Archive for the ‘Iraq’ Category

Iraq – Wikipedia

Coordinates: 33N 44E / 33N 44E / 33; 44

Iraq (/rk/, i/rk/, or /ark/; Arabic: al-Irq; Kurdish: Eraq), officially known as the Republic of Iraq (Arabic: Jumhryyat al-Irq; Kurdish: Komari Eraq) is a country in Western Asia, bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest, and Syria to the west. The capital, and largest city, is Baghdad. The main ethnic groups are Arabs and Kurds; others include Assyrians, Turkmen, Shabakis, Yazidis, Armenians, Mandeans, Circassians, and Kawliya.[6] Around 95% of the country’s 36 million citizens are Muslims, with Christianity, Yarsan, Yezidism, and Mandeanism also present. The official languages of Iraq are Arabic and Kurdish.

Iraq has a coastline measuring 58km (36 miles) on the northern Persian Gulf and encompasses the Mesopotamian Alluvial Plain, the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, and the eastern part of the Syrian Desert.[7] Two major rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, run south through Iraq and into the Shatt al-Arab near the Persian Gulf. These rivers provide Iraq with significant amounts of fertile land.

The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, historically known as Mesopotamia, is often referred to as the cradle of civilisation. It was here that mankind first began to read, write, create laws, and live in cities under an organised governmentnotably Uruk, from which “Iraq” is derived. The area has been home to successive civilisations since the 6th millennium BC. Iraq was the centre of the Akkadian, Sumerian, Assyrian, and Babylonian empires. It was also part of the Median, Achaemenid, Hellenistic, Parthian, Sassanid, Roman, Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid, Ayyubid, Mongol, Safavid, Afsharid, and Ottoman empires.[8]

Iraq’s modern borders were mostly demarcated in 1920 by the League of Nations when the Ottoman Empire was divided by the Treaty of Svres. Iraq was placed under the authority of the United Kingdom as the British Mandate of Mesopotamia. A monarchy was established in 1921 and the Kingdom of Iraq gained independence from Britain in 1932. In 1958, the monarchy was overthrown and the Iraqi Republic created. Iraq was controlled by the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party from 1968 until 2003. After an invasion by the United States and its allies in 2003, Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party was removed from power and multi-party parliamentary elections were held in 2005. The American presence in Iraq ended in 2011,[9] but the Iraqi insurgency continued and intensified as fighters from the Syrian Civil War spilled into the country.

The Arabic name al-Irq has been in use since before the 6th century. There are several suggested origins for the name. One dates to the Sumerian city of Uruk (Biblical Hebrew Erech) and is thus ultimately of Sumerian origin, as Uruk was the Akkadian name for the Sumerian city of Urug, containing the Sumerian word for “city”, UR.[10][11] An Arabic folk etymology for the name is “deeply rooted, well-watered; fertile”.[12]

During the medieval period, there was a region called Irq Arab (“Arabian Iraq”) for Lower Mesopotamia and Irq ajam (“Foreign Iraq”),[13] for the region now situated in Central and Western Iran.[14] The term historically included the plain south of the Hamrin Mountains and did not include the northernmost and westernmost parts of the modern territory of Iraq.[15]

The term Sawad was also used in early Islamic times for the region of the alluvial plain of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, contrasting it with the arid Arabian desert. As an Arabic word, means “hem”, “shore”, “bank”, or “edge”, so that the name by folk etymology came to be interpreted as “the escarpment”, viz. at the south and east of the Jazira Plateau, which forms the northern and western edge of the “al-Iraq arabi” area.[16]

The Arabic pronunciation is [irq]. In English, it is either /rk/ (the only pronunciation listed in the Oxford English Dictionary and the first one in Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary) or /rk/ (listed first by MQD), the American Heritage Dictionary, and the Random House Dictionary. The pronunciation /ark/ is frequently heard in U.S. media.

Between 65,000 BC and 35,000 BC northern Iraq was home to a Neanderthal culture, archaeological remains of which have been discovered at Shanidar Cave[17] This same region is also the location of a number of pre-Neolithic cemeteries, dating from approximately 11,000 BC.[18]

Since approximately 10,000 BC, Iraq (alongside Asia Minor and The Levant) was one of centres of a Caucasoid Neolithic culture (known as Pre-Pottery Neolithic A) where agriculture and cattle breeding appeared for the first time in the world. The following Neolithic period (PPNB) is represented by rectangular houses. At the time of the pre-pottery Neolithic, people used vessels made of stone, gypsum and burnt lime (Vaisselle blanche). Finds of obsidian tools from Anatolia are evidences of early trade relations.

Further important sites of human advancement were Jarmo (circa 7100 BC),[18] the Halaf culture and Ubaid period (between 6500 BC and 3800 BC),[19] these periods show ever increasing levels of advancement in agriculture, tool making and architecture.

The historical period in Iraq truly begins during the Uruk period (4000 BC to 3100 BC), with the founding of a number of Sumerian cities, and the use of Pictographs, Cylinder seals and mass-produced goods.[21]

The “Cradle of Civilization” is thus a common term for the area comprising modern Iraq as it was home to the earliest known civilisation, the Sumerian civilisation, which arose in the fertile Tigris-Euphrates river valley of southern Iraq in the Chalcolithic (Ubaid period).

It was here, in the late 4th millennium BC, that the world’s first writing system and recorded history itself were born. The Sumerians were also the first to harness the wheel and create City States, and whose writings record the first evidence of Mathematics, Astronomy, Astrology, Written Law, Medicine and Organised religion.

The Sumerians spoke a Language Isolate, in other words, a language utterly unrelated to any other, including the Semitic Languages, Indo-European Languages, Afroasiatic languages or any other isolates. The major city states of the early Sumerian period were; Eridu, Bad-tibira, Larsa, Sippar, Shuruppak, Uruk, Kish, Ur, Nippur, Lagash, Girsu, Umma, Hamazi, Adab, Mari, Isin, Kutha, Der and Akshak.

Cities such as Ashur, Arbela (modern Irbil) and Arrapkha (modern Kirkuk) were also extant in what was to be called Assyria from the 25th century BC; however, at this early stage, they were Sumerian ruled administrative centres.

In the 26th century BC, Eannatum of Lagash created what was perhaps the first empire in history, though this was short-lived. Later, Lugal-Zage-Si, the priest-king of Umma, overthrew the primacy of the Lagash dynasty in the area, then conquered Uruk, making it his capital, and claimed an empire extending from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean.[22] It was during this period that the Epic of Gilgamesh originates, which includes the tale of The Great Flood.

From approximately 3000 BC, a Semitic people had entered Iraq from the west and settled amongst the Sumerians. These people spoke an East Semitic language that would later come to be known as Akkadian. From the 29th century BC, Akkadian Semitic names began to appear on king lists and administrative documents of various city states.

During the 3rd millennium BCE, a cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism. The influences between Sumerian and Akkadian are evident in all areas, including lexical borrowing on a massive scaleand syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence. This mutual influence has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and Akkadian of the 3rd millennium BCE as a Sprachbund.[23] From this period, the civilisation in Iraq came to be known as Sumero-Akkadian.

Between the 29th and 24th centuries BC, a number of kingdoms and city states within Iraq began to have Akkadian speaking dynasties; including Assyria, Ekallatum, Isin and Larsa.

However, the Sumerians remained generally dominant until the rise of the Akkadian Empire (23352124 BC), based in the city of Akkad in central Iraq. Sargon of Akkad, originally a Rabshakeh to a Sumerian king, founded the empire, he conquered all of the city states of southern and central Iraq, and subjugated the kings of Assyria, thus uniting the Sumerians and Akkadians in one state. He then set about expanding his empire, conquering Gutium, Elam, Cissia and Turukku in Ancient Iran, the Hurrians, Luwians and Hattians of Anatolia, and the Amorites and Eblaites of Ancient Syria.

After the collapse of the Akkadian Empire in the late 22nd century BC, the Gutians occupied the south for a few decades, while Assyria reasserted its independence in the north. This was followed by a Sumerian renaissance in the form of the Neo-Sumerian Empire. The Sumerians under king Shulgi conquered almost all of Iraq except the northern reaches of Assyria, and asserted themselves over the Elamites, Gutians and Amorites.

An Elamite invasion in 2004 BC brought the Sumerian revival to an end. By the mid 21st century BC, the Akkadian speaking kingdom of Assyria had risen to dominance in northern Iraq. Assyria expanded territorially into the north eastern Levant, central Iraq, and eastern Anatolia, forming the Old Assyrian Empire (circa 20351750 BC) under kings such as Puzur-Ashur I, Sargon I, Ilushuma and Erishum I, the latter of whom produced the most detailed set of Written Laws yet written. The south broke up into a number of Akkadian speaking states, Isin, Larsa and Eshnunna being the major ones.

