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Iraq

Iraq

Overview
Iraq; officially the Republic of Iraq ( , , ) is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range
Zagros Mountains
The Zagros Mountains are the largest mountain range in Iran and Iraq. With a total length of 1,500 km , from northwestern Iran, and roughly correlating with Iran's western border, the Zagros range spans the whole length of the western and southwestern Iranian plateau and ends at the Strait of...

, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert
Syrian Desert
The Syrian Desert , also known as the Syro-Arabian desert is a combination of steppe and true desert that is located in the northern Arabian Peninsula covering 200,000 square miles . also the desert is very rocky and flat...

 and the northern part of the Arabian Desert
Arabian Desert
The Arabian Desert is a vast desert wilderness stretching from Yemen to the Persian Gulf and Oman to Jordan and Iraq. It occupies most of the Arabian Peninsula, with an area of...

.

Iraq is bordered by Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 to the west, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 to the northwest, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 to the north, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 to the east, and Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

 and Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 to the south. Iraq has a narrow section of coastline measuring 58 km (36 mi) on the northern Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

.
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The problem, again, was that there were too many reasons for the war. What conferred a semblance of consistency on this multitude of reasons was, of course, ideology.

Slavoj Žižek, in Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle, p. 2. ISBN 1844675408

In autumn 2003, when, after hundreds of investigators had searched high and low for WMDs, yet not a single one had been located, the public were posing the elementary question: 'If there are no WMDs, Why did we attack Iraq? Did you lie to us?'

Slavoj Žižek, in Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle, p. 12. ISBN 1844675408
Encyclopedia
Iraq; officially the Republic of Iraq ( , , ) is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range
Zagros Mountains
The Zagros Mountains are the largest mountain range in Iran and Iraq. With a total length of 1,500 km , from northwestern Iran, and roughly correlating with Iran's western border, the Zagros range spans the whole length of the western and southwestern Iranian plateau and ends at the Strait of...

, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert
Syrian Desert
The Syrian Desert , also known as the Syro-Arabian desert is a combination of steppe and true desert that is located in the northern Arabian Peninsula covering 200,000 square miles . also the desert is very rocky and flat...

 and the northern part of the Arabian Desert
Arabian Desert
The Arabian Desert is a vast desert wilderness stretching from Yemen to the Persian Gulf and Oman to Jordan and Iraq. It occupies most of the Arabian Peninsula, with an area of...

.

Iraq is bordered by Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 to the west, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 to the northwest, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 to the north, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 to the east, and Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

 and Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 to the south. Iraq has a narrow section of coastline measuring 58 km (36 mi) on the northern Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

. The capital city, Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 is in the center-east of the country.

Two major rivers, the Tigris
Tigris
The Tigris River is the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq.-Geography:...

 and Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

, run through the center of Iraq, flowing from northwest to southeast. These provide Iraq with agriculturally capable land and contrast with the steppe
Steppe
In physical geography, steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes...

 and desert
Desert
A desert is a landscape or region that receives an extremely low amount of precipitation, less than enough to support growth of most plants. Most deserts have an average annual precipitation of less than...

 landscape that covers most of Western Asia.

Historically, Iraq was known in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 by the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 toponym 'Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

' (Land between the rivers). Iraq has been home to continuous successive civilizations since the 6th millennium BC
6th millennium BC
During the 6th millennium BC, agriculture spread from the Balkans to Italy and Eastern Europe, and also from Mesopotamia to Egypt. World population was essentially stable at approximately 5 million, though some speculate up to 7 million.-Events:...

. The region between the Tigris
Tigris
The Tigris River is the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq.-Geography:...

 and Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

 rivers is identified as the cradle of civilization
Cradle of Civilization
The cradle of civilization is a term referring to any of the possible locations for the emergence of civilization.It is usually applied to the Ancient Near Eastern Chalcolithic , especially in the Fertile Crescent , but also extended to sites in Armenia, and the Persian Plateau, besides other Asian...

 and the birthplace of writing
Writing
Writing is the representation of language in a textual medium through the use of a set of signs or symbols . It is distinguished from illustration, such as cave drawing and painting, and non-symbolic preservation of language via non-textual media, such as magnetic tape audio.Writing most likely...

 and the wheel. At different periods in its history, Iraq was the center of the indigenous Akkadian, Sumerian, Assyrian, Babylonian
Neo-Babylonian Empire
The Neo-Babylonian Empire or Second Babylonian Empire was a period of Mesopotamian history which began in 626 BC and ended in 539 BC. During the preceding three centuries, Babylonia had been ruled by their fellow Akkadian speakers and northern neighbours, Assyria. Throughout that time Babylonia...

, and Abbasid empires. It was also part of the Achaemenid
Achaemenid Assyria
Athura was a geographical area within the Persian Achaemenid Empire during the period of 539 BC to 330 BC. Although sometimes regarded as a satrapy, Achaemenid royal inscriptions list it as a dahyu, a concept generally interpreted as meaning either a group of people or both a country and its...

, Hellenistic
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

, Parthian, Sassanid
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

, Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, Rashidun
Rashidun Caliphate
The Rashidun Caliphate , comprising the first four caliphs in Islam's history, was founded after Muhammad's death in 632, Year 10 A.H.. At its height, the Caliphate extended from the Arabian Peninsula, to the Levant, Caucasus and North Africa in the west, to the Iranian highlands and Central Asia...

, Umayyad, Mongol
Ilkhanate
The Ilkhanate, also spelled Il-khanate , was a Mongol khanate established in Azerbaijan and Persia in the 13th century, considered a part of the Mongol Empire...

, Safavid, Afsharid
Afsharid dynasty
The Afsharids were members of an Iranian dynasty of Turkmen origin from Khorasan who ruled Persia in the 18th century. The dynasty was founded in 1736 by the military commander Nader Shah who deposed the last member of the Safavid dynasty and proclaimed himself King of Iran. During Nader's reign,...

, and Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 empires, and under British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 control as a League of Nations mandate
League of Nations mandate
A League of Nations mandate was a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following World War I, or the legal instruments that contained the internationally agreed-upon terms for administering the territory on behalf of the League...

.

Iraq's modern borders were demarcated in 1920 by the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 when the Ottoman Empire was divided by the Treaty of Sèvres
Treaty of Sèvres
The Treaty of Sèvres was the peace treaty between the Ottoman Empire and Allies at the end of World War I. The Treaty of Versailles was signed with Germany before this treaty to annul the German concessions including the economic rights and enterprises. Also, France, Great Britain and Italy...

. Iraq was placed under the authority of the United Kingdom as the British Mandate of Mesopotamia. A monarchy was established in 1921 and the Kingdom of Iraq
Kingdom of Iraq
The Kingdom of Iraq was the sovereign state of Iraq during and after the British Mandate of Mesopotamia. The League of Nations mandate started in 1920. The kingdom began in August 1921 with the coronation of Faisal bin al-Hussein bin Ali al-Hashemi as King Faisal I...

 gained independence from Britain in 1932. In 1958, the monarchy was overthrown and the Republic of Iraq was created. Iraq was controlled by
Ba'athist Iraq
The History of Iraq , referred to as Ba'athist Iraq, covers the period of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party's rule over Iraq. Ba'athist rule in Iraq first occurred briefly in 1963 under Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr until overthrown that same year. Ba'athism was restored to power five years later after...

 the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Iraq Region
The Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Iraq Region is a ba'athist regional organisation founded in 1951 by Fuad al-Rikabi...

 from 1968 until 2003. After an invasion
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

 led by American and British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 forces, the Ba'ath Party was removed from power and Iraq came under a military occupation by a multinational coalition. Sovereignty was transferred to the Iraqi Interim Government
Iraqi Interim Government
The Iraqi Interim Government was created by the United States and its coalition allies as a caretaker government to govern Iraq until the Iraqi Transitional Government was installed following the Iraqi National Assembly election conducted on January 30, 2005...

 in June 2004. A new constitution
Constitution of Iraq
The Constitution of Iraq is Iraq's fundamental law.-History:Iraq's first constitution, which established a constitutional monarchy, entered into force under the auspices of a British military occupation in 1925 and remained in effect until the 1958 revolution established a republic...

 was then approved by referendum and a new Government of Iraq
Government of Iraq from 2006
The current government of Iraq took office on May 20, 2006 following approval by the members of the Iraqi National Assembly. This followed the general election in December 2005...

 was elected
Iraqi legislative election, December 2005
Following the ratification of the Constitution of Iraq on 15 October 2005, a general election was held on 15 December to elect a permanent 275-member Iraqi Council of Representatives....

. Foreign troops remained in Iraq after the establishment of a new government due to an insurgency
Iraqi insurgency
The Iraqi Resistance is composed of a diverse mix of militias, foreign fighters, all-Iraqi units or mixtures opposing the United States-led multinational force in Iraq and the post-2003 Iraqi government...

 that developed shortly after the invasion, with violence peaking in mid 2007. In August 2010 the U.S. became the last member of the coalition to cease combat operations in Iraq. 18,000 US troops remain in the country; their full withdrawal is mandated by 31 December 2011.

Etymology


The Arabic name has been in use since before the 6th century. There are several suggested origins for the name. One dates to the Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

ian city of Uruk
Uruk
Uruk was an ancient city of Sumer and later Babylonia, situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates river, on the ancient dry former channel of the Euphrates River, some 30 km east of modern As-Samawah, Al-Muthannā, Iraq.Uruk gave its name to the Uruk...

 (Biblical Hebrew Erech
Erech
Erech according to the Book of Genesis, was an ancient city in the land of Shinar, the second city built by king Nimrod....

) and is thus ultimately of Sumerian
Sumerian language
Sumerian is the language of ancient Sumer, which was spoken in southern Mesopotamia since at least the 4th millennium BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism...

 origin, as Uruk was the Akkadian
Akkadian language
Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

 name for the Sumerian city of , containing the Sumerian word for "city", URU
Cities of the ancient Near East
The largest cities in the Bronze Age ancient Near East housed several tens of thousands. Memphis in the Early Bronze Age with some 30,000 inhabitants was the largest city of the time by far...

. According to Professor Wilhelm Eilers, "The name al-‘Irāq, for all its Arabic appearance, is derived from Middle Persian
Middle Persian
Middle Persian , indigenously known as "Pârsig" sometimes referred to as Pahlavi or Pehlevi, is the Middle Iranian language/ethnolect of Southwestern Iran that during Sassanid times became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions as well. Middle Persian is classified as a...

 erāq for lowlands".

Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 has always been called "the land of Iraq" in Arabic, meaning "the fertile
Fertile Crescent
The Fertile Crescent, nicknamed "The Cradle of Civilization" for the fact the first civilizations started there, is a crescent-shaped region containing the comparatively moist and fertile land of otherwise arid and semi-arid Western Asia. The term was first used by University of Chicago...

" or "deep-rooted land". During the medieval period, there was a region called ''ʿIrāq ʿArabī ("Arabian Iraq") for lower Mesopotamia and ''ʿIrāq ʿajamī ("Persian Iraq
Persian Iraq
Persian Iraq , also spelled Persian Irak, is an obsolete term for the central region of Iran, including cities such as Isfahan, Ray, Qazvin, and Kashan. From the 11th to 16th centuries, the term Iraq referred to two distinct regions: Arabian Iraq and Persian Iraq...

" or "Foreign Iraq"), for the region now situated in Central and Western Iran. The term historically included the plain south of the Hamrin Mountains
Hamrin Mountains
The Hamrin Mountains are a small mountain ridge in northeast Iraq. The westernmost ripple of the greater Zagros mountains; the Hamrin mountains extend from the Diyala Province bordering Iran, northwest to the Tigris river; crossing northern Salah ad Din Province and southern Kirkuk Province.In...

 and did not include the northernmost and westernmost
Al-Jazira, Mesopotamia
Upper Mesopotamia is the name used for the uplands and great outwash plain of northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria and southeastern Turkey which is known by the traditional Arabic name of Al-Jazira , variously transliterated into Roman script as Djazirah, Djezirah and Jazirah...

 parts of the modern territory of Iraq.

As an Arabic word, عراق means hem, shore, bank, or edge, so that the name by folk etymology came to be interpreted as "the escarpment
Escarpment
An escarpment is a steep slope or long cliff that occurs from erosion or faulting and separates two relatively level areas of differing elevations.-Description and variants:...

", viz. at the south and east of the Jazira
Al-Jazira, Mesopotamia
Upper Mesopotamia is the name used for the uplands and great outwash plain of northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria and southeastern Turkey which is known by the traditional Arabic name of Al-Jazira , variously transliterated into Roman script as Djazirah, Djezirah and Jazirah...

 Plateau, which forms the northern and western edge of the "al-Iraq arabi" area.

The Arabic pronunciation
Arabic phonology
While many languages have numerous dialects that differ in pronunciation, the Arabic language is more properly described as a continuum of varieties. This article deals primarily with Modern Standard Arabic, which is the standard variety shared by educated speakers throughout Arabic-speaking regions...

 is ʕiˈrɑːq. In English, it is either ɪ (the only pronunciation listed in the Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

 and the first one in Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary) or ɪ (listed first by MQD
Macquarie Dictionary
The Macquarie Dictionary is a dictionary of Australian English. It also pays considerable attention to New Zealand English. Originally it was a publishing project of Jacaranda Press, a Brisbane educational publisher, for which an editorial committee was formed, largely from the Linguistics...

), the American Heritage Dictionary, and the Random House Dictionary. /aɪˈræk/ is frequently heard in US media.

Ancient Iraq




Iraq has the common epithet, the "Cradle of Civilization
Cradle of Civilization
The cradle of civilization is a term referring to any of the possible locations for the emergence of civilization.It is usually applied to the Ancient Near Eastern Chalcolithic , especially in the Fertile Crescent , but also extended to sites in Armenia, and the Persian Plateau, besides other Asian...

", as it was home to the earliest known civilization
Civilization
Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

, the Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

ian civilization, which arose in the fertile Tigris-Euphrates river valley
Tigris-Euphrates river system
The Tigris–Euphrates river system is part of the palearctic Tigris-Euphrates alluvial salt marsh ecoregion, in the flooded grasslands and savannas biome, located in West Asia.-Geography:...

 of southern Iraq in the Chalcolithic (Ubaid period
Ubaid period
The Ubaid period is a prehistoric period of Mesopotamia. The tell of al-`Ubaid west of nearby Ur in southern Iraq's Dhi Qar Governorate has given its name to the prehistoric Pottery Neolithic to Chalcolithic culture, which represents the earliest settlement on the alluvial plain of southern...

). It was here in the late 4th millennium BC
4th millennium BC
The 4th millennium BC saw major changes in human culture. It marked the beginning of the Bronze Age and of writing.The city states of Sumer and the kingdom of Egypt were established and grew to prominence. Agriculture spread widely across Eurasia...

