The modern state of Iraq lies in the so-called “cradle of civilization”, the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
Like most of the Middle eastern countries, modern Iraq was carved out of the old Ottoman Empire at its collapse in 1918.
It is on the border of Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia. Kuwait and Iran.
Iraq has two outlets to the Arabian Gulf, the river port and large city of Basra and Umm Qasr near the Kuwait Border.
The country climate is harsh. Summer temperatures reaching 40C and cold hard winters, with rain in northern areas and snow in the mountains of the North-east. A dry north-west wind, the shamal, brings frequent summer sandstorms.
Between the arid desert of the west and the mountains of the north-west, Iraq has much fertile agricultural land. Barrages and dams on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, north of the cities of Hit and Samara create a well-watered upper plain. The main crops are wheat, barley and maize. The lower plain, south of Hit and Samara to the Gulf, is a marshy land where rice is grown. Along the River Shatt al-Arab dates are grown. Iraq produces 80 per cent of the world supply.
In the foothills of the mountains in the north-east tobacco, fruit, tomatoes and grapes are grown. Sheep and cattle are reared to export wool and meat.
Iraq is rich on natural gas and oil and has 15 per cent of the world’s reserves of oil. Due to its natural resources and major agriculture Iraq could be a great country in the Middle East, if not the greatest.
PEOPLE AND HISTORY
The land between the Tigris and Euphrates was formerly known as Mesopotamia. It there that the first civilization, the Sumerian, developed around 4000 BC.
The Sumerians were followed by the Babylonians, the Assyrians and the Persian Sassanians.
Muslim Arabs first arrived in 637 AD. The country came back to its former glory under the Muslim Abbasid dynasty, who claimed descent from Mohammed’s uncle and created a new capital Baghdad.
The last Abbasid Caliph was murdered by the Turks in 1258. From that date until the end of the World War I the area was part of the Ottoman Empire.
After 1921 Iraq was a kingdom under British protection, gaining full independence in 1932.
1958 the king was overthrown and a republic was set up. Coup after coup until a real stability came into power under army Commander, Saddam Hussein. During the stable climate of 1970 the country started to progress rapidly as a major oil producer.
Iraq’s problems are that the Muslim’s population is divided into Shiites and Sunnis but the ruling party are Sunnis who fear the Shiite Muslims especially from neighbouring countries such as Iran.
Another problem is the mountainous region in the north-east of the country is home of four million Kurds. Kurds are an ancient people whose native land was included into the Ottoman Empire. When the empire broke up they were promised an independent homeland but it never happened. Nowadays the Kurds are a large minority in Iraq, Iran and Turkey. The problem in Iraq is the Kurdish area is very rich in oil; of course, Iraq does not want to lose it.
During the 1970s some measure of self-government had been introduced but it was not an independence.
1979 the Shah of Iran was overthrown by Shiite extremists under Ayatollah Khomeini and Saddam feared that Iraqi Shiites would rise against him at the same time. Saddam decided to dispute the agreed Iran-Iraq boundary along the River Shatt al-Arab, and his army invaded Iran in 1980.
The war late eight years with huge casualties on both sides.
At the end of the war Iraqi government sent the army to Kurdistan, where guerrilla had seized control of Iraqi areas. Thousands of Kurds died and thousands fled to Turkey and Iran.
With the economy in ruins Saddam looked for another source of income and saw Kuwait. He accused Kuwait of overproducing oil, flooding the market and lowering the prices. He also accused Kuwait of stealing Iraq’s oil.
August 1990 Saddam invaded Kuwait. Iraq ignored warning to get out of Kuwait and in 1991 a large Allied force started an intensive bombing campaign.
Iraq was defeated and the UN forced Iraq to destroy all its weapons, conventional, nuclear or chemical. It also had to pay huge compensation to Kuwait. Iraq also received economic sanctions which added to the problems.
Saddam turned again on the Kurds rebels in the north and two million more Kurds fled. He also launched a campaign against the Shiite March Arabs. The Allies enforced “safe havens” for Kurds and Shiites but the Iraqi government still carried on its campaigns.
At this point it has to be said that the USA and UK had no right to invade Iraq starting a 10 year long war, and illegal, killing one million Iraqis and over 480 British soldiers, numerous maimed some for live.
Today Iraq is ruined economically and is still an international outcast, because of its failure to fulfil the terms of the UN resolution. It also has to be said whether the UN resolution was right which it is not always is the case.
Roughly 50 per cent of the population is unemployed, the people are facing famine caused by the sanctions. There again it only hurts ordinary people and they suffered enough but if USA and/or UN does not like something their answer is sanction like with Crimea.
In the early 1993 the country was suffering from inflation of over 1000 per cent and is effectively closed to visitors.
In my opinion it is hard to understand that after a failed accusation of Saddam’s Weapon-of-Mass-Destruction, removal of Saddam Hussein, an illegal invasion of Iraq by the Allies which cost unnecessary lives and sufferings that the Allies still have the right to sanction adding more suffering to Iraq’s people. Should not the UN step in and stop it instead since they supposed to be the peace keeping force and neutral?