During the 20th century BC, the Canaanite speaking Northwest Semitic Amorites began to migrate into southern Mesopotamia. Eventually, these Amorites began to set up small petty kingdoms in the south, as well as usurping the thrones of extant city states such as Isin, Larsa and Eshnunna.

One of these small kingdoms founded in 1894 BC contained the then small administrative town of Babylon within its borders. It remained insignificant for over a century, overshadowed by older and more powerful states, such as Assyria, Elam, Isin, Ehnunna and Larsa.

In 1792 BC, an Amorite ruler named Hammurabi came to power in this state, and immediately set about building Babylon from a minor town into a major city, declaring himself its king. Hammurabi conquered the whole of southern and central Iraq, as well as Elam to the east and Mari to the west, then engaged in a protracted war with the Assyrian king Ishme-Dagan for domination of the region, creating the short-lived Babylonian Empire. He eventually prevailed over the successor of Ishme-Dagan and subjected Assyria and its Anatolian colonies.

It is from the period of Hammurabi that southern Iraq came to be known as Babylonia, while the north had already coalesced into Assyria hundreds of years before. However, his empire was short-lived, and rapidly collapsed after his death, with both Assyria and southern Iraq, in the form of the Sealand Dynasty, falling back into native Akkadian hands. The foreign Amorites clung on to power in a once more weak and small Babylonia until it was sacked by the Indo-European speaking Hittite Empire based in Anatolia in 1595 BC. After this, another foreign people, the Language Isolate speaking Kassites, originating in the Zagros Mountains of Ancient Iran, seized control of Babylonia, where they were to rule for almost 600 years, by far the longest dynasty ever to rule in Babylon.

Iraq was from this point divided into three polities: Assyria in the north, Kassite Babylonia in the south central region, and the Sealand Dynasty in the far south. The Sealand Dynasty was finally conquered by Kassite Babylonia circa 1380 BC.

The Middle Assyrian Empire (13651020 BC) saw Assyria rise to be the most powerful nation in the known world. Beginning with the campaigns of Ashur-uballit I, Assyria destroyed the rival Hurrian-Mitanni Empire, annexed huge swathes of the Hittite Empire for itself, annexed northern Babylonia from the Kassites, forced the Egyptian Empire from the region, and defeated the Elamites, Phrygians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Cilicians, Gutians, Dilmunites and Arameans. At its height, the Middle Assyrian Empire stretched from The Caucasus to Dilmun (modern Bahrain), and from the Mediterranean coasts of Phoenicia to the Zagros Mountains of Iran. In 1235 BC, Tukulti-Ninurta I of Assyria took the throne of Babylon, thus becoming the very first native Mesopotamian to rule the state.

During the Bronze Age collapse (1200900 BC), Babylonia was in a state of chaos, dominated for long periods by Assyria and Elam. The Kassites were driven from power by Assyria and Elam, allowing native south Mesopotamian kings to rule Babylonia for the first time, although often subject to Assyrian or Elamite rulers. However, these East Semitic Akkadian kings, were unable to prevent new waves of West Semitic migrants entering southern Iraq, and during the 11th century BC Arameans and Suteans entered Babylonia from The Levant, and these were followed in the late 10th to early 9th century BC by the migrant Chaldeans who were closely related to the earlier Arameans.

After a period of comparative decline in Assyria, it once more began to expand with the Neo Assyrian Empire (935605 BC). This was to be the largest and most powerful empire the world had yet seen, and under rulers such as Adad-Nirari II, Ashurnasirpal, Shalmaneser III, Semiramis, Tiglath-pileser III, Sargon II, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal, Iraq became the centre of an empire stretching from Persia, Parthia and Elam in the east, to Cyprus and Antioch in the west, and from The Caucasus in the north to Egypt, Nubia and Arabia in the south.

The Arabs are first mentioned in written history (circa 850 BC) as a subject people of Shalmaneser III, dwelling in the Arabian Peninsula. The Chaldeans are also first mentioned at this time.

It was during this period that an Akkadian influenced form of Eastern Aramaic was introduced by the Assyrians as the lingua franca of their vast empire, and Mesopotamian Aramaic began to supplant Akkadian as the spoken language of the general populace of both Assyria and Babylonia. The descendant dialects of this tongue survive amongst the Assyrians of northern Iraq to this day.

In the late 7th century BC, the Assyrian Empire tore itself apart with a series of brutal civil wars, weakening itself to such a degree that a coalition of its former subjects; the Babylonians, Chaldeans, Medes, Persians, Parthians, Scythians and Cimmerians, were able to attack Assyria, finally bringing its empire down by 605 BC.[24]

The short-lived Neo-Babylonian Empire (620539 BC) succeeded that of Assyria. It failed to attain the size, power or longevity of its predecessor; however, it came to dominate The Levant, Canaan, Arabia, Israel and Judah, and to defeat Egypt. Initially, Babylon was ruled by yet another foreign dynasty, that of the Chaldeans, who had migrated to the region in the late 10th or early 9th century BC. Its greatest king, Nebuchadnezzar II, rivalled another non native ruler, the ethnically unrelated Amorite king Hammurabi, as the greatest king of Babylon. However, by 556 BC, the Chaldeans had been deposed from power by the Assyrian born Nabonidus and his son and regent Belshazzar.

In the 6th century BC, Cyrus the Great of neighbouring Persia defeated the Neo-Babylonian Empire at the Battle of Opis and Iraq was subsumed into the Achaemenid Empire for nearly two centuries. The Achaemenids made Babylon their main capital. The Chaldeans and Chaldea disappeared at around this time, though both Assyria and Babylonia endured and thrived under Achaemenid rule (see Achaemenid Assyria). Little changed under the Persians, having spent three centuries under Assyrian rule, their kings saw themselves as successors to Ashurbanipal, and they retained Assyrian Imperial Aramaic as the language of empire, together with the Assyrian imperial infrastructure, and an Assyrian style of art and architecture.

In the late 4th century BC, Alexander the Great conquered the region, putting it under Hellenistic Seleucid rule for over two centuries.[25] The Seleucids introduced the Indo-Anatolian and Greek term Syria to the region. This name had for many centuries been the Indo-European word for Assyria and specifically and only meant Assyria; however, the Seleucids also applied it to The Levant (Aramea, causing both the Assyria and the Assyrians of Iraq and the Arameans and The Levant to be called Syria and Syrians/Syriacs in the Greco-Roman world.[26]

The Parthians (247 BC 224 AD) from Persia conquered the region during the reign of Mithridates I of Parthia (r. 171138 BC). From Syria, the Romans invaded western parts of the region several times, briefly founding Assyria Provincia in Assyria. Christianity began to take hold in Iraq (particularly in Assyria) between the 1st and 3rd centuries, and Assyria became a centre of Syriac Christianity, the Church of the East and Syriac literature. A number of indigenous independent Neo-Assyrian states evolved in the north during the Parthian era, such as Adiabene, Assur, Osroene and Hatra.

A number of Assyrians from Mesopotamia were conscripted into or joined the Roman Army, and the Aramaic language of Assyria and Mesopotamia has been found as far afield as Hadrians Wall in northern Ancient Britain, with inscriptions written by Assyrian and Aramean soldiers of the Roman Empire.[29]

The Sassanids of Persia under Ardashir I destroyed the Parthian Empire and conquered the region in 224 AD. During the 240s and 250’s AD, the Sassanids gradually conquered the small Neo Assyrian states, culminating with Assur in 256 AD. The region was thus a province of the Sassanid Empire for over four centuries (see also; Asristn), and became the frontier and battle ground between the Sassanid Empire and Byzantine Empire, with both empires weakening each other greatly, paving the way for the Arab-Muslim conquest of Persia in the mid-7th century.

The Arab Islamic conquest in the mid-7th century AD established Islam in Iraq and saw a large influx of Arabs. Under the Rashidun Caliphate, the prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, Ali, moved his capital to Kufa when he became the fourth caliph. The Umayyad Caliphate ruled the province of Iraq from Damascus in the 7th century. (However, eventually there was a separate, independent Caliphate of Crdoba in Iberia.)

