in June 1924, after Britain's warning that nonapproval would lead to the referral of the matter to the League of Nations.

      The Constituent Assembly then considered a draft constitution drawn up by a constitutional committee. The committee tried to give extensive powers to the king. Discussion on the draft constitution by the Constituent Assembly lasted a month, and after minor modifications it was adopted in July 1924. The Organic Law, as the constitution was called, went into effect right after it was signed by the king in March 1925. It provided for a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary government, and a bicameral legislature. The latter was composed of an elected House of Representatives and an appointed Senate. The lower house was to be elected every four years in a free manhood suffrage. The first Parliament met in 1925. Ten general elections were held before the downfall of the monarchy in 1958. The more than 50 cabinets formed during the same period reflected the instability of the system.

      From the establishment of a national government, there was keen interest in organizing political parties. Three parties formed in 1921, one by the group in power and two by opposition parties, had similar social and economic views and essentially the same political objective: terminating the mandate and winning independence. They differed, however, on the means of realizing the objective. After the achievement of independence in 1932, these parties dissolved, because their raison d'être had disappeared. It was only when social issues were discussed that new political groupings, even if not formally organized as political parties, began to emerge. The power struggle between these groups became exceedingly intense after World War II (1939–45).

      The Iraqi nationalists, though appreciating the free expression of opinion permitted under a parliamentary system, were far from satisfied with the mandate. They demanded independence as a matter of right, as promised in war declarations and treaties, rather than as a matter of capacity for self-government as laid down in the mandate. Various attempts were made to redefine Anglo-Iraqi relations, as embodied in the 1926 and 1927 treaties, without fundamentally altering Britain's responsibility. The British treaties were viewed by the nationalists not only as an impediment to the realization of Iraq's nationalist aspirations but also as inimical to the economic development of the country. The nationalists viewed the situation as a “perplexing predicament” (al-waḍʿ al-shādh)—a term that became popular in Parliament and in the press. It referred to the impossibility of government by the dual authority of the mandate. The nationalists argued that there were two governments in Iraq, one foreign and the other national, and that such a regime was an abnormality that, though feasible in theory, was unworkable in practice.

      In 1929 Britain decided to end this stalemate and reconcile its interests with Iraq's national aspirations. It notified Iraq that the mandate would be terminated in 1932, and a new treaty of independence was negotiated. A new government was formed, headed by General Nūrī al-Saʿīd (Nuri as-Said), who helped in achieving Iraq's independence.

      The new treaty was signed in June 1930. It provided for the establishment of a “close alliance” between Britain and Iraq with “full and frank consultation between them in all matters of foreign policy which may affect their common interests.” Iraq would maintain internal order and defend itself against foreign aggression, supported by Britain. Any dispute between Iraq and a third state involving the risk of war was to be discussed with Britain in the hope of a settlement in accordance with the Covenant of the League of Nations. In the event of an imminent threat of war, the two parties would take a common defense position. Iraq recognized that the maintenance and protection of essential British communications was in the interest of both parties. Air-base sites for British troops were therefore granted near Al-Baṣrah and west of the Euphrates, but these forces “shall not constitute in any manner an occupation, and will in no way prejudice the sovereign rights of Iraq.” This treaty, valid for 25 years, was to go into effect after Iraq joined the League of Nations.

      In 1932, when Iraq was still under British control, the boundaries between Iraq and Kuwait were clearly defined in an exchange of letters between the two governments, but they were never ratified by Iraq in accordance with the Iraqi constitution. This set the stage for future Iraqi claims on Kuwaiti territory, particularly on the islands of Būbiyān and Warbah, which had originally been part of the Ottoman province of Al-Baṣrah but had been ceded to Kuwait in the unratified convention of 1913.

Independence, 1932–39
      On October 3, 1932, Iraq was admitted to the League of Nations as an independent state. Since conflict between Iraq's political leaders centred essentially on how to end the mandate rather than on the right of independence, King Fayṣal sought the cooperation of opposition leaders after independence. Shortly after Iraq's admission to the League, Nūrī al-Saʿīd, who had been prime minister since 1930, resigned. After an interim administration, King Fayṣal invited Rashīd ʿAlī al-Gaylānī (Gaylānī, Rashīd ʿAlī al-), one of the opposition leaders, to form a new government. For a short while it seemed that all the country's leaders would close ranks and devote all their efforts to internal reforms.

      But internal dissension soon developed. The first incident was the Assyrian uprising of 1933. The Assyrians, a small Christian (Nestorian) community living in Mosul province, were given assurances of security by both Britain and Iraq. When the mandate was ended, the Assyrians began to feel insecure and demanded new assurances. Matters came to a head in the summer of 1933 when King Fayṣal was in Europe. The opposition, now in power, wanted to impress the public through a high-handed policy toward a minority group. In clashes with the Iraqi troops, several hundred Assyrians were brutally killed. The incident was brought to the attention of the League of Nations less than a year after Iraq had given assurances that it would protect minority rights. Had King Fayṣal been in the country, he likely would have counseled moderation. Upon his hasty return to Baghdad, he found deep-seated divisions and a situation beyond his control. Suffering from heart trouble, he returned to Switzerland, where he died in September 1933. The Assyrian incident brought about the fall of Rashīd ʿAlī and his replacement by a moderate government.

      Fayṣal was succeeded by his son, King Ghāzī (1933–39), who was young and inexperienced—a situation that gave political leaders an opportunity to compete for power. Without political parties to channel their activities through constitutional processes, politicians resorted to extraconstitutional, or violent, methods. One method was to embarrass those in power by press attacks, palace intrigues, or incidents that would cause cabinet dissension and force the prime minister to resign. The first five governmental changes after independence, from 1932 to 1934, were produced by these methods.

      Another tactic was to incite tribal uprisings in areas where there were tribal chiefs unfriendly to the group in power. Tribes, though habitually opposed to authority, had been brought under control and remained relatively quiet after 1932. When opposition leaders began to incite them against the government in 1934, however, they rebelled and caused the fall of three governments from 1934 to 1935.

      A third method was military intervention. The opposition would try to obtain the loyalty of army officers, plan a coup d'état, and force those in power to resign. This method, often resorted to by the opposition, proved to be the most dangerous because, once the army intervened in politics, it became increasingly difficult to reestablish civilian rule. From 1936 until 1941, when it was defeated in a war with Britain, the army dominated domestic politics. (The army again intervened in 1958 and remained the dominant force in politics until the rise of the Baʿth Party 10 years later.)

      Two different sets of opposition leaders produced the first military coup, in 1936. The first group, led by Ḥikmat Sulaymān, was a faction of old politicians who sought power by violent methods. The other was the Ahālī group, composed mainly of young men who advocated socialism and democracy and sought to carry out reform programs. It was Ḥikmat Sulaymān, however, who urged General Bakr Ṣidqī (Ṣidqī, Bakr), commander of an army division, to stage a surprise attack on Baghdad in cooperation with another military commander and forced the cabinet to resign. Apparently, King Ghāzī was also disenchanted with the group in power and so allowed the government to resign. Ḥikmat Sulaymān became prime minister in October 1936, and Bakr Ṣidqī was appointed chief of general staff. Neither the Ahālī group nor Ḥikmat Sulaymān could improve social conditions, however, because the army gradually dominated the political scene. Supported by opposition leaders, a dissident military faction assassinated Bakr Ṣidqī, but civilian rule was not reestablished. This first military coup introduced a new factor in politics. Lack of leadership after the assassination of Bakr Ṣidqī left the army divided, while jealousy among leading army officers induced each faction to support a different set of civilian leaders. The army became virtually the deciding factor in cabinet changes and remained so until 1941.

      Despite political instability, material progress continued during King Ghāzī's short reign. Oil had been discovered near Karkūk in 1927, and, by the outbreak of World War II, oil revenue had begun to play an important role in domestic spending and added a new facet to Iraq's foreign relations. The Al-Kūt irrigation project, begun in 1934, was completed, and other projects, to be financed by oil royalties, were planned. The pipelines from the Karkūk oil fields to the Mediterranean were opened in 1935. The railroads, still under British control, were purchased in 1935, and the Baʿījī-Tal Küçük section, the only missing railway link between the Persian Gulf and Europe, was completed in 1938. There was also a noticeable increase in construction, foreign trade, and educational facilities. Several disputes with neighbouring countries were settled, including one over the boundary with Syria, which was concluded in Iraq's favour; Iraq thereafter possessed the Sinjār Mountains. A nonaggression pact, called the Saʿdābād Pact, between Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Iraq was signed in 1937. In 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War II, King Ghāzī was killed in a car accident, and his son Fayṣal II ascended the throne. As Fayṣal was only four years old, his uncle, Emir Abd al-Ilāhʿ, was appointed regent and served in this capacity for the next 14 years.

World War II and British intervention, 1939–45
      Nūrī al-Saʿīd, author of the 1930 treaty, was prime minister when war broke out. Believing that the Anglo-Iraqi alliance was the best guarantee for Iraqi security, he wanted to declare war on Germany, but his ministers counseled caution, as British victory was then in doubt. The premier accordingly declared Iraq nonbelligerent and severed diplomatic relations with Germany. When Italy entered the war in 1940, however, Nūrī al-Saʿīd, then minister of foreign affairs in the cabinet of newly appointed prime minister Rashīd ʿAlī al-Gaylānī, was unable to persuade the cabinet to break off diplomatic relations with Italy. Under the influence of pan-Arab leaders, public opinion in Iraq changed radically after France's fall, becoming especially hostile to Britain because other Arab countries remained under foreign control. Pan-Arabs urged Iraqi leaders to free Syria and Palestine and achieve unity among Arab countries. Extremists advocated alliance with Germany as the country that would foster independence and unity among Arabs.

      Rashīd ʿAlī was at first unwilling to side with the extremists and gave lip service to the Anglo-Iraqi alliance. Dissension among the Iraqi leaders, however, forced him to side with the pan-Arabs. Leading army officers also fell under pan-Arab influences and encouraged Rashīd ʿAlī to detach Iraq from the British alliance. During 1940 and 1941, Iraqi officers were unwilling to cooperate with Britain, and the pan-Arab leaders began secret negotiations with the Axis Powers. Britain decided to send reinforcements to Iraq. Rashīd ʿAlī, while allowing a small British force to land in 1940, was forced to resign early in 1941, but he was reinstated by the army in April and refused further British requests for reinforcements.

      British contingents entered Iraq from the Persian Gulf and from the Ḥabbāniyyah air base in April and May 1941; armed conflict with Iraqi forces followed. The hostilities lasted only 30 days, during which period a few Iraqi leaders, including the regent and Nūrī al-Saʿīd, fled the country. By the end of May, the Iraqi army had capitulated. Rashīd ʿAlī and his pan-Arab supporters left the country.

      The return of the regent and moderate leaders through British intervention had far-reaching consequences. Britain was given what it demanded: the use of transportation and communication facilities and a declaration of war on the Axis Powers in January 1942. Rashīd ʿAlī's supporters were dismissed from the service, and some were interned for the duration of the war. Four officers who were responsible for the British-Iraqi conflict were hanged.

