Iraq History

By | January 9, 2023

Iraq – national flag

Iraq National Flag

Iraq’s current flag is from 1991. It has the pan-Arab colors, which symbolize the revolution, the glorious future and the tradition. The country’s first flag from 1919 contained a red, triangular field similar to Jordan’s flag, but with two stars in the field. In 1963, the triangle, after the Egyptian model, was replaced by three stars, which symbolized a union with Egypt and Syria. The stars today stand for unity, freedom and socialism. In 1991, the inscription “God is great” was added.

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Iraq – History

History of Iraq, the area around the Euphrates and Tigris rivers has been home to some of the most significant and famous ancient cultures, primarily the Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians. For the history of these cultures, see Sumerians, Assyria, Babylon, and Mesopotamia.

  • AbbreviationFinder: Check three-letter abbreviation for each country in the world, such as IRQ which represents the official name of Iraq.

In 539 BC. Babylon was conquered by the Persian king Cyrus II the Great, and the area then became part of the Persian Empire. 331 BC the Iraqi territory was conquered by Alexander the Great. The area was until approximately 140 BC part of the Seleucid Empire, whose capital, Seleukia, lay on the Tigris. During the Parthian wars against Rome in the following centuries, the border between the Roman Empire and the Parthian Empire passed through Iraq, and from approximately 225 AD the area was part of the Sasanian empire.

Historical overview
1534-1917 Iraq under Ottoman rule.
1917 Britain conquers Baghdad.
1920-32 Iraq is administered as a British mandate area.
1921-58 Iraqi monarchy.
1925 The Mosul area is incorporated into Iraq.
1934 Oil exports from Kirkuk via pipelines.
1941 Protestant government in Iraq. Britain occupies Basra and Baghdad.
1945 Iraq co – founder of the Arab League and member of the United Nations.
1958 Military coup. The royal family is killed and the monarchy is abolished. Abd al-Karim Qasim becomes president.
1968 The Ba’ath party comes to power in a coup.
1972 Iraq’s oil industry is being nationalized.
1979 Saddam Hussein becomes president.
1980-88 Iran-Iraq War.
1990 Iraq occupies Kuwait. The UN imposes sanctions.
1991 The Gulf War. Iraq suffers defeat to an international force under US leadership. Unsuccessful uprisings among the Kurds and Shia Muslims.
2003 A US-led coalition invades Iraq and overthrows Saddam Hussein.

The region was conquered by the Arabs from the 630’s, in 642 the Sasanians suffered the decisive defeat, and Iraq was thus part of the caliphate created in Medina after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632. With the Abbasid revolution 749-750, Iraq replaced Syria as the political and economic center of the caliphate. Baghdad was founded in the 760’s and remained the capital of the caliphate until the Mongol conquest of the area in 1258.

According to a2zgov, after belonging to several different dynasties in the following period, parts of Iraq became in the early 1500-t. subject to the Shiite Safavids, but as early as 1534 the Ottomans succeeded in securing the territory, which was administratively divided into the provinces of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra. In 1623, the Safavids again succeeded in subjugating part of Iraq, but as early as 1638 they had to return control to the Ottomans. Formally, Iraq was part of the Ottoman Empire until the end of World War I, but both Mosul and Basra provinces were often controlled by local families.

The formation of modern Iraq

From the late 1800’s. the first examples of Arab nationalism can be traced in the Iraqi territory. As in other parts of the Arab Middle East that were under Ottoman control, groups of Arabs began to work for independence. In 1915, the sheriff of Mecca, Husayn ibn Ali, entered into an agreement with Britain on behalf of the various Arab groups, promising to support the establishment of an independent state encompassing the former Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire. In return, the Arabs, led by Husayn ibn Ali, began the Arab Revolt in 1916, which was joined by a small number of Arab officers from Iraq. Iraq had already been involved in World War I in 1914, when a British army secured control of Shatt al-Arab. By the end of the war in 1918, the British had conquered the area from Basra in the south to Kirkuk in the north, but they did not fulfill their promise; the former Ottoman provinces of the Middle East were instead divided as mandates between Britain and France.