The Abbasid Caliphate built the city of Baghdad in the 8th century as its capital, and the city became the leading metropolis of the Arab and Muslim world for five centuries. Baghdad was the largest multicultural city of the Middle Ages, peaking at a population of more than a million,[30] and was the centre of learning during the Islamic Golden Age. The Mongols destroyed the city during the siege of Baghdad in the 13th century.[31]

In 1257, Hulagu Khan amassed an unusually large army, a significant portion of the Mongol Empire’s forces, for the purpose of conquering Baghdad. When they arrived at the Islamic capital, Hulagu Khan demanded its surrender, but the last Abbasid Caliph Al-Musta’sim refused. This angered Hulagu, and, consistent with Mongol strategy of discouraging resistance, he besieged Baghdad, sacked the city and massacred many of the inhabitants.[32] Estimates of the number of dead range from 200,000 to a million.[33]

The Mongols destroyed the Abbasid Caliphate and Baghdad’s House of Wisdom, which contained countless precious and historical documents. The city has never regained its previous pre-eminence as a major centre of culture and influence. Some historians believe that the Mongol invasion destroyed much of the irrigation infrastructure that had sustained Mesopotamia for millennia. Other historians point to soil salination as the culprit in the decline in agriculture.[34]

The mid-14th-century Black Death ravaged much of the Islamic world.[35] The best estimate for the Middle East is a death rate of roughly one-third.[36]

In 1401, a warlord of Mongol descent, Tamerlane (Timur Lenk), invaded Iraq. After the capture of Baghdad, 20,000 of its citizens were massacred.[37] Timur ordered that every soldier should return with at least two severed human heads to show him (many warriors were so scared they killed prisoners captured earlier in the campaign just to ensure they had heads to present to Timur).[38] Timur also conducted massacres of the indigenous Assyrian Christian population, hitherto still the majority population in northern Mesopotamia, and it was during this time that the ancient Assyrian city of Assur was finally abandoned.[39]

During the late 14th and early 15th centuries, the Black Sheep Turkmen ruled the area now known as Iraq. In 1466, the White Sheep Turkmen defeated the Black Sheep and took control. From the earliest 16th century, in 1508, as with all territories of the former White Sheep Turkmen, Iraq fell into the hands of the Iranian Safavids. Owing to the century long Turco-Iranian rivalary between the Safavids and the neighbouring Ottoman Turks, Iraq would be contested between the two for more than a hundred years during the frequent Ottoman-Persian Wars.

With the Treaty of Zuhab in 1639, most of the territory of present-day Iraq eventually came under the control of Ottoman Empire as the eyalet of Baghdad as a result of wars with the neighbouring rival, Safavid Iran. Throughout most of the period of Ottoman rule (15331918), the territory of present-day Iraq was a battle zone between the rival regional empires and tribal alliances.

By the 17th century, the frequent conflicts with the Safavids had sapped the strength of the Ottoman Empire and had weakened its control over its provinces. The nomadic population swelled with the influx of bedouins from Najd, in the Arabian Peninsula. Bedouin raids on settled areas became impossible to curb.[40]

During the years 17471831, Iraq was ruled by a Mamluk dynasty of Georgian[41] origin who succeeded in obtaining autonomy from the Ottoman Porte, suppressed tribal revolts, curbed the power of the Janissaries, restored order and introduced a programme of modernisation of economy and military. In 1831, the Ottomans managed to overthrow the Mamluk regime and imposed their direct control over Iraq. The population of Iraq, estimated at 30 million in 800 AD, was only 5 million at the start of the 20th century.[42]

During World War I, the Ottomans sided with Germany and the Central Powers. In the Mesopotamian campaign against the Central Powers, British forces invaded the country and initially suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Turkish army during the Siege of Kut (19151916). However, subsequent to this the British began to gain the upper hand, and were further aided by the support of local Arabs and Assyrians. In 1916, the British and French made a plan for the post-war division of Western Asia under the Sykes-Picot Agreement.[43] British forces regrouped and captured Baghdad in 1917, and defeated the Ottomans. An armistice was signed in 1918.

During World War I, the Ottomans were defeated and driven from much of the area by the United Kingdom during the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The British lost 92,000 soldiers in the Mesopotamian campaign. Ottoman losses are unknown but the British captured a total of 45,000 prisoners of war. By the end of 1918, the British had deployed 410,000 men in the area, of which 112,000 were combat troops.[citation needed]

On 11 November 1920, Iraq became a League of Nations mandate under British control with the name “State of Iraq”. The British established the Hashemite king, Faisal I of Iraq, who had been forced out of Syria by the French, as their client ruler. Likewise, British authorities selected Sunni Arab elites from the region for appointments to government and ministry offices.[specify][44][pageneeded]

Faced with spiraling costs and influenced by the public protestations of the war hero T. E. Lawrence[45] in The Times, Britain replaced Arnold Wilson in October 1920 with a new Civil Commissioner, Sir Percy Cox.[46] Cox managed to quell a rebellion, yet was also responsible for implementing the fateful policy of close co-operation with Iraq’s Sunni minority.[47] The institution of slavery was abolished in the 1920s.[48]

Britain granted independence to the Kingdom of Iraq in 1932,[49] on the urging of King Faisal, though the British retained military bases, local militia in the form of Assyrian Levies, and transit rights for their forces. King Ghazi ruled as a figurehead after King Faisal’s death in 1933, while undermined by attempted military coups, until his death in 1939. Ghazi was followed by his underage son, Faisal II. ‘Abd al-Ilah served as Regent during Faisal’s minority.

On 1 April 1941, Rashid Ali al-Gaylani and members of the Golden Square staged a coup d’tat and overthrew the government of ‘Abd al-Ilah. During the subsequent Anglo-Iraqi War, the United Kingdom (which still maintained air bases in Iraq) invaded Iraq for fear that the Rashid Ali government might cut oil supplies to Western nations because of his links to the Axis powers. The war started on 2 May, and the British, together with loyal Assyrian Levies,[50] defeated the forces of Al-Gaylani, forcing an armistice on 31 May.

A military occupation followed the restoration of the pre-coup government of the Hashemite monarchy. The occupation ended on 26 October 1947, although Britain was to retain military bases in Iraq until 1954, after which the Assyrian militias were disbanded. The rulers during the occupation and the remainder of the Hashemite monarchy were Nuri as-Said, the autocratic Prime Minister, who also ruled from 1930 to 1932, and ‘Abd al-Ilah, the former Regent who now served as an adviser to King Faisal II.

In 1958, a coup d’etat known as the 14 July Revolution led by the Brigadier General Abd al-Karim Qasim. This revolt was strongly anti-imperial and anti-monarchical in nature and had strong socialist elements. Numerous people were killed in the coup, including King Faysal II, Prince Abd al-Ilah, and Nuri al-Sa’id.[51] Qasim controlled Iraq through military rule and in 1958 he began a process of forcibly reducing the surplus amounts of land owned by a few citizens and having the state redistribute the land. He was overthrown by Colonel Abdul Salam Arif in a February 1963 coup. After his death in 1966, he was succeeded by his brother, Abdul Rahman Arif, who was overthrown by the Ba’ath Party in 1968. Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr became the first Ba’ath President of Iraq but then the movement gradually came under the control of General Saddam Hussein, who acceded to the presidency and control of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), then Iraq’s supreme executive body, in July 1979.

In 1979, the Iranian Revolution took place. Following months of cross-border raids between the two countries, Saddam declared war on Iran in September 1980, initiating the IranIraq War (or First Persian Gulf War). Taking advantage of the post-revolution chaos in Iran, Iraq captured some territories in southwest of Iran, but Iran recaptured all of the lost territories within two years, and for the next six years Iran was on the offensive.[52][pageneeded] The war, which ended in stalemate in 1988, had cost the lives of between half a million and 1.5 million people.[53] In 1981, Israeli aircraft bombed an Iraqi nuclear materials testing reactor at Osirak and was widely criticised at the United Nations.[54][55] During the 8-year war with Iran, Saddam Hussein extensively used chemical weapons against Iranians,[56] In the final stages of the IranIraq War, the Ba’athist Iraqi regime led the Al-Anfal Campaign, a genocidal[57] campaign that targeted Iraqi Kurds,[58][59][60] and led to the killing of 50,000100,000 civilians.[61] Chemical weapons were also used against Iraqi Shia civilians during the 1991 uprisings in Iraq.

In August 1990, Iraq invaded and annexed Kuwait. This subsequently led to military intervention by United States-led forces in the First Gulf War. The coalition forces proceeded with a bombing campaign targeting military targets[62][63][64] and then launched a 100-hour-long ground assault against Iraqi forces in Southern Iraq and those occupying Kuwait.

Iraq’s armed forces were devastated during the war and shortly after it ended in 1991, Shia and Kurdish Iraqis led several uprisings against Saddam Hussein’s regime, but these were successfully repressed using the Iraqi security forces and chemical weapons. It is estimated that as many as 100,000 people, including many civilians were killed.[65] During the uprisings the US, UK, France and Turkey, claiming authority under UNSCR 688, established the Iraqi no-fly zones to protect Kurdish and Shiite populations from attacks by the Hussein regime’s fixed-wing aircraft (but not helicopters).

Iraq was ordered to destroy its chemical and biological weapons and the UN attempted to compel Saddam Hussein’s government to disarm and agree to a ceasefire by imposing additional sanctions on the country in addition to the initial sanctions imposed following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The Iraqi Government’s failure to disarm and agree to a ceasefire resulted in sanctions which remained in place until 2003. Studies dispute the effects of the sanctions on Iraqi civilians.[66][67][68]

During the late 1990s, the UN considered relaxing the Iraq sanctions because of the hardships suffered by ordinary Iraqis[citation needed] and attacks on US aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones led to US bombing of Iraq in December 1998.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the George W. Bush administration began planning the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s government and in October 2002, the US Congress passed the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq. In November 2002, the UN Security Council passed UNSCR 1441 and in March 2003 the US and its allies invaded Iraq.

