Iraq

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Republic of Iraq
جمهورية العـراق
Jumhūriyyat al-‘Irāq
كۆماری عێراق
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: الله أكبر (Arabic)
"Allahu Akbar(transliteration)
"God is the Greatest"
Anthem: "Mawtini"
"موطني"
"My Homeland"
Capital
and largest city
Baghdad
33°20′N 44°26′E / 33.333°N 44.433°E / 33.333; 44.433
Official languages
Demonym Iraqi
Government Federal parliamentary constitutional republic
 -  President Jalal Talabani
 -  Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
 -  Speaker of the Council of Representatives Usama al-Nujayfi
Legislature Council of Representatives
Independence from the United Kingdom
 -  Kingdom 3 October 1932 
 -  Republic declared 14 July 1958 
 -  Current constitution 15 October 2005 
Area
 -  Total 437,072 km2 (59th)
169,234 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 1.1
Population
 -  2014 estimate 36,004,552[1][2] (36th)
 -  Density 82.7/km2 (125th)
183.9/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $242.5 billion[3] (51st)
 -  Per capita $7,100[3] (114th)
GDP (nominal) 2013 estimate
 -  Total $229,327 billion[3] (45th)
 -  Per capita $6,900[3] (83rd)
Gini (2007) 30.9[4]
medium
HDI (2014) Increase 0.573[5]
medium · 87th
Currency Iraqi dinar (IQD)
Time zone Arabia Standard Time (UTC+3)
 -  Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+3)
Drives on the right
Calling code +964
ISO 3166 code IQ
Internet TLD .iq
a. Constitution of Iraq, Article 4 (1st).

Iraq (/ɪˈræk/, Listeni/ɪˈrɑːk/, or /ˈræk/; Arabic: العراقal-‘Irāq), officially the Republic of Iraq (Arabic: About this sound جمهورية العراق  Jumhūriyyat al-‘Irāq; Kurdish: كۆماری عێراق), is a country in Western Asia encompassing the Mesopotamian alluvial plain, the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, and the eastern part of the Syrian Desert.[6]

Iraq borders Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest, and Syria to the west. Iraq has a narrow section of coastline measuring 58 km (36 mi) on the northern Persian Gulf. The capital city, Baghdad is in the center-east of the country. Two major rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, run through the center of Iraq, flowing from northwest to southeast. These provide Iraq with agriculturally capable land and contrast with the steppe and desert landscape that covers most of Western Asia.

Iraq has been known by the Greek toponym 'Mesopotamia' (Land between the rivers) and has been home to continuous successive civilizations since the 6th millennium BC. The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is often referred to as the cradle of civilization and the birthplace of writing. At different periods in its history, Iraq was the center of the indigenous Akkadian, Sumerian, Assyrian, and Babylonian empires. It was also part of the Median, Achaemenid, Hellenistic, Parthian, Sassanid, Roman, Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid, Mongol, Safavid, Afsharid, and Ottoman empires, and under British control as a League of Nations mandate.[7] Iraq is home to two of the world's holiest places among Shias: Najaf and Karbala.[8]

Iraq's modern borders were mostly demarcated in 1920 by the League of Nations when the Ottoman Empire was divided by the Treaty of Sèvres. 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 gained independence from Britain in 1932. In 1958, the monarchy was overthrown and the Republic of Iraq was created. Iraq was controlled by the Ba'ath Party (Iraqi-led faction) from 1968 until 2003. After an invasion led by the United States of America including multinational forces, the Ba'ath Party was removed from power and multi-party parliamentary elections were held. The American presence in Iraq ended in 2011.[9]

Name[edit]

The Arabic name العراق al-ʿIrāq has been in use since before the 6th century. There are several suggested origins for the name. One dates to the Sumerian city of Uruk (Biblical Hebrew Erech) and is thus ultimately of Sumerian origin, as Uruk was the Akkadian name for the Sumerian city of Urug, containing the Sumerian word for "city", UR.[10][11] An Arabic folk etymology for the name is "deeply rooted, well-watered; fertile".[12] During the medieval period, there was a region called ʿIrāq ʿArabī ("Arabian Iraq") for Lower Mesopotamia and ʿIrāq ʿajamī ("Foreign Iraq"),[13] for the region now situated in Central and Western Iran.[14] The term historically included the plain south of the Hamrin Mountains and did not include the northernmost and westernmost parts of the modern territory of Iraq.[15] The term Sawad was also used in early Islamic times for the region of the alluvial plain of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, contrasting it with the arid Arabian desert. 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", viz. at the south and east of the Jazira Plateau, which forms the northern and western edge of the "al-Iraq arabi" area.[16]

The Arabic pronunciation is [ʕiˈrɑːq]. In English, it is either /ɪˈrɑːk/ (the only pronunciation listed in the Oxford English Dictionary and the first one in Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary) or /ɪˈræk/ (listed first by MQD), the American Heritage Dictionary, and the Random House Dictionary. /ˈræk/ is frequently heard in US media.

History[edit]

Ancient Iraq[edit]

Cylinder Seal, Old Babylonian Period, c.1800 BCE, hematite. The king makes an animal offering to Shamash. This seal was probably made in a workshop at Sippar.[17]
King Jehu of Israel bows before Shalmaneser III of Assyria, 825 BC.

