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Iraq Independence

The history of the modern country of Iraq does not begin until the close of the First World War (1918), when the Ottoman Empire was aligned with Germany and Austria against England, France, Italy, and Russia in a clash of empires. The Fertile Crescent at this time was controlled by the Turks. The defeat of the Ottoman Empire meant the British and French took large parts of the conquered region to administer for themselves. The British took three provinces of the Ottoman Empire, Basra, Baghdad, and Mosul which they welded together into Iraq. Although the area appeared cohesive on a map, the Turks had kept the provinces divided for a reason. The populations were disparate and antagonistic toward one another. In the north were the Kurds, in the central region around Baghdad were the Sunnis, and in the south, and most populous region, were the Shiites. There were also many other, smaller, groups populating the area.

King Faisal I of Iraq
The British administered state of Iraq was controlled in a manner reminiscent of the Roman Empire, allowing a certain amount of internal autonomy. The British turned the new state into a kingdom, and placed on the throne, Faisal, who had fought alongside T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) when that charismatic gentleman had led an Arab rebellion against the Ottoman Empire in favor of Britain. Faisal's rule was oppressive especially to the Shiite population which was given little say in the government.

Iraq gained its independence from Great Britain in 1932. But in the 1930s two dissident parties formed, the Communists and the Baathists. The communist influence came out of the Soviet Union. The Baathist party was a fascist organization very much along the lines of Hitler's Nazis. The main thrust of the two intellectuals that spawned the party, Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar, was to form a greater Arab national entity under a firm leader. Baathism was/is not a religious idea but a political ideology.

  1. Ancient Antecedents of Iraq
  2. Iraq Independence
  3. The Rise of al-Bakr in Iraq
  4. Saddam and the Gulf War
  5. The Iraq War and Its Aftermath

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