On 20 March 2003, a United States-organized coalition invaded Iraq, under the pretext that Iraq had failed to abandon its weapons of mass destruction program in violation of U.N. Resolution 687. This claim was based on documents provided by the CIA and the British government[69] and were later found to be unreliable.[70][71]

Following the invasion, the United States established the Coalition Provisional Authority to govern Iraq. In May 2003 L. Paul Bremer, the chief executive of the CPA, issued orders to exclude Baath Party members from the new Iraqi government (CPA Order 1) and to disband the Iraqi Army (CPA Order 2).[72] The decision dissolved the largely Sunni Iraqi Army[73] and excluded many of the country’s former government officials from participating in the country’s governance, including 40,000 school teachers who had joined the Baath Party simply to keep their jobs,[74] helping to bring about a chaotic post-invasion environment.[75]

An insurgency against the US-led coalition-rule of Iraq began in summer 2003 within elements of the former Iraqi secret police and army, who formed guerilla units. In fall 2003, self-entitled ‘jihadist’ groups began targeting coalition forces. Various Sunni militias were created in 2003, for example Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The insurgency included intense inter-ethnic violence between Sunnis and Shias.[76] The Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal came to light, late 2003 in reports by Amnesty International and Associated Press.

The Mahdi Armya Shia militia created in the summer of 2003 by Muqtada al-Sadr[77]began to fight Coalition forces in April 2004.[77] 2004 saw Sunni and Shia militants fighting against each other and against the new Iraqi Interim Government installed in June 2004, and against Coalition forces, as well as the First Battle of Fallujah in April and Second Battle of Fallujah in November. The Sunni militia Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad became Al-Qaeda in Iraq in October 2004 and targeted Coalition forces as well as civilians, mainly Shia Muslims, further exacerbating ethnic tensions.[78]

In January 2005, the first elections since the invasion took place and in October a new Constitution was approved, which was followed by parliamentary elections in December. However, insurgent attacks were common and increased to 34,131 in 2005 from 26,496 in 2004.[79]

During 2006, fighting continued and reached its highest levels of violence, more war crimes scandals were made public, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq was killed by US forces and Iraq’s former dictator Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death for crimes against humanity and hanged.[80][81][82] In late 2006, the US government’s Iraq Study Group recommended that the US begin focusing on training Iraqi military personnel and in January 2007 US President George W. Bush announced a “Surge” in the number of US troops deployed to the country.[83]

In May 2007, Iraq’s Parliament called on the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal[84] and US coalition partners such as the UK and Denmark began withdrawing their forces from the country.[85][86] The war in Iraq has resulted in between 151,000 and 1.2 million Iraqis being killed.[87][88]

In 2008, fighting continued and Iraq’s newly trained armed forces launched attacks against militants. The Iraqi government signed the USIraq Status of Forces Agreement, which required US forces to withdraw from Iraqi cities by 30 June 2009 and to withdraw completely from Iraq by 31 December 2011.

US troops handed over security duties to Iraqi forces in June 2009, though they continued to work with Iraqi forces after the pullout.[89] On the morning of 18 December 2011, the final contingent of US troops to be withdrawn ceremonially exited over the border to Kuwait.[9] Crime and violence initially spiked in the months following the US withdrawal from cities in mid-2009[90][91] but despite the initial increase in violence, in November 2009, Iraqi Interior Ministry officials reported that the civilian death toll in Iraq fell to its lowest level since the 2003 invasion.[92]

Following the withdrawal of US troops in 2011, the insurgency continued and Iraq suffered from political instability. In February 2011, the Arab Spring protests spread to Iraq;[93] but the initial protests did not topple the government. The Iraqi National Movement, reportedly representing the majority of Iraqi Sunnis, boycotted Parliament for several weeks in late 2011 and early 2012, claiming that the Shiite-dominated government was striving to sideline Sunnis.

In 2012 and 2013, levels of violence increased and armed groups inside Iraq were increasingly galvanised by the Syrian Civil War. Both Sunnis and Shias crossed the border to fight in Syria.[94] In December 2012, Sunni Arabs protested against the government, whom they claimed marginalised them.[95][96]

During 2013, Sunni militant groups stepped up attacks targeting the Iraq’s Shia population in an attempt to undermine confidence in the Nouri al-Maliki-led government.[97] In 2014, Sunni insurgents belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group seized control of large swathes of land including several major Iraqi cities, like Tikrit, Fallujah and Mosul creating hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons amid reports of atrocities by ISIL fighters.[98]

After an inconclusive election in April 2014, Nouri al-Maliki served as caretaker-Prime-Minister.[99]

On 11 August, Iraq’s highest court ruled that PM Maliki’s bloc is biggest in parliament, meaning Maliki could stay Prime Minister.[99] By 13 August, however, the Iraqi president had tasked Haider al-Abadi with forming a new government, and the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and some Iraqi politicians expressed their wish for a new leadership in Iraq, for example from Haider al-Abadi.[100] On 14 August, Maliki stepped down as PM to support Mr al-Abadi and to “safeguard the high interests of the country”. The US government welcomed this as “another major step forward” in uniting Iraq.[101][102] On 9 September 2014, Haider al-Abadi had formed a new government and became the new prime minister.[citation needed] Intermittent conflict between Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish factions has led to increasing debate about the splitting of Iraq into three autonomous regions, including Kurdistan in the northeast, a Sunnistan in the west and a Shiastan in the southeast.[103]

Iraq lies between latitudes 29 and 38 N, and longitudes 39 and 49 E (a small area lies west of 39). Spanning 437,072km2 (168,754sqmi), it is the 58th-largest country in the world. It is comparable in size to the US state of California, and somewhat larger than Paraguay.

Iraq mainly consists of desert, but near the two major rivers (Euphrates and Tigris) are fertile alluvial plains, as the rivers carry about 60,000,000m3 (78,477,037cuyd) of silt annually to the delta. The north of the country is mostly composed of mountains; the highest point being at 3,611m (11,847ft) point, unnamed on the map opposite, but known locally as Cheekah Dar (black tent). Iraq has a small coastline measuring 58km (36mi) along the Persian Gulf. Close to the coast and along the Shatt al-Arab (known as arvandrd: among Iranians) there used to be marshlands, but many were drained in the 1990s.

Most of Iraq has a hot arid climate with subtropical influence. Summer temperatures average above 40C (104F) for most of the country and frequently exceed 48C (118.4F). Winter temperatures infrequently exceed 21C (69.8F) with maxima roughly 15 to 19C (59.0 to 66.2F) and night-time lows 2 to 5C (35.6 to 41.0F). Typically, precipitation is low; most places receive less than 250mm (9.8in) annually, with maximum rainfall occurring during the winter months. Rainfall during the summer is extremely rare, except in the far north of the country. The northern mountainous regions have cold winters with occasional heavy snows, sometimes causing extensive flooding.

The federal government of Iraq is defined under the current Constitution as a democratic, federal parliamentary Islamic republic. The federal government is composed of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as numerous independent commissions. Aside from the federal government, there are regions (made of one or more governorates), governorates, and districts within Iraq with jurisdiction over various matters as defined by law.

The National Alliance is the main Shia parliamentary bloc, and was established as a result of a merger of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s State of Law Coalition and the Iraqi National Alliance.[104] The Iraqi National Movement is led by Iyad Allawi, a secular Shia widely supported by Sunnis. The party has a more consistent anti-sectarian perspective than most of its rivals.[104] The Kurdistan List is dominated by two parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party led by Masood Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan headed by Jalal Talabani. Both parties are secular and enjoy close ties with the West.[104]

In 2010, according to the Failed States Index, Iraq was the world’s seventh most politically unstable country.[105][106] The concentration of power in the hands of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and growing pressure on the opposition led to growing concern about the future of political rights in Iraq.[107] Nevertheless, progress was made and the country had risen to 11th place by 2013.[108] In August 2014, al-Maliki’s reign came to an end. He announced on 14 August 2014 that he would stand aside so that Haider Al-Abadi, who had been nominated just days earlier by newly installed President Fuad Masum, could take over. Until that point, al-Maliki had clung to power even asking the federal court to veto the president’s nomination describing it as a violation of the constitution.[109]

Transparency International ranks Iraq’s government as the eighth-most-corrupt government in the world. Government payroll have increased from 1 million employees under Saddam Hussein to around 7 million employees in 2016. In combination with decreased oil prices, the government budget deficit is near 25% of GDP as of 2016.[110]

Since the establishment of the nofly zones following the Gulf War of 19901991, the Kurds established their own autonomous region.