Postwar reconstruction and social upheavals, 1945–58
      During World War II, liberal and moderate Iraqi elements began to play an active political role. The entry of the United States and the Soviet Union into the war and their declarations in favour of democratic freedoms greatly enhanced the position of the Iraqi democratic elements. The people endured shortages and regulations restricting personal liberty and the freedom of the press, trusting that the end of the war would bring the promised better way of life. The government, however, paid no attention to the new spirit, and the wartime regulations and restrictions continued after the war. The regent, ʿAbd al-Ilāh, called a meeting of the country's leaders in 1945 and made a speech in which he attributed public disaffection to the absence of a truly parliamentary system. He called for the formation of political parties and promised full freedom for their activities and the launching of social and economic reforms.

      The immediate reactions to the regent's speech were favourable, but, when political parties were formed in 1946 and certain regulations were abolished, the older politicians and vested interests resisted. The new government formed in January 1946 was overthrown within a few months of its inception. Nūrī al-Saʿīd then became prime minister and tried to enlist the cooperation of political parties, but the general elections held under his government's supervision were no different from previous controlled elections. The parties boycotted the elections. Nūrī al-Saʿīd resigned in March 1947, and Ṣāliḥ Jabr formed a new government.

      Jabr, the first Shīʿite politician to become a prime minister, included in his cabinet a number of young men, but he himself was unacceptable to some liberal and nationalist elements who had been roughly handled when he was wartime minister of interior. Jabr tried to help the Arabs in Palestine (Palestine Liberation Organization) in order to improve his image in nationalist circles, but he mishandled opposition leaders. Most damaging was his attempt to replace the Anglo-Iraqi treaty of 1930 without consulting with Iraqi leaders. When he was asked to consult with others, he called in only older politicians and excluded the younger leaders.

      Jabr entered into negotiations with Britain with the intention of enhancing his own position. When he found that Britain wanted to retain control of its air bases in Iraq, he insisted that Britain accept the principle of Iraqi control of the bases; Iraq would allow Britain to use them in the event of war. He threatened to resign if Britain refused his proposals.

      It was with this understanding that Jabr proceeded to London early in 1948 to negotiate a new treaty. He and Ernest Bevin (Bevin, Ernest), the British foreign secretary, quickly came to an agreement and signed a 20-year treaty at Portsmouth on January 15, 1948. It provided for a new alliance between Iraq and Britain on the basis of equality and complete independence and required that “each of the high contracting parties undertake not to adopt in foreign countries an attitude which is inconsistent with the alliance or which might create difficulties for the other party.” An improvement of the 1930 treaty, this document sought an alliance on the basis of mutual interests. The two air bases, which were often the subject of criticism, were returned to Iraq. British forces were to be evacuated, and Iraq would be supplied with arms and military training. The annex to the treaty stressed the importance of the air bases as “an essential element in the defense of Iraq.” Britain's use of the bases in the event of war, or threat of war, would depend on Iraq's invitation. The treaty also provided for the establishment of a joint defense board for common defense and consultation. Both parties agreed to grant each other necessary facilities for defense purposes.

      Despite these advances, the treaty was repudiated immediately in a popular uprising. Street demonstrations had occurred before the treaty was signed, in defense of Arab rights in Palestine, but, when the news of the signing of the new treaty was broadcast in London, rioting and demonstrations in Baghdad followed. Within a week of the signing, the regent called a meeting at the royal household that was attended by both older and younger leaders. After deliberations, they decided to repudiate the treaty. Jabr returned to Baghdad to defend his position but to no avail. Rioting and demonstrations increased, and Jabr was forced to resign.

      The new treaty was not the root cause of the uprising. It was the culmination of a struggle between the young, liberal leaders who wanted to participate in political activities and the older leaders who insisted on excluding them. This conflict continued after the treaty was rejected. The older politicians returned to power under Nūrī al-Saʿīd's leadership.

      In 1952 another popular uprising flared, stirred by opposition leaders and carried out by students and extremists. The police were unable to control the mob, and the regent called on the army to maintain public order. The chief of the general staff governed the country under martial law for more than two months. Civilian rule was restored at the beginning of 1953, but there was no sign that the country's older leaders were prepared to share authority with their opponents.

      Meanwhile, King Fayṣal II, who had come of age, began to exercise his formal powers, and the period of regency came to an end. It was hoped that ʿAbd al-Ilāh would withdraw from active politics and allow the political forces of the country to create a new order. The former regent, who became the crown prince, continued to control political events from behind the scenes, however, and the struggle for power among the leaders continued with increasing intensity until the downfall of the monarchy in 1958.

      Despite political instability, Iraq achieved material progress during the 1950s, thanks to a new oil agreement that increased royalties and to the establishment of the Development Board. The original oil agreement between the Iraqi government and the IPC had heretofore yielded relatively modest royalties, owing to certain technical limitations (such as the need for pipelines) and to war conditions. It was not until 1952 that construction of pipelines to Bāniyās was completed.

      Some points of dispute between the government and the IPC were not entirely resolved. The nationalization of the oil industry in Iran and the announcement of the 1950 agreement between Saudi Arabia and Aramco (Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco), later Saudi Aramco), on a half-and-half basis of payment, induced the Iraqi government and the IPC to negotiate a new agreement on the division of profits. Some opposition leaders demanded that the oil industry be nationalized, but the Iraqi government and the IPC, forestalling any serious move for nationalization, agreed to negotiate on the basis of the fifty-fifty formula, to the mutual advantage of Iraq and the company. The new agreement was signed in 1952; it allowed Iraq to take part of its share of the profits in kind and to receive an increasing amount of royalties specifically agreed upon between the two parties. It was stated that Iraq would receive a set minimum amount of the proceeds in 1953 and all subsequent years.

      In 1950 the government had created an independent Development Board, an agency immune from political pressures and responsible directly to the prime minister. The board had six executive members, three of whom had to be experts in some branch of the development program. The prime minister, as chairman, and the minister of finance were ex officio members. An amendment to the law increased membership by two and provided for a minister of development responsible directly to the head of the cabinet. These members were appointed by the cabinet, had equal voting rights, and were not permitted to hold any other official position. Two foreign members held positions as experts, and the Iraqi members were selected on merit and past experience. The board was composed of a council and ministry. Its staff was divided into technical sections and the ministry into a number of departments. The technical sections were for irrigation, flood control, water storage, drainage, transportation, and industrial and agricultural development. The board was financed from 70 percent of oil royalties and from loans and revenues from the board's own projects.

      In 1950 the World Bank provided a loan for the Wadi Al-Tharthār (Tharthār, Wadi) flood-control project, and other flood-control plans were constructed. Extensive work on bridges and public buildings—including schools, hospitals, a new Parliament building, and a royal house—was started. This work, especially the work on dams and irrigation projects, was a long-term investment, and many short-term projects of more direct benefit to the population were neglected. Opposition leaders attacked the Development Board for the stress on long-term projects that they claimed benefited only the vested interests—landowners and tribal chiefs. Despite criticism, the board maintained an independent status rarely enjoyed by any other government department. Nevertheless, the public remained unaware of the far-reaching effects of the projects undertaken, while the opposition attacked the board for squandering funds on contracts given to wealthy landlords and influential politicians.

The Republic of Iraq
The 1958 revolution and its aftermath
      Despite the country's material progress, the monarchy failed to win public support and, in particular, the confidence of the younger generation. Before the revolution, Iraq lacked an enlightened leadership capable of achieving progress and inspiring public confidence. The new generation offered such leadership, but the older leaders resisted and embarked on an unpopular foreign policy, including an alliance with Britain through participation in the Baghdad Pact (Central Treaty Organization) and opposition to the establishment of the United Arab Republic (U.A.R.) by Egypt and Syria.

      The failure of younger civilians to obtain power aroused the concern of some young military officers who, required by military discipline to take no part in politics, called themselves the Free Officers and began to organize in small groups and to lay down revolutionary plans. The number of Free Officers was relatively small, but there was a considerably larger group of sympathizers. The officers worked in cells, and the identities of the participants were kept secret. Only the Central Organization, which supplied the movement's leadership, was known to all the Free Officers. The Central Organization was composed of 14 officers, headed by ʿAbd al-Karīm Qāsim (Qāsim, ʿAbd al-Karīm), the group's highest-ranking member.

      Of the several plots proposed, that laid down by Qāsim and his close collaborator ʿAbd al-Salām ʿĀrif (Ārif, ʿAbd al-Salāmʿ) proved the most appropriate. The general staff issued an order to the brigade in which ʿĀrif served to proceed to Jordan in July 1958 to reinforce Jordanian forces against alleged threats by Israel. Brigadier Qāsim, in command of another brigade, was to protect the troops going to Jordan. He and ʿĀrif agreed that, as the brigade proceeding to Jordan passed through Baghdad, it would capture the city.

      On July 14 the revolutionary forces captured the capital, declared the downfall of the monarchy, and proclaimed a republic. The leading members of the royal house, including the king and the crown prince, were executed, and Nūrī al-Saʿīd (Nuri as-Said) was killed. Qāsim, head of the revolutionary force, formed a cabinet, over which he presided, and appointed himself commander of the national forces. He also assumed the portfolio of defense minister and appointed ʿĀrif minister of the interior and deputy commander of the national forces. A Council of Sovereignty, composed of three persons, was to act as head of state.

      A provisional constitution declared that Iraq formed an integral part “of the Arab nation” and that “Arabs and Kurds are considered partners in this homeland.” Iraq was declared a republic and Islam the religion of the state; all executive and legislative powers were entrusted to the Sovereignty Council and the cabinet. It soon became clear, however, that power rested in Qāsim's hands, supported by the army.

      Conflicts among the officers developed, first between Qāsim and ʿĀrif and then between Qāsim and his supporters. ʿĀrif championed the pan-Arab cause and advocated Iraq's union with the U.A.R. Qāsim rallied the forces against Arab unity—Kurds, communists, and others—and stressed Iraq's own identity and internal unity. ʿĀrif was dropped from power in October, but in 1959 Qāsim's power was threatened by other factions. He tried to divert public attention to foreign affairs by advancing Iraq's claim to Kuwait's sovereignty in June 1961. This brought him into conflict not only with Britain and Kuwait but also with the other Arab countries. He opened negotiations with the Iraq Petroleum Company to increase Iraq's share of the royalties, but his extreme demands caused negotiations to break down in 1961. Public Law 80 was enacted to prohibit the granting of concessions to any foreign company and to transfer control over all matters connected with oil to the Iraq National Oil Company (INOC).

      By 1963 Qāsim had become isolated internally as well as externally; he had survived several assassination attempts (a participant in one such attack was young Ṣaddām Ḥussein), and the only great power with which he remained friendly was the Soviet Union. When one faction of the army, in cooperation with one Arab nationalist group—the Iraqi regional branch of the Arab Socialist Baʿth (Baʿth Party) (“Revivalist” or “Renaissance”) Party—started a rebellion in February 1963, the regime suddenly collapsed, and Qāsim was executed.

Recurrence of military coups, 1963–68
      The military faction that brought about the collapse of the Qāsim regime preferred to remain behind the scenes rather than assume direct responsibility. The Baʿth Party, a group of young activists who advocated Arab nationalism and socialism, was entrusted with power. Baʿth leaders invited ʿAbd al-Salām ʿĀrif to assume the presidency. A National Council for Revolutionary Command (NCRC), composed of civilian and military leaders, was established to assume legislative and executive powers. The premiership was entrusted to Colonel Aḥmad Ḥasan al-Bakr (Bakr, Aḥmad Ḥassan al-), a Baʿthist officer.

