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History Of Iraq Essay

2806 words - 12 pages

Mesopotamia, whose territory was roughly equivalent to that of modern Iraq, fell to the Ottoman Turks in the 16th century and remained part of the Ottoman Empire until a British invasion during World War One. As a method for ensuring the success of the uprising against the Ottoman Turks, the British supported the national independence movement within Iraq. However, in 1920 the Treaty of Sèvres established Iraq as a mandate of the League of Nations under British administration. The delay in attaining independence provoked a revolt in 1920, which was subsequently suppressed by the British. The containment of the rebellion was costly to the British, who soon realised the expediency in ...view middle of the document...

In 1955 the Baghdad Pact, a mutual security treaty, was agreed between Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, and Britain. During the 1956 Suez crisis the Iraqi government expressed unequivocal support for Egypt. In 1958, as a counter-measure to the federation of Syria and Egypt into the United Arab Republic (UAR), Iraq and Jordan announced their merger into the pro-Western Arab Union.
On 14th July 1958 General Abd al-Karim Kassem led a revolution deposing the royal family. Kassem proclaimed Iraq a republic and declared Islam the national religion. King Faisal, Crown Prince Abd al-Ilah, and Nuri al-Said were executed, and the Arab Union was dissolved in favour of establishing closer relations with the UAR. Iraq formally withdrew from the Baghdad Pact in 1959. Relations with the USSR improved but Iraq maintained a stance of non-alignment during the Cold War. Iraq claimed sovereignty over Kuwait and Iranian territory along the Shatt al Arab, antagonising relations with neighbouring states. In 1962 Kurdish groups, led by Mustafa al-Barzani, revolted demanding an autonomous Kurdistan, eventually gaining control of much of northern Iraq.
The Kassem regime was overthrown in 1963 in a revolt led by Colonel Abdul Salam Arif. The new regime was dominated by Ba’ath party members (a socialist group whose overall goal was Arab unity), despite President Arif himself claiming no links to the party. Indeed soon after the coup President Arif expelled all Ba’ath party members. Three years later Arif was killed in a helicopter crash and his brother, Gen. Abdul Rahman Arif, assumed office only to be overthrown two years later in a bloodless coup. The new regime, led by yet another military official, Major General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, was once again dominated by the Ba’ath party.
During the Arab-Israeli Six Day War in 1967, Iraq provided logistical support to the Arab cause, resulting in the severance of US-Iraqi relations. The following years were characterised by improved relations with the USSR, and in 1972 a 15-year friendship treaty was signed. Also during the 1970s, Iraq fully nationalised the foreign-owned oil companies operating within Iraq, and, as a result of dramatically rising oil prices, enjoyed a considerable increase in oil revenues. Iraq once again took an active role during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, opposing the subsequent cease-fire and agreements negotiated by Egypt and Syria with Israel.
1974 saw the eruption of major clashes between Iran and Iraq. These were directly triggered by Iranian support for Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, but followed years of more general conflict over border issues. Iraq eventually agreed to concessions over border disputes in return for the cessation of Iranian support for the Kurdish rebellion. The agreement was a major blow to Kurdish opposition seeking improvements on a 1970 Kurdish autonomy law. During this time opposition was also growing among the Shiites in the south, who despite forming the majority of the...

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