, that the world's first writing system
Cuneiform script
Cuneiform script )) is one of the earliest known forms of written expression. Emerging in Sumer around the 30th century BC, with predecessors reaching into the late 4th millennium , cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs...

 and recorded history itself were born. The Sumerian civilization flourished for over 3,000 years and was succeeded by the rise of the Akkadian Empire in the 24th century BC. Over two centuries of Akkadian dominance was followed by a Sumerian Renaissance in the 21st century BC. An Elam
Elam
Elam was an ancient civilization located in what is now southwest Iran. Elam was centered in the far west and the southwest of modern-day Iran, stretching from the lowlands of Khuzestan and Ilam Province, as well as a small part of southern Iraq...

ite invasion in 2004 BC brought the Third Dynasty of Ur
Third Dynasty of Ur
The Third Dynasty of Ur, also known as the Neo-Sumerian Empire or the Ur III Empire refers simultaneously to a 21st to 20th century BC Sumerian ruling dynasty based in the city of Ur and a short-lived territorial-political state that some historians regard as a nascent empire...

 to an end. By the 21st century BC, a new Akkadian civilization, Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

, had risen to dominance in northern Iraq, and by the 19th century BC a contemporaneous Amorite
Amorite
Amorite refers to an ancient Semitic people who occupied large parts of Mesopotamia from the 21st Century BC...

 state, Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

, had formed in southern Iraq.

Iraq was to be dominated by the Assyrians and Babylonians for the next 14 centuries, and under the Babylonian empire of Hammurabi
Hammurabi
Hammurabi Hammurabi Hammurabi (Akkadian from Amorite ʻAmmurāpi, "the kinsman is a healer", from ʻAmmu, "paternal kinsman", and Rāpi, "healer"; (died c...

, the Assyrian Empires of 1365 - 1076 BC and the Neo Assyrian Empire of 911 - 609 BC, and the final Babylonian empire of 620- 539 BC Iraq became a centre of world power. The Neo Assyrian Empire in particular put Iraq at the heart of a massive empire stretching from the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

 to Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and Arabia, and from Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 to Persia.

In the 6th century BC, Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 of neighbouring Persia
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

 defeated the Neo-Babylonian Empire
Neo-Babylonian Empire
The Neo-Babylonian Empire or Second Babylonian Empire was a period of Mesopotamian history which began in 626 BC and ended in 539 BC. During the preceding three centuries, Babylonia had been ruled by their fellow Akkadian speakers and northern neighbours, Assyria. Throughout that time Babylonia...

 at the Battle of Opis
Battle of Opis
The Battle of Opis, fought in September 539 BC, was a major engagement between the armies of Persia under Cyrus the Great and the Neo-Babylonian Empire under Nabonidus during the Persian invasion of Mesopotamia. At the time, Babylonia was the last major power in western Asia that was not yet under...

 and Iraq was subsumed into the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

 for nearly four centuries. In the late 4th century BC, Alexander the Great conquered the region, putting it under Hellenistic
Hellenistic civilization
Hellenistic civilization represents the zenith of Greek influence in the ancient world from 323 BCE to about 146 BCE...

 Seleucid
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 rule for nearly two centuries. The Parthians
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

 conquered the region during the reign of Mithridates I of Parthia
Mithridates I of Parthia
Mithridates or Mithradates I was the "Great King" of Parthia from ca. 171 BC - 138 BC, succeeding his brother Phraates I. His father was King Phriapatius of Parthia, who died ca. 176 BC). Mithridates I made Parthia into a major political power by expanding the empire to the east, south, and west...

 (r. 171–138 BC). From Syria
Syria (Roman province)
Syria was a Roman province, annexed in 64 BC by Pompey, as a consequence of his military presence after pursuing victory in the Third Mithridatic War. It remained under Roman, and subsequently Byzantine, rule for seven centuries, until 637 when it fell to the Islamic conquests.- Principate :The...

, the Romans
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 invaded the region several times. Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 began to take hold in Iraq (particularly in Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

) between the 1st and 3rd centuries, and Assyria became a center of the Church of the East
Church of the East
The Church of the East tāʾ d-Maḏnḥāʾ), also known as the Nestorian Church, is a Christian church, part of the Syriac tradition of Eastern Christianity. Originally the church of the Persian Sassanid Empire, it quickly spread widely through Asia...

. The Sassanid Persians under Ardashir I
Ardashir I
Ardashir I was the founder of the Sassanid Empire, was ruler of Istakhr , subsequently Fars Province , and finally "King of Kings of Sassanid Empire " with the overthrow of the Parthian Empire...

 destroyed the Parthian Empire and conquered the region in 224 AD. The region was thus a province of the Persian Empire for four centuries, until the Muslim conquest of Persia in the 7th century, although a number of indigenous states evolved during the Parthian era, such as Adiabene
Adiabene
Adiabene was an ancient Assyrian independent kingdom in Mesopotamia, with its capital at Arbela...

, Osroene
Osroene
Osroene, also spelled Osrohene and Osrhoene and sometimes known by the name of its capital city, Edessa , was a historic Syriac kingdom located in Mesopotamia, which enjoyed semi-autonomy to complete independence from the years of 132 BC to AD 244.It was a Syriac-speaking kingdom.Osroene, or...

 and Hatra
Hatra
Hatra is an ancient city in the Ninawa Governorate and al-Jazira region of Iraq. It is currently known as al-Hadr, a name which appears once in ancient inscriptions, and it was in the ancient Iranian province of Khvarvaran. The city lies northwest of Baghdad and southwest of Mosul.-History:Hatra...

.

Islamic Golden Age



The Islamic conquest in the 7th century established Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 in Iraq. Under the Rashidun Caliphate
Rashidun Caliphate
The Rashidun Caliphate , comprising the first four caliphs in Islam's history, was founded after Muhammad's death in 632, Year 10 A.H.. At its height, the Caliphate extended from the Arabian Peninsula, to the Levant, Caucasus and North Africa in the west, to the Iranian highlands and Central Asia...

, the prophet Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

's cousin and son-in-law Ali
Ali
' |Ramaḍān]], 40 AH; approximately October 23, 598 or 600 or March 17, 599 – January 27, 661).His father's name was Abu Talib. Ali was also the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661, and was the first male convert to Islam...

 moved his capital to Kufa
Kufa
Kufa is a city in Iraq, about south of Baghdad, and northeast of Najaf. It is located on the banks of the Euphrates River. The estimated population in 2003 was 110,000....

 "fi al-Iraq" when he became the fourth caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

. The Umayyad Caliphate ruled the province of Iraq from Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 in the 7th century. (However, eventually there was a separate, independent Caliphate of Córdoba
Caliphate of Córdoba
The Caliphate of Córdoba ruled the Iberian peninsula and part of North Africa, from the city of Córdoba, from 929 to 1031. This period was characterized by remarkable success in trade and culture; many of the masterpieces of Islamic Iberia were constructed in this period, including the famous...

.)

The Abbasid Caliphate built the city of Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 in the 8th century as their capital, and it became the leading metropolis of the Arab
Arab world
The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking states, territories and populations in North Africa, Western Asia and elsewhere.The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the...

 and Muslim world
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...

 for five centuries. Baghdad was the largest multicultural
Multiculturalism
Multiculturalism is the appreciation, acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, e.g...

 city
City
A city is a relatively large and permanent settlement. Although there is no agreement on how a city is distinguished from a town within general English language meanings, many cities have a particular administrative, legal, or historical status based on local law.For example, in the U.S...

 of the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, peaking at a population of more than a million, and was the centre of learning during the Islamic Golden Age
Islamic Golden Age
During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

. The Mongols
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

 destroyed the city during the siege of Baghdad in the 13th century.

Mongol invasions



In 1257, Hulagu Khan
Hulagu Khan
Hulagu Khan, also known as Hülegü, Hulegu , was a Mongol ruler who conquered much of Southwest Asia...

 amassed an unusually large army, a significant portion of the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

's forces, for the purpose of conquering Baghdad. When they arrived at the Islamic capital, Hulagu Khan
Hulagu Khan
Hulagu Khan, also known as Hülegü, Hulegu , was a Mongol ruler who conquered much of Southwest Asia...

 demanded surrender but the last Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

 Caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

 Al-Musta'sim
Al-Musta'sim
Al-Musta'sim Billah was the last Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad; he ruled from 1242 until his death.-Biography:...

 refused. This angered Hulagu, and, consistent with Mongol strategy of discouraging resistance, Baghdad was decimated. Estimates of the number of dead range from 200,000 to a million.
The Mongols destroyed the Abbasid Caliphate and The Grand Library of Baghdad (Arabic بيت الحكمة Bayt al-Hikma, lit., House of Wisdom
House of Wisdom
The House of Wisdom was a library and translation institute established in Abbassid-era Baghdad, Iraq. It was a key institution in the Translation Movement and considered to have been a major intellectual centre during the Islamic Golden Age...

), which contained countless, precious, historical documents. The city has never regained its status as major center of culture and influence. Some historians believe that the Mongol invasion destroyed much of the irrigation
Irrigation
Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

 infrastructure that had sustained Mesopotamia for many millennia. Other historians point to soil salination
Soil salination
Soil salinity is the salt content in the soil.- Causes of soil salinity :Salt-affected soils are caused by excess accumulation of salts, typically most pronounced at the soil surface. Salts can be transported to the soil surface by capillary transport from a salt laden water table and then...

 as the culprit in the decline in agriculture.

The mid-14th-century Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 ravaged much of the Islamic world. The best estimate for Middle East—Iraq, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, etc.—is a death rate of a third.

In 1401, warlord of Mongol descent Tamerlane (Timur Lenk) invaded Iraq. After the capture of Bagdad, 20,000 of its citizens were massacred. Timur ordered that every soldier should return with at least two severed human heads to show him (many warriors were so scared they killed prisoners captured earlier in the campaign just to ensure they had heads to present to Timur).

Ottoman Empire



During the late 14th and early 15th centuries, the Black Sheep Turkmen ruled the area now known as Iraq. In 1466, the White Sheep Turkmen defeated the Black Sheep and took control. In the 16th century, most of the territory of present-day Iraq came under the control of Ottoman Empire as the pashalik of Baghdad. Throughout most of the period of Ottoman rule (1533–1918) the territory of present-day Iraq was a battle zone between the rival regional empires and tribal alliances. The Safavid dynasty
Safavid dynasty
The Safavid dynasty was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Iran. They ruled one of the greatest Persian empires since the Muslim conquest of Persia and established the Twelver school of Shi'a Islam as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning...

 of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 briefly asserted their hegemony over Iraq in the periods of 1508–1533 and 1622–1638.

By the 17th century, the frequent conflicts with the Safavids had sapped the strength of the Ottoman Empire and had weakened its control over its provinces. The nomadic population swelled with the influx of bedouin
Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

s from Najd
Najd
Najd or Nejd , literally Highland, is the central region of the Arabian Peninsula.-Boundaries :The Arabic word nejd literally means "upland" and was once applied to a variety of regions within the Arabian Peninsula...

, in the Arabian Peninsula. Bedouin raids on settled areas became impossible to curb.

During the years 1747–1831 Iraq was ruled by the Mamluk
Mamluk
A Mamluk was a soldier of slave origin, who were predominantly Cumans/Kipchaks The "mamluk phenomenon", as David Ayalon dubbed the creation of the specific warrior...

 officers of Georgian
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

 origin who succeeded in obtaining autonomy from the Ottoman Porte, suppressed tribal revolts, curbed the power of the Janissaries, restored order and introduced a program of modernization of economy and military. In 1831, the Ottomans managed to overthrow the Mamluk regime and imposed their direct control over Iraq. The population of Iraq had shrunk to under 5 million by the early 20th century.

World War I



Ottoman rule over Iraq lasted until World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 when the Ottomans sided with Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and the Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

.

In the Mesopotamian campaign
Mesopotamian Campaign
The Mesopotamian campaign was a campaign in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I fought between the Allies represented by the British Empire, mostly troops from the Indian Empire, and the Central Powers, mostly of the Ottoman Empire.- Background :...

 against the Central Powers, British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 forces invaded the country and suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Turkish army during the Siege of Kut
Siege of Kut
The siege of Kut Al Amara , was the besieging of 8,000 strong British-Indian garrison in the town of Kut, 100 miles south of Baghdad, by the Ottoman Army. Its known also as 1st Battle of Kut. In 1915, its population was around 6,500...

 (1915–1916). British forces regrouped and captured Baghdad
Fall of Baghdad (1917)
The British Indian Army fought the Ottoman Empire in the First World War. On 11 March 1917, after a series of defeats, it captured Baghdad after a two-year campaign.-Arrival of General Sir Frederick Stanley Maude:...

 in 1917. An armistice was signed in 1918.

During World War I the Ottomans were driven from much of the area by the United Kingdom during the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire
Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire
The Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire included the watershed events of the Young Turk Revolution and the establishment of the Second Constitutional Era, and ended with the Partitioning of the Ottoman Empire by the victorious sides of World War I.- Establishment of the Second Constitutional Era, 24...

. The British lost 92,000 soldiers in the Mesopotamian campaign
Mesopotamian Campaign
The Mesopotamian campaign was a campaign in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I fought between the Allies represented by the British Empire, mostly troops from the Indian Empire, and the Central Powers, mostly of the Ottoman Empire.- Background :...

. Ottoman losses are unknown but the British captured a total of 45,000 prisoners of war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

. By the end of 1918 the British had deployed 410,000 men in the area, of which 112,000 were combat troops.

In 1916, the British and French made a plan for the post-war division of Western Asia under the Sykes-Picot Agreement
Sykes-Picot Agreement
The Sykes–Picot Agreement of 1916 was a secret agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and France, with the assent of Imperial Russia, defining their respective spheres of influence and control in Western Asia after the expected downfall of the Ottoman Empire during World War I...

.

After the war, the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 granted France mandates over Syria
French Mandate of Syria
Officially the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon was a League of Nations mandate founded after the First World War and the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire...

 and Lebanon
French Mandate of Lebanon
The state of Greater Lebanon, the predecessor of modern Lebanon, was created in 1920 as part of the French scheme of dividing the French Mandate of Syria into six states....

 and granted the United Kingdom mandates over Mesapotamia and Palestine (which was subsequently partitioned into two autonomous regions: Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 and Transjordan
Transjordan
The Emirate of Transjordan was a former Ottoman territory in the Southern Levant that was part of the British Mandate of Palestine...

). On 11 November 1920 Iraq became a League of Nations mandate
League of Nations mandate
A League of Nations mandate was a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following World War I, or the legal instruments that contained the internationally agreed-upon terms for administering the territory on behalf of the League...

 under British control with the name "State of Iraq".

British occupation



The Sykes-Picot agreement had been made with the assent of Imperial Russia, defining their respective spheres of influence and control in West Asia after the expected downfall of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The Agreement was concluded on 16 May 1916.
Britain imposed a Hāshimite
Hashemite
Hashemite is the Latinate version of the , transliteration: Hāšimī, and traditionally refers to those belonging to the Banu Hashim, or "clan of Hashim", a clan within the larger Quraish tribe...

 monarchy on Iraq and defined the territorial limits of Iraq without taking into account the politics of the different ethnic and religious groups in the country, in particular those of the Kurds and the Assyrians
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

 to the north. During the British occupation, the Shi'ites and Kurds fought for independence.

Faced with spiraling costs and influenced by the public protestations of war hero T. E. Lawrence
T. E. Lawrence
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO , known professionally as T. E. Lawrence, was a British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–18...

 in The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

, Britain replaced Arnold Wilson
Arnold Wilson
Sir Arnold Talbot Wilson KCIE CSI CMG DSO was the British civil commissioner in Baghdad in 1918-1920. Wilson became publicly known for his role as the colonial administrator of Mesopotamia during and after the First World War. His high-handedness arguably led to an Iraqi revolt in 1920. He was...

 in October 1920 with new Civil Commissioner Sir Percy Cox
Percy Zachariah Cox
Major-General Sir Percy Zachariah Cox, GCMG, GCIE, KCSI was a British Indian Army officer and colonial administrator in the Middle East. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, he was one of the major figures in the creation of Iraq...