      Some of the Baʿth leaders wanted to carry out Baʿth socialist ideas; others advised more caution. A compromise was finally reached in which the party's goals—Arab unity, freedom, and socialism—were reaffirmed in principle, but it was decided to adopt a transitional program. Industrialization and economic development were stressed, and the role of the middle class was recognized. The dissension among Baʿth leaders, however, soon led to the collapse of the regime. President ʿĀrif, whose powers initially had been restricted by the Baʿth leaders, rallied the military forces to his side. In November 1963 he placed the leaders of the Baʿth Party under arrest and took control, becoming, in both fact and name, the real ruler of the country. In May 1964 a new provisional constitution was promulgated in which the principles of Arab unity and socialism were adopted, and in July the banks and a number of the country's industries were nationalized.

      The idea of Arab socialism attracted only a small group in Iraq, and ʿĀrif began to discover its unfavourable effects on the country. ʿĀrif himself had never been a believer in socialism, but he had adopted it under the influence of Egypt. The adverse influence of nationalization gave him an excuse to replace the group that supported socialism with others who would pay attention to the reality of Iraq's economic conditions. Nor had ʿĀrif been happy with the group of officers who had elevated him to power. He began to prepare the way to entrusting power to civilian hands willing to be guided by him as chief executive.

      In September 1965 ʿĀrif invited ʿAbd al-Raḥman al-Bazzāz (Bazzāz, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-), a distinguished lawyer, diplomat, and writer on Arab nationalism, to form a new government. Al-Bazzāz did not feel that he should abolish Arab socialism, but he offered to increase production and create a balance between the public and private sectors.

      ʿĀrif died suddenly in a helicopter crash in April 1966. Even before his death, Premier al-Bazzāz, known for his opposition to military interference in politics, had begun to talk about the need to hold elections for a representative assembly. Military officers pressured the new president, ʿAbd al-Raḥman ʿĀrif, elder brother of the late president, to remove al-Bazzāz, and the cabinet resigned in August 1966. Power remained in military hands, but factionalism in the army was accentuated and leadership frequently changed. The Arab defeat in the Arab-Israeli War (Arab-Israeli wars) of 1967, in which Iraq took only a nominal role, led to intense unrest within the country and within the party. The Baʿth, joined by other opposition leaders, called for the formation of a coalition government and general elections for a National Assembly. President ʿĀrif paid no attention to their demands.

Iraqi foreign policy, 1958–68
      Following the 1958 revolution, President Qāsim steered his country's foreign policy gradually away from the sphere of Western influence—and close ties with the United Kingdom—toward closer relations with the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). In 1959 Iraq officially left the pro-Western Baghdad Pact, but, though the Qāsim government came to depend on Soviet weapons and received some economic aid, it retained lively commercial ties with the West. Further, because Qāsim recruited among the Iraqi Communist Party for support and because he moved far closer to the Soviet Union diplomatically, the United States grew to see in him a would-be communist. However, despite a growing dispute with the Western oil companies over their investments in Iraq (stemming from Qāsim's demand of a greater share of the proceeds) and steps by the government that limited oil company activities in Iraq, Qāsim carefully refrained from nationalizing Iraq's oil industry. Also, fearing Egyptian domination, as had happened in the Syrian province of the U.A.R., Qāsim rejected the courtship of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser (Nasser, Gamal Abdel) and refused a merger with Egypt. This led the two Free Officers' regimes—as the Egyptian regime was also termed—into a conflict that greatly embarrassed the Soviet Union and occasionally forced it to take sides.

      This also strongly influenced Qāsim's approach to Israel. While he paid lip service to anti-Zionist sentiments in Iraq, there was no way that he and Nasser could collaborate against Israel, and tension with the Hāshimite monarchy of Jordan made it impossible for him to send an expeditionary force to Jordan, even had he wanted to do so. On the Israeli side this fact was fully appreciated at the time. Relations with pro-Western Iran were tense also, but the two countries avoided a direct military confrontation.

      Qāsim's relations with most of the Arab world worsened after Iraq left the Arab League in 1961 in protest against the organization's support for Kuwait's independence. Iraq had continued to press its claims to Kuwaiti territory in the 1940s and '50s (largely over the islands of Būbiyān and Warbah), but not until the Qāsim regime did it forward a serious claim of overall sovereignty. In 1963, after Qāsim's demise, Kuwait came to an agreement with Aḥmad Ḥasan al-Bakr—who was then Iraq's prime minister—confirming Kuwait's independence and resolving all border issues; however, once again the agreement failed to be ratified, this time by Iraq's president, ʿAbd al-Salām ʿĀrif (Ārif, ʿAbd al-Salāmʿ).

      The Baʿth-ʿĀrif regime (February–November 1963) had little time for foreign policy formulation, as the various party factions were far too busy fighting one another. Having killed thousands of communists and their supporters, however, the Baʿth regime completely alienated the Soviet Union, and Soviet weapons shipments stopped. The regime also alienated Egypt by rejecting the U.A.R. merger. Of all the Arab countries, only relations with Syria, again independent and now also under Baʿth rule, remained cordial.

      During the regimes of the ʿĀrif brothers (1963–68), Iraq remained essentially within the Soviet sphere of influence, but in early 1967 there were signs of a limited rapprochement with the West. Iraq's Arab relations improved greatly, albeit at the expense of Iraqi independence. ʿAbd al-Salām ʿĀrif reversed the country's policy toward Nasser's government in Egypt, in effect turning Iraq into an Egyptian satellite. Although it was Nasser who now rejected Iraq's request for unification, relations between the two countries became extremely close. ʿAbd al-Salām's policy toward Israel mimicked that of Egypt, and, when tensions along the Israeli-Egyptian border grew to the dangerous proportions that led to the Six-Day War (Arab-Israeli wars) of June 1967, the Iraqi leader dispatched an armoured brigade to Jordan. Events moved too fast, however, and most of the brigade was destroyed by the Israeli air force before it could reach the front line.

The revolution of 1968

The second Baʿth government
      After ʿAbd al-Salām ʿĀrif took control in 1963, the Baʿth Party was forced underground and began to make sweeping changes in its leadership and strategy in order to recapture power. Al-Bakr became secretary of the Regional Leadership (RL) of the Baʿth Party in 1964. He was assisted in reorganizing the party by Ṣaddām Ḥussein, who proved to be instrumental in rallying civilian Baʿthist support for al-Bakr. A premature attempt to seize power in September 1964 led to the imprisonment of the principal Baʿth leaders, including al-Bakr and Ṣaddām. In 1965 al-Bakr was released because of illness, and in 1966 Ṣaddām escaped.

The revolution of 1968
      In July 1968 the government was overthrown by the army, with some assistance from civilian party activists. The reasons given were the corruption of the ʿĀrif regime, Kurdish disturbances in the north, the government's failure to adequately support other Arab countries in the Six-Day War of 1967, and ʿĀrif's subservience to Nasser's Egypt. Except for the charge of corruption (ʿĀrif had no bank accounts abroad and had little property inside Iraq), the charges were valid but were only circumstantial. The root causes went much deeper. The ʿĀrif regime, because it had not held popular elections, had failed to attain legitimacy. Barring that, it failed even to attempt to build a party structure or mobilize mass support. Instead, it depended completely on military support, which since 1936 had been inconsistent and capricious. Finally, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ʿĀrif was anything but an inspiring leader. When the Baʿth Party persuaded a few officers in key positions to abandon the regime, the fate of the ʿĀrif government was sealed.

      Four officers agreed to cooperate with the Baʿth Party. These were Colonel ʿAbd al-Razzāq al-Nāyif, head of military intelligence, Colonel Ibrāhīm ʿAbd al-Raḥman al-Dāʾūd, chief of the Republican Guard, Colonel Saʿdūn Ghaydān, and Colonel Hammād Shihāb. The first two agreed to cooperate on condition that al-Nāyif be the new premier and al-Dāʾūd the minister of defense. Shihāb agreed to help on the condition that ʿĀrif not be harmed. The Baʿth Party accepted this arrangement as a means to achieve power but intended to bridle the officers at the earliest-possible moment, having little confidence in their loyalty.

      On the morning of July 17, President ʿĀrif's palace was stormed by Baʿthist officers led by al-Bakr. ʿĀrif immediately surrendered and agreed to leave the country. He went to London and then to Istanbul, where he lived in modest obscurity, before returning to Iraq some 20 years later.

      The first act of the new regime was to establish the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), which assumed supreme authority. The RCC elected al-Bakr president of the republic, and he invited al-Nāyif to form a cabinet. Al-Bakr was not interested in administrative details, and, as he grew older and his health deteriorated, he began to depend more heavily on Ṣaddām to carry out the business of government.

      Almost immediately a struggle for power arose between the Baʿth and the Nāyif-Dāʾūd group, ostensibly over socialism and foreign policy but in fact over which of the two groups was to control the regime. On July 30 al-Nāyif was arrested by Ṣaddām and a group of armed party activists and officers. It was agreed that al-Nāyif's life would be spared if he left the country, and he was sent to Morocco as ambassador; al-Dāʾūd, who was then on a mission to Jordan, was instructed to remain there.

      This second bloodless coup, which did not cause any disturbances in Iraq, cleared the way for the Baʿth Party to control the regime. Al-Bakr assumed the premiership in addition to the presidency and the chairmanship of the RCC. Most cabinet posts were given to Baʿth leaders. Sympathizers of the Nāyif-Dāʾūd group were removed, and a number of civil servants considered unfriendly to the regime were retired or relieved of duty. Most important, over the next few weeks some 2,000 to 3,000 army and air force officers were forced to retire, being regarded as a security risk by the ruling party. Most were supporters of Nasser, who, despite the best efforts of the regime, maintained a following within the military until his death in 1970.

      The Interim Constitution was issued in September 1968. It provided for an essentially presidential system composed of the RCC, the cabinet, and the National Assembly. Until the National Assembly was called, the RCC exercised both executive and legislative powers and, occasionally, judicial powers as well. After November 1969, with few exceptions, RCC members were elected or nominated out of the RL. In this way the civilian party—now in reality led by Vice President Ṣaddām Ḥussein—was able to eventually remove all army officers from power and maintain control. In the state as a whole, the Baʿth Party, already highly organized, began to infiltrate and influence almost all national organizations.

      Disturbances in the Kurdish area and several attempts to overthrow the regime kept the Baʿth leaders preoccupied and prevented them from launching planned social and economic programs. The attempts to overthrow the regime were suppressed without difficulty, but the Kurdish (Kurd) problem proved more complicated.

      Even before the Baʿth Party achieved power, the Kurdish question had been discussed in several meetings of the Baʿth Party leadership. However, in late 1968 fighting between the Kurds and the Iraqi army began once again and escalated to full-scale warfare. With military aid provided by Iran, the Kurds were able to pose a serious threat to the Baʿth regime. By early 1970 negotiations between the Baʿth leaders, with Ṣaddām as chief government negotiator, the Kurdish leader Muṣṭafā al-Barzānī (Barzānī, Muṣṭafa al-), and other leaders of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) were under way. The government agreed to officially recognize the Kurds as a “national” group entitled to a form of autonomous status called self-rule. This would eventually lead to the establishment of a provincial administrative council and an assembly to deal with Kurdish affairs. The agreement was proclaimed in the Manifesto of March 1970, to go into effect in March 1974, following a census to determine the frontiers of the area in which the Kurds formed the majority of the population.