The "Cradle of Civilization", is a common term for the area comprising modern Iraq as it was home to the earliest known civilization, the Sumerian civilization, which arose in the fertile Tigris-Euphrates river valley of southern Iraq in the Chalcolithic (Ubaid period). It was here in the late 4th millennium BC, that the world's first writing system and recorded history itself were born. The Sumerian civilization flourished for over 3,000 years[citation needed] 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 Elamite invasion in 2004 BC brought the Third Dynasty of Ur to an end. By the 21st century BC, a new Akkadian civilization, Assyria, had risen to dominance in northern Iraq, and by the 19th century BC a contemporaneous Amorite state, Babylonia, had formed in southern Iraq.

Iraq was to be dominated by the Assyrians and Babylonians for the next 14 centuries, and under the respective Assyrian and Babylonian empire of Shamshi-Adad I and Hammurabi in the 19th and 18th centuries BC, the Middle Assyrian Empire of 1365–1053 BC and the Neo Assyrian Empire of 911–605 BC, and the final Babylonian empire of 620–539 BC Iraq became a center of world power. The Neo Assyrian Empire in particular put Iraq at the heart of a massive empire stretching from the Caucasus to Egypt and Arabia, and from Cyprus to Persia.

In the 6th century BC, Cyrus the Great of neighbouring Persia defeated the Neo-Babylonian Empire at the Battle of Opis and Iraq was subsumed into the Achaemenid Empire for nearly two centuries. In the late 4th century BC, Alexander the Great conquered the region, putting it under Hellenistic Seleucid rule for over two centuries.[18] The Parthians (247 BC – 224 AD) from Persia conquered the region during the reign of Mithridates I of Parthia (r. 171–138 BC). From Syria, the Romans invaded western parts of the region several times. Christianity began to take hold in Iraq (particularly in Assyria) between the 1st and 3rd centuries, and Assyria became a center of the Church of the East. The Sassanids of Persia under Ardashir I destroyed the Parthian Empire and conquered the region in 224 AD. The region was thus a province of the Sassanid Empire for over four centuries, until the Muslim conquest of Persia in the mid-7th century, although a number of indigenous Neo Assyrian states evolved during the Parthian era, such as Adiabene, Osroene and Hatra.

Middle Ages[edit]

Abbasid-era coins, Baghdad, 1244.

The Arab Islamic conquest in the mid 7th century AD established Islam in Iraq, and saw a large influx of Arabs and also Kurds. Under the Rashidun Caliphate, the prophet Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law Ali moved his capital to Kufa when he became the fourth caliph. The Umayyad Caliphate ruled the province of Iraq from Damascus in the 7th century. (However, eventually there was a separate, independent Caliphate of Córdoba.)

The Abbasid Caliphate built the city of Baghdad in the 8th century as their capital, and it became the leading metropolis of the Arab and Muslim world for five centuries. Baghdad was the largest multicultural city of the Middle Ages, peaking at a population of more than a million,[19] and was the centre of learning during the Islamic Golden Age. The Mongols destroyed the city during the siege of Baghdad in the 13th century.[20]

The sack of Baghdad by the Mongols

In 1257, Hulagu Khan amassed an unusually large army, a significant portion of the Mongol Empire's forces, for the purpose of conquering Baghdad. When they arrived at the Islamic capital, Hulagu Khan demanded surrender but the last Abbasid Caliph Al-Musta'sim refused. This angered Hulagu, and, consistent with Mongol strategy of discouraging resistance, Baghdad was decimated.[21] Estimates of the number of dead range from 200,000 to a million.[22]

The Mongols destroyed the Abbasid Caliphate and Baghdad's House of Wisdom, which contained countless precious and historical documents. The city has never regained its status as a major center of culture and influence. Some historians believe that the Mongol invasion destroyed much of the irrigation infrastructure that had sustained Mesopotamia for millennia. Other historians point to soil salination as the culprit in the decline in agriculture.[23]

The mid-14th-century Black Death ravaged much of the Islamic world.[24] The best estimate for the Middle East is a death rate of a third.[25]

In 1401, warlord of Mongol descent Tamerlane (Timur Lenk) invaded Iraq. After the capture of Baghdad, 20,000 of its citizens were massacred.[26] 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).[27] Timur also conducted massacres of the indigenous Assyrian Christian population, hitherto still the majority population in northern Mesopotamia, and it was during this time that the ancient Assyrian city of Assur was finally abandoned.[28]

Ottoman Iraq[edit]

Xmas card from British Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force, Basra, 1917

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 eyalet 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 of Iran 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 bedouins from Najd, in the Arabian Peninsula. Bedouin raids on settled areas became impossible to curb.[29]

During the years 1747–1831 Iraq was ruled by a Mamluk dynasty of Georgian[30] 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 decreased from around 30 millions around 800 AD to under 5 million by the early 20th century.[31]

During World War I, the Ottomans sided with Germany and the Central Powers. In the Mesopotamian campaign against the Central Powers, British forces invaded the country and initially suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Turkish army during the Siege of Kut (1915–1916). However, subsequent to this the British began to gain the upper hand, and were further aided by the support of local Arabs and Assyrians. In 1916, the British and French made a plan for the post-war division of Western Asia under the Sykes-Picot Agreement.[32] British forces regrouped and captured Baghdad in 1917, and defeated the Ottomans. An armistice was signed in 1918.