When it was decided in 1920 that Iraq should be a British mandate, unrest broke out in the southern part of the country. The uprising was defeated, and after negotiations Husayn ibn Ali’s son Faysal acceptedto be installed as King of Iraq; In 1922, the Iraqi government recognized the country’s status as a British mandate. In 1924, a Constituent Assembly was elected which determined that Iraq should be developed into a sovereign state with a hereditary constitutional monarchy and an elected parliament. The Mosul area, whose population was predominantly Kurdish and which Turkey had also claimed, was incorporated into Iraq in 1925 on the recommendation of the League of Nations. paved the way for the British recognition of Iraq’s independence in 1932.

Iraq after independence

The transition to full independence was marked by conflicts between different groups, all of whom wanted to secure political power. Faysal established a partnership with local leaders in both southern and northern Iraq, although several uprisings suggested that not everyone agreed to be ruled by Baghdad. In 1933, Faysal was succeeded by his son Ghazi. The Iraqi government had handed over oil concessions to foreign companies during the 1920’s, and from 1934 oil was exported from Kirkuk. Exports of oil from Mosul and Basra began only after World War II. Kirkuk’s oil revenues enabled the many shifting governments, almost all of which were rooted in the army, to embark on a limited modernization of the country.

Heads of State
monarchy Sort
1921-33 Faysal 1.
1933-39 Ghazi 1.
1939-58 Faysal 2.
1958-63 Abd al-Karim Qasim
1963-66 Abd al-Salam Arif
1966-68 Abd al-Rahman Arif
1968-79 Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr
1979-2003 Saddam Hussein
2005-14 Jalal al-Talabani
2014- Fuad Masum

In 1941, a group of Protestant officers seized power in a coup. The group tried to prevent British troop transports through the country, which is why Britain occupied Basra and Baghdad the same year. The British lifted the occupation in 1945, but retained considerable influence and full control over two large bases in the country. That same year, Iraq became a member of the United Nations and helped form the Arab League.

The development leading up to the fall of the monarchy in 1958 was marked by the contradictions that had already emerged during the transition to independence. When Ghazi died in 1939, he was succeeded by his minor son Faysal 2. All political power was concentrated in the hands of the liberal Prime Minister Nuri al-Said, who advocated political and military cooperation with the West but opposed economic reforms that could threaten the status quo. Throughout the 1950’s, therefore, the political struggle became radicalized.

In 1955, Iraq, together with Turkey, formed the Baghdad Pact, which was to secure the Middle East against alleged Soviet aggression. Iran, Pakistan, and Britain soon joined, and the United States gained associate status. At the same time, the Arab world was politically challenged by the so-called Free Officers, who had come to power in Egypt in 1952. They worked for the formation of the Alliance-Free Movement, which was to prevent the Third World from being caught in a political game between the superpowers. The efforts were popular with sections of the Iraqi people who also supported Egyptian President Nasser in the wake of the 1956 Suez crisis.

Iraq as a republic

In July 1958, Iraqi officers staged a coup in which the royal family and a number of leading politicians, including Nuri al-Said, were killed. The new rulers made Iraq a republic and took over all political power. The coup was planned by Abd al-Karim Qasim and Abd al-Salam Arif, who both wanted economic reforms and the withdrawal of the Baghdad Pact; but where Qasim wanted to preserve Iraq as an independent political entity, Arif advocated Iraqi accession to the United Arab Republic, which in the same year had been formed by Egypt and Syria. The power struggle was won by Qasim, who took over power. However, his regime was challenged from several sides. By the 1950’s, the Iraqi Communist Party had established itself both within the army and in trade unions. Qasim carried out several purges against the Communists, and in 1959 he banned the party. The Kurds posed a more serious challenge to the regime. The Kurdish leader Mulla Mustafa al-Barzani founded the Kurdish Democratic Party, KDP, in 1958. He demanded the introduction of a new constitution that guaranteed Kurdish autonomy.