. Cox managed to quell the rebellion, yet was also responsible for implementing the fateful policy of close cooperation with Iraq's Sunni minority.

In the Mandate period and beyond, the British supported the traditional, Sunni leadership (such as the tribal shaykhs) over the growing, urban-based nationalist movement. The Land Settlement Act gave the tribal shaykhs the right to register the communal tribal lands in their own name. The Tribal Disputes Regulations gave them judiciary rights, whereas the Peasants' Rights and Duties Act of 1933 severely reduced the tenants', forbidding them to leave the land unless all their debts to the landlord had been settled. The British resorted to military force when their interests were threatened, as in the 1941 Rashīd `Alī al-Gaylānī coup
Iraq coup (1941)
The 1941 Iraqi coup d'état, also known as the Rashid Ali Al-Gaylani coup or the Golden Square coup was a pro-Nazi military coup in Iraq on April 1, 1941 that overthrew the regime of Regent 'Abd al-Ilah and installed Rashid Ali as Prime Minister...

. This coup led to a British invasion of Iraq
Anglo-Iraqi War
The Anglo-Iraqi War was the name of the British campaign against the rebel government of Rashid Ali in the Kingdom of Iraq during the Second World War. The war lasted from 2 May to 31 May 1941. The campaign resulted in the re-occupation of Iraq by British armed forces and the return to power of the...

 using forces from the British Indian Army
British Indian Army
The British Indian Army, officially simply the Indian Army, was the principal army of the British Raj in India before the partition of India in 1947...

 and the Arab Legion
Arab Legion
The Arab Legion was the regular army of Transjordan and then Jordan in the early part of the 20th century.-Creation:...

 from Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

.

British Mandate of Mesopotamia



It initially formed two former Ottoman vilayets (regions): Baghdad
Baghdad Province, Ottoman Empire
The Vilayet of Baghdad was a vilayet of the Ottoman Empire. The capital was Baghdad....

 and Basra into a single country in August 1921. Five years later, in 1926, the northern vilayet of Mosul
Mosul Province, Ottoman Empire
The Vilayet of Mosul was a vilayet of the Ottoman Empire. It was created from the northern sanjaks of the Vilayet of Baghdad in 1878.At the beginning of the 20th century it reportedly had an area of , while the preliminary results of the first Ottoman census of 1885 gave the population as 300,280...

 was added, forming the territorial boundaries of the modern Iraqi state.

For three out of four centuries of Ottoman rule, Baghdad was the seat of administration for the vilayets of Baghdad, Mosul, and Basra. During the mandate, British colonial
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 administrators ruled the country, and through the use of British armed forces
RAF Iraq Command
Iraq Command was the RAF commanded inter-service command in charge of British forces in Iraq in the 1920s and early 1930s, during the period of the British Mandate of Mesopotamia. It continued as British Forces in Iraq until 1941 when it was replaced by AHQ Iraq...

, suppressed Arab and Kurdish rebellions against the occupation. They established the Hashemite
Hashemite
Hashemite is the Latinate version of the , transliteration: Hāšimī, and traditionally refers to those belonging to the Banu Hashim, or "clan of Hashim", a clan within the larger Quraish tribe...

 king, Faisal, who had been forced out of Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 by the French, as their client ruler. Likewise, British authorities selected Sunni Arab elites from the region for appointments to government and ministry offices.

Kingdom of Iraq



Britain granted independence to Iraq in 1932, on the urging of King Faisal
Faisal I of Iraq
Faisal bin Hussein bin Ali al-Hashemi, was for a short time King of the Arab Kingdom of Syria or Greater Syria in 1920, and was King of the Kingdom of Iraq from 23 August 1921 to 1933...

, though the British retained military base
Military base
A military base is a facility directly owned and operated by or for the military or one of its branches that shelters military equipment and personnel, and facilitates training and operations. In general, a military base provides accommodations for one or more units, but it may also be used as a...

s and transit rights for their forces. King Ghazi
Ghazi of Iraq
Ghazi bin Faisal was the King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq from 1933 to 1939 having been briefly Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Syria in 1920...

 ruled as a figurehead after King Faisal's death in 1933, while undermined by attempted military coups
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

, until his death in 1939. Ghazi was followed by his under age son, Faisal II
Faisal II of Iraq
Faisal II was the last King of Iraq. He reigned from 4 April 1939 until July 1958, when he was killed during the "14 July Revolution" together with several members of his family...

. 'Abd al-Ilah
'Abd al-Ilah
Crown Prince Abd al-Ilāh of Hejaz, GCB, GCMG, GCVO was a cousin and brother-in-law of King Ghazi of the Kingdom of Iraq. Abdul Ilah served as Regent for King Faisal II from April 4, 1939 to May 2, 1953, when Faisal came of age...

 served as Regent
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

 during Faisal's minority.

On 1 April 1941, Rashid Ali al-Gaylani and members of the Golden Square
Golden Square (Iraq)
The Golden Square was a group of four officers of the Iraqi armed forces who played a part in Iraqi politics throughout the 1930s and early 1940s...

 staged a coup d'état and overthrew the government of 'Abd al-Ilah. During the subsequent Anglo-Iraqi War
Anglo-Iraqi War
The Anglo-Iraqi War was the name of the British campaign against the rebel government of Rashid Ali in the Kingdom of Iraq during the Second World War. The war lasted from 2 May to 31 May 1941. The campaign resulted in the re-occupation of Iraq by British armed forces and the return to power of the...

, the United Kingdom invaded Iraq for fear that the Rashid Ali government might cut oil supplies to Western nations because of his links to the Axis powers
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

. The war started on 2 May and an armistice was signed 31 May.

A military occupation
Military occupation
Military occupation occurs when the control and authority over a territory passes to a hostile army. The territory then becomes occupied territory.-Military occupation and the laws of war:...

 followed the restoration of the pre-coup government of the Hashemite
Hashemite
Hashemite is the Latinate version of the , transliteration: Hāšimī, and traditionally refers to those belonging to the Banu Hashim, or "clan of Hashim", a clan within the larger Quraish tribe...

 monarchy. The occupation ended on 26 October 1947. The rulers during the occupation and the remainder of the Hashemite monarchy were Nuri as-Said
Nuri as-Said
Nuri Pasha al-Said was an Iraqi politician during the British Mandate and during the Kingdom of Iraq. He served in various key cabinet positions, and served seven terms as Prime Minister of Iraq....

, the autocratic Prime Minister, who also ruled from 1930–1932, and 'Abd al-Ilah, the former Regent who now served as an adviser to King Faisal II.

Republic of Iraq



The reinstated Hashemite
Hashemite
Hashemite is the Latinate version of the , transliteration: Hāšimī, and traditionally refers to those belonging to the Banu Hashim, or "clan of Hashim", a clan within the larger Quraish tribe...

 monarchy lasted until 1958, when it was overthrown by a coup d'etat
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 of the Iraqi Army
Iraqi Army
The Iraqi Army is the land component of the Iraqi military, active in various forms since being formed by the British during their mandate over the country after World War I....

, known as the 14 July Revolution
14 July Revolution
The 14 July Revolution was a coup which took place on 14 July 1958 in Iraq, marking the overthrow of the Hashemite monarchy established by King Faisal I in 1932 under the auspices of the British. In 1958, the coup overthrew King Faisal II, the regent and Crown Prince 'Abd al-Ilah, and Prime...

. The coup brought Brigadier General
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

 Abd al-Karim Qasim to power. He withdrew from the Baghdad Pact and established friendly relations with the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, but his government lasted only until the February 1963 coup
February 1963 Iraqi coup d'état
The February 1963 Iraqi coup d'état was a February 8, 1963 armed military coup by the Ba'ath Party's Iraqi wing which overthrew the regime of the Prime Minister of Iraq, Brigadier General Abd al-Karim Qasim. General Ahmed Hasan al-Bakr became the new Prime Minister and Colonel Abdul Salam Arif...

, when it was overthrown by Colonel
Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 Abdul Salam Arif
Abdul Salam Arif
Abdul Salam Mohammed Arif Aljumaily was President of Iraq from 1963 till his death. He played a leading role in the coup in which the Hashemite monarchy was overthrown on July 14, 1958.-1958 revolution and conflict with Qasim:...

. Salam Arif died in 1966 and his brother, Abdul Rahman Arif
Abdul Rahman Arif
Hajj Abdul Rahman Mohammed Arif Aljumaily was president of Iraq from April 16, 1966 to July 17, 1968.-Biography:...

, assumed the presidency.

In 1968, Abdul Rahman Arif was overthrown by the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Iraq Region
The Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Iraq Region is a ba'athist regional organisation founded in 1951 by Fuad al-Rikabi...

. Ahmed Hasan Al-Bakir became the first Ba'ath President of Iraq
President of Iraq
The President of Iraq is the head of state of Iraq and "safeguards the commitment to the Constitution and the preservation of Iraq's independence, sovereignty, unity, the security of its territories in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution." The President is elected by the Council of...

 but then the movement gradually came under the control of Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

, who acceded to the presidency and control of the Revolutionary Command Council
Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council
The Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council was established after the military coup in 1968, and was the ultimate decision making body in Iraq before the 2003 American-led invasion. It exercised both executive and legislative authority in the country, with the Chairman and Vice Chairman chosen by a...

 (RCC), then Iraq's supreme executive body, in July 1979.

Iran-Iraq War



In 1979, Saddam Hussein took power as Iraqi President after overthrowing his close friend and the leader of his party (Ahmed Hasan Al-Bakr) and killing and arresting his leadership rivals. Shortly after his taking power, the political situation in Iraq's neighbor Iran changed drastically after the success of the Iranian Revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

 of Ayatollah
Ayatollah
Ayatollah is a high ranking title given to Usuli Twelver Shī‘ah clerics. Those who carry the title are experts in Islamic studies such as jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy and usually teach in Islamic seminaries. The next lower clerical rank is Hojatoleslam wal-muslemin...

 Ruhollah Khomeini
Ruhollah Khomeini
Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was an Iranian religious leader and politician, and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran...

, which resulted in a Shi'ite Muslim theocratic state being established. This was seen as a dangerous change in the eyes of the Iraqi government, as Iraq too had a Shi'ite majority and was ruled by Hussein's government which, apart from having numerous Sunnis occupying leading positions, had a pan-Arab but non-religious ideology.

This left the country's Shiite population split between the members and supporters of the Ba'ath Party, and those who sympathized with the Iranian position. In 1980, Saddam claimed that Iranian forces were trying to topple his government and declared war on Iran. Saddam Hussein supported the Iranian Islamic socialist
Islamic socialism
Islamic socialism is a term coined by various Muslim leaders to describe a more spiritual form of socialism. Muslim socialists believe that the teachings of the Qur'an and Muhammad are compatible with principles of equality and the redistribution of wealth....

 organization called the People's Mujahedin of Iran
People's Mujahedin of Iran
The People's Mujahedin of Iran is a terrorist militant organization that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran....

 which opposed the Iranian government. During the Iran–Iraq War Iraqi forces attacked Iranian soldiers
Military of Iran
The Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran include the IRIA and the IRGC and the Police Force .These forces total about 545,000 active personnel . All branches of armed forces fall under the command of General Headquarters of Armed Forces...

 and civilians with chemical weapons
Chemical warfare
Chemical warfare involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical...

.

In 1977, the Iraqi government ordered the construction of Osirak at the Al Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center, 18 km (11.2 mi) south-east of Baghdad. It was a 40 MW light-water
Light water reactor
The light water reactor is a type of thermal reactor that uses normal water as its coolant and neutron moderator. Thermal reactors are the most common type of nuclear reactor, and light water reactors are the most common type of thermal reactor...

 nuclear materials testing reactor (MTR). In 1981, Israeli aircraft bombed the facility
Operation Opera
Operation Babylon was a surprise Israeli air strike carried out on June 7, 1981, that destroyed a nuclear reactor under construction 17 kilometers southeast of Baghdad, Iraq....

, in order to prevent the country from using the reactor for creation of nuclear weapons.

The war ended in stalemate
Stalemate
Stalemate is a situation in chess where the player whose turn it is to move is not in check but has no legal moves. A stalemate ends the game in a draw. Stalemate is covered in the rules of chess....

 in 1988, largely due to American and Western support for Iraq. This was part of the US policy of "dual containment
Dual containment
Dual containment was an official United States foreign policy aimed at containing Iraq and Iran, Israel's and America's two most important strategic adversaries in the Middle East...

" of Iraq and Iran. Between half a million and 1.5 million people from both sides died in the 1980–1988 war.

al-Anfal campaign


Saddam's regime was notorious for its human rights abuses with the most large-scale and systematic being the Al-Anfal Campaign, a genocidal campaign that targeted the Kurdish population in Iraq. The campaign led by Saddam Hussein's military commander and first cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid
Ali Hassan al-Majid
Ali Hassan Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti , , was a Ba'athist Iraqi Defense Minister, Interior Minister, military commander and chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service...

, led to the killing of 50,000 - 100,000 civilians.

The Anfal Campaign began in 1986 and lasted until 1989 and included a series of military operations, abductions, transfers and internal displacements, executions, and chemical weapons use. Attacks were launched against approximately 3000 to 4000 Kurdish villages in areas of northern Iraq and forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands among the country's Kurdish population. The most infamous chemical attack was on the Kurdish town of Halabja
Halabja poison gas attack
The Halabja poison gas attack , also known as Halabja massacre or Bloody Friday, was a genocidal massacre against the Kurdish people that took place on March 16, 1988, during the closing days of the Iran–Iraq War, when chemical weapons were used by the Iraqi government forces in the Kurdish town of...

, which al-Majid tried to justify as a punishment for elements of Kurdish support of Iran.

Gulf War



In 1990, Iraq was faced with economic disaster following the end of the Iran–Iraq War. Kuwait, its small southern neighbor, had increased its production of oil, which kept oil revenues relatively low for Iraq. The Iraqi government also claimed that Kuwait was illegally slant drilling its oil wells into Iraqi territory, a practice which it demanded be stopped; Kuwait rejected this claim. In August 1990, Iraq followed this by invading Kuwait
Invasion of Kuwait
The Invasion of Kuwait, also known as the Iraq-Kuwait War, was a major conflict between the Republic of Iraq and the State of Kuwait, which resulted in the seven-month long Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, which subsequently led to direct military intervention by United States-led forces in the Gulf...

. The Iraqi military rapidly occupied the country, and Hussein declared that Kuwait had ceased to exist, becoming Iraq's 19th province. This brought heavy objections from many countries and the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

.

The UN agreed to pass economic sanctions
Economic sanctions
Economic sanctions are domestic penalties applied by one country on another for a variety of reasons. Economic sanctions include, but are not limited to, tariffs, trade barriers, import duties, and import or export quotas...

 against Iraq and demanded its immediate withdrawal from Kuwait (see Iraq sanctions
Iraq sanctions
The Iraq sanctions were a near-total financial and trade embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council on the nation of Iraq. They began August 6, 1990, four days after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, stayed largely in force until May 2003 , and certain portions including reparations to Kuwait...