During World War I the Ottomans were defeated and driven from much of the area by the United Kingdom during the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The British lost 92,000 soldiers in the Mesopotamian campaign. Ottoman losses are unknown but the British captured a total of 45,000 prisoners of war. By the end of 1918 the British had deployed 410,000 men in the area, of which 112,000 were combat troops.

British Mandate and Kingdom[edit]

British troops in Baghdad, June 1941.

On 11 November 1920 Iraq became a League of Nations mandate under British control with the name "State of Iraq". The British established the Hashemite king, Faisal, who had been forced out of Syria by the French, as their client ruler. Likewise, British authorities selected Sunni Arab elites from the region for appointments to government and ministry offices.[specify][33][page needed]

Faced with spiralling costs and influenced by the public protestations of war hero T. E. Lawrence in The Times, Britain replaced Arnold Wilson in October 1920 with new Civil Commissioner Sir Percy Cox. Cox managed to quell the rebellion, yet was also responsible for implementing the fateful policy of close cooperation with Iraq's Sunni minority.[34] The institution of slavery was abolished in the 1920s.[35]

Britain granted independence to the Kingdom of Iraq in 1932, on the urging of King Faisal, though the British retained military bases and transit rights for their forces. King Ghazi ruled as a figurehead after King Faisal's death in 1933, while undermined by attempted military coups, until his death in 1939. Ghazi was followed by his underage son, Faisal II. 'Abd al-Ilah served as Regent during Faisal's minority.

On 1 April 1941, Rashid Ali al-Gaylani and members of the Golden Square staged a coup d'état and overthrew the government of 'Abd al-Ilah. During the subsequent Anglo-Iraqi War, 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. The war started on 2 May and an armistice was signed 31 May.

A military occupation followed the restoration of the pre-coup government of the Hashemite monarchy. The occupation ended on 26 October 1947. The rulers during the occupation and the remainder of the Hashemite monarchy were Nuri as-Said, 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 and Ba'athist Iraq[edit]

The 14 July Revolution in 1958

In 1958 a coup d'etat known as the 14 July Revolution led to the end of the monarchy. Brigadier General Abd al-Karim Qasim assumed power, but he was overthrown by Colonel Abdul Salam Arif in a February 1963 coup. After his death in 1966 he was succeeded by his brother, Abdul Rahman Arif, who was overthrown by the Ba'ath Party in 1968. Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr became the first Ba'ath President of Iraq but then the movement gradually came under the control of General Saddam Hussein, who acceded to the presidency and control of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), then Iraq's supreme executive body, in July 1979.

After the success of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, President Saddam Hussein invaded Iran a year and a half later, initiating the Iran–Iraq War (or First Persian Gulf War). The war ended in stalemate in 1988, largely due to foreign support for Iraq[citation needed]. Between half a million and 1.5 million people from both sides died in the 1980–1988 war.[36] With economic loss of more than $500 billion for both sides. In 1981, Israeli aircraft bombed an Iraqi nuclear materials testing reactor as part of Operation Opera which became widely criticized because of Israel's involvement in a foreign conflict. In the final stages of Iran–Iraq War, the Ba'athist Iraqi regime led the Al-Anfal Campaign, a genocidal[37] campaign that targeted Iraqi Kurds,[38][39][40] and led to the killing of 50,000 – 100,000 civilians.[41]

Dead Iraqi Kurds of Halabja in 1988 after the Halabja poison gas attack.

In August 1990, Iraq invaded and annexed Kuwait. This subsequently led to military intervention by United States-led forces in the Second Gulf War. The coalition forces proceeded with a bombing campaign targeting military targets.[42][43][44] Shortly after the war ended in 1991, Shia Muslim and Kurdish Iraqis led several uprisings against the regime, but these were successfully repressed by Hussein. It is estimated that as many as 100,000 people were killed.[45] The US, UK, France and Turkey claiming authority under UNSCR 688, established the Iraqi no-fly zones to protect Kurdish and Shiite populations from attacks by the Hussein regime's aircraft.

The Iraqi government claimed some inspectors were spies for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.[46] 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.

During the late 1990s, the U.N. considered relaxing the Iraq sanctions because of the hardships suffered by ordinary Iraqis. Studies dispute the number of people who died in south and central Iraq during the years of the sanctions.[47][48][49]

In October 1998, U.S. President Bill Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act, calling for "regime change" in Iraq, and initiated Operation Desert Fox.

Kurdish Peshmerga became the northern front of the invasion and eventually defeated 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.[50][page needed][51][page needed] 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.