      In April 1972 Iraq and the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) signed a treaty in which the two countries agreed to cooperate in political, economic, and military affairs. The Soviet Union also agreed to supply Iraq with arms.

      To strengthen the Baʿth regime, two important steps were taken. First, the conflict with the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP), which had arisen after the revolution of 1958 and had led to the death of thousands of communists under Baʿth rule, was reconciled. Second, the National Progressive Front was established to provide legitimacy to the regime by enlisting the support of other political parties. Since the March Manifesto had established a basis for settling the Kurdish problem, Kurdish political parties were willing to participate in the National Progressive Front (NPF). The ICP had also shown interest. A Charter for National Action, prepared by the Baʿth Party, was published in the press for public discussion and became the basis for cooperation with the ICP and other parties.

      In March 1972 Baʿthist and ICP leaders met to discuss the content of the charter and express their views about basic principles such as socialism, democracy, and economic development. A statute was drawn up expressing the principles agreed on as the basis for cooperation among the parties of the NPF. It also provided for a 16-member central executive committee, called the High Committee, and a secretariat. The NPF officially came into existence in 1973.

      In 1973–74 negotiations with al-Barzānī (Barzānī, Muṣṭafa al-) and the KDP to implement the March Manifesto failed. The census promised in the March Manifesto had not been taken, and al-Barzānī and the KDP refused to accept the Baʿthist determination of the borders of the Kurdish area, which excluded the oil-rich Karkūk province. Nevertheless, in March 1974 the Baʿth regime proceeded to implement its own plan for self-rule, establishing a provincial council and an assembly in cooperation with Kurdish leaders who were opposed to al-Barzānī's militant approach. Iraq also set up the Kurdish Autonomous Region in the three predominantly Kurdish governorates of Arbīl, Dahūk, and Al-Sulaymāniyyah.

      The Kurdish war started in March 1974. Al-Barzānī's decision to go to war with the Baʿth government seems to have been made with the support of the shah of Iran, who sought to pressure Iraq to alter the water frontier in the Shaṭṭ al-ʿArab to the thalweg, or the deepest point of the river. (Under the terms of the 1937 treaty, the boundary was set at the low-water mark on the Iranian side, giving Iraq control of the shipping channel.) Soon after the conflict broke out, however, an agreement between Iran and Iraq caused Iran to suspend support for the Kurds and ended the Kurdish war. Al-Barzānī's forces and political supporters were given a few days to withdraw into Iran, and the Iraqi government took full control of Iraqi Kurdistan.

      Relations between the Baʿth regime and the ICP deteriorated after 1975. Baʿth policies were openly criticized in the communist press. Many communists were arrested, and by 1979 most of the principal ICP leaders were either in prison or had left Iraq. The absence of communist representation deprived the NPF of an opposition party that was willing to voice dissent on fundamental issues.

Majid Khadduri

Foreign policy 1968–80
      The Baʿth Party came to power, to a large extent, on the waves of deep popular frustration that followed the Arab defeat by Israel in the Six-Day War. The party soon became, rhetorically, the most extreme anti-Israeli regime in the Arab world, promising to quickly conduct a successful war to wrest Palestine from Israeli control. The Baʿth retained, and even reinforced, a large and expensive expeditionary force in Jordan, yet it vitiated its own agenda by alienating virtually every regime in the Arab world. The party was extremely unpopular inside Iraq because of its disastrous experience in 1963, and both the public and the military were still to a large extent under the influence of Nasser. The party believed that, by besmirching the Egyptian leader, it could gain public support. It called on Nasser to resign for having failed the Arab world in the war and for having rejected Iraq's demand to launch another, immediate attack. Relations with Baʿthist Syria also became tense. The oil monarchies of the Persian Gulf were wary of Baʿth social, national, and anti-Western radicalism, fearing Iraq might inspire revolutionary activities in their countries, and, indeed, the Baʿth regime called for Baʿth-style revolutions throughout the Arab world.

      Beginning in the spring of 1969, relations with the Iranian monarchy also deteriorated over control of the Shaṭṭ al-ʿArab and over Iranian support for Iraq's Kurdish rebels. Relations remained cordial, though reserved, only with Jordan, because Iraq needed Jordanian cooperation in order to keep Iraqi forces in that country. During a clash between the Jordanian government and the Palestine Liberation Organization in September 1970, the Iraqi government decided to avoid a confrontation with Jordanian troops (despite earlier promises to aid the Palestinians) and withdrew its forces east, into the Jordanian desert. This won them harsh criticism from the Palestinians and from Arab radicals in general. However, it could not save their relations with Jordan, which during the next few years reached a nadir.

      Beginning in 1974–75, under the direction of Ṣaddām, Iraq's relations with its neighbours started to improve. The young vice president realized that the country's near total isolation was threatening the regime's hold on power. The crucial turnaround took place in 1975 when Iraq and Iran signed the Algiers Agreement, in which Iraq agreed to move the maritime boundary between the two countries to the thalweg—conditioned on Iran's withdrawal of support for the Iraqi Kurds. This was followed by improved relations with most gulf states, and in 1975 Egypt's new president, Anwar el-Sādāt (Sādāt, Anwar el-), and The Sudan's president, Gaafar Mohamed el-Nimeiri (Nimeiri, Gaafar Mohamed el-), each visited Baghdad. In the years that followed, relations with Jordan and Turkey also improved dramatically.

      Besides Israel, the only close neighbour with which Iraq did not experience improved relations was Syria. Tension between the two Baʿthist regimes increased throughout the 1970s, and both sought to undermine the other. In 1976, as part of a dispute over oil-transfer revenues, Iraq stopped shipping oil through Syrian pipelines, opting rather to use a newer pipeline across Turkey. That this ongoing dispute conflicted with the Baʿthist's pan-Arab rhetoric apparently was of little importance: the main task for Ṣaddām was to keep the Baʿth Party in power in Baghdad, and the destabilizing influence of the Syrian branch of the party was something he could not afford. Only by denigrating the Syrian regime—as Ṣaddām frequently did—by accusing it of betraying the party's ideals and of colluding with Israel could he clearly signal members of his own branch of the party that involvement with Syria would lead to charges of treason.

      Throughout the 1970s, while Iraq's anti-Israeli rhetoric reached a crescendo, the Baʿth regime in Baghdad also began to play down its commitment to any immediate war against Israel. As Ṣaddām explained it to his domestic audience, the Arabs were not ready for such a war, because there was a need to first achieve strategic superiority over the Jewish state. Ṣaddām's vision was that Iraq first would concentrate exclusively on economic, technological, and military growth, turning itself into a “fortress.” Only when Iraq was ready would it turn outside, “radiating” its influence to the Arab world. Only then, under Iraq's leadership, would the Arabs be ready to confront Israel. In fact, there was a notable leap in almost every sector of Iraq's economy and in military expansion during the late 1970s. This military development also included Iraq's first meaningful investment in nuclear and biological weapons research.

Economic development to 1980
      Perhaps the greatest assets of the Baʿth regime were the ambitious plans for reconstruction and development laid down by its leaders. The struggle for power during 1958–68 had left little time for constructive work, and the Baʿth Party sought not only to transform the economic system from free enterprise to collectivism but also to assert the country's economic independence. The immediate objectives were to increase production and to raise the standard of living, but the ultimate objective was to establish a socialist society in which all citizens would enjoy the benefits of progress and prosperity. On the other hand, the regime's socioeconomic program was an effective way of controlling the population. Critics of the regime have defined this system as combining “intimidation and enticement” (al-tarhīb wa al-targhīb): along with building a huge and extremely brutal internal-security apparatus, the regime expended the country's vast oil revenues to create an extensive welfare system and to extend roads, electric grids, and water-purification systems to much of the countryside.

      The five-year economic plans of 1965–70 and 1971–75 concentrated on raising the level of production in both agriculture and industry and aimed at reducing dependence on oil revenues as the primary source for development. But agriculture lagged far behind target goals, and industrial development was slow. The five-year plan of 1976–80, formulated in the years after Iraq's oil revenues had suddenly quadrupled, was far more ambitious. Development goals in virtually every category were intended to increase, reaching two and even three times the levels of previous plans. Altogether the allocation for development compared with previous plans increased more than 10-fold, eventually reaching some one-third of the general budget. Ideologically, the regime now sought to legitimize itself through economic development rather than through extremist revolutionary rhetoric, as it had done previously. In practice, however, the funds may have been available to meet these goals, but the country's inadequate infrastructure made implementation unachievable. Also, though many large industrial plants were constructed, production was inefficient, and Iraqi state products could compete on the world markets only in situations where Iraq had a meaningful advantage, such as in products that directly exploited the country's petroleum surplus.

      Baʿth leaders considered nationalizing the oil industry their greatest achievement. Between 1969 and 1972 several agreements with foreign powers—the Soviet Union and others—were concluded to provide the Iraq National Oil Company (INOC) with the capital and technical skills to exploit the oil fields. In 1972 operation started at the highly productive North Rumaylah field, and an Iraqi Oil Tankers Company was established to deliver oil to several foreign countries. Also in 1972 the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) was nationalized (with compensation), and a national company, the Iraqi Company for Oil Operations, was established to operate the fields. In 1973, when the Yom Kippur War broke out, Iraq nationalized American and Dutch companies, and in 1975 it nationalized the remaining foreign interests in the Basra Petroleum Company.

      The initial step in agrarian reform had been taken with the Agrarian Reform Law of 1958, which provided for distributing to peasants lands in excess of a certain maximum ownership. A decade later less than half of the land had been distributed. In 1969 a revised Agrarian Reform Law relieved the peasants from payments for their land by abolishing compensation to landowners, and a year later a new Agrarian Reform Law was designed to improve the conditions of the peasantry, increase agricultural production, and correlate development in rural and urban areas. The results were disappointing, however, because of the difficulty officials had in persuading the peasants to stay on their farms and because of their inability to improve the quality of agricultural production. The Baʿth regime also completed work on irrigation projects that had already been under way and began new projects in areas where water was likely to be scarce in the summer. In the five-year plan of 1976–80, funds were allocated for completion of dams on the Euphrates, Tigris, Diyālā, and upper Zab rivers and Lake al-Tharthār.

      Recognizing that a rapid transition to full socialism was neither possible nor in the country's best interest, the Baʿth provided for a sector (albeit a small one) for private investors, and a third, mixed sector was created in which private and public enterprises could cooperate. This three-tier economy, however, provided fertile ground for official corruption, and senior government officials received illicit commissions for approving deals between the public and private sectors.

      From the early 1970s Ṣaddām was widely recognized as the power behind President al-Bakr (Bakr, Aḥmad Ḥassan al-), who after 1977 was little more than a figurehead. Ṣaddām reached this position through his leadership of the internal security apparatus, a post that most senior Baʿthist figures had been too squeamish to fill. Ṣaddām, however, had drawn hard lessons from the party's failure in 1963 and resolved that no dissent should be allowed in party ranks, no opposition outside the party should be tolerated, and ideological commitment to party ideals alone was insufficient to guarantee the loyalty of internal security officers. Kinship bonds were, to him, much more promising. President al-Bakr concurred on that issue, and soon after the Baʿth takeover al-Bakr appointed his young relative (both al-Bakr and Ṣaddām belonged to the tribe of Āl Bū Nāṣir) to the powerful posts of deputy chairman of the RCC, deputy secretary-general of the RL, and vice president. Al-Bakr also allowed Ṣaddām to form the Presidential Guard, mostly from members of the Āl Bū Nāṣir and allied Sunni tribes. Between 1968 and the mid-1970s Ṣaddām became the unchallenged leader of internal security. After he jailed, executed, or assassinated the regime's opponents, he turned against his own opponents inside the ruling party, using the same tools and methods: a plethora of ubiquitous and ruthless internal security organs loyal to him personally.

