Iraq Facts

Iraq Facts and History


Iraq, the country along the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, acquired special historical importance as ancient Mesopotamia. It was here that the Sumerians developed what is believed to be the world’s first written culture, later the Babylonian and Assyrian empires followed. What is left of the archaeological sights is difficult to assess after the Third Gulf War. The country’s vast oil reserves, which make up about 12% of the world’s known oil reserves, have had a very negative impact on its recent history. The notorious dictator Saddam Hussein used his wealth to finance his aggressive policies and ultimately paved the way for the US and Great Britain to occupy Iraq. To this day the country is characterized by chaos, suicide attacks and tensions, for example between Sunnis and Shiites. (Credit: Countryaah: Iraq Population)

On October 5, 2018, Yezidi Nadia Murad Basee Taha, born in 1993 in Kocho in the district of Sinjar/Iraq, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with the Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege. She survived the IS genocide of the Yazidis in 2014. Since then she has been a human rights activist and since September 2016 “Special Envoy for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking” of the UN.

Iraq: history

By the end of the 19th century

Paleolithic finds show that the region was settled around 100,000 years ago.

According to Abbreviationfinder website, a large part of Iraq, the plains along the two rivers Euphrates and Tigris, is of particular historical significance. Here, in ancient Mesopotamia (Mesopotamia), developed around 3,300 BC. BC Sumerian city-states with the first written culture of mankind. After their disintegration followed around 3,000 BC. The development of the Babylonian and Assyrian empires and the city-states Ur, Lagasch, Assur and Uruk by immigrant Akkader tribes. In the 6th century BC The Persian Sassanids occupied Mesopotamia and founded their capital, Ctesiphon, near what is now Baghdad.

331 BC The Macedonians under Alexander the Great conquered the region, the 312 BC. Was incorporated into the Seleucid Empire. 129 BC The Parthians took over dominance in Mesopotamia, who fought over and over again with the Romans up to the 4th century. 637 it was finally conquered by the Arabs, who Islamized the country. The Abbasid caliphate founded in 762 under Al Mansur with the capital Baghdad existed until 1258. Then the Mongols under Khan Hülagü took the Mesopotamia, which was later ruled by Timur Lenk, various Turkmen clans and finally the Persian Safavids.

In 1534 Iraq came under the Ottoman rule, which lasted until the beginning of the First World War.

From the beginning of the 20th century until today

From 1914, British troops occupied the provinces of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra and, despite their different populations, combined them to form a state area that corresponds to the current territory of the country. In 1921 Iraq became a constitutional monarchy with Hashemite Faisal, son of the Sherif of Mecca, as the first king. On October 3, 1932, Iraq gained state independence and became a member of the League of Nations. In the following years, rival family clans fought for supremacy, which led to several changes of government, until in 1958 General Abd al-Karim Qasim ended the monarchy with another military coup and proclaimed the republic. He was murdered in 1963 when Arif came to power. In 1968 another military coup took place in alliance with the Ba’ath Party, as a result of which General Ahmed Hassan Al-Bakr took over rule. Saddam Hussein became the second man in the state.

This regime also acted brutally against members of the opposition, including the imposition of numerous death sentences. In June 1972 the government nationalized the British IPC (Iraq Petroleum Company). Their oil revenues increased tenfold by 1978. This enabled generous funding of industrial and public projects, for example a large-scale campaign against illiteracy began in May 1978. In 1979 Al-Bakr resigned for health reasons and was succeeded by Saddam Hussein. He had the offices of President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, General Secretary of the party and Chairman of the Revolutionary Council. The First Gulf War began in September 1980 with attacks by Iraq on Iran. Then, in 1988, Hussein launched a campaign against the Iraqi Kurds, who had supported Iran. At least 150,000 people were murdered, including with poison gas.

In July 1990, Hussein was elected president for life by parliament. In order to pay off his war debts, he occupied Kuwait in August 1990.

On January 17, 1991, the Allies, led by the US, launched the Second Gulf War with air raids, which ended on February 28 with a ceasefire. In March of the same year there were uprisings by the Shiites, rebelling soldiers in Basra and other cities, as well as the Kurds in the north of the country, which were crushed by government troops. The ceasefire resolution of April 3, 1991 contained, among other things, the requirement to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction. In addition, no-fly zones were issued for Iraqi machines to protect the Shiites and Kurds.

In December 1998, the Iraqi resistance to the work of the UN weapons inspections prompted the United States, with British support, to carry out air strikes on targets in Iraq (Operation Desert Fox).

On December 8, 2002, the Iraqi rulers handed over 12,000 pages of documentation on their weapons systems to the UN. The USA contested the correctness and completeness of these statements. On March 20, 2003, the US and Great Britain began the Third Gulf War with their attack on Iraq, after having carried out several military actions in advance. The occasion was questionable intelligence information that the US Secretary of State Colin Powell had presented to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003 and intended to prove the violations of Resolution 1441. The country was then divided into three zones of occupation, which were to be administered by the two victorious powers and by Poland.

Saddam Hussein was arrested by American soldiers on December 13, 2003 near Tikrit. (His conviction and execution took place in 2006.) After the official end of the occupation, the business of government was transferred to a transitional government on June 28, 2004. In 2005 the National Assembly elected the Kurdish Jalal Talabani as president. The 2005 parliamentary elections were won by the predominantly Shiite United Iraqi Alliance, but they did not achieve an absolute majority.

To this day, there are civil war-like conditions in Iraq with terrorist attacks and uprisings, and foreigners have been kidnapped several times. The population is impoverished, the economy suffers from extreme corruption.

Iraq Facts