US-led invasion and aftermath[edit]

The April 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Firdos Square in Baghdad shortly after the Iraq War 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. These claims were based on documents that were provided by the CIA and the government of the United Kingdom.[52] However, no weapons of mass destruction have been found,[53] and the 2004 Duelfer Report found that all nuclear and chemical weapons research had ended by the mid-1990s.[54]

Following the invasion, the United States established the Coalition Provisional Authority to govern Iraq. In May 2003 L. Paul Bremer, the chief executive of the CPA, issued orders to exclude Baath Party members from the new Iraqi government (CPA Order 1) and to disband the Iraqi Army (CPA Order 2).[55] The decision to dissolve the army was blamed for leading many Sunnis, who led much of the army, to join the insurgency against American occupation.[56] The exclusion of people who belonged to the ruling party and the abolition of whole ministries were considered to have gutted the state and helped bring about chaos.[57]

The years following the invasion saw insurgency against Coalition and government troops as well as intense violence between Sunnis and Shias.[58] The Mahdi Army, a Shia militia created in the summer of 2003 by Moqtada Sadr,[59] reached some 60,000 members by December 2006.[59] Al-Qaeda in Iraq targeted Shia Muslims.[60] By 2007, the violence had increased to the point of being described in the United States' National Intelligence Estimate as a civil war. On December 30, 2006, Saddam Hussein was hanged.[61] Some of his closest associates were also executed.[62][63] Ali Hassan al-Majid (aka Chemical Ali) was executed in 2010 for his role in the Halabja poison gas attack in 1988.[64]

There have since been many attacks on Iraqi minorities such as the Yezidis, Mandeans, Assyrians and others. A U.S. troop surge was enacted to deal with increased violence,[65] which began to abate from the summer of 2007.[66] Iraq also suffered a cholera outbreak in 2007.[67]

U.S. and Kuwaiti troops closing the gate between Kuwait and Iraq on December 18, 2011.

Crime and violence initially spiked in the months following the US withdrawal from cities.[68][69] Despite the initial increase in violence, in November 2009, Iraqi Interior Ministry officials reported that the civilian death toll in Iraq fell to its lowest level since the 2003 invasion.[70]

U.S. troops handed over security duties to Iraqi forces in June 2009, though they continued to work with Iraqi forces after the pullout.[71] On the morning of December 18, 2011, the final contingent of U.S. troops to be withdrawn ceremonially exited over the border to Kuwait.[9]

The Iraqi National Movement, reportedly representing the majority of Iraqi Sunnis, boycotted Parliament for several weeks in late 2011 and early 2012, claiming that the Shiite-dominated government was striving to sideline Sunnis. In January 2012, Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, fled to the semi-autonomous Kurdish region after the government accused him of running a sectarian death squad.[72]

In February 2011 the Arab Spring protests spread to Iraq;[73] however, the initial protests had largely ended by the end of 2011. In December 2012, a new series of protests began, largely driven by Sunni Arabs who feel marginalized by Iraq's Shia government.[74][75] Sectarian violence continued in the first half of 2013.[76] More than 1,000 people were killed in the May 2013 Iraq attacks, making it the deadliest month since the 2006–2007 civil war.[77]

Geography[edit]

Satellite map of Iraq

Iraq lies between latitudes 29° and 38° N, and longitudes 39° and 49° E (a small area lies west of 39°). Spanning 437,072 km2 (168,754 sq mi), it is the 58th-largest country in the world. It is comparable in size to the US state of California, and somewhat larger than Paraguay.

Iraq mainly consists of desert, but near the two major rivers (Euphrates and Tigris) are fertile alluvial plains, as the rivers carry about 60,000,000 m3 (78,477,037 cu yd) of silt annually to the delta. The north of the country is mostly composed of mountains; the highest point being at 3,611 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. 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.

Climate[edit]

Most of Iraq has a hot arid 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 maxima roughly 15 to 19 °C (59.0 to 66.2 °F) and night-time lows 2 to 5 °C (35.6 to 41.0 °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. The northern mountainous regions have cold winters with occasional heavy snows, sometimes causing extensive flooding.

Government and politics[edit]

Baghdad Convention Center, the current meeting place of the Council of Representatives of Iraq.

The federal government of Iraq is defined under the current Constitution as a democratic, federal parliamentary Islamic republic. 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.

The National Alliance is the main Shia parliamentary bloc, and was established as a result of a merger of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's State of Law Coalition and the Iraqi National Alliance.[78] The Iraqi National Movement is led by Iyad Allawi, a secular Shia widely supported by Sunnis. The party has a more consistent anti-sectarian perspective than most of its rivals.[78] The Kurdistan List is dominated by two parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party led by Masood Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan headed by Jalal Talabani. Both parties are secular and enjoy close ties with the West.[78]

In 2010, according to the Failed States Index, Iraq was the world's seventh most politically unstable country.[79][80] The concentration of power in the hands of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and growing pressure on the opposition have led to growing concern about the future of political rights in Iraq.[81] Nevertheless progress has been made and the country had risen to 11th place by 2013.[82]

Since the establishment of the "no–fly zones" following the Gulf War of 1990–1991, the Kurds have established their own autonomous region. This has been a source of particular tension with Turkey.

Law[edit]

In October 2005, the new Constitution of Iraq was approved in a referendum with a 78% overall majority, although the percentage of support varying widely between the country's territories.[83] The new constitution was backed by the Shia and Ķurdish communities, but was rejected by Arab Sunnis. Under the terms of the constitution, the country conducted fresh nationwide parliamentary elections on December 15, 2005. All three major ethnic groups in Iraq voted along ethnic lines.