      It was virtually taken for granted that when al-Bakr relinquished the presidency, Ṣaddām would succeed him. Nevertheless, his succession was not carried out without complications. Perhaps the two most important complicating factors were Egyptian President Sādāt's decision to make peace with Israel and Syrian President Ḥāfiẓ al-Assad (Assad, Ḥafiz al-)'s bid for economic and political union with Iraq. These two events were not unrelated. Despite ongoing tensions between the two branches of the Baʿth Party, Arab unity had been a long-standing party goal in both Syria and Iraq. Assad, however, was prompted to call for union with Iraq only after Egypt's rapprochement with Israel in 1977. While President al-Bakr hesitated, Ṣaddām strongly resisted this move. After Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David Accords in 1978, however, there was no way he could avoid the issue.

      The initial negotiations showed great promise. Talks in October 1978 led to the signing of a “charter for joint national action,” which declared the two countries' intent to establish military unity. By 1979 it was clear that the eventual aim was full political union. Iraq and Syria also cooperated with other Arab leaders in taking a firm stand against Sādāt (Sādāt, Anwar el-). By March 1979, however, when Sādāt signed a peace treaty with Israel, negotiations for a Syro-Iraqi union had slowed. The main stumbling block was the question of whether the leadership of the unified state would be primarily Syrian or Iraqi.

      Relations between the two countries deteriorated, and by that time Ṣaddām had an additional reason for avoiding ties with Damascus: Iran's Islamic revolution had installed a regime that was clearly anti-Iraqi and had close ties with Syria. The Iraqi regime also saw a vague religious threat, inasmuch as many among Syria's ruling elite adhered to a branch of Shīʿism (the ʿAlawī (Alawiteʿ) sect) that was faintly related to that practiced in revolutionary Iran. Given Iraq's large—and for the most part disfranchised—Shīʿite population, Baghdad perceived relations between Syria and Iran as an unprecedented threat.

      On July 16, 1979, the eve of the anniversary of the revolution of 1968, al-Bakr officially announced his resignation. There is little doubt that Ṣaddām forced him to resign. Al-Bakr was placed under de facto house arrest and died in 1982. Ṣaddām immediately succeeded him as president, chairman of the RCC, secretary-general of the RL, and commander in chief of the armed forces.

      Less than two weeks after Ṣaddām claimed leadership, it was announced that a plot to overthrow the government had been uncovered. This announcement had been preceded some days earlier by the arrest of Muḥyī ʿAbd al-Ḥusayn al-Mashhadī, the secretary of the RCC (and, uncoincidentally, a Shīʿite). Mashhadī made a public confession that was, in all likelihood, coerced. He stated that he and other Baʿth leaders, including four other members of the RCC, in collaboration with the Syrian government, had conspired to overthrow the regime. It is doubtful such a conspiracy existed, and it is unclear why those individuals were eliminated—all had been, at one time or another, protégés of Ṣaddām. However, they had opposed al-Bakr's resignation and Ṣaddām's ascendancy to the presidency. Thus, Ṣaddām had finally managed to abort rapprochement between Iraq and Syria and, at the same time, send a message to all party members that the new president would not tolerate even the slightest dissent. A special court was set up, and 22 other senior officials were tried and executed; a number of others were sentenced to prison terms.

      Syria denied complicity in any plot, but Ṣaddām accused it of planning acts of sabotage and murder, and the Syrian ambassador and his staff were expelled. The Syrians reciprocated. With the de facto termination of diplomatic ties, economic relations between the two Baʿthist regimes started to deteriorate. In April 1982, at the height of its war with Iran, Iraq needed additional maritime outlets. Syria responded by closing its border with Iraq—ostensibly to prevent Iraqi arms smuggling—and shutting down the Iraqi-Syrian oil pipeline. A few days later Damascus officially severed diplomatic relations with Baghdad.

      Relations with Iran had grown increasingly strained after the shah was overthrown in 1979. Iraq recognized Iran's new Shīʿite Islamic government, but the Iranian leaders would have nothing to do with the Baʿth regime, which they denounced as secular. Ruhollah Khomeini (Khomeini, Ruhollah), the spiritual leader of the Iranian revolution, proclaimed his policy of “exporting the revolution,” and Iraq was high on the list of countries whose governments were to be overthrown and replaced by a replica of the Islamic regime in Iran. In addition, Iran still occupied three small pieces of territory along the Iran-Iraq border that were supposed to be returned to Iraq under the treaty of 1975.

      The Baʿth government was highly sensitive to the Islamic threat, not merely because it was a secular regime but because the ruling elite, despite some earnest efforts at enfranchisement, consisted mainly of Sunni Arabs. By the late 1970s the Shīʿites (Shīʿite) were an overall majority in the Baʿth Party, but members of that sect were a minority in the party's middle and upper levels. In the late 1980s Shīʿites still constituted only about one-fifth of all army general officers, and Shīʿite representation in the upper echelons of the internal security services was even lower. On the whole, Shīʿites remained aloof from the regime. This estrangement was attributable in large part to the socioeconomic gap between Sunnis and Shīʿites—the vast majority of Shīʿites being poor—but it was also a result of the regime's desire to control fully every walk of life. This included persistent attempts to control Shīʿite religious life—including education in madrasahs (religious colleges)—a situation objectionable to traditional Shīʿites and to Iraq's influential Shīʿite clergy, who maintained close ties with colleagues in Iran.

      As long as the secular, Westernized shah ruled over Iran, traditional Iraqi Shīʿites remained politically quiescent. When Khomeini came to power in February 1979, however, his example inspired many Shīʿites in Iraq to engage in greater political activism. Mass pro-Khomeini demonstrations and guerrilla activity became regular occurrences. The man who encouraged these activities, and in whom many saw an Iraqi Khomeini, was the young and charismatic Ayatollah Muḥammad Bāqir al-Ṣadr. The regime cracked down on the Shīʿite movement with great ferocity, and hundreds were executed, some 10,000 were imprisoned, and tens of thousands were driven across the border into Iran. In April 1980 Ṣaddām ordered the execution of al-Ṣadr and his sister; by July demonstrations had ceased, and guerrilla activity had come to a virtual halt.

      Still, the Baʿth regime feared that as long as Khomeini was in power, his Islamic revolution could serve as a source of inspiration for Shīʿite revolutionaries in Iraq. Further, Ṣaddām saw an assassination attempt against Ṭāriq ʿAzīz, the foreign minister and the president's close associate, by a Shīʿite activist as an insult directed against him personally. Under normal circumstances such developments would likely never have led to war, but Khomeini had isolated himself from the international community and had crippled his own armed forces through extensive purges of the shah's officers' corps. In addition, when Khomeini came to power in Iran, Iraq had a large, well-organized, and well-equipped military and a fast-growing economy. No less important, it enjoyed friendly relations with most of its neighbours, and all its armed forces had since been recalled to within its own borders.

      It was those conditions that convinced Ṣaddām he could win a blitz war against the less-organized and internationally isolated Iran, despite the latter's greater size and superior natural and human resources. In doing this, the Iraqi leader's likely goals were to remove Khomeini from power and replace his regime with one more friendly to Iraq, demarcate the border (particularly along the Shaṭṭ al-ʿArab) in Iraq's favour, secure autonomy for Khūzestān (an oil-rich region in southwestern Iran inhabited largely by ethnic Arabs) under some Iraqi tutelage, and give Iraq hegemonic power in the Persian Gulf.

      Beginning in 1979, border clashes began to occur frequently, and Ṣaddām announced in September 1980 that he was abrogating the 1975 agreements because they had been violated by Iran. Within days, Iraqi forces invaded Iran. At the same time, Iraq bombed Iranian air bases and other strategic targets. In the week following the invasion, the UN Security Council called for a cease-fire and appealed to Iran and Iraq to settle their dispute peacefully. The Iraqi president replied, saying that Iraq would accept a cease-fire provided Iran did as well. Iran's response, however, was negative. The war thus continued and in succeeding years was extended to the gulf area. It has been aptly called the Gulf War. (The hostilities of 1991 and 2003 have also been called Gulf wars.)

      The Iraqi advance into Iran was stopped in November 1980. There followed a stalemate that continued until September 1981, when Iran, which had rejected further attempts at mediation, began a series of successful offensives. By May 1982 the Iraqis had been driven from most of the captured territory. Iranian forces, having liberated the Iranian city of Khorramshahr and having lifted the siege of Ābādān, began to penetrate into Iraq's Al-Baṣrah province. During 1982–87 they threatened the city of Al-Baṣrah and occupied Majnūn Island and the Fāw (Fao) peninsula. In its unsuccessful attempts to liberate the Fāw peninsula during February–March 1986, Iraq suffered horrific casualties. The Iranian attacks on Al-Baṣrah were repulsed with heavy casualties on both sides. Iraq countered in the so-called tanker war by bombing Iranian oil terminals in the gulf, especially on Khārk Island.

      In 1987 the military balance began to favour Iraq, which had raised an army of some one million and, while Iran remained largely isolated from the international community, had obtained state-of-the-art arms from France and the Soviet Union, including thousands of artillery pieces, tanks, and armoured personnel carriers and hundreds of combat aircraft. This arsenal (enormous for a country of some 18 million inhabitants) was bolstered by the addition of substantial quantities of chemical weapons, which the regime acquired or produced throughout the 1980s. At the same time, Iraq committed substantial resources in an attempt to develop or purchase other weapons of mass destruction (WMD), including biological and nuclear arms.

      Relations with the United States, which had resumed in 1984, began to improve. In 1987 the United States agreed to reflag 11 Kuwaiti tankers and escort them in international waters through the Strait of Hormuz. Britain and France also escorted tankers carrying their own flags. Although a U.S. destroyer was inadvertently attacked by an Iraqi bomber in May 1987, the United States supported Iraq, both diplomatically at the United Nations and militarily by providing information about Iranian military movements in the gulf area. In October 1987 and April 1988, U.S. forces attacked Iranian ships and oil platforms.

      In July 1987 the UN Security Council (Security Council, United Nations) had unanimously passed Resolution 598, urging Iraq and Iran to accept a cease-fire, withdraw their forces to internationally recognized boundaries, and settle their frontier disputes by negotiations held under UN auspices. Iraq agreed to abide by the terms if Iran reciprocated. Iran, however, demanded amendments condemning Iraq as the aggressor in the war (which would have held them liable for paying war reparations) and calling on all foreign navies to leave the gulf.

      In the northeastern provinces Iranian forces, in cooperation with Iraqi Kurds (Kurd), threatened the area from Karkūk to the Turkish border and penetrated to the Iraqi towns of Hājj ʿUmrān and Ḥalabjah. They met with stiff resistance in the north, however. Using chemical weapons (chemical weapon), Iraqi forces inflicted heavy casualties on Kurdish civilians in and around Ḥalabjah in March 1988.