). Iraq refused and the UN Security Council in 1991 unanimously voted for military action against Iraq. The United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

, under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter
United Nations Charter
The Charter of the United Nations is the foundational treaty of the international organization called the United Nations. It was signed at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center in San Francisco, United States, on 26 June 1945, by 50 of the 51 original member countries...

, adopted Resolution 678, authorizing U.N. member states to use "all necessary means" to "restore international peace and security
Peacekeeping
Peacekeeping is an activity that aims to create the conditions for lasting peace. It is distinguished from both peacebuilding and peacemaking....

 in the area." The United States, which had enormous vested interests in the oil supplies of the Persian Gulf region, led an international coalition into Kuwait and Iraq.

The coalition forces entered the war with more advanced weaponry than that of Iraq, though Iraq's military was one of the largest armed forces in Western Asia at the time. Despite being a large military force, the Iraqi army was no match for the advanced weaponry of the coalition forces and the air superiority that the coalition forces provided. The coalition forces proceeded with a bombing campaign targeting military including an occupied public shelter in Baghdad.

Iraq responded to the invasion by launching Scud
Scud
Scud is a series of tactical ballistic missiles developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and exported widely to other countries. The term comes from the NATO reporting name SS-1 Scud which was attached to the missile by Western intelligence agencies...

 missile attacks against Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and Saudi Arabia. Hussein hoped that by attacking Israel, the Israeli military would be drawn into the war, which he believed would rally anti-Israeli sentiment
Anti-Zionism
Anti-Zionism is opposition to Zionistic views or opposition to the state of Israel. The term is used to describe various religious, moral and political points of view in opposition to these, but their diversity of motivation and expression is sufficiently different that "anti-Zionism" cannot be...

 in neighboring Arab countries and cause those countries to support Iraq. However, Hussein's gamble failed, as Israel reluctantly accepted a U.S. demand to remain out of the conflict to avoid inflaming tensions. The Iraqi armed forces were quickly destroyed, and Hussein eventually accepted the inevitable and ordered a withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Before the forces were withdrawn, however, Hussein ordered them to sabotage Kuwait's oil wells, which resulted in hundreds of wells being set ablaze, causing an economic and ecological disaster in Kuwait.

After the decisive military defeat, the agreement to a ceasefire on February 28, and political maneuvering, the UN Security Council continued to press its demands that Hussein accept previous UN Security Council Resolutions, as stated in UNSCR 686
United Nations Security Council Resolution 686
United Nations Security Council Resolution 686, adopted on March 2, 1991, after reaffirming resolutions 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674, 677 and 678 , the Council noted the suspension of military activities against Iraq and that all twelve resolutions continue to have full force...

. By April, UNSCR 687
United Nations Security Council Resolution 687
United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, adopted on April 3, 1991, after reaffirming resolutions 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674, 677, 678 and 686 , the Council set the terms, in a comprehensive resolution, with which Iraq was to comply after losing the Gulf War.The...

 recognized Kuwait's sovereignty had been reinstated, and established the United Nations Special Commission
United Nations Special Commission
United Nations Special Commission was an inspection regime created by the United Nations to ensure Iraq's compliance with policies concerning Iraqi production and use of weapons of mass destruction after the Gulf War...

 (UNSCOM). Two days later, UNSCR 688
United Nations Security Council Resolution 688
United Nations Security Council Resolution 688, adopted on April 5, 1991, after receiving letters from the representatives of France, Iran and Turkey and expressing its concern over repression of the Iraqi people, including those in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Council condemned the repression and...

 added that Iraq must cease violent repression of ethnic and religious minorities.

The aftermath of the war saw the Iraqi military, especially its air force
Iraqi Air Force
The Iraqi Air Force or IQAF is the military branch in Iraq responsible for the policing of international borders, surveillance of national assets and aerial operations...

, destroyed. In return for peace, Iraq was forced to dismantle all chemical and biological weapons it possessed, and end any attempt to create or purchase nuclear weapons, to be assured by the allowing UN weapons inspectors to evaluate the dismantlement of such weapons. Finally, Iraq would face sanctions if it disobeyed any of the demands.

Shortly after the war ended in 1991, Shia Muslim and Kurdish Iraqis engaged in protests against Hussein's regime, resulting in an intifada
1991 uprisings in Iraq
The 1991 uprisings in Iraq were a series of anti-governmental rebellions in southern and northern Iraq during the aftermath of the Gulf War. The revolt was fueled by the perception that the power of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was vulnerable at the time; as well as by heavily fueled anger at...

. Hussein responded with violent repression against Shia Muslims, and the protests came to an end. It is estimated that as many as 100,000 people were killed. The US, UK, France and Turkey claiming authority under UNSCR 688, established the Iraqi no-fly zones
Iraqi no-fly zones
The Iraqi no-fly zones were a set of two separate no-fly zones , and were proclaimed by the United States, United Kingdom and France after the Gulf War of 1991 to protect the Kurdish people in northern Iraq and Shiite Muslims in the south. Iraqi aircraft were forbidden from flying inside the zones...

 to protect Kurdish and Shiite populations from attacks by the Hussein regime's aircraft.

UN sanctions



While Iraq had agreed to UNSCR 687, the Iraqi government sometimes worked with inspectors, but ultimately failed to comply with disarmament terms, and as a result, economic sanctions against Iraq continued. After the war, Iraq was accused of breaking its obligations throughout the 1990s, including the discovery in 1993 of a plan to assassinate former President George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

, and the withdrawal of Richard Butler
Richard Butler (diplomat)
Richard William Butler AC has served as an Australian diplomat, a United Nations weapons inspector and the Governor of Tasmania.-Life and career:...

's UNSCOM weapon inspectors in 1998 after the Iraqi government claimed some inspectors were spies for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

. On multiple occasions throughout the disarmament crisis, the UN passed further resolutions (see United Nations Resolutions concerning Iraq) compelling Iraq to comply with the terms of the ceasefire resolutions.

Studies dispute the number of childen who died in southern and central Iraq during the sanctions. With humanitarian and economic concerns in mind, UNSCR 706
United Nations Security Council Resolution 706
United Nations Security Council Resolution 706 decided on a mechanism to allow Iraq to sell oil in return for humanitarian aid from Member States. The Council, acting under Chapter VII, adopted the resolution on August 15, 1991, after recalling resolutions 661 , 686 , 687 , 688 , 692 , 699 and 705...

 and UNSCR 712
United Nations Security Council Resolution 712
United Nations Security Council Resolution 712, adopted on September 19, 1991, after recalling resolutions 661 , 686 , 687 , 688 , 692 , 699 , 705 and 706 , the Council, acting under Chapter VII, reaffirmed and discussed provisions of Resolution 706 and called for international co-operation.The...

 allowed Iraq to sell oil in exchange for humanitarian aid
Humanitarian aid
Humanitarian aid is material or logistical assistance provided for humanitarian purposes, typically in response to humanitarian crises including natural disaster and man-made disaster. The primary objective of humanitarian aid is to save lives, alleviate suffering, and maintain human dignity...

. This was later turned into the Oil-for-Food Programme
Oil-for-Food Programme
The Oil-for-Food Programme , established by the United Nations in 1995 was established with the stated intent to allow Iraq to sell oil on the world market in exchange for food, medicine, and other humanitarian needs for ordinary Iraqi citizens without allowing Iraq to boost its military...

 by UNSCR 986
United Nations Security Council Resolution 986
United Nations Security Council Resolution 986, adopted unanimously on April 14, 1995, after reaffirming all resolutions on Iraq and noting the serious humanitarian situation with the Iraqi civilian population, the Council, acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, established a...

. Over the years, U.S. land forces were deployed
Operation Vigilant Warrior
Operation Vigilant Warrior was a military operation from 8 October 1994 to 15 December 1994 by the United States in response to two divisions of Iraqi Republican Guard troops moving toward the Kuwaiti border...

 to the Iraq border, and bombings were carried out to try to pressure Hussein to comply with UN resolutions.

As a result of these repeated violations, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
Madeleine Albright
Madeleine Korbelová Albright is the first woman to become a United States Secretary of State. She was appointed by U.S. President Bill Clinton on December 5, 1996, and was unanimously confirmed by a U.S. Senate vote of 99–0...

, US Secretary of Defense William Cohen
William Cohen
William Sebastian Cohen is an author and American politician from the U.S. state of Maine. A Republican, Cohen served as Secretary of Defense under Democratic President Bill Clinton.-Early life and education:...

, and US National Security Advisor Sandy Berger
Sandy Berger
Samuel Richard "Sandy" Berger was United States National Security Advisor, under President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 2001. In his position, he helped to formulate the foreign policy of the Clinton Administration...

 held an international town hall meeting
Town hall meeting
A town hall meeting is an American English term given to an informal public meeting. Everybody in a town community is invited to attend, not always to voice their opinions, but to hear the responses from public figures and elected officials about shared subjects of interest. Attendees rarely voted...

 to discuss possible war with Iraq, which seemed to have little public support. In October 1998, U.S. President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 signed the Iraq Liberation Act
Iraq Liberation Act
The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 is a United States Congressional statement of policy calling for regime change in Iraq. It was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, and states that it is the policy of the United States to support democratic movements within Iraq...

, calling for "regime change
Regime change
"Regime change" is the replacement of one regime with another. Use of the term dates to at least 1925.Regime change can occur through conquest by a foreign power, revolution, coup d'état or reconstruction following the failure of a state...

" in Iraq, and initiated Operation Desert Fox. Following Operation Desert Fox, and end to partial cooperation from Iraq prompted UNSCR 1284
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1284
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1284, adopted on December 17, 1999, after recalling previous relevant resolutions on Iraq, including resolutions 661 , 687 , 699 , 707 , 715 , 986 , 1051 , 1153 , 1175 , 1242 and 1266 , the Council established the United Nations Monitoring, Verification...

, disbanding UNSCOM and replacing it with United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission
United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission
The United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission was created through the adoption of United Nations Security Council resolution 1284 of 17 December 1999....

 (UNMOVIC).

The George W. Bush administration
George W. Bush administration
The presidency of George W. Bush began on January 20, 2001, when he was inaugurated as the 43rd President of the United States of America. The oldest son of former president George H. W. Bush, George W...

 made a number of allegations against Iraq, including that Iraq was acquiring uranium from Niger
Niger
Niger , officially named the Republic of Niger, is a landlocked country in Western Africa, named after the Niger River. It borders Nigeria and Benin to the south, Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, Algeria and Libya to the north and Chad to the east...

 and that Iraq had secret weapons laboratories in trailers and isolated facilities throughout Iraq; none of these allegations have proven true. Saddam Hussein, under pressure from the U.S. and the U.N., finally agreed to allow weapons inspectors to return to Iraq in 2002, but by that time the Bush administration had already begun pushing for war.

In June 2002, Operation Southern Watch
Operation Southern Watch
Operation Southern Watch was an operation conducted by Joint Task Force Southwest Asia with the mission of monitoring and controlling airspace south of the 32nd Parallel in Iraq, following the 1991 Gulf War until the 2003 invasion of Iraq.-Summary:Operation Southern Watch began on 27 August 1992...

 transitioned to Operation Southern Focus
Operation Southern Focus
Operation Southern Focus was a period in the months leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq in which the military responses to violations of the southern Iraqi no-fly zones were increased, with more intensive bombing of air defense artillery installations and other military complexes...

, bombing sites around Iraq. The first CIA team entered Iraq on July 10, 2002. This team was composed of elite CIA Special Activities Division
Special Activities Division
The Special Activities Division is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency's National Clandestine Service responsible for covert operations known as "special activities"...

 and the U.S. Military's elite Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) operators. Together, they prepared the battle space of the entire country for conventional U.S. Military forces.

Their efforts also organized the Kurdish Peshmerga
Peshmerga
Peshmerga or Peshmerge is the term used by Kurds to refer to armed Kurdish fighters. Literally meaning "those who face death" the Peshmerga forces of Kurdistan have been in existence since the advent of the Kurdish independence movement in the early 1920s, following the collapse of the Ottoman...

 to become the northern front of the invasion and eventually defeat Ansar Al-Islam in Northern Iraq before the invasion and Saddam's forces in the north. The battle led to the killing of a substantial number of militants and the uncovering of what was claimed to be a chemical weapons facility at Sargat. In October 2002, the U.S. Congress passed the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq, and in November the UN Security Council passed UNSCR 1441
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441 is a United Nations Security Council resolution adopted unanimously by the United Nations Security Council on November 8, 2002, offering Iraq under Saddam Hussein "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations" that had been set out...

.

US-led invasion



On March 20, 2003, a United States-organized coalition invaded Iraq, with the stated reason that Iraq had failed to abandon its nuclear and chemical weapons development program in violation of U.N. Resolution 687. The United States asserted that because Iraq was in material breach of Resolution 687, the armed forces
Armed forces
The armed forces of a country are its government-sponsored defense, fighting forces, and organizations. They exist to further the foreign and domestic policies of their governing body, and to defend that body and the nation it represents from external aggressors. In some countries paramilitary...

 authorization of Resolution 678 was revived. The United States further justified the invasion by claiming that Iraq had or was developing weapons of mass destruction
Weapons of mass destruction
A weapon of mass destruction is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures , natural structures , or the biosphere in general...

 and stating a desire to remove an oppressive dictator from power and "bring democracy to Iraq." In his State of the Union address
State of the Union Address
The State of the Union is an annual address presented by the President of the United States to the United States Congress. The address not only reports on the condition of the nation but also allows the president to outline his legislative agenda and his national priorities.The practice arises...

 on January 29, 2002, President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 declared that Iraq was a member of the "Axis of Evil
Axis of evil
"Axis of evil" is a term initially used by the former United States President George W. Bush in his State of the Union Address on January 29, 2002 and often repeated throughout his presidency, describing governments that he accused of helping terrorism and seeking weapons of mass destruction...

", and that, like North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

 and Iran, Iraq's attempt to acquire weapons of mass destruction posed a serious threat to U.S. national security
National security
National security is the requirement to maintain the survival of the state through the use of economic, diplomacy, power projection and political power. The concept developed mostly in the United States of America after World War II...

. These claims were based on documents that were provided to him by the CIA and the government of the United Kingdom. Bush added,


"Iraq continues to flaunt its hostilities toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas
Nerve agent
Nerve agents are a class of phosphorus-containing organic chemicals that disrupt the mechanism by which nerves transfer messages to organs...

, and nuclear weapons for over a decade...This is a regime that agreed to international inspections — then kicked out inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world...By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes [Iran, Iraq and North Korea] pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred."


However, according to a comprehensive U.S. government report, no weapons of mass destruction have been found. There are accounts of Polish troops obtaining antiquated warheads, dating from the 1980s, two of which contained trace amounts of the nerve gas cyclosarin, but U.S. military tests found that the rounds were so deteriorated that they would "have limited to no impact if used by insurgents against coalition forces. The possible effect upon civilians was not discussed."

Occupation




Following the invasion, the United States established the Coalition Provisional Authority
Coalition Provisional Authority
The Coalition Provisional Authority was established as a transitional government following the invasion of Iraq by the United States and its allies, members of the Multi-National Force – Iraq which was formed to oust the government of Saddam Hussein in 2003...

 to govern Iraq. Government authority was transferred to an Iraqi Interim Government
Iraqi Interim Government
The Iraqi Interim Government was created by the United States and its coalition allies as a caretaker government to govern Iraq until the Iraqi Transitional Government was installed following the Iraqi National Assembly election conducted on January 30, 2005...

 in June 2004, and a permanent government was elected in October 2005.