Law no. 188 of the year 1959 (Personal Status Law)[84] made polygamy extremely difficult, granted child custody to the mother in case of divorce, prohibited repudiation and marriage under the age of 16.[85] Article 1 of Civil Code also identifies Islamic law as a formal source of law.[86] Iraq had no Sharia courts but civil courts used Sharia for issues of personal status including marriage and divorce. In 1995 Iraq introduced Sharia punishment for certain types of criminal offenses.[87] The code is based on French civil law as well as Sunni and Jafari (Shi’ite) interpretations of Sharia.[88]

In 2004, the CFA chief executive L. Paul Bremer said he would veto any constitutional draft stating that sharia is the principal basis of law.[89] The declaration enraged many local Shia clerics,[90] and by 2005 the United States had relented, allowing a role for sharia in the constitution to help end a stalemate on the draft constitution.[91]

The Iraqi Penal Code is the statutory law of Iraq.

Military[edit]

Iraqi Army BMP-1 on the move.

Iraqi security forces are composed of forces serving under the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense, as well as the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Bureau, reporting directly to the Prime Minister of Iraq, which oversees the Iraqi Special Operations Forces. Ministry of Defense forces include the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Air Force and the Iraqi Navy. The Peshmerga are a separate armed force loyal to the Kurdistan Regional Government. The regional government and the central government disagree as to whether they are under Baghdad's authority and to what extent.[92]

The Iraqi Army is an objective counter-insurgency force that as of November 2009 includes 14 divisions, each division consisting of 4 brigades.[93] It is described as the most important element of the counter-insurgency fight.[94] Light infantry brigades are equipped with small arms, machine guns, RPGs, body armor and light armored vehicles. Mechanized infantry brigades are equipped with T-54/55 main battle tanks and BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles.[94] As of mid-2008, logistical problems included a maintenance crisis and ongoing supply problems.[95]

The Iraqi Air Force is designed to support ground forces with surveillance, reconnaissance and troop lift. Two reconnaissance squadrons use light aircraft, three helicopter squadrons are used to move troops and one air transportation squadron uses C-130 transport aircraft to move troops, equipment, and supplies. It currently has 3,000 personnel. It is planned to increase to 18,000 personnel, with 550 aircraft by 2018.[94]

The Iraqi Navy is a small force with 1,500 sailors and officers, including 800 Marines, designed to protect shoreline and inland waterways from insurgent infiltration. The navy is also responsible for the security of offshore oil platforms. The navy will have coastal patrol squadrons, assault boat squadrons and a marine battalion.[94] The force will consist of 2,000 to 2,500 sailors by year 2010.[96]

Foreign relations[edit]

U.S. President Barack Obama speaking with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in 2009.

On November 17, 2008, the U.S. and Iraq agreed to a Status of Forces Agreement,[97] as part of the broader Strategic Framework Agreement.[98] 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. Under the provisions of this treaty, Iraq is considered a party with declared stockpiles of chemical weapons. Because of their late accession, Iraq is the only State Party exempt from the existing timeline for destruction of their chemical weapons. Specific criteria is in development to address the unique nature of Iraqi accession.[99]

Iran–Iraq relations have flourished since 2005 by the exchange of high level visits: Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki makes frequent visits, along with Jalal Talabani visiting numerous times, to help boost bilateral cooperation in all fields. A conflict occurred in December 2009, when Iraq accused Iran of seizing an oil well on the border.[100]

Relationships with Turkey are tense, largely because of the Kurdistan Regional Government, as clashes between Turkey and the PKK continue.[101] In October 2011, the Turkish parliament renewed a law that gives Turkish forces the ability to pursue rebels over the border in Iraq."[102]

Human rights[edit]

Relations between Iraq and its Kurdish population have been sour in recent history, especially with Saddam Hussein's genocidal campaign against them in the 1980s. After uprisings during the early 90s, many Kurds fled their homeland and no-fly zones were established in northern Iraq to prevent more conflicts. Despite historically poor relations, some progress has been made, and Iraq elected its first Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, in 2005. Furthermore, Kurdish is now an official language of Iraq alongside Arabic according to Article 4 of the constitution.[103]

LGBT rights in Iraq remain limited. Although decriminalized, homosexuality remains stigmatized in Iraqi society. Targeting people because of their gender identity or sexual orientation is not uncommon and is usually carried out in the name of family honor. People who dress in emo style are mistakenly associated with homosexuality and may suffer the same fate.[104] A BBC article published in 2009, which includes interviews of homosexual and transgendered Iraqis, suggests that LGBT people were less subject to violence under Hussein's regime.[105]

Administrative divisions[edit]

Iraq, administrative divisions - Nmbrs - colored.svg

Iraq is composed of eighteen governorates (or provinces) (Arabic: muhafadhat (singular muhafadhah); Kurdish: پارێزگا Pârizgah). The governorates are subdivided into districts (or qadhas). Iraqi Kurdistan (Erbil, Duhok, Sulaymaniyah and Halabja) is the only legally defined region within Iraq, with its own government and quasi-official army Peshmerga.

Economy[edit]

Global distribution of Iraqi exports in 2006.

Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided about 95% of foreign exchange earnings. The lack of development in other sectors has resulted in 18%–30% unemployed and a depressed per capita GDP of $4,000.[2] Public sector employment accounted for nearly 60% of full-time employment in 2011.[106] The oil export industry, which dominates the Iraqi economy, generates very little employment.[106] Currently only a modest percentage of women (the highest estimate for 2011 was 22%) participate in the labour force.[106]

Prior to US occupation, Iraq's centrally planned economy prohibited foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses, ran most large industries as state-owned enterprises, and imposed large tariffs to keep out foreign goods.[107] After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority quickly began issuing many binding orders privatizing Iraq's economy and opening it up to foreign investment.

On November 20, 2004, the Paris Club 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 will be implemented in three stages: two of 30% each and one of 20%.[108]

In February 2011, Citigroup included Iraq in a group of countries which it described as 'Global Growth Generators', that it argued will enjoy significant economic growth in the future.[109]

The official currency in Iraq is the Iraqi dinar. The Coalition Provisional Authority issued new dinar coins and notes, with the notes printed by De La Rue using modern anti-forgery techniques.[110] Jim Cramer's October 20, 2009 endorsement of the Iraqi Dinar on CNBC has further piqued interest in the investment.[111]

Five years after the invasion, an estimated 2.4 million people were internally displaced (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.[112]

According to the Overseas Development Institute, international NGOs face challenges in carrying out their mission, leaving their assistance "piecemeal and largely conducted undercover, hindered by insecurity, a lack of coordinated funding, limited operational capacity and patchy information".[112] International NGOs 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.[112]

Oil and energy[edit]

Tankers at the Basra Oil Terminal

With its 143.1 billion barrels (2.275×1010 m3) of proved oil reserves, Iraq ranks second in the world behind Saudi Arabia in the amount of oil reserves.[113][114] Oil production levels reached 3.4 million barrels per day by December 2012.[115] Iraq intends to increase its production to 5 million barrels per day by 2014.[116] Only about 2,000 oil wells have been drilled in Iraq, compared with about 1 million wells in Texas alone.[117] Iraq was one of the founding members of OPEC.[118][119]

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.[120]

The Iraq oil law is a proposed piece of legislation submitted to the Iraqi Council of Representatives in May 2007.[121] The Iraqi government has yet to reach an agreement on the law.

According to a US Study from May 2007, between 100,000 barrels per day (16,000 m3/d) and 300,000 barrels per day (48,000 m3/d) of Iraq’s declared oil production over the past four years could have been siphoned off through corruption or smuggling.[122] 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.[123] Some reports that the government has reduced corruption in public procurement of oil; however, reliable reports of bribery and kickbacks to government officials continue to persist.[124]

In June 2008, the Iraqi Oil Ministry announced plans to go ahead with small one- or two-year no-bid contracts to Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP — once partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company — along with Chevron and smaller firms to service Iraq’s largest fields.[125] These plans were canceled in September because negotiations had stalled for so long that the work could not be completed within the time frame, according to Iraqi oil minister Hussain al-Shahristani. Several United States senators had also criticized the deal, arguing it was hindering efforts to pass the hydrocarbon law.[126]

On June 30 and December 11, 2009, the Iraqi ministry of oil awarded service contracts to international oil companies for some of Iraq's many oil fields.[127][128] Oil fields contracted include the "super-giant" Majnoon Field, Halfaya Field, West Qurna Field and Rumaila Field.[128] BP and China National Petroleum Corporation won a deal to develop Rumaila, the largest Iraqi oil field.[129][130]

On March 14, 2014, the International Energy Agency said Iraq's oil output jumped by half a million barrels a day in February to average 3.6 million barrels a day. The country hasn't pumped that much oil since 1979, when Saddam Hussein rose to power.[131]

Infrastructure[edit]

Although many infrastructure projects are underway, Iraq remains in deep housing crisis, with the war-ravaged country likely to complete only 5 percent of the 2.5 million homes it needs to build by 2016 to keep up with demand, the Minister for Construction and Housing said in September 2013.[132]

Demographics[edit]

Historical populations in millions
Year Pop.   ±% p.a.  
1878 2 —    
1947 4.8 +1.28%
1957 6.3 +2.76%
1977 12 +3.27%
1987 16.3 +3.11%
1997 22 +3.04%
2009 31.6 +3.06%
Source: [133][134][135]

An April 2009 estimate of the total Iraqi population is 31,234,000.[3] Iraq's population was estimated at only 2 million in 1878.[133] Iraq's population as announced by the government has reached 35 million amid a post-war population boom.[136]

According to the Central Intelligence Agency, Arabs form 75%–80% of the population.[2] 15% of Iraq's population are Kurds. Turkmen, Assyrians and other minorities make up the remainder 2%–4% of the population.[2] Around 20,000 Marsh Arabs live in southern Iraq.[137] Iraq also has a community of 2,500 Chechens.[138] In southern Iraq there is a community of Iraqis of African descent, a legacy of the slavery practiced in the Islamic Caliphate beginning before the Zanj Rebellion of the 9th century, and Basra's role as a key port.[35]

Religion[edit]

Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf

Iraq is a Muslim-majority country; Islam accounts for an estimated 97% of the population, while non-Muslims account for just 3%.[2] It has a mixed Shia and Sunni population. Most sources estimate that around 65% of Muslims in Iraq are Shia, and around 35% are Sunni.[2][139] The Sunni population complains of facing discrimination in almost all aspects of life by the government. However, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki denies it.[140] Christians have inhabited what is modern day Iraq for about 2,000 years.[141] They numbered over 1.4 million in 1987.[142] Indigenous Assyrians, most of whom are adherents of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Assyrian Church of the East and Syriac Orthodox Church account for most of the Christian population. Estimates for the numbers of Christians suggest a decline from 8–10% in the mid-20th century to 5% in 2008. More than half of Iraqi Christians have fled to neighbouring countries since the start of the war, and many have not returned, although a number are migrating back to the traditional Assyrian homeland in the Kurdish Autonomous region.[143][144]

Kurdish children in Sulaymaniyah

There are also small ethno-religious minority populations of Mandaeans, Shabaks, Yarsan and Yezidis. The Iraqi Jewish community, numbering around 150,000 in 1941, has almost entirely left the country.[145]

Languages[edit]

Arabic is the majority language, Kurdish is spoken by approximately 10–15% of the population, Turkmen,[103]the Neo-Aramaic language of the Assyrians and others by 5%.[2] Other smaller minority languages include Mandaic, Shabaki, Armenian, and Persian. Arabic, Kurdish, Persian, and South Azeri are written with versions of the Arabic script, the Neo-Aramaic languages in the Syriac script and Armenian is written in the Armenian script.

Prior to the invasion in 2003, Arabic was the sole official language. Since the new Constitution of Iraq approved in June 2004, both Arabic and Kurdish are official languages,[146] while Assyrian Neo-Aramaic and Turkmen language (referred to as respectively "Syriac" and "Turkmen" in the constitution) are recognized regional languages.[147] In addition, any region or province may declare other languages official if a majority of the population approves in a general referendum.[148]

According to the Iraqi constitution: "The Arabic language and the Kurdish language are the two official languages of Iraq. The right of Iraqis to educate their children in their mother tongue, such as Turkmen, Syriac/Assyrian, and Armenian shall be guaranteed in government educational institutions in accordance with educational guidelines, or in any other language in private educational institutions" [149]

Diaspora and refugees[edit]

Iraqi refugees in Damascus, Syria

The dispersion of native Iraqis to other countries is known as the Iraqi diaspora. 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 and Jordan.[150] The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre estimates an additional 1.9 million are currently displaced within the country.[151]

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.[152] Refugees are mired in poverty as they are generally barred from working in their host countries.[153][154] 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.[155]

As of 2011, nearly 3 million Iraqis have been displaced, with 1.3 million within the Iraq and 1.6 million in neighboring countries, mainly Jordan and Syria.[156] More than half of Iraqi Christians have fled the country since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.[157][158] According to official United States Citizenship and Immigration Services statistics, 58,811 Iraqis have been granted refugee-status citizenship as of May 25, 2011.[159]

To escape the civil war, over 160,000 Syrian refugees of varying ethnicities have fled to Iraq since 2012.[160] Increasing violence during the Syrian civil war led to an increasing numbers of Iraqis returning to their native country.[161]

Culture[edit]

Public holidays in Iraq include Republic Day on July 14 and the National Day on October 3.

Music[edit]

Iraqi maqam performer Muhammad al-Qubbanchi.

Iraq is known primarily for its rich maqam 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. 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).[162] This form of art is recognized by UNESCO as “an intangible heritage of humanity”.[163]

Early in the 20th century, many of the most prominent musicians in Iraq were Jewish.[164] In 1936, Iraq Radio was established with an ensemble made up entirely of Jews, with the exception of the percussion player. At the nightclubs of Baghdad, ensembles consisted of oud, qanun and two percussionists, while the same format with a ney and cello were used on the radio.[164]

The most famous singer of the 1930s–1940s was perhaps the Jew Salima Pasha (later Salima Murad).[164][165] 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.[164]

The most famous early composer from Iraq was Ezra Aharon, an oud player, while the most prominent instrumentalist was Daoud Al-Kuwaiti. Daoud and his brother Saleh formed the official ensemble for the Iraqi radio station and were responsible for introducing the cello and ney into the traditional ensemble.[164]

Art and architecture[edit]

Important cultural institutions in the capital include the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra – 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 – which houses the world's largest and finest collection of artifacts and relics of Ancient Iraqi civilizations; some of which were stolen during the Occupation of Iraq.

The capital, Ninus or Nineveh, was taken by the Medes under Cyaxares, and some 200 years after Xenophon 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 km) N.E. of Mosul; 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.

Media[edit]

After the end of the full state control in 2003, there were a period of significant growth in the broadcast media in Iraq. Immediately, and the ban on satellite dishes is no longer in place, and by mid-2003, according to a BBC report, there were 20 radio stations from 0.15 to 17 television stations owned by Iraqis, and 200 Iraqi newspapers owned and operated. Significantly, there have been many of these newspapers in numbers disproportionate to the population of their locations. For example, in Najaf, which has a population of 300,000, is being published more than 30 newspapers and distributed.