In October 2005, the new Constitution of Iraq was approved in a referendum with a 78% overall majority, although the percentage of support varying widely between the country’s territories.[111] The new constitution was backed by the Shia and Kurdish communities, but was rejected by Arab Sunnis. Under the terms of the constitution, the country conducted fresh nationwide parliamentary elections on 15 December 2005. All three major ethnic groups in Iraq voted along ethnic lines, as did Assyrian and Turcoman minorities.

Law no. 188 of the year 1959 (Personal Status Law)[112] made polygamy extremely difficult, granted child custody to the mother in case of divorce, prohibited repudiation and marriage under the age of 16.[113] Article 1 of Civil Code also identifies Islamic law as a formal source of law.[114] Iraq had no Sharia courts but civil courts used Sharia for issues of personal status including marriage and divorce. In 1995 Iraq introduced Sharia punishment for certain types of criminal offences.[115] The code is based on French civil law as well as Sunni and Jafari (Shiite) interpretations of Sharia.[116]

In 2004, the CPA chief executive L. Paul Bremer said he would veto any constitutional draft stating that sharia is the principal basis of law.[117] The declaration enraged many local Shia clerics,[118] and by 2005 the United States had relented, allowing a role for sharia in the constitution to help end a stalemate on the draft constitution.[119]

The Iraqi Penal Code is the statutory law of Iraq.

Iraqi security forces are composed of forces serving under the Ministry of Interior (which controls the Police and Popular Mobilization Forces) and the Ministry of Defense, as well as the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Bureau, reporting directly to the Prime Minister of Iraq, which oversees the Iraqi Special Operations Forces. Ministry of Defense forces include the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Air Force and the Iraqi Navy. The Peshmerga are a separate armed force loyal to the Kurdistan Regional Government. The regional government and the central government disagree as to whether they are under Baghdad’s authority and to what extent.[120]

The Iraqi Army is an objective counter-insurgency force that as of November 2009 includes 14 divisions, each division consisting of 4 brigades.[121] It is described as the most important element of the counter-insurgency fight.[122] Light infantry brigades are equipped with small arms, machine guns, RPGs, body armour and light armoured vehicles. Mechanized infantry brigades are equipped with T-54/55 main battle tanks and BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles.[122] As of mid-2008, logistical problems included a maintenance crisis and ongoing supply problems.[123]

The Iraqi Air Force is designed to support ground forces with surveillance, reconnaissance and troop lift. Two reconnaissance squadrons use light aircraft, three helicopter squadrons are used to move troops and one air transportation squadron uses C-130 transport aircraft to move troops, equipment, and supplies. It currently has 3,000 personnel. It is planned to increase to 18,000 personnel, with 550 aircraft by 2018.[122]

The Iraqi Navy is a small force with 1,500 sailors and officers, including 800 Marines, designed to protect shoreline and inland waterways from insurgent infiltration. The navy is also responsible for the security of offshore oil platforms. The navy will have coastal patrol squadrons, assault boat squadrons and a marine battalion.[122] The force will consist of 2,000 to 2,500 sailors by year 2010.[124]

On 17 November 2008, the US and Iraq agreed to a Status of Forces Agreement,[125] as part of the broader Strategic Framework Agreement.[126] This agreement states “the Government of Iraq requests” US forces to temporarily remain in Iraq to “maintain security and stability” and that Iraq has jurisdiction over military contractors, and US personnel when not on US bases or onduty.

On 12 February 2009, Iraq officially became the 186th State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Under the provisions of this treaty, Iraq is considered a party with declared stockpiles of chemical weapons. Because of their late accession, Iraq is the only State Party exempt from the existing timeline for destruction of their chemical weapons. Specific criteria is in development to address the unique nature of Iraqi accession.[127]

IranIraq relations have flourished since 2005 by the exchange of high level visits: Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki made frequent visits to Iran, along with Jalal Talabani visiting numerous times, to help boost bilateral co-operation in all fields.[citation needed] A conflict occurred in December 2009, when Iraq accused Iran of seizing an oil well on the border.[128]

Relationships with Turkey are tense, largely because of the Kurdistan Regional Government, as clashes between Turkey and the PKK continue.[129] In October 2011, the Turkish parliament renewed a law that gives Turkish forces the ability to pursue rebels over the border in Iraq.”[130]

Relations between Iraq and its Kurdish population have been sour in recent history, especially with Saddam Hussein’s genocidal campaign against them in the 1980s. After uprisings during the early 90s, many Kurds fled their homeland and no-fly zones were established in northern Iraq to prevent more conflicts. Despite historically poor relations, some progress has been made, and Iraq elected its first Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, in 2005. Furthermore, Kurdish is now an official language of Iraq alongside Arabic according to Article 4 of the constitution.[131]

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Iran and Iraq looking to team up on new oil pipeline – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Iran and Iraq looking to team up on new oil pipeline

ByREUTERS

February 20, 2017 15:44

Breaking news. (photo credit:JPOST STAFF)

BAGHDAD – Iraq and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday to study the construction of a pipeline to export crude oil from the northern Iraqi fields of Kirkuk via Iran, the Iraqi oil ministry said in a statement.

The agreement, signed in Baghdad by the oil ministers of the two countries, also calls for a commission to solve a conflict about joint oilfields and the possible transportation of Iraqi crude to Iran’s Abadan refinery, it said.

Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said in the statement that he also agreed with visiting Iranian counterpart Bijan Zanganeh to cooperate on the policies of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

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It’s official: Our enemy is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS – USA TODAY

After retaking the city of Palmyra, ISIS has apparently destroyed Roman-era ruins. Video provided by Newsy Newslook

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, now called ISIS by the Pentagon.(Photo: Uncredited, AP)

WASHINGTON Whats in a name?

The Islamic State terrorist group would be still be as barbaric under any of its labels: ISIL (preferred under the Obama administration), or Daesh (the moniker of choice ISIS for many world leaders and some of its adversaries in the Middle East).

But henceforth, by decree, the Pentagon, in all official references will refer to the terror network as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS. A memo circulated Tuesday throughout the military makes that clear.

Subject: Naming Convention for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Consistent with National Security Presidential Memorandum-3 of January 28, 2017, Plan to Defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and guidance from the Secretary of Defense, the Department of Defense will use the term Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, when referring to this threat.

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The move simply simplifies terms, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

We view ISIS, ISIL and Daesh as interchangeable terms for the same thing, Davis said in an email. ISIS is the term most known and understood by the American public, and it is what our leadership uses. This simply aligns our terminology.

It also puts the Pentagon straight with the Commander in Chief, who has registered his disdain for abbreviation ISIL, which refers to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, a broader geographic area that includes Israel, Lebanon and Jordan.

In a tweet after the terror attack in San Bernardino, which was inspired by Islamic State, Trump upbraided Obama for referring to the group as ISIL:

Wish Obama would say ISIS, like almost everyone else, rather than ISIL.

Now that Trump is in charge, they will at the Pentagon.

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Islamic State leader badly injured in Iraq airstrike reports – The Times of Israel

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Bahgdadi was seriously injured in a recent airstrike, several Iraqi news outlets reported on Sunday.

The Iraqi television station al-Hura cited a security source saying Baghdadi and other senior members of the terror group were injured two days ago in an airstrike in Iraq. They were reportedly transferred to Syria for treatment.

The Iraqi air force reportedly carried out the airstrike that injured Baghdadi after receiving information from the Iraqi Falcon Intelligence Cell of his whereabouts.

The security source also said Baghdadi had been living in an underground bunker and was targeted while meeting with the jihadi groups leadership.

Shortly after terrorist fighters swept across swathes of Iraq in June 2014, Baghdadi appeared at the Great Mosque of Al-Nuri to proclaim a state straddling Syria and Iraq in front of thousands of Muslim faithful.

The video of the appearance in Mosul which showed a man with a black and grey beard wearing a black robe and matching turban is the only one IS has released of Baghdadi to date.

It is rather remarkable that the leader of the most image-conscious terrorist group is so low-key in terms of his own publicity, said Patrick Skinner, an analyst with the Soufan Group intelligence consultancy.

Baghdadi has been reported wounded in airstrikes multiple times, but the claims have never been verified, and his apparent survival has added to his mystique.

In mid-December, the United States more than doubled the bounty on the shadowy IS leaders head to $25 million.

An Iraqi intelligence report indicates that Baghdadi has a PhD in Islamic studies and was a professor at Tikrit University.

Baghdadi apparently joined the insurgency that erupted after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, at one point spending time in an American military prison in the countrys south.

AFP contributed to this report.

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Iraq and weapons of mass destruction – Wikipedia, the free …

The fifth president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein,[1] was internationally condemned for his use of chemical weapons during the 1980s against Iranian and Kurdish civilians during and after the IranIraq War. In the 1980s, Saddam pursued an extensive biological weapons program and a nuclear weapons program, though no nuclear bomb was built.