After the invasion, al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

 took advantage of the national resistance to entrench itself in the country. On December 30, 2006, Saddam Hussein was hanged. Hussein's half-brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Hassan
Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti
Barzan Ibrahim al-Hasan al-Tikriti was one of three half-brothers of Saddam Hussein, and a leader of the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi intelligence service...

 and former chief judge
Chief judge
Chief Judge is a title that can refer to the highest-ranking judge of a court that has more than one judge. The meaning and usage of the term vary from one court system to another...

 of the Revolutionary Court Awad Hamed al-Bandar
Awad Hamed al-Bandar
Awad Hamad al-Bandar was an Iraqi chief judge under Saddam Hussein's presidency. He was the head of the Revolutionary Court which issued death sentences against 143 Dujail residents, in the aftermath of the failed assassination attempt on the president on July 8, 1982 Awad Hamad al-Bandar ...

 were likewise executed on January 15, 2007; as was Taha Yassin Ramadan
Taha Yassin Ramadan
Taha Yasin Ramadan al-Jizrawi was a prominent Iraqi Kurd, serving as Vice President of Iraq from March 1991 to the fall of Saddam Hussein in April 2003....

, Saddam's former deputy and former vice-president (originally sentenced to life in prison but later to death by hanging), on March 20, 2007. Ramadan was the fourth and last man in the al-Dujail trial
Trial of Saddam Hussein
thumb|300 px| Saddam Hussein sits before an Iraqi judge at a courthouse in Baghdad, 1 July 2004.The Trial of Saddam Hussein was the trial of the deposed President of Iraq Saddam Hussein by the Iraqi Interim Government for crimes against humanity during his time in office.The Coalition Provisional...

 to die by hanging for crimes against humanity
Crime against humanity
Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, "are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings...

.
At the Anfal genocide trial, Saddam's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid
Ali Hassan al-Majid
Ali Hassan Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti , , was a Ba'athist Iraqi Defense Minister, Interior Minister, military commander and chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service...

 (aka Chemical Ali), former defense minister Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai, and former deputy Hussein Rashid Mohammed were sentenced to hang for their role in the Al-Anfal Campaign
Al-Anfal Campaign
The al-Anfal Campaign , also known as Operation Anfal or simply Anfal, was a genocidal campaign against the Kurdish people in Northern Iraq, led by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein and headed by Ali Hassan al-Majid in the final stages of Iran-Iraq War...

 against the Kurds on June 24, 2007. Al-Majid was sentenced to death three more times: once for the 1991 suppression of a Shi'a uprising along with Abdul-Ghani Abdul Ghafur on December 2, 2008; once for the 1999 crackdown in the assassination of Grand Ayatollah Mohammad al-Sadr
Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr
Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr , often referred to as Muhammad Sadiq as-Sadr which is his father's name, was a prominent Iraqi Twelver Shi'a cleric of the rank of Grand Ayatollah. He called for government reform and the release of detained Shi'a leaders...

 on March 2, 2009; and once on January 17, 2010 for the gassing of the Kurds in 1988; he was hanged over a week later on January 25.

Acts of sectarian violence have led to claims of ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing is a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic orreligious group from certain geographic areas....

 in Iraq, and there have been many attacks on Iraqi minorities such as the Yezidis, Mandeans, Assyrian
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

s and others. A U.S. troop surge
Iraq War troop surge of 2007
In the context of the Iraq War, the surge refers to United States President George W. Bush's 2007 increase in the number of American troops in order to provide security to Baghdad and Al Anbar Province....

 to deal with increased violence and improve security became a contentious political issue in the United States. The surge in troops was enacted in early 2007; in his September 2007 testimony to Congress, General Petraeus stated that the surge's goals were being met. Iraq also suffered a cholera outbreak in 2007
2007 Iraq cholera outbreak
A lack of clean drinking water in Iraq in 2007 led to an outbreak of cholera. A total of 181 people were infected, with 10 deaths reported.According to Dr...

.

Violence in Iraq began to decline from the summer of 2007.

The mandate of the multinational force in Iraq
Multinational force in Iraq
The Multi-National Force – Iraq was a military command, led by the United States, which was responsible for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Multi-National Force – Iraq replaced the previous force, Combined Joint Task Force 7, on 15 May 2004, and was later itself reorganized into its successor, United...

, last extended by UN resolution 1790
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1790
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1790 was adopted unanimously by the United Nations Security Council on December 18, 2007, extending the mandate of the multinational force in Iraq until December 31, 2008...

, expired on December 31, 2008.

On June 29, 2009, U.S. troops formally withdrew from Baghdad streets, in accordance with former U.S. President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

's security pact with Iraq known as the Status of Forces Agreement. The SOFA pact stated, among other things, that U.S. troops will withdraw from Iraq's cities by June 30, 2009, and will leave the country on December 31, 2011. Throughout the country, as the citizens of Iraq celebrated with fireworks, television programs declared June 30 as National Sovereignty Day. However, crime and violence initially spiked in the months following the US withdrawal from cities. As Iraqi security forces struggled to suppress the sudden influx of crime, the number of kidnappings, robberies, bomb assaults, and shootings increased dramatically. According to the Associated Press, Iraqi military spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi said investigations found that 60 to 70 percent of the criminal activity is carried out by former insurgent groups or by gangs affiliated with them — partly explaining the brutality of some of the crimes. United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
Robert Gates
Dr. Robert Michael Gates is a retired civil servant and university president who served as the 22nd United States Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011. Prior to this, Gates served for 26 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, and under President George H. W....

 said that the withdrawal caused a change of chemistry with “a real sense of empowerment on the part of the Iraqis.” U.S. troops continue to work with Iraqi forces after the pullout. Despite the initial increase in violence, on November 30, 2009, Iraqi Interior Ministry
Ministry of Interior (Iraq)
The Ministry of Interior of Iraq handles policing and border control in Iraq. The MoI consists of several elements, including the Iraqi Police, Highway Patrol, Traffic Department, Emergency Response Unit, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit, and Department of Border Enforcement...

 officials reported that the civilian death toll in Iraq fell to its lowest level in November since the 2003 invasion. On August 31, 2010 US forces ended combat missions in Iraq. The remaining 50,000 US troops are in an advisory role.

Geography




Iraq lies between latitudes 29°
29th parallel north
The 29th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 29 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 38° N
38th parallel north
The 38th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 38 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean...

, and longitudes 39°
39th meridian east
The meridian 39° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 49° E
49th meridian east
The meridian 49° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Madagascar, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 (a small area lies west of 39°). Spanning 437072 square kilometre, it is the 58th-largest country in the world. It is comparable in size to the US state of California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, and somewhat larger than Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

.

Iraq mainly consists of desert
Desert
A desert is a landscape or region that receives an extremely low amount of precipitation, less than enough to support growth of most plants. Most deserts have an average annual precipitation of less than...

, but near the two major rivers (Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

 and Tigris
Tigris
The Tigris River is the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq.-Geography:...

) are fertile alluvial plains, as the rivers carry about 60000000 m³ (78,477,037 cu yd) of silt
Silt
Silt is granular material of a size somewhere between sand and clay whose mineral origin is quartz and feldspar. Silt may occur as a soil or as suspended sediment in a surface water body...

 annually to the delta
River delta
A delta is a landform that is formed at the mouth of a river where that river flows into an ocean, sea, estuary, lake, reservoir, flat arid area, or another river. Deltas are formed from the deposition of the sediment carried by the river as the flow leaves the mouth of the river...

. The north of the country is mostly composed of mountains; the highest point being at 3611 m (11,847 ft) point, unnamed on the map opposite, but known locally as Cheekah Dar (black tent). Iraq has a small coastline measuring 58 km (36 mi) along the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

. Close to the coast and along the Shatt al-Arab (known as arvandrūd: اروندرود among Iranians) there used to be marshlands, but many were drained in the 1990s.

The local climate
Climate
Climate encompasses the statistics of temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, rainfall, atmospheric particle count and other meteorological elemental measurements in a given region over long periods...

 is mostly desert
Desert
A desert is a landscape or region that receives an extremely low amount of precipitation, less than enough to support growth of most plants. Most deserts have an average annual precipitation of less than...

, with mild to cool winters and dry, hot, cloudless summers. The northern mountainous regions (Kurdistan region هه‌رێمی کوردستان) have cold winters with occasional heavy snows, sometimes causing extensive flooding.

With its 143.1 Goilbbl of proved oil reserves, Iraq ranks second in the world behind Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 in the amount of Oil reserves
Oil reserves
The total estimated amount of oil in an oil reservoir, including both producible and non-producible oil, is called oil in place. However, because of reservoir characteristics and limitations in petroleum extraction technologies, only a fraction of this oil can be brought to the surface, and it is...

; yet the United States Department of Energy
United States Department of Energy
The United States Department of Energy is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government concerned with the United States' policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material...

 estimates that up to 90% of the country remains unexplored. These regions could yield an additional 100 Goilbbl. Iraq's oil production costs are among the lowest in the world, but only about 2,000 oil well
Oil well
An oil well is a general term for any boring through the earth's surface that is designed to find and acquire petroleum oil hydrocarbons. Usually some natural gas is produced along with the oil. A well that is designed to produce mainly or only gas may be termed a gas well.-History:The earliest...

s have been drilled in Iraq, compared with about 1 million wells in Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 alone.

Climate



Most of Iraq has a hot arid
Arid
A region is said to be arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or even preventing the growth and development of plant and animal life...

 climate with subtropical influence. Summer temperatures average above 40 °C (104 °F) for most of the country and frequently exceed 48 °C (118.4 °F). Winter temperatures infrequently exceed 21 °C (69.8 °F) with maximums roughly 15 to 19 °C (59 to 66.2 °F) and night-time lows 2 to 5 °C (35.6 to 41 °F). Typically precipitation is low; most places receive less than 250 mm (9.8 in) annually, with maximum rainfall occurring during the winter months. Rainfall during the summer is extremely rare, except in the far north of the country.

Government



The federal
Federalism
Federalism is a political concept in which a group of members are bound together by covenant with a governing representative head. The term "federalism" is also used to describe a system of the government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and...

 government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 of Iraq is defined under the current Constitution
Constitution of Iraq
The Constitution of Iraq is Iraq's fundamental law.-History:Iraq's first constitution, which established a constitutional monarchy, entered into force under the auspices of a British military occupation in 1925 and remained in effect until the 1958 revolution established a republic...

 as an Islamic, democratic
Representative democracy
Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy...

, federal
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

 parliamentary
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

 republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

. The federal government is composed of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as numerous independent commissions. Aside from the federal government, there are regions (made of one or more governorates), governorates, and districts within Iraq with jurisdiction over various matters as defined by law.

Governorates



Iraq is composed of eighteen governorate
Governorate
A governorate is an administrative division of a country. It is headed by a governor. As English-speaking nations tend to call regions administered by governors either states, provinces, or colonies, the term governorate is often used in translation from non-English-speaking administrations.The...

s (or province
Province
A province is a territorial unit, almost always an administrative division, within a country or state.-Etymology:The English word "province" is attested since about 1330 and derives from the 13th-century Old French "province," which itself comes from the Latin word "provincia," which referred to...

s) (Arabic: muhafadhat, singular – muhafadhah, Kurdish: پاریزگه Pârizgah). The governorates are subdivided into districts
Districts of Iraq
Iraq's 18 provinces are subdivided into 111 districts .The district usually bears the same name as the district capital. The districts are also separated into sub-districts.The districts are listed below, by governorate :...

 (or qadhas). Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region of Iraq. It borders Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west and the rest of Iraq to the south. The regional capital is Arbil, known in Kurdish as Hewlêr...

 (Arbil, Duhok, Sulaymaniyah) is the only legally defined region within Iraq, with its own government
Kurdistan Regional Government
The Kurdistan Regional Government , , is the official ruling body of the predominantly Kurds-populated Kurdistan Region in Northern Iraq...

 and quasi-official militia
Peshmerga
Peshmerga or Peshmerge is the term used by Kurds to refer to armed Kurdish fighters. Literally meaning "those who face death" the Peshmerga forces of Kurdistan have been in existence since the advent of the Kurdish independence movement in the early 1920s, following the collapse of the Ottoman...

.

Politics


Iraq was under Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Iraq Region
The Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Iraq Region is a ba'athist regional organisation founded in 1951 by Fuad al-Rikabi...

 rule from 1968 to 2003; in 1979 Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

 took control and remained president until 2003 after which he was unseated by a US–led invasion
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

.

On October 15, 2005, more than 63% of eligible Iraqis came out across the country to vote on whether to accept or reject the new constitution
Constitution of Iraq
The Constitution of Iraq is Iraq's fundamental law.-History:Iraq's first constitution, which established a constitutional monarchy, entered into force under the auspices of a British military occupation in 1925 and remained in effect until the 1958 revolution established a republic...

. On October 25, the vote was certified and the constitution passed with a 78% overall majority, with the percentage of support varying widely between the country's territories. The new constitution had overwhelming backing among the Shia and Ķurdish communities, but was overwhelmingly rejected by Arab Sunnis. Three majority Arab Sunni provinces rejected it (Salah ad Din with 82% against, Ninawa with 55% against, and Al Anbar with 97% against).

Under the terms the constitution, the country conducted fresh nationwide parliamentary elections
Iraqi legislative election, December 2005
Following the ratification of the Constitution of Iraq on 15 October 2005, a general election was held on 15 December to elect a permanent 275-member Iraqi Council of Representatives....

 on December 15 to elect a new government. The overwhelming majority of all three major ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

s in Iraq voted along ethnic lines, turning this vote into more of an ethnic census
Census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...

 than a competitive election, and setting the stage for the division of the country along ethnic lines.

Iraqi politicians have been under significant threat by the various factions that have promoted violence as a political weapon. The ongoing violence in Iraq has been incited by an amalgam of religious extremists that believe an Islamic Caliphate
Caliphate
The term caliphate, "dominion of a caliph " , refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the political unity of the Muslim Ummah...

 should rule, old sectarian regime members that had ruled under Saddam that want back the power they had, and Iraqi nationalists that are fighting the U.S. military
Military of the United States
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 presence.

Iraq has a number of ethnic minority groups: Kurds
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

, Assyrians
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

, Mandeans, Iraqi Turkmen
Iraqi Turkmen
The Iraqi Turkmen are an ethnic group who mainly reside in northern Iraq. Estimates of their numbers vary dramatically, in accordance with Iraq's assimilation policies no realistic and independent census results have been revealed regarding the Iraqi Turkmen population...

, Shabaks
Shabak people
Shabak people are an ethnic and religious minority group living in northern Iraq, who live mainly in the villages of Ali Rash, Khazna, Yangidja, and Tallara in Sinjar district in the province of Ninawa in northern Iraq. Their language, Shabaki, is a Northwestern Iranian language very close to...

 and Roma. These groups have not enjoyed equal status with the majority Arab populations throughout Iraq's eighty–five year history. Since the establishment of the "no–fly zones" following the Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

 of 1990–1991, the situation of the Kurds has changed as they have established their own autonomous region
Autonomous area
An autonomous area or autonomous entity is an area of a country that has a degree of autonomy, or freedom from an external authority. Typically it is either geographically distinct from the rest of the country or populated by a national minority. Countries that include autonomous areas are often...