Qasim was overthrown in a coup in 1963, and with the support of the Ba’ath party, Abd al-Salam Arif became the country’s new leader. Soon after, a land reform was implemented, and in 1964, all banks and insurance companies in addition to a number of major industrial companies were nationalized. On the same occasion, all existing political parties and organizations were banned except the Arab Socialist Union. Arif’s government did not keep its promises of increased Kurdish autonomy and broke a ceasefire. In 1966, the government was pressured into a new ceasefire, and the Kurds were once again offered increased autonomy. They were also to have permanent representation in the government; but even this time the promises were not fulfilled.


A new coup in 1968 brought the Ba’ath party to power. The Revolutionary Command Council, RCC, became the country’s most important political body, and Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr took over the presidency. Iraq’s oil industry was nationalized in 1972; Iraqi demands for higher oil prices found support in other oil-exporting countries and led to a quadrupling of the oil price in the winter of 1973-74. The rise in prices and Iraq’s growing oil exports made it possible to expand infrastructure, build schools and hospitals, as well as offer a range of new social services to the general population. It secured the popular support of the Ba’athist government, but a number of the political problems that had plagued the country for many years were not resolved.

By 1970, a new agreement had been reached with the Kurds: Kurdish was recognized as an official language in line with Arabic, and the Kurds were to have a direct influence on developments in the Kurdish areas and have permanent representation in the RCC. When the promises had not yet been fulfilled in 1974, new fighting broke out between the Kurds and the Ba’athist regime. The fighting came to an end when Iran promised in 1975 to give up its support for the Kurdish struggle, and parts of the Kurdish population were forcibly settled in central and southern Iraq. Many were allowed to move back in 1976, but a real solution to the Kurdish problem had still not been found, and Kurdish resistance continued, led from Tehran by al-Barzani.

Throughout the 1970’s, Iraq became one of the USSR’s most important partners in the Arab world. The Iraqi government was a sharp critic of the negotiations that Egypt began with Israel after the October War in 1973, and after Egyptian President Sadat’s trip to Jerusalem in 1977, Iraq took on the role of leader of the Arab countries’ anti-Egyptian wing.

Iraq under Saddam Hussein

In 1979, Saddam Hussein replaced Hasan al-Bakr as president. When Iraq launched a military attack on Iran the following year, it marked the beginning of the eight-year Iran -Iraq War. The war was at times very extensive and indirectly involved several states on the Persian Gulf. The area’s oil – rich Arab states supported Iraq financially, but failed to bring Iran to its knees. In August 1988, the parties entered into a ceasefire, which, however, did not lead to an actual peace agreement until 1997.

After the war, Iraq was on the brink of economic ruin and therefore tried to pressure Kuwait in particular into economic concessions. The Iraqi government claimed that during the Iran-Iraq War, Kuwait had illegally acquired oil from a large oil field on the border between Iraq and Kuwait. Kuwait refused to give in to pressure, and on August 2, 1990, Iraq occupied the country, triggering a violent international reaction. During the autumn of 1990, an international alliance was established demanding total Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. Attempts to resolve the conflict by peaceful means failed, and in January 1991 the Alliance launched a military operation against Iraq (see Gulf War), who was forced to give up the occupation and enter into an unconditional ceasefire. Iraq had to take full responsibility for the conflict and commit itself to paying damages to Kuwait and the international community.

The defeat of the Baghdad government triggered a double internal Iraqi showdown, with both the Shia Muslim population in the south of the country and the Kurds in the north revolting. Both revolts were fought by the government; the international community, after some hesitation, established a security zone for the Kurds, and at the same time, Iraqi planes were banned from flying in the area north of 36 ° and south of 32 ° (extended to 33 ° in 1996).

In connection with the signing of the unconditional ceasefire, Iraq was forced to have representatives of the international community inspect the country’s arms industry, and a UN resolution then stated that Iraq’s nuclear facilities should be controlled and the country’s stockpiles of chemical weapons of mass destruction destroyed.