      Military operations in the gulf resumed, and in April 1988 Iraq—this time using chemical weapons against the Iranian troops—recaptured the Fāw peninsula. Later it liberated the districts of Salamcha and Majnūn, and in July Iraqi forces once again penetrated deep into Iran. It became clear that Iran's military position in the gulf had become untenable, and it accepted Resolution 598, which came into force on August 20, 1988. The war had been one of the most destructive conflicts of the late 20th century. Hundreds of thousands had died, and large areas of western Iran and southeastern Iraq had been devastated.

      When the foreign ministers of Iraq and Iran met for the first time in Geneva in August 1988 and later in 1989, there was no progress on how Resolution 598 was to be implemented. Iraq demanded the full exchange of prisoners as the first step, while Iran insisted that withdrawing Iraqi forces from Iran should precede the exchange of prisoners. (The last prisoners were not exchanged until 2003, as many Iraqi Shīʿites had been fearful of returning home.) The border dispute remained an ongoing point of friction between the two countries, even though Iran eventually allowed Iraq to make limited use of the Shaṭṭ al-ʿArab. In 1990 Iraq implied that it was ready to return to the 1975 agreement, but nothing came of the overture. Occasional diplomatic initiatives were afterward interlaced with small-scale military incidents along the border. Each country supported opposition groups that worked against the rival's government. Iraq sheltered the Mojāhedīn-e Khalq—an Iranian extremist group—and Iran lent support to various Iraqi Shīʿite groups. Guerrilla attacks and terrorist incidents were frequent in the years after the war.

Postwar policies
      Articles 47 to 56 of the interim Iraqi constitution provided for a legislative assembly, and—in an effort to garner popular support during the war—elections (the first in postrevolutionary Iraq) were held in June 1980. The new National Assembly convened 10 days later, and subsequent elections were held in 1984 and 1989. Regardless, the Assembly was vested with little power. Only those supporting the Baʿth revolution were allowed to stand for office, and in disputes between the Assembly and the RCC, the latter's decisions were final. Moreover, after Ṣaddām's rise to the presidency, the RCC itself had become increasingly irrelevant and eventually served as little more than a rubber stamp for the president's decisions. Within the Baʿth Party meaningful political debate did continue, but only on topics selected by the president, and all presidential decisions were final.

      After the cease-fire, Iraq began a program of reconstruction, concentrating on the areas that had suffered most during the war, but the country had little ready cash. Iraq, now deeply in debt, continued to spend large sums on armaments, and inflation and unemployment soared. To relieve social pressures, the government made it easier for people to travel abroad, but few were able to take advantage of this policy. In addition, the government promised to open the political process by allowing multiparty elections and greater press freedoms. The draft constitution prepared in late 1989 was scrutinized by the RCC before it reached the National Assembly for approval and was about to be submitted to a public plebiscite when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Thereafter, the entire democratic plan was shelved.

      To enhance Iraq's position in the Arab world, Ṣaddām had begun to negotiate a set of bilateral agreements with his neighbours. Early in 1989 he had concluded nonaggression pacts with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. He also had established the Arab Cooperation Council with Jordan, Egypt, and Yemen to promote economic and cultural development.

      Peace negotiations with Iran had not brought about a settlement, and Ṣaddām—despite Iraq's overwhelming military edge over Iran—continued to purchase weapons. Iraq's rearmament program included expensive programs to develop missiles and chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Criticism in the West of Iraq's record on human rights and the county's acquisition of sensitive military technology prompted Ṣaddām to make highly inflammatory speeches about the hostile Western attitude. In April 1990 he warned that if Israel ever again attacked Iraq (as that country had attacked and destroyed Iraq's Osiraq-Tammuz nuclear plant in 1981), he would retaliate with chemical weapons. This threat was later extended to include an attack by Israel on any Arab state, and Ṣaddām soon began to suggest that Iraq's eventual goal was to defeat Israel and capture Jerusalem. These declarations were the first indications that the Iraqi regime had wider territorial aspirations and portended the invasion of Kuwait less than a year later.

      Iraq characterized its war with Iran as a defensive action against the spread of the Islamic revolution not only to Iraq but to other gulf countries and to the wider Arab world and portrayed itself as “the eastern gate to the Arab homeland.” Ṣaddām thus anticipated that the large war debt incurred by Iraq—much of it owed to the Persian Gulf monarchies—would be forgiven. He even expected the gulf countries to finance his reconstruction program, as the United States had financed the reconstruction of western Europe through the Marshall Plan. The Iraqi leadership was greatly angered when it saw support from the gulf Arab states dwindle after the war ended. Although Iraq's major financier, Kuwait, was willing to forgive the war debt—apparently for domestic considerations—it was reluctant to announce such an action to the world banking community. Tensions with Iraq grew further when several gulf states, including Kuwait, exceeded their oil-production quotas set by the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) (OPEC). This resulted in a sharp drop in world oil prices, costing Iraq substantial amounts of income. Suspecting that the increase in oil production was prompted by Western pressure, the Iraqi president criticized Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates for undermining his country's position, and he brought the matter to the attention of OPEC. The oil price for 1990 was raised, but suspicion and lack of cooperation still prevailed.

      There were, however, other reasons for disagreement. Iraq was suspected by most gulf countries of having political ambitions, possibly including domination over some of the countries in the region. More specifically, Iraq held that it had historical claim to Kuwait's sovereignty dating to 1871, when the ruler of Kuwait was appointed subgovernor under Midhat Paşa. This claim had been pressed in 1961 during the Qāsim regime but had met with strong resistance by other Arab states and the broader international community. Yet Iraq's failure to ratify former agreements left room for further claims, and it sought additional border compromises, particularly control of the islands of Būbiyān and Warbah, the possession of which Iraq saw as crucial to defending its port at Umm Qaṣr.

      Iraq's historic claims, the grievances that arose from the Iran-Iraq War, and Ṣaddām's desire to obtain strategic territory set the stage for confrontation, and these tensions were exacerbated when Iraq accused Kuwait of drilling horizontally into Iraq's Al-Rumaylah oil field and thereby, allegedly, stealing Iraqi oil. Feeling itself the aggrieved party, Iraq demanded a long-term commitment by Kuwait not to exceed its OPEC quota and further demanded that Kuwait and Saudi Arabia provide Iraq considerable economic aid. Kuwait initially acceded to the first demand (later, however, only for a three-month production limit), and Kuwait and Saudi Arabia agreed to provide Iraq with aid.

      Given the decline of the Soviet Union, the Iraqis assumed that the United States would not see an occupation of Kuwait as a Soviet bid to control the Persian Gulf. Further, the Iraqi leader had made it clear to the Americans that Iraq would guarantee, at a reasonable price, a continued supply of oil from the gulf. American military intervention seemed unlikely—certainly not as long as the other Arab states accepted the fait accompli of an occupation—and it was believed that an invasion of Kuwait would solve Iraq's two main problems: the urgent need for cash and the desire to control Būbiyān and Warbah. It also had the promise of giving Iraq the hegemony in the Persian Gulf that it desired.

The invasion
      On August 2, 1990, Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait. On the same day, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 660, condemning the invasion and demanding Iraq's unconditional withdrawal. It also called on Iraq and Kuwait to begin immediate negotiations. On August 6 the Security Council passed Resolution 661, imposing economic sanctions (sanction) against Iraq that consisted of a wide-ranging trade embargo.

      Ṣaddām showed no sign that he was prepared to withdraw from Kuwait, and on August 8 Iraq declared Kuwait to be its 19th province. U.S. President George Bush (Bush, George) and various allies, considering Iraq's action an act of blatant aggression as well as a threat to Western interests, decided that the status quo ante had to be reestablished, and U.S. troops began arriving in Saudi Arabia the next day. A 28-member coalition, including several Middle Eastern countries and led by the United States, mobilized sufficient military and political support to enforce the Security Council's sanctions, including the use of force. The coalition demanded that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait by no later than January 15, 1991, but the Iraqis seemed unconvinced that coalition forces would actually attack and felt assured that, in the event of an attack, the large and well-equipped Iraqi military would hold up against U.S. and coalition forces long enough to inflict heavy combat casualties and sap American political resolve.

      The coalition began air operations on January 17 and on February 24 commenced a full-scale ground offensive on all fronts. The Iraqi military crumbled rapidly and capitulated after less than one week of fighting on the ground. The defeat compelled Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait and accept the Security Council resolutions.

 The military operations not only destroyed much of the Iraqi armed forces but also severely damaged the infrastructure of the major Iraqi cities and towns. The defeat encouraged the Shīʿite and Kurdish populations to rebel against the regime. In its action against the Shīʿites, the government forces killed many people and caused extensive damage. The attempt by Iraqi forces to reconquer Kurdistan forced more than a million Kurds to flee to Turkey and Iran. Many died from hunger and disease. Only with Western intervention did the Kurdish refugees feel they could return to their homes in northern Iraq. In April 1991 the United States, the United Kingdom, and France established a “safe haven” in Iraqi Kurdistan, in which Iraqi forces were barred from operating. Within a short time the Kurds had established autonomous rule, and two main Kurdish factions—the KDP in the north and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in the south—contended with one another for control. This competition encouraged the Baʿthist regime to attempt to direct affairs in the Kurdish Autonomous Region by various means, including military force. The Iraqi military launched a successful attack against the Kurdish city of Arbīl in 1996 and engaged in a consistent policy of ethnic cleansing in areas directly under its control—particularly in and around the oil-rich city of Karkūk—that were inhabited predominantly by Kurds and other minorities.

      Iraq's Shīʿite population faired even worse than the Kurds. Pressure on Shīʿite leaders to support the Baʿthist regime had begun even before the Iran-Iraq War, and although their failure at that time to endorse Ṣaddām's regime led to frequent attacks on Shīʿites and their institutions—Shīʿite leaders were killed and imprisoned, madrasahs were closed, and public religious ceremonies were banned—most Shīʿites had served faithfully in the armed forces against Iran and shouldered an inordinate amount of the fighting. Only after the Persian Gulf War did the Shīʿites rise up against the regime, and their rebellion was put down with great brutality. The U.S.-led coalition did not establish a safe haven for the Shīʿites in southern Iraq, and the regime subsequently put immense resources into excavating several large canals to drain the country's southern marshes, which had been the traditional stronghold of the Shīʿites. The regime allegedly killed scores of prominent Shīʿite religious and political leaders and arrested and imprisoned thousands of others whom they accused of sedition.

      Within those regions of Iraq still controlled by the regime, Ṣaddām's control of society was strengthened by his continued domination of the country's internal security services, which had grown steadily since the 1970s and, under his close direction, had become a ubiquitous part of life in Iraq. Although the Shīʿites and Kurds suffered the regime's greatest wrath, enemies, or perceived enemies, of the Iraqi leader were consistently rooted out even among the Sunni Arab elite—including members of Ṣaddām's own family. All were dealt with brutally. The Iraqi leader survived several coup attempts in the 1990s, some of which were launched by disaffected members of the Sunni community, but the effectiveness of the security apparatus was proved time and again by its ability to preempt most attacks before they occurred and unfailingly to keep Ṣaddām in power.

Majid Khadduri Ed.

The UN embargo and oil-for-food program
      The UN-imposed economic embargo on Iraq remained in force during the Persian Gulf War but expired after Iraq withdrew from Kuwait. Since Iraq had refused to withdraw voluntarily, however, in April 1991 the Security Council adopted Resolution 687, which made lifting the embargo conditional on Iraq's accepting the demarcation of the Iraq-Kuwait border according to their bilateral agreement of October 1963, surrendering all its WMD, including missiles with ranges greater than 90 miles (150 km), and destroying the ability to create such weapons. The resolution also called for the establishment of a monitoring system, to guarantee Iraq's compliance.