. This has been a source of particular tension with Turkey.

Iraq has a very corrupt government. In 2010, according to the Failed States Index, Iraq was the world's seventh most politically unstable country. In 2008 Al Jazeera reported $13 Billion of Iraqi oil revenues in U.S. care was improperly accounted for, of which $2.6 billion is totally unaccounted for. On November 17, 2008, the U.S. and Iraq agreed to a Status of Forces Agreement
Status of Forces Agreement
A status of forces agreement is an agreement between a host country and a foreign nation stationing forces in that country. SOFAs are often included, along with other types of military agreements, as part of a comprehensive security arrangement...

, as part of the broader Strategic Framework Agreement. This agreement states "the Government of Iraq requests" U.S. forces to temporarily remain in Iraq to "maintain security and stability," and that Iraq has jurisdiction over military contractors, and US personnel when not on US bases or on–duty.

On 12 February 2009 Iraq officially became the 186th State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention
Chemical Weapons Convention
The Chemical Weapons Convention is an arms control agreement which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. Its full name is the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction...

. Under the provisions of this treaty
Treaty
A treaty is an express agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an agreement, protocol, covenant, convention or exchange of letters, among other terms...

, Iraq is considered a party with declared Stockpile
Stockpile
A stockpile is a pile or storage location for bulk materials, forming part of the bulk material handling process.Stockpiles are used in many different areas, such as in a port, refinery or manufacturing facility. The stockpile is normally created by a stacker. A reclaimer is used to recover the...

s of chemical weapons. Because of their late accession, Iraq is the only State Party exempt from the existing time–line for destruction of their chemical weapons. Specific criteria is in development to address the unique nature of Iraqi accession.

Economy


Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 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
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and damage to oil export facilities by Iran led the government to implement austerity measures
Austerity
In economics, austerity is a policy of deficit-cutting, lower spending, and a reduction in the amount of benefits and public services provided. Austerity policies are often used by governments to reduce their deficit spending while sometimes coupled with increases in taxes to pay back creditors to...

, borrow heavily, and later reschedule foreign debt
External debt
External debt is that part of the total debt in a country that is owed to creditors outside the country. The debtors can be the government, corporations or private households. The debt includes money owed to private commercial banks, other governments, or international financial institutions such...

 payments. Iraq suffered economic losses from the war of at least US$100 billion
1000000000 (number)
1,000,000,000 is the natural number following 999,999,999 and preceding 1,000,000,001.In scientific notation, it is written as 109....

. After hostilities ended in 1988, oil exports gradually increased with the construction of new pipelines and restoration of damaged facilities. A combination of low oil prices, repayment of war debts (estimated at around US$3 billion a year) and the costs of reconstruction resulted in a serious financial crisis which was the main short term motivation for the invasion of Kuwait
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

.

On November 20, 2004, the Paris Club
Paris Club
The Paris Club is an informal group of financial officials from 19 of some of the world's biggest economies, which provides financial services such as war funding, debt restructuring, debt relief, and debt cancellation to indebted countries and their creditors...

 of creditor nations agreed to write off 80% ($33 billion) of Iraq's $42 billion debt to Club members. Iraq's total external debt was around $120 billion at the time of the 2003 invasion, and had grown another $5 billion by 2004. The debt relief
Debt relief
Debt relief is the partial or total forgiveness of debt, or the slowing or stopping of debt growth, owed by individuals, corporations, or nations. From antiquity through the 19th century, it refers to domestic debts, in particular agricultural debts and freeing of debt slaves...

 will be implemented in three stages: two of 30% each and one of 20%.

At the end of 2005, and in the first half of 2006, Iraq implemented a restructuring of about $20 billion of commercial debt claims on terms comparable to that of its November 2004 Paris Club agreement (i.e. with an 80% writeoff). Iraq offered to its larger claimants a U.S. dollar denominated bond maturing in 2028. Smaller commercial claimants received a cash settlement of comparable value.

Iraq has proven oil reserves
Oil reserves
The total estimated amount of oil in an oil reservoir, including both producible and non-producible oil, is called oil in place. However, because of reservoir characteristics and limitations in petroleum extraction technologies, only a fraction of this oil can be brought to the surface, and it is...

 of 143.1 billion barrels, the world's 2nd largest. Iraq's oil production is only about 2.5 million barrels per day. On June 30 and December 11, 2009, the Iraqi ministry of oil
Ministry of Oil (Iraq)
The Ministry of Oil is the Iraqi government agency responsible for Iraqi petroleum. The Minister of Oil since December 21, 2010 is Abdul Karim al-Luaibi.-External links:* by Michael T. Klare, The Huffington Post, July 14 2009...

 awarded service contracts to international oil companies for some of Iraq's many oil fields. Oil fields contracted include the "super-giant" Majnoon Field
Majnoon Field
Majnoon Oil field is a super-giant oil field located from Basra, Basra Governorate in southern Iraq. Majnoon is one of the richest oil fields in the world with an estimated 23-25 billion and proven reserves of 12.6 billion of barrels of oil in place...

, Halfaya Field
Halfaya Field
Halfaya Field is an oil field, located east of Amarah, Iraq. Halfaya is proven to hold of recoverable reserve and has production potential of but only produces currently....

, West Qurna Field
West Qurna Field
West Qurna is one of Iraq's largest oil fields, located north of Rumaila field, west of Basra. West Qurna is believed to hold of recoverable reserves, making it the second largest field in the world after Saudi Arabia's Ghawar oil field...

 and Rumaila Field.

In February 2011, Citigroup
Citigroup
Citigroup Inc. or Citi is an American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States. Citigroup was formed from one of the world's largest mergers in history by combining the banking giant Citicorp and financial conglomerate...

 included Iraq in a group of countries which it described as 'Global Growth Generators'
3G (countries)
3G countries or Global Growth Generators countries are 11 countries economies which have been identified as sources of growth potential and of profitable investment opportunities.-Background:...

, that it argued will enjoy significant economic growth in the future.

Reconstruction



Nearly 30 years of fighting, against Iran in the 1980s and the United States after 1991, had a detrimental impact on Iraqi economic growth. Oil production remains Iraq's chief economic activity. The lack of development in other sectors has resulted in 18%–30% unemployed and a depressed per capita GDP of $4,000.

There have been attempts by the international community to improve and repair the infrastructure of Iraq in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion. Iraq was governed, after the 2003 invasion, by the Coalition Provisional Authority and, after June 28, 2004, by a series of Iraq-led governments (see Politics of Iraq
Politics of Iraq
The politics of Iraq takes place in a framework of a federal parliamentary representative democratic republic. It is a multi-party system whereby the executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister of the Council of Ministers as the head of government, as well as the President of Iraq, and...

). During this period, efforts were made to repair and replace damaged Iraqi infrastructure, including water supply systems, sewage treatment plants, electricity production, hospitals and health clinics, schools, housing, and transportation systems. Reconstruction efforts have also encompassed the promotion of economic development and government institutions such as the criminal justice system.

While reconstruction efforts have produced some successes, problems have arisen with the implementation of internationally funded Iraq reconstruction efforts. These include inadequate security, pervasive corruption, insufficient funding and poor coordination among international agencies and local communities. Many suggest that the efforts were hampered by a poor understanding of Iraq on the part of the occupiers. As of 2010, despite improved security and billions of dollars in oil revenue, Iraq still generates about half the electricity that customers demand, leading to protests during the hot summer months.

Five years after the invasion, an estimated 2.4 million people were internally displaced
Internally displaced person
An internally displaced person is someone who is forced to flee his or her home but who remains within his or her country's borders. They are often referred to as refugees, although they do not fall within the current legal definition of a refugee. At the end of 2006 it was estimated there were...

 (with a further two million refugees outside Iraq), four million Iraqis were considered food-insecure (a quarter of children were chronically malnourished) and only a third of Iraqi children had access to safe drinking water. Much reconstruction and humanitarian work in Iraq has been carried out by the Iraqi people in their own communities using local resources. Amongst the internally displaced, 58% rent housing, 18% live with host families or relatives, 24% live in public buildings and fewer than 1% live in tented camps.

International assistance


A major benchmark for international assistance was the Madrid Conference on Reconstruction held in Spain October 23–24, 2003 and attended by representatives over 25 nations. Funds assembled at this conference and from other sources have been administered by the United Nations and the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

. This assistance has primarily funded large-scale projects.

United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq focuses on implementing the International Compact with Iraq
International Compact with Iraq
The International Compact with Iraq is an initiative of the Government of Iraq for a new partnership with the international community. The Compact, jointly chaired by the Government of the Republic of Iraq and the United Nations, with the support of the World Bank, establishes a vision that, "five...

, to aid economic and political development in Iraq.

Researcher at the Overseas Development Institute
Overseas Development Institute
The Overseas Development Institute is one of the leading independent think tanks on international development and humanitarian issues. Based in London, its mission is "to inspire and inform policy and practice which lead to the reduction of poverty, the alleviation of suffering and the achievement...

 have documented the challenges faced by international NGOs in carrying out their mission, leaving them unable to adequately address the humanitarian challenges in Iraq, leaving NGOs' assistance "piecemeal and largely conducted undercover, hindered by insecurity, a lack of coordinated funding, limited operational capacity and patchy information". International NGOs neutrality is argued to have been compromised due to their sudden surge in activity after the 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

, funding by the governments of the multinational force and due to the protection provided by private security contractors and the multinational force. Thus, they have been targeted and during the first 5 years, 94 aid workers were killed, 248 injured, 24 arrested or detained and 89 kidnapped or abducted.

Demographics

Population in Iraq
Year Million
1971 9.7
1980 13.2
1990 18.1
2000 22.7
2009 28.9
Source: OECD/World Bank

An April 2009 estimate of the total Iraqi population is 31,234,000. Iraq's population was estimated at only 2 million in 1878.

Around 75%–80% of Iraq's population is Arab; the other major ethnic groups are the Kurd
Kürd
Kürd or Kyurd or Kyurt may refer to:*Kürd Eldarbəyli, Azerbaijan*Kürd Mahrızlı, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Goychay, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Jalilabad, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Qabala, Azerbaijan*Qurdbayram, Azerbaijan...

s at 15%–20%, the Assyrians
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

, the Iraqi Turkmen
Iraqi Turkmen
The Iraqi Turkmen are an ethnic group who mainly reside in northern Iraq. Estimates of their numbers vary dramatically, in accordance with Iraq's assimilation policies no realistic and independent census results have been revealed regarding the Iraqi Turkmen population...

 and others (5%), who mostly live in the north and northeast of the country. Around 20,000 Marsh Arabs
Marsh Arabs
The Marsh Arabs , also known as the Maʻdān , are inhabitants of the Tigris-Euphrates marshlands in the south and east of Iraq and along the Iranian border....

 live in southern Iraq. The Iraqi population includes a community of around 30,000 Circassians
Adyghe people
The Adyghe or Adygs , also often known as Circassians or Cherkess, are in origin a North Caucasian ethnic groupwho were displaced in the course of the Russian conquest of the Caucasus in the 19th century, especially after the Russian–Circassian War of 1862.Adyghe people mostly speak Adyghe and most...

, 20,000 Armenians
Armenians in Iraq
There is a small ethnic minority of Armenians in Iraq, mostly living in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. It is estimated that there are about 15,000 Armenians living in the entire country with communities in Baghdad, Mosul, Basra, Kirkuk and Dohuk.Some scholarly sources also refer to them as Iraqi...

, and a community of 2500 Chechens
Chechen people
Chechens constitute the largest native ethnic group originating in the North Caucasus region. They refer to themselves as Noxçi . Also known as Sadiks , Gargareans, Malkhs...

. In southern Iraq there is a community of Iraqis of African descent, a legacy of the slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 practiced in the Islamic Caliphate beginning before the Zanj Rebellion
Zanj Rebellion
The Zanj Rebellion was the culmination of series of small revolts. It took place near the city of Basra, located in southern Iraq over a period of fifteen years . It grew to involve over 500,000 slaves who were imported from across the Muslim empire and claimed over “tens of thousands of lives in...

 of the 9th century, and Basra
Basra
Basra is the capital of Basra Governorate, in southern Iraq near Kuwait and Iran. It had an estimated population of two million as of 2009...

's role as a key port.

Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 and Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

 are official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

s. Aramaic and South Azeri are regional languages
Languages of Iraq
There are a number of languages spoken in Iraq, but Iraqi Arabic is by far the most widely spoken in the country.-Contemporary languages:Arabic is the majority language, Kurdish is spoken by approximately 20%, South Azeri is spoken by 5% - 10% of people, the Ethnic Turcomans, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic...

. Armenian
Armenian language
The Armenian language is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenian people. It is the official language of the Republic of Armenia as well as in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The language is also widely spoken by Armenian communities in the Armenian diaspora...

 and Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 are also spoken but to a lesser extent. English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 is the most commonly spoken European language.

Religious composition includes:
  • Islam
    Islam
    Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

    , 97%; Christianity
    Christianity
    Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

     or other, 3%.

Three estimates of the Muslim proportions of the population are:
  • Shia up to 65%, Sunni about 35% (source: Encyclopedia Britannica).
  • Shia 60%–65%, Sunni 32%–37% (source: CIA World Fact Book).
  • Shia 65%, Sunni 35% (source: World Christian Encyclopedia
    World Christian Encyclopedia
    World Christian Encyclopedia is a reference work published by Oxford University Press, known for providing membership statistics for major and minor world religions in every country of the world, including historical data and projections of future populations.The first edition, by David B. Barrett,...

    )


Linguistically, the adherents of Shia Islam in Iraq predominantly speak Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 and a bilingual minority speak Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

, while the Iraqi Turkmen
Iraqi Turkmen
The Iraqi Turkmen are an ethnic group who mainly reside in northern Iraq. Estimates of their numbers vary dramatically, in accordance with Iraq's assimilation policies no realistic and independent census results have been revealed regarding the Iraqi Turkmen population...

 speak South Azeri and the Feyli Kurds
Feyli Kurds
Fayli Kurds, "Feili Kurds", or Feyli Kurds are largely a Kurdish Shi'a community living in Baghdad and the Diyala Province of Iraq around Khanaqin and Mandali, and across the Iranian border, in the provinces of Ilam, Kermanshah and Luristan. They number an estimated 6.000.000. people...

 speak Feyli
Feyli (Kurdish dialect)
Feyli is a dialect of Southern Kurdish, spoken in Iraqi Kurdistan and Iranian Kurdistan , Ilam province and parts of Kermanshah province in Iran by Feyli Kurds.Mahaki is a sub-dialect of Feyli....

, a dialect of Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

, almost all belong to the Twelver school. Adherents of Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 include Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 speakers, Iraqi Turkmen
Iraqi Turkmen
The Iraqi Turkmen are an ethnic group who mainly reside in northern Iraq. Estimates of their numbers vary dramatically, in accordance with Iraq's assimilation policies no realistic and independent census results have been revealed regarding the Iraqi Turkmen population...

 (who are mostly Hanafi
Hanafi
The Hanafi school is one of the four Madhhab in jurisprudence within Sunni Islam. The Hanafi madhhab is named after the Persian scholar Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man ibn Thābit , a Tabi‘i whose legal views were preserved primarily by his two most important disciples, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad al-Shaybani...

 school), and Kurds (who are Shafi school).