After the Persian Gulf War, the United Nations located and destroyed large quantities of Iraqi chemical weapons and related equipment and materials throughout the early 1990s, with varying degrees of Iraqi cooperation and obstruction.[2] In response to diminishing Iraqi cooperation with UNSCOM, the United States called for withdrawal of all UN and IAEA inspectors in 1998, resulting in Operation Desert Fox. The United States and the UK asserted that Saddam Hussein still possessed large hidden stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in 2003, and that he was clandestinely procuring and producing more. Inspections by the UN to resolve the status of unresolved disarmament questions restarted between November 2002 and March 2003,[3] under UN Security Council Resolution 1441, which demanded Saddam give “immediate, unconditional and active cooperation” with UN and IAEA inspections, shortly before his country was attacked.[4]

During the lead-up to war in 2003, United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix said that Iraq made significant progress toward resolving open issues of disarmament noting the “proactive” but not always “immediate” cooperation as called for by UN Security Council Resolution 1441. He concluded that it would take “but months” to resolve the key remaining disarmament tasks.[5] The United States asserted this was a breach of Resolution 1441, but failed to convince the UN Security Council to pass a new resolution authorizing the use of force due to lack of evidence.[6][7][8]

Despite being unable to get a new resolution authorizing force and citing section 3 of the Joint Resolution passed by the U.S. Congress,[9]President George W. Bush asserted peaceful measures could not disarm Iraq of the weapons he alleged it to have and launched a second Gulf War. Later U.S.-led inspections found out that Iraq had earlier ceased active WMD production and stockpiling. The report also found that Iraq had worked covertly to maintain the intellectual and physical capacity to produce WMDs and intended to restart production once sanctions were lifted.[10]

In 2015 it was learned that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction had not been fully accounted for by UN inspections.[11] Ten years after its inception, Operation Avarice was declassified and it was learned that there were stockpiles of warheads and rockets containing degraded chemical agents similar to those used in the Iran-Iraq War. From 2005 through 2006 military intelligence discovered that the weaponsmany in poor condition, some empty or containing nonlethal liquid, but others containing sarin with unexpectedly high puritywere in the possession of one Iraqi individual who remained anonymous. Operation Avarice, headed by army intelligence and the CIA, involved the discreet purchase of the weapons from the unidentified individual to keep them off the black market.[11]

1959 August 17 USSR and Iraq wrote an agreement about building a nuclear power plant and established a nuclear program as part of their mutual understanding.[12]

1968 a Soviet supplied IRT-2000 research reactor together with a number of other facilities that could be used for radioisotope production was built close to Baghdad.[13][14]

1975 Saddam Hussein arrived in Moscow and asked about building an advanced model of an atomic power station. Moscow would approve only if the station was regulated by the International Atomic Energy Agency, but Iraq refused. Yet an agreement of co-operation was signed on April 15, which superseded the one from 1959.[15]

After 6 months Paris agreed to sell 72kg of 93% Uranium[16] and built a nuclear power plant without International Atomic Energy Agency control at a price of $3 billion.

In the early 1970s, Saddam Hussein ordered the creation of a clandestine nuclear weapons program.[17] Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs were assisted by a wide variety of firms and governments in the 1970s and 1980s.[18][19][20][21][22] As part of Project 922, German firms such as Karl Kobe helped build Iraqi chemical weapons facilities such as laboratories, bunkers, an administrative building, and first production buildings in the early 1980s under the cover of a pesticide plant. Other German firms sent 1,027 tons of precursors of mustard gas, sarin, tabun, and tear gasses in all. This work allowed Iraq to produce 150 tons of mustard agent and 60 tons of Tabun in 1983 and 1984 respectively, continuing throughout the decade. Five other German firms supplied equipment to manufacture botulin toxin and mycotoxin for germ warfare. In 1988, German engineers presented centrifuge data that helped Iraq expand its nuclear weapons program. Laboratory equipment and other information was provided, involving many German engineers. All told, 52% of Iraq’s international chemical weapon equipment was of German origin. The State Establishment for Pesticide Production (SEPP) ordered culture media and incubators from Germany’s Water Engineering Trading.[23]

The United States exported support for Iraq during the IranIraq war over $500 million worth of dual use exports to Iraq that were approved by the Commerce department. Among them were advanced computers, some of which were used in Iraq’s nuclear program.[24] The non-profit American Type Culture Collection and the Centers for Disease Control sold or sent biological samples of anthrax, West Nile virus and botulism to Iraq up until 1989, which Iraq claimed it needed for medical research. A number of these materials were used for Iraq’s biological weapons research program, while others were used for vaccine development.[25] For example, the Iraqi military settled on the American Type Culture Collection strain 14578 as the exclusive anthrax strain for use as a biological weapon, according to Charles Duelfer.[26]

In the late 1980s, the British government secretly gave the arms company Matrix Churchill permission to supply parts for Saddam Hussein’s weapons program, while British Industry supplied Gerald Bull as he developed the Iraqi supergun. In March 1990, a case of nuclear triggers bound for Iraq were seized at Heathrow Airport. The Scott Report uncovered much of the secrecy that had surrounded the Arms-to-Iraq affair when it became known.[27] The British government also financed a chlorine factory that was intended to be used for manufacturing mustard gas.[28]

In 1980, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency filed a report stating that Iraq had been actively acquiring chemical weapons capacities for several years, which later proved to be accurate.[29] In November 1980, two months into the IranIraq War, the first reported use of chemical weapons took place when Tehran radio reported a poison gas attack on Susangerd by Iraqi forces.[30] The United Nations reported many similar attacks occurred the following year, leading Iran to develop and deploy a mustard gas capability.[citation needed] By 1984, Iraq was using poison gas with great effectiveness against Iranian “human wave” attacks.[verification needed] Chemical weapons were used extensively against Iran during the IranIraq War.[31][32] On January 14, 1991, the Defense Intelligence Agency said an Iraqi agent described, in medically accurate terms, military smallpox casualties he said he saw in 1985 or 1986. Two weeks later, the Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center reported that eight of 69 Iraqi prisoners of war whose blood was tested showed a current immunity to smallpox, which had not occurred naturally in Iraq since 1971; the same prisoners had also been inoculated for anthrax. The assumption being that Iraq used both smallpox and anthrax during this war.[33] All of this occurring while Iraq was a party to the Geneva Protocol on September 8, 1931, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on October 29, 1969, signed the Biological Weapons Convention in 1972, but did not ratify until June 11, 1991. Iraq has not signed to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The Washington Post reported that in 1984 the CIA secretly started providing intelligence to the Iraqi army during the Iran-Iraq War. This included information to target chemical weapons strikes. The same year it was confirmed beyond doubt by European doctors and UN expert missions that Iraq was employing chemical weapons against the Iranians.[34] Most of these occurred during the IranIraq War, but WMDs were used at least once to crush the popular uprisings against Kurds in 1991.[21] Chemical weapons were used extensively, with post-war Iranian estimates stating that more than 100,000 Iranians were affected Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons during the eight-year war with Iraq,[35] Iran today is the world’s second-most afflicted country by weapons of mass destruction, only after Japan.[citation needed] The official estimate does not include the civilian population contaminated in bordering towns or the children and relatives of veterans, many of whom have developed blood, lung and skin complications, according to the Organization for Veterans. Nerve gas agents killed about 20,000 Iranian soldiers immediately, according to official reports. Of the 90,000 survivors, some 5,000 seek medical treatment regularly and about 1,000 are still hospitalized with severe, chronic conditions.[citation needed] Many others were hit by mustard gas. Despite the removal of Saddam Hussein and his administration by American forces, there is deep resentment and anger in Iran that it was Western nations that helped Iraq develop and direct its chemical weapons arsenal in the first place and that the world did nothing to punish Iraq for its use of chemical weapons throughout the war.[citation needed] For example, the United States and the UK blocked condemnation of Iraq’s known chemical weapons attacks at the UN Security Council. No resolution was passed during the war that specifically criticized Iraq’s use of chemical weapons, despite the wishes of the majority to condemn this use. On March 21, 1986 the United Nation Security Council recognized that “chemical weapons on many occasions have been used by Iraqi forces against Iranian forces”; this statement was opposed by the United States, the sole country to vote against it in the Security Council (the UK abstained).[36]

On March 23, 1988 western media sources reported from Halabja in Iraqi Kurdistan, that several days before Iraq had launched a large scale chemical assault on the town. Later estimates were that 7,000 people had been killed and 20,000 wounded. The Halabja poison gas attack caused an international outcry against the Iraqis. Later that year the U.S. Senate proposed the Prevention of Genocide Act of 1988, cutting off all U.S. assistance to Iraq and stopping U.S. imports of Iraqi oil. The Reagan administration opposed the bill, calling it premature, and eventually prevented it from taking effect, partly due to a mistaken DIA assessment which blamed Iran for the attack. At the time of the attack the town was held by Iranian troops and Iraqi Kurdish guerrillas allied with Tehran.[37] The Iraqis blamed the Halabja attack on Iranian forces. This was still the position of Saddam Hussein in his December 2003 captivity.[citation needed] On August 21, 2006, the trial of Saddam Hussein and six codefendants, including Hassan al-Majid (“Chemical Ali”), opened on charges of genocide against the Kurds. While this trial does not cover the Halabja attack, it does cover attacks on other villages during the Iraqi “Anfal” operation alleged to have included bombing with chemical weapons.[38]