Throughout the 1990’s, Iraq was subject to sanctions because the regime did not meet the demands of the international community. After the end of the war, the UN had taken the initiative to establish a special body, UNSCOM, which was to ensure that the requirements for inspection of the country’s weapons stockpiles, weapons production and nuclear power plans could be implemented. However, UNSCOM was soon caught in a game between, on the one hand, the UN and, on the other, the regime, which claimed that control was a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty. In 1996, an agreement was reached between the UN and Iraq, which enabled Iraq to sell part of its oil on the international market. The proceeds were to be deposited in a UN-controlled account and used for the purchase of non-military goods, medicines, food, etc. The conditions were relaxed from time to time, and although the United States and Britain in 1998 and 2001 carried out bomb attacks on military targets in the country, the regime maintained its grip on the country. Following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, the United States accused the country of collaborating with international terrorism, and as Iraq received expanded licenses to sell oil, the United States intensified its accusations and put pressure on the international community through the United Nations. to get it to approve a military action, allegedly to prevent the manufacture and storage of weapons of mass destruction. It did not succeed, and the United States therefore created a military alliance, “coalition of the willing”, with Great Britain and Denmark, which in March 2003 invaded Iraq. On April 9, the government fell in Baghdad, and on May 1, the President of the United States officially declared war on the people. An American-led transitional administration was set up to draw up plans for the establishment of new and democratic institutions. The Alliance could not find evidence that Iraq had the weapons of mass destruction that had formed the basis of the invasion.

After Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein was captured in December 2003, but it did not help counter the onset of the crisis in the country. From the autumn of 2003, there were incipient attacks on the foreign military units, and from the beginning of 2004, the attacks escalated, just as armed fighting between different groupings in the country increased in scope. This made the establishment of a new political system difficult, and the timeframe for the restoration of full Iraqi sovereignty was repeatedly postponed. Immediately after the fall of the old regime, the coalition established a temporary administration, which drafted a new constitution for Iraq and ensured the holding of both local and national elections. The real transfer of power was postponed several times as the attacks on international forces intensified, and as parts of the administration shifted to Iraqi leadership, attacks were also carried out on it. The central and southern part of Iraq was really marked by civil war. The Kurdish region in the north of the country has more peaceful conditions, but even there the contradictions sometimes turned into violence and terror. Nevertheless, power was transferred to a transitional government in June 2004, and in January 2005 a multi-party election was held in the country for a constitutional assembly. In October 2005, a new parliamentary election was held under the new constitution. It led to a fragile Shiite-dominated coalition government below Nevertheless, power was transferred to a transitional government in June 2004, and in January 2005 a multi-party election was held in the country for a constitutional assembly. In October 2005, a new parliamentary election was held under the new constitution. It led to a fragile Shiite-dominated coalition government below Nevertheless, power was transferred to a transitional government in June 2004, and in January 2005 a multi-party election was held in the country for a constitutional assembly. In October 2005, a new parliamentary election was held under the new constitution. It led to a fragile Shiite-dominated coalition government belowNuri al-Maliki, who became Prime Minister in 2006.

In response to the deteriorating security situation, in 2007 the United States strengthened its military presence in the country and launched an offensive against the rebels. It managed to quell the uprising significantly, and the Iraqi government gained increased control of the country. Several countries withdrew their troops, including Denmark in December 2008 and Britain in May 2009. In 2008, an agreement was negotiated with the United States, according to which US troops were to leave Iraqi cities in June 2009, when the Iraqi military took over security duties.. The last US combat troops left Iraq up to 1.9.2010. During the summer of this year, there was an escalation of terrorist attacks in Iraq, probably due to the withdrawal of US troops.

The last US troops left Iraq by the end of 2011, and subsequently relations between the United States and al-Maliki’s government cooled considerably. Sunni Muslim opponents of al-Maliki’s rule were strengthened by the fierce civil war in neighboring Syria. In 2014, the Islamist Sunni Islamist movement ISIS succeeded in overthrowing large parts of northern Iraq, and the movement’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (b. 1971), proclaimed a caliphate that tentatively covered the areas of Syria and Iraq. the movement controlled. The success of ISIS exhibited the powerlessness of government forces vis-à-vis targeted enemies, even though these are inferior in terms of numbers, equipment and training. The advance of the Islamists led to the resignation of al-Maliki, and in September 2014, Haidar al-Abadia new government. Al-Abadi is also a Shia Muslim, but he also gained the support of Sunni Muslim and Kurdish politicians.