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Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq was occupied by Britain during the course of World War I. In 1920, it was declared a League of Nations mandate under UK administration. In stages over the next dozen years, Iraq attained its independence as a kindom in 1932. A "republic" was proclaimed in 1958, but in actuality a series of strongmen ruled the country until 2003. The last was Saddam Husayn. Territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive and costly eight-year war (1980-88). In August 1990, Iraq seized Kuwait but was expelled by US-led, UN coalition forces during the Gulf War of January-February 1991. Following Kuwait's liberation, the UN Security Council (UNSC) required Iraq to scrap all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles and to allow UN verification inspections. Continued Iraqi refusal with UNSC resolutions over a period of 12 years led to the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the end of the Saddam Husayn regime. US forces remained in Iraq under a UNSC mandate through 2009 and under a bilateral security agreement, helping to provide security and to train and mentor Iraqi security forces.
Location: Middle East, near the Persian Gulf, near Kuwait.
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 438,317 sq km Land: 437,364 sq km Water: 950 sq km
Area: Iraq is around the size of Idaho, but a little larger.
Land boundaries: Total: 3,650 km
Maritime claims: Territorial Sea: 12 nm
Mostly desert; mild to cool winters with dry, hot, cloudless summers; northern mountainous regions along Iranian and Turkish borders experience cold winters with occasionally heavy snows that melt in early spring, sometimes causing extensive flooding in central and southern Iraq. Iraq land is very bumpy and grainy. In Iraq, not many tornadoes occur due to the land. Iraq is also very hot and dry. In the summers, temperatures reach up to 103 degrees Farenheit. There are also many river in Iraq, such as: The Diyala River, The Khasa River, The Great Zab River, and the most popular and longest rivesr in Iraq are the Tigris, Euphrates, and the Shatt al Arab Rivers.
Pre-Imperialism Iraq was not known as Iraq. It was split into three sections: Basra, Baghdad, and Mosul. Britain knew it as Mesopotamia. Under Ottoman control, Iraq was poorly governed and underdeveloped. They had a backwards rural economy and many people who lived there were semi-nomadic.
From 1798, Britain showed interest in Iraq and noticed their importance for strategic and commercial use. In 1850, Britain became interesting in expanding railways and using the close by, Tigris and Euphrates, to go from Syria to the gulf. Their plan was to connect the Mediterranean to the gulf by the Euphrates Valley railway. Their interest deepened when oil was found in Kuwait in the late 19th century. The Ottoman Empire’s collapse during WWI led to the break-up of Middle-Eastern oil by Britain and France in the San Remo Conference. By 1917, the British had received control of Baghdad, and they were in control of most of Iraq. Iraq was a protectorate of Britain. Britain had given full control to Iraq’s own tribal leaders, whose influence had been slowly declining, to collect taxes and control the population. Britain still had all control over the country. Sharif Hussein of Mecca was announced, “King of the Arab Countries”, on November 2, 1916. Britain rejected this and replaced Hussein with his son Feisal, the “puppet king” of Iraq. The people of Iraq thought that they had control over their own country, but soon after Feisal was made “king”, Britain was drawing up barriers between Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.
It is important to know that the Arabs believed Britain’s goal was to gain them independence from the Ottoman Empire. However, this promise was not Britain’s plan. Following Britain’s promise, Mosul had begun to set up an independent state. For two years, British and Indian soldiers suppressed the state, until the use of poison gas was approved. Arabs struggled to resisted British control, but thousands of them were killed do to Britain’s modern weaponry. Britain used not only poison gas, but phosphorus bombs, war rockets, liquid fire, shrapnel, and delay-action bombs. Thousands of Arabs were killed in the fight for freedom against British Imperialism.
The merging of the new provinces of Mosul, Baghdad, and Basra together, created a nation out of diverse religious groups and ethnic elements inhabiting these lands was accomplished after World War I. Action undertaken by the British military authorities during the war and the upsurge of nationalism after the war, helped determine the shape of the new Iraqi state and the course of events during the post war years until Iraq finally emerged as an independent political entity in 1932.
Today Iraq is not much the same as it was in the age of imperialism. There have been many changes in Iraq. A war erupted in Iraq against the United States of America in May of 2003. This war is still occurring with bombings and casualties often. The Iraqi economy has not changed greatly since the imperial age. The currency is still the dinar, and Iraq is still a country dominant on oil. Oil
has traditionally provided about 95% of foreign exchange earnings. The government is a parliamentary republic. The president is currently Jalal Talabani and the prime minist
er is Nouri al-Maliki. Overall, Iraq is a changed country.
Hunt, Norman B.
Historical Atlas of Ancient Mesopotamia
. New York, NY: Thalamus, 2004. Print.
Kort, Michael G.
The Handbook of the Middle East
. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook, 2002. Print.
Shaoul, Jean. "Imperialism and Iraq: Lessons from the Past."
World Socialist Web Site
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“History of Iraq: Timeline of Iraq.”
World HIstory at KMLA
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The World Factbook
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. Wikipedia.en, 20 Mar. 2010. Web. 11 Apr. 2010. <
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