(Source:[21])

On August 2, 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait and was widely condemned internationally.[39] The policy of the United States on Hussein’s government changed rapidly, as it was feared Saddam intended to attack other oil-rich nations in the region such as Saudi Arabia.[citation needed] As stories of atrocities from the occupation of Kuwait spread, older atrocities and his WMD arsenal were also given attention.[citation needed] Iraq’s nuclear weapons program suffered a serious setback in 1981 when the Osiraq reactor, which would have been capable of breeding weapons-usable nuclear material, was bombed by Israel before it could be commissioned.[16] David Albright and Mark Hibbs, writing for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, disagree with this view, however. There were far too many technological challenges unsolved, they say.[40] An international coalition of nations, led by the United States, liberated Kuwait in 1991.[41]

In the terms of the UN ceasefire set out in Security Council Resolution 686, and in Resolution 687, Iraq was forbidden from developing, possessing or using chemical, biological and nuclear weapons by resolution 686. Also proscribed by the treaty were missiles with a range of more than 150 kilometres. The UN Special Commission on weapons (UNSCOM) was created to carry out weapons inspections in Iraq, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was to verify the destruction of Iraq’s nuclear program.[42][43]

The United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) was set up after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait to inspect Iraqi weapons facilities. It was headed first by Rolf Ekus and later by Richard Butler. During several visits to Iraq by UNSCOM, weapons inspectors interviewed British-educated Iraqi biologist Rihab Rashid Taha. According to a 1999 report from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, the normally mild-mannered Taha exploded into violent rages whenever UNSCOM questioned her about al-Hakam, shouting, screaming and, on one occasion, smashing a chair, while insisting that al-Hakam was a chicken-feed plant.[44] “There were a few things that were peculiar about this animal-feed production plant”, Charles Duelfer, UNSCOM’s deputy executive chairman, later told reporters, “beginning with the extensive air defenses surrounding it.” The facility was destroyed by UNSCOM in 1996.[45]

In 1995, UNSCOM’s principal weapons inspector, Dr. Rod Barton from Australia, showed Taha documents obtained by UNSCOM that showed the Iraqi government had just purchased 10 tons of growth medium from a British company called Oxoid. Growth media is a mixture of sugars, proteins and minerals that provides nutrients for microorganisms to grow. It can be used in hospitals and microbiology/molecular biology research laboratories. In hospitals, swabs from patients are placed in dishes containing growth medium for diagnostic purposes. Iraq’s hospital consumption of growth medium was just 200kg a year; yet in 1988, Iraq imported 39 tons of it. Shown this evidence by UNSCOM, Taha admitted to the inspectors that she had grown 19,000 litres of botulinum toxin;[46] 8,000 litres of anthrax; 2,000 litres of aflatoxins, which can cause liver failure; Clostridium perfringens, a bacterium that can cause gas gangrene; and ricin. She also admitted conducting research into cholera, salmonella, foot and mouth disease, and camel pox, a disease that uses the same growth techniques as smallpox, but which is safer for researchers to work with. It was because of the discovery of Taha’s work with camel pox that the U.S. and British intelligence services feared Saddam Hussein may have been planning to weaponize the smallpox virus. Iraq had a smallpox outbreak in 1971 and the Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control Center (WINPAC) believed the Iraqi government retained contaminated material.[33]

UNSCOM also learned that, in August 1990, after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, Taha’s team was ordered to set up a program to weaponize the biological agents. By January 1991, a team of 100 scientists and support staff had filled 157 bombs and 16 missile warheads with botulin toxin, and 50 bombs and five missile warheads with anthrax. In an interview with the BBC, Taha denied the Iraqi government had weaponized the bacteria. “We never intended to use it”, she told journalist Jane Corbin of the BBC’s Panorama program. “We never wanted to cause harm or damage to anybody.” However, UNSCOM found the munitions dumped in a river near al-Hakam. UNSCOM also discovered that Taha’s team had conducted inhalation experiments on donkeys from England and on beagles from Germany. The inspectors seized photographs showing beagles having convulsions inside sealed containers.[citation needed]

The inspectors feared that Taha’s team had experimented on human beings. During one inspection, they discovered two primate-sized inhalation chambers, one measuring 5 cubic meters, though there was no evidence the Iraqis had used large primates in their experiments. According to former weapons inspector Scott Ritter in his 1999 book Endgame: Solving the Iraq Crisis, UNSCOM learned that, between July 1 and August 15, 1995, 50 prisoners from the Abu Ghraib prison were transferred to a military post in al-Haditha, in the northwest of Iraq.[citation needed] Iraqi opposition groups say that scientists sprayed the prisoners with anthrax, though no evidence was produced to support these allegations. During one experiment, the inspectors were told, 12 prisoners were tied to posts while shells loaded with anthrax were blown up nearby. Ritter’s team demanded to see documents from Abu Ghraib prison showing a prisoner count. Ritter writes that they discovered the records for July and August 1995 were missing. Asked to explain the missing documents, the Iraqi government charged that Ritter was working for the CIA and refused UNSCOM access to certain sites like Baath Party headquarters.[47] Although Ekus has said that he resisted attempts at such espionage, many allegations have since been made against the agency commission under Butler, charges which Butler has denied.[48][49]

In April 1991 Iraq provided its first of what would be several declarations of its chemical weapons programs.[50] Subsequent declarations submitted by Iraq in June 1992, March 1995, June 1996 came only after pressure from UNSCOM.[50] In February 1998, UNSCOM unanimously determined that after seven years of attempts to establish the extent of Iraq’s chemical weapons programs, that Iraq had still not given the Commission sufficient information for them to conclude that Iraq had undertaken all the disarmament steps required by the UNSC resolutions concerning chemical weapons.[50]

In August 1991 Iraq had declared to the UNSCOM biological inspection team that it did indeed have a biological weapons program but that it was for defensive purposes.[50] Iraq then provided its first biological weapons declaration shortly after. After UNSCOM determined such declarations to be incomplete, more pressure was placed on Iraq to declare fully and completely.[50] A second disclosure of the biological weapons came in March 1995. After UNSCOM’s investigations and the discovery of inreffutable evidence, Iraq was forced to admit for the first time the existence of an offensive biological weapons program.[50] But Iraq still denied weaponization. Further UNSCOM pressure resulted in a third prohibited biological weapons disclosure from Iraq in August 1995. Only after General Hussein Kamel al-Majid, Minister of Industry and Minerals and former Director of Iraq’s Military Industrialization Corporation, with responsibility for all of Iraq’s weapons programs, fled Iraq for Jordan, Iraq was forced to reveal that its biological warfare program was much more extensive than was previously admitted and that the program included weaponization.[50] At this time Iraq admitted that it had achieved the ability to produce longer-range missiles than had previously been admitted to.[50] At this point Iraq provides UNSCOM and IAEA with more documentation that turns out Hussein Kamel al-Majid had hidden on chicken farm. These documents gave further revelation to Iraq’s development of VX gas and its attempts to develop a nuclear weapon.[50] More declarations would follow in June 1996 and September 1997. However, in April and July 1998, the biological weapons team and UNSCOM Executive Chairman assessed that Iraq’s declarations were as yet “unverifiable” and “incomplete and inadequate”, seven years after the first declarations were given in 1991.[50]

In August 1998, Ritter resigned his position as UN weapons inspector and sharply criticized the Clinton administration and the UN Security Council for not being vigorous enough about insisting that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction be destroyed. Ritter also accused UN Secretary General Kofi Annan of assisting Iraqi efforts at impeding UNSCOM’s work. “Iraq is not disarming”, Ritter said on August 27, 1998, and in a second statement, “Iraq retains the capability to launch a chemical strike.” In 1998 the UNSCOM weapons inspectors left Iraq. There is considerable debate about whether they were “withdrawn”, “expelled” from the country by Iraqi officials (as alleged by George W. Bush in his “axis of evil” speech), or they chose to leave because they felt their hands were tied sufficiently to see the mission as hopeless. According to Butler himself in his book Saddam Defiant, it was U.S. Ambassador Peter Burleigh, acting on instructions from Washington, who suggested Butler pull his team from Iraq in order to protect them from the forthcoming U.S. and British airstrikes[citation needed] which eventually took place from December 1619, 1998.