Religion



Iraq is a Shia majority country and contains the sacred Shia cities of Najaf
Najaf
Najaf is a city in Iraq about 160 km south of Baghdad. Its estimated population in 2008 is 560,000 people. It is the capital of Najaf Governorate...

 and Karbala
Karbala
Karbala is a city in Iraq, located about southwest of Baghdad. Karbala is the capital of Karbala Governorate, and has an estimated population of 572,300 people ....

. Most sources estimate that around 65% of Iraqis follow Shia Islam, and around 35% follow Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

, however the question of religious demographics is controversial and some Iraqis who follow Sunni Islam dispute these figures, including an ex-Iraqi ambassador, referring to American sources. claiming that many reports only include Arab Sunnis as "Sunni", missing out the Kurdish and Turkmen Sunnis. Most Kurds are Sunnis, although the Feyli Kurds
Feyli Kurds
Fayli Kurds, "Feili Kurds", or Feyli Kurds are largely a Kurdish Shi'a community living in Baghdad and the Diyala Province of Iraq around Khanaqin and Mandali, and across the Iranian border, in the provinces of Ilam, Kermanshah and Luristan. They number an estimated 6.000.000. people...

 are largely Shia.

Christians have inhabited what is modern day Iraq for about 2,000 years. Assyrians
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

 (also called Syriacs and Chaldeans) most of whom are adherents of the Chaldean Catholic Church
Chaldean Catholic Church
The Chaldean Catholic Church , is an Eastern Syriac particular church of the Catholic Church, maintaining full communion with the Bishop of Rome and the rest of the Catholic Church...

, Syriac Orthodox Church
Syriac Orthodox Church
The Syriac Orthodox Church; is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Eastern Mediterranean, with members spread throughout the world. The Syriac Orthodox Church claims to derive its origin from one of the first Christian communities, established in Antioch by the Apostle St....

 and the Assyrian Church of the East
Assyrian Church of the East
The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

 account for most of Iraq's Christian population, along with Armenians. Estimates for the numbers of Christians suggest a decline from 8–10% in the mid-20th century to 5% at the turn of the century, to 3% in 2008. About 600,000 Iraqi Christians have fled to Syria, Jordan or other countries or relocated to Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region of Iraq. It borders Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west and the rest of Iraq to the south. The regional capital is Arbil, known in Kurdish as Hewlêr...

.which is also the traditional homeland of the Assyrian people. There are also small populations of Mandaeans, Shabaks, Yarsan and Yezidis. The Iraqi Jewish community, numbering around 150,000 in 1941, almost entirely left the country.

In November 2006, the UNHCR estimated that 1.8 million Iraqis had been displaced to neighboring countries, with nearly 100,000 Iraqis fleeing to Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 each month, while another 1.6 million were displaced internally. According to official United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is a component of the United States Department of Homeland Security . It performs many administrative functions formerly carried out by the legacy United States Immigration and Naturalization Service , which was part of the Department of Justice...

 statistics, 58,811 Iraqis have been granted refugee-status citizenship as of May 25, 2011.

Iraqi diaspora




The dispersion of native Iraqis to other countries is known as the Iraqi diaspora. There have been many large-scale waves of emigration from Iraq, beginning early in the regime of Saddam Hussein and continuing through to 2007. The UN High Commission for Refugees has estimated that nearly two million Iraqis have fled the country after the Multi-National invasion of Iraq in 2003, mostly to Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

.

In addition to the 2 million Iraqis who fled to neighboring countries, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre estimates the number of people currently displaced within the country at 1.9 million.

In 2007, the U.N. said that about 40% of Iraq's middle class is believed to have fled and that most are fleeing systematic persecution and have no desire to return. Refugees are mired in poverty as they are generally barred from working in their host countries. Many were forced to force their women's and children into prostitution to survive.

In recent years the diaspora seems to be returning with the increased security; the Iraqi government claimed that 46,000 refugees have returned to their homes in October 2007 alone. However, more than half of Iraqi Christians have fled to neighboring countries since the start of the war, and few plan to return.

Music and dance


Iraq is known primarily for its rich maqam
Maqam
- Musical structures :* Arabic maqam, melodic modes* Mugam genre of Azeri-speaking cultures* Maqam al-iraqi genre of Iraq* Weekly Maqam prayer services of Sephardic Jewish culture* Makam, melody types of Turkey* Muqam, melody type of Uyghur culture...

 heritage which has been passed down orally by the masters of the maqam in an unbroken chain of transmission leading up to the present. The maqam al-Iraqi is considered to be the most noble and perfect form of maqam. As the name implies, it is native to Iraq; it has been known for approximately four hundred years in Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

, Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

 and Kirkuk
Kirkuk
Kirkuk is a city in Iraq and the capital of Kirkuk Governorate.It is located in the Iraqi governorate of Kirkuk, north of the capital, Baghdad...

. It is performed by a singer (qari’) and three instrumentalists playing santur
Santur
The santur is a Persian hammered dulcimerIt is a trapezoid-shaped box often made of walnut or different exotic woods. The Persian classical santur has 72 strings. The name santur was first referenced in ancient Persian poetry...

 (box zither), jawzah (rebab
Rebab
The rebab , also rebap, rabab, rebeb, rababah, or al-rababa) is a type of string instrument so named no later than the 8th century and spread via Islamic trading routes over much of North Africa, the Middle East, parts of Europe, and the Far East...

/spike fiddle), dumbek (goblet drum) and sometimes joined by a riqq (tambourine). Al-Chalghi al-Baghdadi is the name of the ensemble that performs this music, and al-maqam al-Iraqi is the collection of sung poems written either in one of the sixteen meters of classical Arabic or in Iraqi dialect (zuhayri).
This form of art is recognized by UNESCO as “an intangible heritage of humanity”. Unfortunately, due to the catastrophic invasion of the United States, this art form is being threatened with dwindling numbers of students and masters.

Iraq is also known for an instrument called the oud
Oud
The oud is a pear-shaped stringed instrument commonly used in North African and Middle Eastern music. The modern oud and the European lute both descend from a common ancestor via diverging paths...

(similar to a lute
Lute
Lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back, or more specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes....

) and a rebab
Rebab
The rebab , also rebap, rabab, rebeb, rababah, or al-rababa) is a type of string instrument so named no later than the 8th century and spread via Islamic trading routes over much of North Africa, the Middle East, parts of Europe, and the Far East...

(similar to a fiddle
Fiddle
The term fiddle may refer to any bowed string musical instrument, most often the violin. It is also a colloquial term for the instrument used by players in all genres, including classical music...

); its stars include Ahmed Mukhtar
Ahmed Mukhtar
Ahmed Mukhtar Arabic ,أحمد مختار is an Iraqi musician who is internationally renowned for his playing of the oud. He was born in Baghdad and is a graduate of the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad.- Biography :...

 and Munir Bashir
Munir Bashir
Munir Bashir was an Assyrian musician in Iraq and one of the most famous musicians in the Middle East during the 20th century and was considered to be the supreme master of the Arab maqamat scale system....

. Until the fall of Saddam Hussein, the most popular radio station
Radio station
Radio broadcasting is a one-way wireless transmission over radio waves intended to reach a wide audience. Stations can be linked in radio networks to broadcast a common radio format, either in broadcast syndication or simulcast or both...

 was the Voice of Youth. It played a mix of western rock
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...

, hip hop
Hip hop music
Hip hop music, also called hip-hop, rap music or hip-hop music, is a musical genre consisting of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted...

 and pop music
Pop music
Pop music is usually understood to be commercially recorded music, often oriented toward a youth market, usually consisting of relatively short, simple songs utilizing technological innovations to produce new variations on existing themes.- Definitions :David Hatch and Stephen Millward define pop...

, all of which had to be imported via Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 due to international economic sanctions. Iraq has also produced a major pan-Arab pop star-in-exile in Kathem Al Saher
Kathem Al Saher
Kadim Al Sahir , is an Iraqi singer, composer, and poet. He has been dubbed the "Caesar of Arabic Song", "George Michael of the Arab world", "Iraq’s Diplomatic Ambassador to the world", and "Iraq’s Ambassador for Peace"....

. The folk songs of Iraqi Turkmens are also well known, and Abdurrahman Kızılay is a leading name.

Early in the 20th century, many of the most prominent musicians in Iraq were Jewish. In 1936, Iraq Radio was established with an ensemble made up entirely of Jews, with the exception of the percussion player. The nightclubs of Baghdad also featured almost entirely Jewish musicians. At these nightclubs, ensembles consisted of oud, qanun and two percussionists, while the same format with a ney
Ney
The ney is an end-blown flute that figures prominently in Middle Eastern music. In some of these musical traditions, it is the only wind instrument used. It is a very ancient instrument, with depictions of ney players appearing in wall paintings in the Egyptian pyramids and actual neys being found...

 and cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

 were used on the radio.

One of the reasons for the predominance of Jewish instrumentalists in early 20th century Iraqi music was a prominent school for blind Jewish children, which was founded in the late 1920s. Many of the students became musicians, eventually forming the Arabic Music Ensemble Qol Yisraeli
Kol Yisrael
Kol Yisrael is Israel's public domestic and international radio service, operated as a division of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.-History:...

 (Israel Radio).


Singers, on the other hand, were Muslim, Jewish and Christian. The most famous singer of the 1930s–1940s was perhaps the Jew Salima Pasha
Salima Pasha
Salima Mourad or Salima Murad was a well known Iraqi Jewish singer and was highly respected both in the Arab world and Israel....

 (later Salima Murad).
The respect and adoration for Pasha were unusual at the time, since public performance by women was considered shameful and most female singers were recruited from brothels.

Numerous instrumentalists and singers of the middle and late twentieth century were trained at the Baghdad Conservatory
Baghdad Conservatory
The Baghdad Conservatory is a Baghdad, Iraq music conservatory. Hanna Petros founded the institution in 1936.The conservatory has produced such famous oud players as Munir Bashir and Jamil Bashir, Salman Shukur and Ghanim Haddad. The maqam singer Farida Mohammad Ali had taught there. Also,...

.

For much of the 20th century, Egypt was the center for Arab popular music, with only a few stars from other countries finding international success. The most famous early composer from Iraq was Ezra Aharon, an oud player, while the most prominent instrumentalist was Daoud Al-Kuwaiti
Saleh and Daoud Al-Kuwaity
Saleh and Daud Al-Kuwaity האחים צאלח ודאוד אל-כוויתי) were Jewish - Iraqi musicians born in Kuwait as Saleh and Daud Ezra.-Early life:The brothers were born in Kuwait to a family from an Iraqi origin...

. Daoud and his brother Saleh
Saleh and Daoud Al-Kuwaity
Saleh and Daud Al-Kuwaity האחים צאלח ודאוד אל-כוויתי) were Jewish - Iraqi musicians born in Kuwait as Saleh and Daud Ezra.-Early life:The brothers were born in Kuwait to a family from an Iraqi origin...

 formed the official ensemble for the Iraqi radio station and were responsible for introducing the cello and ney into the traditional ensemble.

In recent years the Iraqi school of oud players has become very prominent, with players such as Salman Shukur
Salman Shukur
Salman Shukur was born in 1921 in Baghdad, Iraq. He studied oud under Sherif Muheddin Haydar at the Baghdad Conservatory. Later, he became Professor of oud and the head of the Oriental Music Department at the Institute founded by Sharif Muheddin, and held that post for 30 years. He was also...

 and Munir Bashir
Munir Bashir
Munir Bashir was an Assyrian musician in Iraq and one of the most famous musicians in the Middle East during the 20th century and was considered to be the supreme master of the Arab maqamat scale system....

 developing a very refined and delicate style of playing combining older Arabic elements with more recent Anatolian influences.

Art and architecture




Some important cultural institutions in the capital include the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra
Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra
The Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra is a government funded symphony orchestra in Baghdad. The INSO plays primarily classical European music, as well as original compositions based on Iraqi and Arab instruments and music.-History:The orchestra began as the Baghdad Symphony Orchestra in 1944 by...

 – rehearsals and performances were briefly interrupted during the Occupation of Iraq but have since returned to normal. The National Theatre of Iraq was looted during the 2003 invasion, but efforts are underway to restore it. The live theatre scene received a boost during the 1990s when UN sanctions limited the import of foreign films. As many as 30 movie theatres were reported to have been converted to live stages, producing a wide range of comedies and dramatic productions.

Institutions offering cultural education in Baghdad include the Academy of Music, Institute of Fine Arts and the Music and Ballet school Baghdad. Baghdad also features a number of museums including the National Museum of Iraq
National Museum of Iraq
The National Museum of Iraq is a museum located in Baghdad, Iraq. It contains precious relics from Mesopotamian civilization.-Foundation:...

 – which houses the world's largest and finest collection of artifacts and relics of Ancient Iraqi civilizations; some of which were stolen
Archaeological looting in Iraq
Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, archaeological looting has become a major problem. Though some sites, such as Ur and Nippur, are officially protected by US and Coalition forces, most are not...

 during the Occupation of Iraq.

The capital, Ninus or Nineveh
Nineveh
Nineveh was an ancient Assyrian city on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, and capital of the Neo Assyrian Empire. Its ruins are across the river from the modern-day major city of Mosul, in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq....

, was taken by the Medes
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

 under Cyaxares
Cyaxares
Cyaxares, Cyaxares the Great or Hvakhshathra , the son of King Phraortes, was the first king of Media. According to Herodotus, Cyaxares, grandson of Deioces, had a far greater military reputation than his father or grandfather, therefore he is often being described as the first official Median...

, and some 200 years after Xenophon
Xenophon
Xenophon , son of Gryllus, of the deme Erchia of Athens, also known as Xenophon of Athens, was a Greek historian, soldier, mercenary, philosopher and a contemporary and admirer of Socrates...

 passed over its site, then mere mounds of earth. It remained buried until 1845, when Botta and Layard discovered the ruins of the Assyrian cities. The principal remains are those of Khorsabad, 10 miles (16.1 km) N.E. of Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

; of Nimroud, supposed to be the ancient Calah; and of Kouyunjik, in all probability the ancient Nineveh. In these cities are found fragments of several great buildings which seem to have been palace-temples. They were constructed chiefly of sun-dried bricks, and all that remains of them is the lower part of the walls, decorated with sculpture and paintings, portions of the pavements, a few indications of the elevation, and some interesting works connected with the drainage.

Sport



Football is the most popular sport in Iraq. Football is a considerable uniting factor in Iraq following years of war and unrest. Basketball
Basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

, swimming
Swimming (sport)
Swimming is a sport governed by the Fédération Internationale de Natation .-History: Competitive swimming in Europe began around 1800 BCE, mostly in the form of the freestyle. In 1873 Steve Bowyer introduced the trudgen to Western swimming competitions, after copying the front crawl used by Native...

, weightlifting, bodybuilding
Bodybuilding
Bodybuilding is a form of body modification involving intensive muscle hypertrophy. An individual who engages in this activity is referred to as a bodybuilder. In competitive and professional bodybuilding, bodybuilders display their physiques to a panel of judges, who assign points based on their...

, boxing
Boxing
Boxing, also called pugilism, is a combat sport in which two people fight each other using their fists. Boxing is supervised by a referee over a series of between one to three minute intervals called rounds...

, kick boxing and tennis
Tennis
Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

 are also popular sports.