      The Security Council established a UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) to inspect and verify that Iraq was complying with the ban on WMD (weapon of mass destruction). By mid-1991, however, it was becoming clear that the embargo would very likely last longer than had been originally expected and that, in the meantime, the people of Iraq needed humanitarian aid. Thus, the Security Council passed a pair of resolutions establishing what came to be called the oil-for-food program, in which Iraq, under UN supervision, could sell a set amount of oil in order to purchase food, medicine, and other necessities.

      The government of Iraq, however, rejected this offer on the grounds that it violated Iraq's national sovereignty. In addition, between 1991 and 1993 Iraq continually obstructed UNSCOM's search for WMD. The United States and the United Kingdom (and originally France) responded by carrying out intermittent air attacks on Iraqi military and internal security targets. Gradually, however, the Iraqi regime managed to render UNSCOM's work almost ineffectual. In the end the Iraqis argued that all of their proscribed weapons had been destroyed, although UNSCOM insisted that the Iraqi regime was still concealing a small stockpile of prohibited items and technology. Despite ongoing Iraqi recalcitrance, the Security Council adopted new measures, which Iraq accepted only under the threat of economic collapse in 1996. In December Iraq resumed oil exports, and the first food and medicine shipments arrived in Iraq in March 1997.

      In February 1998 the Security Council again raised the ceiling of the permitted sales of Iraqi oil, but Iraq continued to obstruct the work of UNSCOM, and there were fears that the country had resumed its programs for WMD, despite UNSCOM's verification and inspection efforts. In December 1998 the United States and the United Kingdom attacked military and government targets within Iraq—primarily those suspected of being associated with WMD—in the most intense bombardment since the 1991 war.

      Following the raids, however, Iraq refused to allow UNSCOM personnel to reenter the country. Iraqi leaders also rejected a new, more liberal, resolution put forward in late 1999 and instead demanded that sanctions be lifted completely. By then, however, the embargo's effectiveness had begun to diminish. The easing of sanctions alone had allowed a greater degree of prosperity, and Iraq smuggled an increasing volume of material, particularly oil, to generate income, bring in proscribed items, and fuel consumer demands. This was facilitated by the fact that a number of countries, particularly those adjoining Iraq, derived great financial benefit from trade with that country.

      In light of the deteriorating embargo—and always observant of the humanitarian toll that it produced—a number of states within the UN called for its complete abolition. Others sought to streamline the embargo by introducing what were termed “smart sanctions” that would be directed at prohibiting access to a much smaller, more specific list of materials to Iraq, including weapons and military technology. Iraq, however, refused such a program and again was able to have modifications to the existing sanctions sidelined within the UN, but it was unable to have sanctions lifted completely.

      Debate rapidly shifted, however, following a series of deadly terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 (see September 11 attacks). No clear connection was made linking Iraq with the attacks, but U.S. President George W. Bush argued that the attacks demonstrated the vulnerability of the United States and that this vulnerability, combined with Iraq's antipathy for the United States, its desire to obtain or manufacture WMD, and its record of supporting terrorist groups, made the complete disarming of Iraq a renewed priority. At the insistence of the United States, the UN Security Council issued Resolution 1441 on November 8, 2002, demanding that Iraq readmit inspectors and comply with all previous resolutions. After some initial wrangling, Iraq agreed to readmit inspectors, who began arriving in Iraq within two weeks.

      The international community soon differed on the degree of Iraq's cooperation. Initial inspections were inconclusive, though a small block of countries led by the United States and the United Kingdom argued that Iraq had resorted to its earlier practices, that it was willfully hindering inspection efforts, and that, given the large volume of material unaccounted for from previous inspections, it doubtless continued to conceal large quantities of proscribed weapons. Other countries, particularly France, Germany, and Russia, sought to extend inspections and give the Iraqis further time to comply. The United States and the United Kingdom, however, were convinced that Iraq never intended full cooperation and began to mass troops and war matériel around Iraq in preparation for a military conflict.

 On March 17, 2003, the United States and its allies declared an end to negotiations, and on March 20 they launched the first in a series of precision air attacks on targets in Iraq, followed by an invasion of American and British ground forces from Kuwait in the south. As U.S. troops drove northward, they met resistance that was sometimes heavy but was generally poorly organized. On April 9 resistance in Baghdad collapsed, and U.S. soldiers took control of the city. On that same day, British forces secured Al-Baṣrah, and Iraq's other major cities fell within days, sparking a short but intense period of rampant looting of stores and government buildings. Major fighting ended by late April, but acts of common criminality continued, and, as the months passed, a pattern of concerted guerrilla warfare began to unfold.

      Following the fall of the Baʿth Party, an entity known as the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which was headed by a senior American diplomat, assumed the governance of Iraq. An Iraqi governing council appointed by the CPA had limited powers. The primary goal of the CPA was to maintain security and rebuild Iraq's badly damaged and deteriorated infrastructure, but its efforts were widely hampered by an escalating insurgency involving a variety of groups comprising both Iraqis and non-Iraqi fighters from other Arab and Islamic countries. Prominent among them were remnants of the former Baʿthist regime. On December 13, 2003, Ṣaddām surrendered to U.S. troops when he was found hiding near Tikrīt, and major figures from the regime were tracked down and arrested. Also prominent among the insurgents was a group under the control of Abū Muṣʿab al-Zarqāwī, a Jordanian-born terrorist linked to al-Qaeda (Qaeda, al-), the terrorist organization behind the September 11 attacks.

      Responsible for countless killings and sabotage, the insurgents targeted coalition forces, new Iraqi security forces and recruitment centres, electrical installations, oil pipelines, and other civilian institutions. The resistance was concentrated mainly in Baghdad and the Sunni-dominated areas north and west of the capital, especially in Al-Fallūjah. A push by U.S. and central government forces failed to gain control of that city in April 2004, but a renewed effort succeeded in November. Major confrontations between coalition and government forces and those loyal to Muqtadā al-Ṣadr, a radical Shīʿite cleric, also occurred south of Baghdad, mainly in Al-Najaf and Karbalāʾ.

      Meanwhile, efforts to hand over control of the government to the Iraqis continued. In June 2004 the CPA and the governing council were dissolved and political authority passed to an interim government headed by Ghāzī al-Yawar. Subsequently Ayād ʿAllawī was selected prime minister. U.S. and coalition forces remained. Although no WMD were unearthed, the discovery of mass graves and records found in the offices of Baʿthist intelligence services bore witness to the human toll of the atrocities committed by Ṣaddām's regime. Ironically, revelations of assault and mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad brought their own international outcry. On January 30, 2005, despite the ongoing violence, general elections were successfully held for Iraq's new 275-member Transitional National Assembly. Iraqis around the world were allowed to vote in absentia. In April 2005 Kurdish leader Jalāl Ṭālabānī was elected president of Iraq.

      A draft constitution approved by a national referendum in October 2005 called for a new legislature, the members of which largely would be elected from constituent districts (some members would be appointed). Sunni Arabs voted overwhelmingly against the new constitution, fearing that it would make them a perpetual minority. In a general election on December 15, the Shīʿite United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) gained the most seats but not enough to call a government. After four months of political wrangling, Nūrī al-Mālikī of the Shīʿite party Islamic Daʿwah formed a coalition government that included both Arabs and Kurds. Ṭālabānī, who was reelected as president in April 2006, nominated al-Mālikī as head of the new government, which was sworn in on May 20, 2006.

      Political violence continued to grow. Attacks directed at coalition forces, which had begun to rise in 2005, became even more violent and sophisticated. Yet it was attacks against Iraqi civilians, mostly in and around Baghdad, that consumed the attention of the international community as Shīʿite and Sunni militia and terror groups targeted members of the opposite group. Many of these attacks were directed at the police and their families; even with U.S. assistance, the Iraqi government had a difficult time recruiting and training police officers and soldiers to assume domestic security duties. The death of al-Zarqāwī in June 2006 did nothing to reduce the violence.

       Ṣaddām Ḥussein was executed by an Iraqi court on December 30, 2006. Shortly thereafter, President Bush proposed an increase in U.S. troop levels to help stem the flow of violence. By that time, Iraqis had grown increasingly weary of the violence, and American support for the war, which had come to be called simply the Iraq War, reached an all-time low.


Additional Reading

General works
Comprehensive overviews may be found in Helen Chapin Metz (ed.), Iraq: A Country Study, 4th ed. (1990); Christine Moss Helms, Iraq: Eastern Flank of the Arab World (1984); Phebe Marr, Modern History of Iraq, 2nd ed. (2002), which includes a brief treatment of the land, people, and civilizations of the past; and Stephen Hemsley Longrigg and Frank Stoakes, Iraq (1958). Also useful are the yearly updated essays on Iraq in The Middle East and North Africa (annual); and Middle East Record (annual); and entries in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed. (1960–2002), with suppl. and index forthcoming; and Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East, 4 vol. (1996).

Alvin J. Cottrell (ed.), The Persian Gulf States: A General Survey (1980), puts Iraq into its historical and regional context. Peter Beaumont, Gerald H. Blake, and J. Malcolm Wagstaff, The Middle East: A Geographical Study, 2nd ed. (1988), gives a more technical geographic background. Evan Guest (ed.), “Introduction to the Flora,” in Flora of Iraq, vol. 1 (1966), provides information not only on vegetation but also on the topography, geology, soils, and climate of the country.Gavin Young, Iraq: Land of Two Rivers (1980), provides an excellent guide to the chief towns, the landscape, and the people. Wilfred Thesiger, The Marsh Arabs (1964, reissued 2000), is a classic study of this unique population in Iraq. Relations with the Kurds are examined by Gerard Chaliand (ed.), People Without a Country (1980), a scholarly review by experts of the Kurdish question; Edgar O'Ballance, The Kurdish Revolt: 1961–1970 (1973), an examination of the military and political aspects; and Edmund Ghareeb, The Kurdish Question in Iraq (1981). Iraqi Jews are discussed in Nissim Rejwan, The Jews of Iraq: 3000 Years of History and Culture (1985); and Abbas Shiblak, The Lure of Zion: The Case of the Iraqi Jews (1986). Chibli Mallat, The Renewal of Islamic Law: Muhammad Baqer as-Sadr, Najaf and the Shiʿi International (1993), charts Ayatollah Ṣadr's influence on the Shīʿite religious thought in the second half of the 20th century.The economic development of Iraq is examined by Kathleen M. Langley, The Industrialization of Iraq (1961); Fahim Qubain, The Reconstruction of Iraq, 1950–1957 (1958); and Rony E. Gabbay, Communism and Agrarian Reform in Iraq (1978). Society, economy, and foreign policy are discussed by a number of Iraqi and Western specialists in Tim Niblock (ed.), Iraq: The Contemporary State (1982).John F. Devlin, The Baʿth Party: A History from Its Origins to 1966 (1976), details the growth of the Arab nationalist party of Iraq and Syria. Critical analyses of Iraq before the First Persian Gulf War are Committee Against Repression and for Democratic Rights in Iraq, Saddam's Iraq: Revolution or Reaction?, new ed., rev. and updated (1989); and Kanan Makiya, Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq, updated ed., with new intro. (1998), originally published under the pseudonym Samir al-Khalil (1989). Amatzia Baram, Culture, History and Ideology in the Formation of Ba‘thist Iraq 1968–1989 (1991), deals with the regime's shifting national priorities and its changing views of nationalism; Building Toward Crisis: Saddam Husayn's Strategy for Survival (1998), analyzes the Iraqi leader's power base, structure, and regional and foreign relations from 1991 to 1998; and "Two Roads to Revolutionary Shiʿite Fundamentalism in Iraq" in Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby (eds.), Accounting for Fundamentalisms (1994), vol. 4: pp. 532–90, examines the Shīʿite religious opposition to the Baʿthist regime. Ofra Bengio, Saddam's Word: Political Discourse in Iraq (1998), studies the official Baʿthist power language. Ed.

