Iraq History


The territory of modern Iraq roughly coincides with that of ancient Mesopotamia, in which several civilizations have followed. Sumeria emerged in the 4th millennium BC and reached its peak under the 3rd Ur dynasty at the end of the 3rd millennium BC. Then periods of hegemony in Babylon and Assyria followed. In 539 BC Cyrus II the Great gained control of the region, which remained under Persian command until it was conquered in 331 BC by Alexander the Great. With his death, the Seleucid dynasty, of Greek origin, reigned in Mesopotamia for 200 years. A long period followed under the new Persian dynasties – Arsacid and Sassanid -, until Muslim Arabs invaded the region in the year 700. Between 750 and 1258, Baghdad was the capital of the Abbasid caliphs.

After the sacking of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1258 and the subsequent looting of the restorer of the Mongol empire, Tamerlan, in the 14th century, Turks and Iranians vied for supremacy in the region, until the Ottoman Empire ensured its control in the 17th century, which lasted until the 19th century. At the end of the 19th century, Germany and Great Britain rivaled each other in the struggle for commercial control of the Mesopotamian area. The British government intended to consolidate its position in the Persian Gulf area by making treaties with the local Arab sheikhs, which allowed it in 1901 to obtain a concession to explore Iran’s oil fields. After Turkey’s entry into World War I (1914-1918 ) as an ally of the Central Empires, British forces invaded Mesopotamia, completely controlling it in 1918.

In 1920 an armed revolt began against the British army that occupied Iraq. Britain has devised a plan to install a provisional government in the new state of Iraq: a kingdom with a government headed by a council of Arab ministers, under the supervision of the British High Commissioner. Faiçal was invited to be the leader of the new state, which reigned as Faiçal I. In 1936, under the reign of Ghazi I, a movement began to develop in Iraq in search of the union of all Arabs, known as Pan- arabism. In 1939, he came to the throne Faiçal II, at the age of three, so a regency was established. Before the policy of non-cooperation with Britain in World War II, British troops invaded the country. Shortly after the armistice, a pro-British government was formed, which gave way to an office headed by Said.

When Israel’s independence was declared in 1948, the armies of Iraq and Transjordan (now Jordan) invaded the new state, arguing that the establishment of a Jewish government in Palestinian territory would be tantamount to recognizing the division of Palestine, to what Iraq has become. opposed it for a long time. After the defeat of the Arab forces and without confrontation with Israel, a ceasefire was signed between Israel and Transjordan, but some Iraqi units continued to fight the Israelis in the area occupied by the Arabs in northern central Palestine. In 1953 the first parliamentary elections were held by direct suffrage.

Constitutional government was reestablished and Faiçal II formally ceded the throne. The pro-western tendency of the Arab Union (federation of Jordan and Iraq), the repression suffered by the opposition groups and the enthusiasm that the creation of the United Arab Republic (RAU), the federation of Egypt and Syria has raised among the nationalist leaders of Iraq, who saw the possibility of carrying out their ideals of pan-Arabism, ended the monarchy. In 1958 the Iraqi general Karim Kassem gave a coup d’état and the republic was proclaimed. The new government announced a rapprochement with the RAU and the dissolution of the Arab Union. In 1963, Kassem was defeated by a group of officers and Abdul Salam Arif became president, who was succeeded in 1968 by his brother General Abdul Rahman Arif.

In the Six Day War (1967) Iraq sent troops and planes to the border between Jordan and Israel. He further declared war on Israel and cut off the oil supply to Western countries, while breaking diplomatic relations with the United States. In 1968, General Arif’s government was overthrown and General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr placed himself at the head of the Supreme Command of the Revolution. During the years that followed, Iraq maintained a rule of hostile attitude towards the West and of friendship with the USSR. The positions of each of the Arab countries, with respect to Israel, caused friction between Iraq and its neighbors. In 1974, strong fighting broke out between government forces and Kurdish nationalists, who rejected the autonomy law. General Saddam Takriti Hussein succeeded President Bakr in 1979, immediately surrounding himself with a dozen loyal officers, who he placed in responsible positions. The tension between Iraq and the Iranian revolutionary regime increased during 1979, when Iranian Kurdish discontent spread to Iraq.

Religious sectarianism exacerbated differences and the dispute led to the Iran-Iraq war. In 1990, Iraq revived an old territorial dispute with Kuwait and denounced that the country’s excessive oil production was damaging its economy. On August 2, Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait and provoked the Persian Gulf War. After the ceasefire and the peace agreement, the Iraqi government used the remains of its army to end the Shi’ite rebellion in the south and the Kurds in the north. Hundreds of thousands of Kurds have taken refuge in Turkey and Iran, and troops from the United States, France and Britain have settled in northern Iraq to establish refugee camps. Iraq continued its efforts to end internal resistance throughout 1994. In the spring of 1996, the UN lifted the embargo on Iraqi oil. In October 1997, Britain threatened to use force when Iraq refused to allow a UN team into the country.

According to, there was a period of delicate balance in relations, but in September 1998, the Security Council of the United Nations (UN) unanimously voted on a resolution maintaining sanctions against Iraq until Baghdad returned to cooperate with disarmament inspectors. In response to the call from China, France and Russia, the Council indicated the possibility of resuming cooperation, which calls for a joint examination of Iraq’s relations with the UN. After the letter delivered in extremis to the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, by the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Tarif Aziz, military intervention in Iraq was suspended by US President Bill Clinton. In the letter, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein finally decided to return to cooperate with the disarmament of the country, allowing the inspectors of the UN Special Commission to return. In December 1998, at the end of a series of fundamental inspections to test Iraq’s cooperation, two teams of inspectors on the Iraqi disarmament commission left Baghdad. The chief inspector, Richard Butler, said he was prevented from entering some buildings in Baghdad, which he considered in his report to be “a serious fact”. A few days later, the military retaliatory operation against Iraq began, carried out for four days by the forces of the United States and Great Britain, motivated by the refusal of the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, to collaborate with the UN disarmament inspectors. .

Iraq History