The Iraqi Football Association  is the governing body of football in Iraq, controlling the Iraqi National Team
Iraq national football team
The Iraqi national football team represents Iraq in international football and is controlled by the Iraq Football Association. They won the 2007 Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup tournament.-The Golden Generation:...

 and the Iraqi Premier League (also known as Dawri Al-Nokba). It was founded in 1948, and has been a member of FIFA
FIFA
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association , commonly known by the acronym FIFA , is the international governing body of :association football, futsal and beach football. Its headquarters are located in Zurich, Switzerland, and its president is Sepp Blatter, who is in his fourth...

 since 1950 and the Asian Football Confederation
Asian Football Confederation
The Asian Football Confederation is the governing body of association football in Asia. It has 46 member countries, mostly located on the Asian continent. However, due to the disputed boundary of Europe and Asia, nations such as Russia and Turkey which are located mostly in geographic Asia are...

 since 1971. The Iraqi National Football Team are the 2007 AFC Asian Cup Champions
2007 AFC Asian Cup
The Asian Football Confederation's 2007 AFC Asian Cup finals were held from July 7 to July 29, 2007. For the first time in its history, the competition was co-hosted by four nations: Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The tournament was won by first-time champions Iraq, who defeated Saudi...

 after defeating Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 in the final.

Cuisine


Iraqi cuisine has a long history going back some 10,000 years – to the Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

ians, Akkad
Akkad
The Akkadian Empire was an empire centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region in Mesopotamia....

ians, Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

ns, Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

ns and Ancient Persians. Tablets
Clay tablet
In the Ancient Near East, clay tablets were used as a writing medium, especially for writing in cuneiform, throughout the Bronze Age and well into the Iron Age....

 found in ancient ruins in Iraq show recipes prepared in the temples during religious festivals – the first cookbooks in the world. Ancient Iraq, or Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, was home to many sophisticated and highly advanced civilizations, in all fields of knowledge – including the culinary arts. However, it was in the medieval era
Islamic Golden Age
During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

 when Baghdad was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate that the Iraqi kitchen reached its zenith. Today, the cuisine of Iraq reflects this rich inheritance as well as strong influences from the culinary traditions of neighbouring Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and the Greater Syria
Greater Syria
Greater Syria , also known simply as Syria, is a term that denotes a region in the Near East bordering the Eastern Mediterranean Sea or the Levant....

 area.

Some characteristic ingredients of Iraqi cuisine include – vegetables such as aubergine
Aubergine
The eggplant, aubergine, melongene, brinjal or guinea squash is a plant of the family Solanaceae and genus Solanum. It bears a fruit of the same name, commonly used in cooking...

, tomato
Tomato
The word "tomato" may refer to the plant or the edible, typically red, fruit which it bears. Originating in South America, the tomato was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and its many varieties are now widely grown, often in greenhouses in cooler...

, okra
Okra
Okra is a flowering plant in the mallow family. It is valued for its edible green seed pods. The geographical origin of okra is disputed, with supporters of South Asian, Ethiopian and West African origins...

, onion
Onion
The onion , also known as the bulb onion, common onion and garden onion, is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Allium. The genus Allium also contains a number of other species variously referred to as onions and cultivated for food, such as the Japanese bunching onion The onion...

, potato
Potato
The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family . The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species...

, courgette, garlic
Garlic
Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion genus, Allium. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, chive, and rakkyo. Dating back over 6,000 years, garlic is native to central Asia, and has long been a staple in the Mediterranean region, as well as a frequent...

, peppers
Bell pepper
Bell pepper, also known as sweet pepper or a pepper and capsicum , is a cultivar group of the species Capsicum annuum . Cultivars of the plant produce fruits in different colors, including red, yellow, orange and green. Bell peppers are sometimes grouped with less pungent pepper varieties as...

 and chilli
Chili pepper
Chili pepper is the fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum, members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. The term in British English and in Australia, New Zealand, India, Malaysia and other Asian countries is just chilli without pepper.Chili peppers originated in the Americas...

, cereals such as rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

, bulgur
Bulgur
Bulgur is a cereal food made from several different wheat species, most often from durum wheat. In the United States it is most often made from white wheat. Its use is most common in Middle Eastern cuisine, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Armenia and Bulgaria...

 wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

 and barley
Barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

, pulses and legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and cannellini, fruits such as dates, raisin
Raisin
Raisins are dried grapes. They are produced in many regions of the world. Raisins may be eaten raw or used in cooking, baking and brewing...

s, apricot
Apricot
The apricot, Prunus armeniaca, is a species of Prunus, classified with the plum in the subgenus Prunus. The native range is somewhat uncertain due to its extensive prehistoric cultivation.- Description :...

s, figs
Common fig
The Common fig is a deciduous tree growing to heights of up to 6 m in the genus Ficus from the family Moraceae known as Common fig tree. It is a temperate species native to the Middle East.-Description:...

, grape
Grape
A grape is a non-climacteric fruit, specifically a berry, that grows on the perennial and deciduous woody vines of the genus Vitis. Grapes can be eaten raw or they can be used for making jam, juice, jelly, vinegar, wine, grape seed extracts, raisins, molasses and grape seed oil. Grapes are also...

s, melon
Melon
thumb|200px|Various types of melonsThis list of melons includes members of the plant family Cucurbitaceae with edible, fleshy fruit e.g. gourds or cucurbits. The word "melon" can refer to either the plant or specifically to the fruit...

, pomegranate
Pomegranate
The pomegranate , Punica granatum, is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing between five and eight meters tall.Native to the area of modern day Iran, the pomegranate has been cultivated in the Caucasus since ancient times. From there it spread to Asian areas such as the Caucasus as...

 and citrus fruits
Citrus
Citrus is a common term and genus of flowering plants in the rue family, Rutaceae. Citrus is believed to have originated in the part of Southeast Asia bordered by Northeastern India, Myanmar and the Yunnan province of China...

, especially lemon
Lemon
The lemon is both a small evergreen tree native to Asia, and the tree's ellipsoidal yellow fruit. The fruit is used for culinary and non-culinary purposes throughout the world – primarily for its juice, though the pulp and rind are also used, mainly in cooking and baking...

 and lime
Lime (fruit)
Lime is a term referring to a number of different citrus fruits, both species and hybrids, which are typically round, green to yellow in color, 3–6 cm in diameter, and containing sour and acidic pulp. Limes are a good source of vitamin C. Limes are often used to accent the flavors of foods and...

.

Other Iraqi culinary essentials include butter
Clarified butter
Clarified butter is milk fat rendered from butter to separate the milk solids and water from the butterfat. Typically, it is produced by melting butter and allowing the different components to separate by density...

, olive oil
Olive oil
Olive oil is an oil obtained from the olive , a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. It is commonly used in cooking, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps...

, olives, tamarind
Tamarind
Tamarind is a tree in the family Fabaceae. The genus Tamarindus is monotypic .-Origin:...

, vermicelli
Vermicelli
Vermicelli is a traditional type of pasta round in section that is thicker than spaghetti.-Vermicelli thickness comparison:In USA, the National Pasta Association, founded in 1904, lists, together with various spelling mistakes, vermicelli as a thinner type of spaghetti.-History in Italy:In...

, tahini
Tahini
Tahini or sesame paste , is a paste of ground sesame seeds used in cooking. North African, Greek and West Asian tahini is made of hulled, lightly roasted seeds. East Asian sesame paste is made of unhulled seeds. The Arabic word tahin simply means flour.Tahini is a major component of hummus and...

, pistachio
Pistachio
The pistachio, Pistacia vera in the Anacardiaceae family, is a small tree originally from Persia , which now can also be found in regions of Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Sicily and possibly Afghanistan , as well as in the United States,...

s, almond
Almond
The almond , is a species of tree native to the Middle East and South Asia. Almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree...

s, honey
Honey
Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans...

, date syrup, yogurt
Strained yoghurt
Strained yoghurt, yoghurt cheese, labneh, or Greek yoghurt is yoghurt which has been strained in a cloth or paper bag or filter to remove the whey, giving a consistency between that of yoghurt and cheese, while preserving yoghurt's distinctive sour taste...

 and rose water, cheeses such as baladi
Baladi cheese
Baladi cheese is a soft, white cheese originating in the Middle East. It has a mild yet rich flavor....

, feta
Feta
Feta is a brined curd cheese traditionally made in Greece. Feta is an aged crumbly cheese, commonly produced in blocks, and has a slightly grainy texture. It is used as a table cheese, as well as in salads Feta is a brined curd cheese traditionally made in Greece. Feta is an aged crumbly cheese,...

 and halloumi
Halloumi
Halloumi is a traditional Cypriot cheese that is also popular in Sweden and the rest of the Middle East and Greece, and is now produced in many countries and regions around the world...

, and herbs and spices such as cinnamon
Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods...

, cardamom
Cardamom
Cardamom refers to several plants of the genera Elettaria and Amomum in the ginger family Zingiberaceae. Both genera are native to India and Bhutan; they are recognised by their small seed pod, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin papery outer shell and small black seeds...

, fenugreek
Fenugreek
Fenugreek is a plant in the family Fabaceae. Fenugreek is used both as a herb and as a spice . The leaves and sprouts are also eaten as vegetables...

, cumin
Cumin
Cumin is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native from the east Mediterranean to India. Its seeds are used in the cuisines of many different cultures, in both whole and ground form.-Etymology:...

, oregano
Oregano
Oregano – scientifically named Origanum vulgare by Carolus Linnaeus – is a common species of Origanum, a genus of the mint family . It is native to warm-temperate western and southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean region.Oregano is a perennial herb, growing from 20–80 cm tall,...

, saffron
Saffron
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the saffron crocus. Crocus is a genus in the family Iridaceae. Each saffron crocus grows to and bears up to four flowers, each with three vivid crimson stigmas, which are each the distal end of a carpel...

, baharat
Baharat
Bahārāt is a spice mixture or blend used in Arab cuisine, especially in the Mashriq area, as well as in Turkish and Iranian cuisine. Bahārāt is the Arabic word for 'spices'...

, sumac
Sumac
Sumac is any one of approximately 250 species of flowering plants in the genus Rhus and related genera, in the family Anacardiaceae. Sumacs grow in subtropical and temperate regions throughout the world, especially in Africa and North America....

 and za'atar
Za'atar
Za'atar is a generic name for a family of related Middle Eastern herbs from the genera Origanum , Calamintha , Thymus vulgaris and Satureja . It is also the name for a condiment made from the dried herb, mixed together with sesame seeds, dried sumac, and often salt, as well as other spices...

. Similarly with other countries of Western Asia, chicken and especially lamb are the favourite meats. Most dishes are served with rice – usually Basmati
Basmati
Basmati is a variety of long grain rice grown in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, notable for its fragrance and delicate, nuanced flavour. Its name means "the fragrant one" in Sanskrit, but it can also mean "the soft rice," and the word coincidentally means "my smile" in Arabic...

, grown in the marshes
Mesopotamian Marshes
The Mesopotamian Marshes are a wetland area located in southern Iraq and partially in southwestern Iran. Historically the marshlands, mainly composed of the separate but adjacent Central, Hawizeh and Hammar Marshes, used to be the largest wetland ecosystem of Western Eurasia...

 of southern Iraq. Bulgur
Bulgur
Bulgur is a cereal food made from several different wheat species, most often from durum wheat. In the United States it is most often made from white wheat. Its use is most common in Middle Eastern cuisine, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Armenia and Bulgaria...

 wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

 is used in many dishes – having been a staple in the country since the days of the Ancient Assyrians
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

.

Meals begin with appetizers and salads – known as Mezze. Some popular dishes include Kebab
Kebab
Kebab is a wide variety of meat dishes originating in Middle East and later on adopted by the Middle East, and Asia Minor, and now found worldwide. In English, kebab with no qualification generally refers more specifically to shish kebab served on the skewer...

(often marinated with garlic, lemon and spices, then grilled), Shawarma
Shawarma
Shawarma is a Levantine Arab sandwich-like wrap of shaved lamb, goat, chicken, turkey, beef, or mixed meats. The meat is placed on a spit, and may be grilled for as long as a day. It is eaten with pita bread, tabbouleh, fattoush, taboon bread, tomato and cucumber. Toppings include tahini, hummus,...

(grilled meat sandwich wrap, similar to Döner kebab
Döner kebab
Doner kebab is a dish made of roasted meat cooked on a vertical spit. It is also known regionally as gyro , shawarma, and al pastor . It consists of shaved lamb, goat, chicken, turkey, beef, or mixed meats roasted on a spit. Less common alternatives include fish and sausage...

), Bamia (lamb, okra and tomato stew), Quzi
Mansaf
Mansaf is a traditional Jordanian dish made of lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt and served with rice or groats. It is the national dish of Jordan.-Preparation:...

(lamb with rice, almonds, raisins and spices), Falafel
Falafel
Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas and/or fava beans. Falafel is usually served in a pita, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread known as lafa. The falafel balls are topped with salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and drizzled with tahini-based sauces...

(fried chickpea patties served with amba
Amba (condiment)
Amba is a tangy mango pickle condiment popular in middle eastern cuisine particularly Iraqi and Israeli cuisines. It is also popular in India, where it originates, and is widely manufactured and bottled for the world market...

and salad in pita
Pita
Pita or pitta is a round pocket bread widely consumed in many Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Balkan cuisines. It is prevalent in Greece, the Balkans the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula and Turkey. The "pocket" in pita bread is created by steam, which puffs up the dough...

), Kibbeh
Kibbeh
Kibbeh or kibbe is an Arab dish made of bulgur or rice and chopped meat. The best-known variety is a torpedo-shaped fried croquette stuffed with minced beef or lamb. Other types of kibbeh may be shaped into balls or patties, and baked or cooked in broth.Kibbeh is a popular dish in Levantine...

(minced meat ground with bulghur or rice and spices), Masgouf
Masgouf
Semeç Masgûf, often shortened as "Masgûf" is an Iraqi dish that is de-facto considered as the national dish of Modern Iraq...

(grilled fish with pepper and tamarind), and Maqluba
Maqluba
Maqluba, or Makloubeh, often pronounced as Maalouba or Maglouba is a traditional Palestinian dish. It consists of rice and eggplant or cauliflower casserole that is then turned upside down when served, hence the name maqluba which translates literally as "upside-down".The ingredients are commonly...

(a rice, lamb, tomato and aubergine dish). Stuffed vegetable dishes such as Dolma
Dolma
Dolma is a family of stuffed vegetable dishes in the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and surrounding regions such as Russia, Middle East and the Caucasus and Central and South Asia. Perhaps the best-known is the grape-leaf dolma. Common vegetables to stuff include onion, zucchini, eggplant,...

and Mahshi
Stuffed peppers
Stuffed peppers is a dish which exists in different names and forms around the world.- India :Stuffed Peppers is one of several stuffed vegetable dishes in Indian cuisine...

are also popular.

See also


  • Mesopotamia
    Mesopotamia
    Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

  • Fertile Crescent
    Fertile Crescent
    The Fertile Crescent, nicknamed "The Cradle of Civilization" for the fact the first civilizations started there, is a crescent-shaped region containing the comparatively moist and fertile land of otherwise arid and semi-arid Western Asia. The term was first used by University of Chicago...

  • Iraqi Kurdistan
    Iraqi Kurdistan
    Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region of Iraq. It borders Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west and the rest of Iraq to the south. The regional capital is Arbil, known in Kurdish as Hewlêr...



External links


Government

General information