Iraq from c. AD 600 to 1055
Hugh Kennedy, The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates (1986), is a general history of the Middle East in the early Islamic period. A masterly discussion of the geography, religion, and society of late Sāsānian and early Islamic Iraq may be found in Michael G. Morony, Iraq After the Muslim Conquest (1984). G. Le Strange, The Lands of the Eastern Caliphate (1905, reprinted 1993), offers a readable description of Iraq in this period based on the ancient Arab geographers. Fred McGraw Donner, The Early Islamic Conquests (1981), examines 6th- and 7th-century Iraq and Syria. Important evidence on the agricultural economy is presented in Robert McC. Adams, The Land Behind Baghdad: A History of Settlement on the Diyala Plains (1965).Works on the ʿAbbāsid Caliphate include Jacob Lassner, The Shaping of ʿAbbāsid Rule (1980); Hugh Kennedy, The Early Abbasid Caliphate: A Political History (1981); David Waines, “The Third Century Internal Crisis of the Abbasids,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 20(3):282–306 (October 1977); and, on later ʿAbbāsid administration, Dominique Sourdel, Le Vizirat ‘abbāsside de 749 à 936 (132 à 324 de l'hégire), 2 vol. (1959–60).A full account of Būyid rule can be found in Heribert Busse, Chalif und Grosskönig: Die Buyiden im Iraq (945–1055) (1969). Roy P. Mottahedeh, Loyalty and Leadership in an Early Islamic Society, rev. ed. (2001), discusses the Būyids, their subjects, and their social structure. Studies of cultural life in the 10th century include the classic by Adam Mez, The Renaissance of Islam (1937, reissued 1975; originally published in German, 1922); and the more recent Joel L. Kraemer, Humanism in the Renaissance of Islam: The Cultural Revival During the Buyid Age, 2nd rev. ed. (1992).Hugh Kennedy

Iraq from 1055 to 1534
ʿAbbās Al-ʿAzzāwl, Tāʾrīkh al-ʿIrāq bayn Iḥtilālayn, 8 vol. (1935–56), remains the only comprehensive work on the history of Iraq during the period 1055–1534, though it is outdated and inaccessible to the non-Arabophone world. On dynasties and ruling groups, the most useful reference is Clifford Edmund Bosworth, The Islamic Dynasties: A Chronological and Genealogical Handbook, enlarged and updated ed. (1996). Economic aspects are examined in E. Ashtor, A Social and Economic History of the Near East in the Middle Ages (1976). An important study, W. Barthold (V.V. Bartol'd), Turkestan down to the Mongol Invasion, 4th ed. (1977; originally published in Russian, 2 vol., 1898–1900), also furnishes much information on the later Seljuq and Khwārezm-Shah periods. The remarkable career of the ʿAbbāsid caliph al-Nāṣir in chronicled in Angelika Hartmann, An-Nasir li-Din Allah (1180–1225): Politik, Religion, Kultur in der späten ʿAbbasidenzeit (1975). David Morgan, The Mongols (1986), provides a survey of the empire. A number of chapters in The Cambridge History of Iran, vol. 5 (1968), and vol. 6 (1986), though not dealing directly with Iraq, are nevertheless valuable for its history of the region during the Seljuq, Mongol, Timurid, and Turkmen periods. John E. Woods, The Aqquyunlu: Clan, Confederation, Empire, rev. and expanded ed. (1999), is another treatment of the Turkmen period.John E. Woods

Ottoman Iraq (1534–1918)
The most comprehensive history of Ottoman Iraq available in English is found in Stephen Hemsley Longrigg, Four Centuries of Modern Iraq (1925, reprinted 1968), but it is essentially a political narrative. Less detailed and with a wider geographic focus is P.M. Holt, Egypt and the Fertile Crescent, 1516–1922: A Political History (1966). For viewing Iraq within the Ottoman context, the best general study of Ottoman history and institutions is Halil Inalcik, The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age, 1300–1600, trans. from Turkish (1973, reissued 2000). Stanford Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, 2 vol. (1976–77), is chronologically broader and factually detailed. The eight essays in the section entitled “The Central Islamic Lands in the Ottoman Period,” The Cambridge History of Islam, part 3, vol. 1 (1970, reissued 1980), by P.M. Holt, Ann K.S. Lambton, and Bernard Lewis (eds.), pp. 293–523, provide a brief but reliable survey of Ottoman history with some attention paid to the empire's Arab provinces. Roderic H. Davison, Reform in the Ottoman Empire, 1856–1876 (1963, reissued 1973), gives an excellent account of 19th-century Ottoman reforms, including information on Midhat Paşa's role in their implementation in Iraq. Meir Litvak, Shi‘i Scholars of 19th Century Iraq: ʿUlamaʾ of Najaf and Karbala (1998), is the best historical account of the Iraqi Shīʿites, charting developments within the Shīʿite religious establishment and its relations with the Ottoman authorities.Eighteenth-century political, economic, and social developments in the Arab provinces are treated in some detail in Sir Hamilton Gibb and Harold Bowen, Islamic Society and the West, 1 vol. in 2 (1950–57). The last decades of Mamlūk rule are the subject of Tom Nieuwenhuis, Politics and Society in Early Modern Iraq: Mamlūk Pashas, Tribal Shayks, and Local Rule Between 1802 and 1831 (1982). Landholding is examined in two articles by Albertine Jwaideh, “Midhat Pasha and the Land System of Lower Iraq,” in Middle Eastern Affairs, 3:106–136 (1963), and “The Sannīyeh Lands of Sultan Abdul Hamid II in Iraq,” in George Makdisi (ed.), Arabic and Islamic Studies in Honor of Hamilton A.R. Gibb (1965), pp. 326–336. Other economic topics are treated in substantial articles included in M.A. Cook (ed.), Studies in the Economic History of the Middle East (1970); and in Charles Issawi (ed.), The Economic History of the Middle East, 1800–1914 (1966, reissued 1975).Richard L. Chambers

Iraq since 1918
Stephen Hemsley Longrigg, Iraq, 1900 to 1950 (1953, reissued 1968), is a comprehensive study of that period. The British mandate is adequately treated in Philip Willard Ireland, ʿIraq: A Study in Political Development (1937, reprinted 1970); and also Peter Sluglett, Britain in Iraq, 1914–1932 (1976), based on British documents.A study of the political development of Iraq after independence is covered in considerable detail in Majid Khadduri, Independent Iraq, 1932–1958: A Study in Iraqi Politics, 2nd ed. (1960), Republican Iraq: A Study in Iraqi Politics Since the Revolution of 1958 (1969), and Socialist Iraq: A Study in Iraqi Politics Since 1968 (1978). Uriel Dann, Iraq Under Qassem: A Political History, 1958–1963 (1969), may also be consulted. Mohammad A. Tarbush, The Role of the Military in Politics: A Case Study of Iraq to 1941 (1982), focuses on the political interventions of the Iraqi officer class between the two world wars. The political and class history of a more recent period may be found in Hanna Batatu, The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq: A Study of Iraq's Old Landed and Commercial Classes and of Its Communists, Baʿthists, and Free Officers (1978). Yitzhak Nakash, The Shiʿis of Iraq (1994), provides a history of the first half of the 20th century. Reeva S. Simon, Iraq Between the Two World Wars (1986), gives an account of the development of pan-Arab ideology. Michael Eppel, The Palestine Conflict in the History of Modern Iraq: The Dynamics of Involvement, 1928-48 (1994), discusses the interrelations between Iraqi domestic affairs and the Palestine question.The Iran-Iraq War is analyzed by several prearmistice works: Majid Khadduri, The Gulf War: The Origins and Implications of the Iraq-Iran Conflict (1988); Shahram Chubin and Charles Tripp, Iran and Iraq at War (1988); Kaiyan Homi Kaikobad, The Shatt-al-Arab Boundary Question: A Legal Appraisal (1988), a detailed legal view of the Iran-Iraq river boundary dispute; and Edgar O'Ballance, The Gulf War (1988), which includes a detailed chronology and maps. Postarmistice publications include Hanns W. Maull and Otto Pick (eds.), The Gulf War: Regional and International Dimensions (1989). Both the Iran-Iraq War and the First Persian Gulf War are described well by Anthony Cordesman and Abraham Wagner, The Lessons of Modern War, vol. 2 (1991), and “The Persian Gulf War” in The Lessons of Modern War, vol. 4 (1996).Majid Khadduri Ed.

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать курсовую

Look at other dictionaries:

  • IRAQ — IRAQ, country in S.W. Asia (for period prior to 634 C.E. see mesopotamia and babylonia ). The Diaspora of Iraq was one of the most ancient of the Jewish people. The Jews came to Babylon after the destruction of the First Temple (586 B.C.E.), or… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Iraq — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda جمهورية العراق Yumhūriyyat al ‘Irāq كۆماری عێراق Komara Îraqê República de Iraq …   Wikipedia Español

  • Iraq — La grafía culta del nombre del país árabe que se asienta sobre los territorios de la antigua Mesopotamia es Iraq. Esta grafía resulta de aplicar las normas de transcripción del alfabeto árabe al español, según las cuales la letra qāf en la que… …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

  • Iraq — country name, 1920, from an Arabic name attested since 6c. for the region known in Gk. as MESOPOTAMIA (Cf. Mesopotamia); often said to be from Arabic araqa, covering notions such as perspiring, deeply rooted, well watered, which may reflect the… …   Etymology dictionary

  • iraq — iraq; iraq·i·an; …   English syllables

  • Iraq — [i räk′, i rak′] country in SW Asia, at the head of the Persian Gulf, coinciding more or less with ancient Mesopotamia: formerly a kingdom, it became a republic in 1958: 169,235 sq mi (438,317 sq km); pop. 16,335,000; cap. Baghdad …   English World dictionary

  • Iraq — For other uses, see Iraq (disambiguation). Republic of Iraq جمهورية العراق (Arabic) …   Wikipedia

  • Iraq — <p></p> <p></p> Introduction ::Iraq <p></p> Background: <p></p> Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq was occupied by Britain during the course of World War I; in 1920, it was declared a League… …   The World Factbook

  • iraq — z. Uzaq, uzaqda. İraq olmaq. İraq durmaq. – Gül əkdim, şaxta vurdu; Nə yaman vaxtda vurdu; Bimürvət ovçu məni; Yardan iraqda vurdu. (Bayatı). Mürği ruhum getməz səndən irağa. A. Ə.. İraq düşmək – uzaq düşmək, ayrılmaq, uzaqda olmaq.… …   Azərbaycan dilinin izahlı lüğəti

  • Iraq — Irak جمهورية العراق (ar) Jumhūrīyatu l Irāq (ar) كۆماری عێراق …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”