Iraqi media expert and author of a number of reports on this subject, Ibrahim Al Marashi, identifies four stages of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 where they had been taking the steps that have significant effects on the way for the later of the Iraqi media since then. Stages are: pre-invasion preparation, and the war and the actual choice of targets, the first post-war period, and a growing insurgency and hand over power to the Iraqi Interim Government (IIG) and Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.[166][page needed]

Cuisine[edit]

Iraqi cuisine has a long history going back some 10,000 years – to the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians and Ancient Persians.[167] Tablets found in ancient ruins in Iraq show recipes prepared in the temples during religious festivals – the first cookbooks in the world.[167] Ancient Iraq, or Mesopotamia, was home to many sophisticated and highly advanced civilizations, in all fields of knowledge – including the culinary arts.[167] However, it was in the medieval era when Baghdad was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate that the Iraqi kitchen reached its zenith.[167] Today the cuisine of Iraq reflects this rich inheritance as well as strong influences from the culinary traditions of neighbouring Turkey, Iran and the Greater Syria area.[167]

Some characteristic ingredients of Iraqi cuisine include – vegetables such as aubergine, tomato, okra, onion, potato, courgette, garlic, peppers and chilli, cereals such as rice, bulgur wheat and barley, pulses and legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and cannellini, fruits such as dates, raisins, apricots, figs, grapes, melon, pomegranate and citrus fruits, especially lemon and lime.[167]

Similarly with other countries of Western Asia, chicken and especially lamb are the favourite meats. Most dishes are served with rice – usually Basmati, grown in the marshes of southern Iraq.[167] Bulgur wheat is used in many dishes – having been a staple in the country since the days of the Ancient Assyrians.[167]

Sport[edit]

Football is the most popular sport in Iraq. Football is a considerable uniting factor in Iraq following years of war and unrest. Basketball, swimming, weightlifting, bodybuilding, boxing, kick boxing and tennis are also popular sports.

The Iraqi Football Association is the governing body of football in Iraq, controlling the Iraqi National Team and the Iraqi Premier League (also known as Dawri Al-Nokba). It was founded in 1948, and has been a member of FIFA since 1950 and the Asian Football Confederation since 1971. The Iraqi National Football Team were the 2007 AFC Asian Cup Champions after defeating Saudi Arabia in the final.

Technology[edit]

Mobile phones[edit]

Despite having mobile phones in the middle east since 1995, Iraqis were only able to use mobile phones in 2003. Mobile phones were banned under Saddam's rule and the punishment of owning or using a mobile phone could be death. Currently upwards to 78%[168] of Iraqis own a mobile phone.

Satellite[edit]

According to Iraqi Ministry of Communication, Iraq is now in the second phase of building and launching a multipurpose strategic satellite.[169]

A project which expected to cost $600 million is ongoing in cooperation with market leaders such as Astrium and Ariannespace.

Undersea cable[edit]

On the 18th January 2012 Iraq was connected to the undersea communications network for the first time.[170]

This had an immense impact on internet speed, availability and usage in Iraq.

On 2 October 2013, the Iraqi Minister for Communication ordered the internet prices to be lowered by a third. This is an attempt to boost usage and comes as a result of significant improvements in Interent infrastructure in the country.[171]

Health[edit]

In 2010, spending on healthcare accounted for 6.84% of the country's GDP. In 2008, there were 6.96 physicians and 13.92 nurses per 10,000 inhabitants.[172] The life expectancy at birth was 68.49 years in 2010, or 65.13 years for males and 72.01 years for females.[173] This is down from a peak life expectancy of 71.31 years in 1996.[174]

Iraq had developed a centralized free health care system in the 1970s using a hospital based, capital-intensive model of curative care. The country depended on large-scale imports of medicines, medical equipment and even nurses, paid for with oil export income, according to a “Watching Brief” report issued jointly by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in July 2003. Unlike other poorer countries, which focused on mass health care using primary care practitioners, Iraq developed a Westernized system of sophisticated hospitals with advanced medical procedures, provided by specialist physicians. The UNICEF/WHO report noted that prior to 1990, 97% of the urban dwellers and 71% of the rural population had access to free primary health care; just 2% of hospital beds were privately managed. [175]

Education[edit]

Students at the college of medicine of the University of Basrah, 2010

The CIA World Factbook estimates that in 2000 the adult literacy rate was 84% for males and 64% for females, with UN figures suggesting a small fall in literacy of Iraqis aged 15–24 between 2000 and 2008, from 84.8% to 82.4%.[176] The Coalition Provisional Authority undertook a complete reform of Iraq’s education system: Baathist ideology was removed from curricula and there were substantial increases in teacher salaries and training programs, which the Hussein regime neglected in the 1990s. In 2003 an estimated 80% of Iraq’s 15,000 school buildings needed rehabilitation and lacked basic sanitary facilities, and most schools lacked libraries and laboratories.

Education is mandatory only through the sixth grade, after which a national examination determines the possibility of continuing into the upper grades. Although a vocational track is available to those who do not pass the exam, few students elect that option because of its poor quality. Boys and girls generally attend separate schools beginning with seventh grade. In 2005 obstacles to further reform were poor security conditions in many areas, a centralized system that lacked accountability for teachers and administrators, and the isolation in which the system functioned for the previous 30 years. Few private schools exist. Prior to the occupation of 2003, some 240,000 persons were enrolled in institutions of higher education.

According to the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, the top-ranking universities in the country are the University of Dohuk (1717th worldwide), the University of Baghdad (3160th) and Babylon University (3946th).[177]

See also[edit]

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