In August, 1998, absent effective monitoring, Scott Ritter remarked that Iraq could “reconstitute chemical biological weapons, long-range ballistic missiles to deliver these weapons, and even certain aspects of their nuclear weaponization program.”[51]

In June, 1999, Ritter responded to an interviewer, saying: “When you ask the question, ‘Does Iraq possess militarily viable biological or chemical weapons?’ the answer is no! It is a resounding NO. Can Iraq produce today chemical weapons on a meaningful scale? No! Can Iraq produce biological weapons on a meaningful scale? No! Ballistic missiles? No! It is ‘no’ across the board. So from a qualitative standpoint, Iraq has been disarmed. Ritter later accused some UNSCOM personnel of spying, and he strongly criticized the Bill Clinton administration for misusing the commission’s resources to eavesdrop on the Iraqi military.[52] According to Ritter: “Iraq today (1999) possesses no meaningful weapons of mass destruction capability.”[53]

In June 2000, Ritter penned a piece for Arms Control Today entitled The Case for Iraq’s Qualitative Disarmament.[54] 2001 saw the theatrical release of his documentary on the UNSCOM weapons inspections in Iraq, In Shifting Sands: The Truth About Unscom and the Disarming of Iraq. The film was funded by an Iraqi-American businessman who, unknown to Ritter, had received Oil-for-Food coupons from the Iraqi administration.[55]

In 2002, Scott Ritter stated that, by 1998, 9095% of Iraq’s nuclear, biological and chemical capabilities, and long-range ballistic missiles capable of delivering such weapons, had been verified as destroyed. Technical 100% verification was not possible, said Ritter, not because Iraq still had any hidden weapons, but because Iraq’ had preemptively destroyed some stockpiles and claimed they had never existed. Many people were surprised by Ritter’s turnaround in his view of Iraq during a period when no inspections were made.[56]

During the 20022003 build-up to war Ritter criticized the Bush administration and maintained that it had provided no credible evidence that Iraq had reconstituted a significant WMD capability. In an interview with Time in September 2002 Ritter said there were attempts to use UNSCOM for spying on Iraq.[57] According to the New York Times and Washington Post media of Jan. 8, 1999, “In March [1998], in a last-ditch attempt to uncover Saddam Hussein’s covert weapons and intelligence networks, the United States used the United Nations inspection team to send an American spy into Baghdad to install a highly sophisticated electronic eavesdropping system.”[58][59]

UNSCOM encountered various difficulties and a lack of cooperation by the Iraqi government. In 1998, UNSCOM was withdrawn at the request of the United States before Operation Desert Fox. Despite this, UNSCOM’s own estimate was that 90-95% of Iraqi WMDs had been successfully destroyed before its 1998 withdrawal. After that, for four years (from 1998 to 2002) Iraq remained without any outside weapons inspectors. During this time speculations arose that Iraq had actively resumed its WMD programs. In particular, various figures in the George W. Bush administration as well as Congress went so far as to express concern about nuclear weapons.

There is dispute about whether Iraq still had WMD programs after 1998 and whether its cooperation with the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) was complete. Chief weapons inspector Hans Blix said in January 2003 that “access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect” and Iraq had “cooperated rather well” in that regard, although “Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance of the disarmament.”[60] On March 7, in an address to the Security Council, Hans Blix stated:”Against this background, the question is now asked whether Iraq has cooperated “immediately, unconditionally and actively” with UNMOVIC, as is required under paragraph 9 of resolution 1441 (2002)… while the numerous initiatives, which are now taken by the Iraqi side with a view to resolving some long-standing open disarmament issues, can be seen as “active”, or even “proactive”, these initiatives 34 months into the new resolution cannot be said to constitute “immediate” cooperation. Nor do they necessarily cover all areas of relevance.” Some U.S. officials understood this contradictory statement as a declaration of noncompliance.

There were no weapon inspections in Iraq for nearly four years after the UN departed from Iraq in 1998, and Iraq asserted that they would never be invited back.[61] In addition, Saddam had issued a “secret order” that Iraq did not have to abide by any UN Resolution since in his view “the United States had broken international law”.[62]

In 2001, Saddam stated: “we are not at all seeking to build up weapons or look for the most harmful weapons . . . however, we will never hesitate to possess the weapons to defend Iraq and the Arab nation”.[63] The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in Britain published in September 2002 a review of Iraq’s military capability, and concluded that Iraq could assemble nuclear weapons within months if fissile material from foreign sources were obtained.[64] However, IISS also concluded that without such foreign sources, it would take years at a bare minimum.

The time to Iraq obtaining a nuclear weapon with fissile materials was viewed as being overly optimistic by some critics (that is, by the Federation of American Scientists and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists).[citation needed]

Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, who created Saddam’s nuclear centrifuge program that had successfully enriched uranium to weapons grade before the 1991 Gulf War, stated in an op-ed in The New York Times that although Iraqi scientists possessed the knowledge to restart the nuclear program, by 2002 the idea had become “a vague dream from another era.”[65]

Possession of WMDs was cited by the United States as the primary motivation instigating the Iraq War.

In late 2002 Saddam Hussein, in a letter to Hans Blix, invited UN weapons inspectors back into the country. Subsequently the Security Council issued resolution 1441 authorizing new inspections in Iraq. The carefully worded UN resolution put the burden on Iraq, not UN inspectors, to prove that they no longer had weapons of mass destruction. The United States claimed that Iraq’s latest weapons declaration left materials and munitions unaccounted for; the Iraqis claimed that all such material had been destroyed, something which had been stated years earlier by Iraq’s highest ranking defector, Hussein Kamel al-Majid. According to reports from the previous UN inspection agency, UNSCOM, Iraq produced 600 metric tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, VX and sarin, and nearly 25,000 rockets and 15,000 artillery shells, with chemical agents, that are still unaccounted for.

In January 2003, United Nations weapons inspectors reported that they had found no indication that Iraq possessed nuclear weapons or an active program. Some former UNSCOM inspectors disagree about whether the United States could know for certain whether or not Iraq had renewed production of weapons of mass destruction. Robert Gallucci said, “If Iraq had [uranium or plutonium], a fair assessment would be they could fabricate a nuclear weapon, and there’s no reason for us to assume we’d find out if they had.” Similarly, former inspector Jonathan Tucker said, “Nobody really knows what Iraq has. You really can’t tell from a satellite image what’s going on inside a factory.” However, Hans Blix said in late January 2003 that Iraq had “not genuinely accepted UN resolutions demanding that it disarm.”[66] He claimed there were some materials which had not been accounted for. Since sites had been found which evidenced the destruction of chemical weaponry, UNSCOM was actively working with Iraq on methods to ascertain for certain whether the amounts destroyed matched up with the amounts that Iraq had produced.[67][68] In the next quarterly report, after the war, the total amount of proscribed items destroyed by UNMOVIC in Iraq can be gathered.[69] Those include:

In an attempt to counter the allegations that some WMD arsenals (or capability) were indeed hidden from inspectors, Scott Ritter would argue later;

There’s no doubt Iraq hasn’t fully complied with its disarmament obligations as set forth by the Security Council in its resolution. But on the other hand, since 1998 Iraq has been fundamentally disarmed: 90-95% of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capacity has been verifiably eliminated… We have to remember that this missing 5-10% doesn’t necessarily constitute a threat… It constitutes bits and pieces of a weapons program which in its totality doesn’t amount to much, but which is still prohibited… We can’t give Iraq a clean bill of health, therefore we can’t close the book on their weapons of mass destruction. But simultaneously, we can’t reasonably talk about Iraqi non-compliance as representing a de-facto retention of a prohibited capacity worthy of war.[70]

Ritter also argued that the WMDs Saddam had in his possession all those years ago, if retained, would have long since turned to harmless substances. He stated that Iraqi Sarin and tabun have a shelf life of approximately five years, VX lasts a bit longer (but not much longer), and finally he said botulinum toxin and liquid anthrax last about three years.[71][72]

On March 17, 2003, Lord Goldsmith, Attorney General of the UK, set out his government’s legal justification for an invasion of Iraq. He said that Security Council resolution 678 authorised force against Iraq, which was suspended but not terminated by resolution 687, which imposed continuing obligations on Iraq to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction. A material breach of resolution 687 would revive the authority to use force under resolution 678. In resolution 1441 the Security Council determined that Iraq was in material breach of resolution 687 because it had not fully carried out its obligations to disarm. Although resolution 1441 had given Iraq a final chance to comply, UK Attorney General Goldsmith wrote “it is plain that Iraq has failed so to comply”. Most member governments of the United Nations Security Council made clear that after resolution 1441 there still was no authorization for the use of force. Indeed, at the time 1441 was passed, both the U.S. and UK representatives stated explicitly that 1441 contained no provision for military action. Then-U.S. Ambassador John D. Negroponte was quoted as saying:

There’s no “automaticity” and this is a two-stage process, and in that regard we have met the principal concerns that have been expressed for the resolution […] Whatever violation there is, or is judged to exist, will be dealt with in the council, and the council will have an opportunity to consider the matter before any other action is taken.[74]

The British ambassador to the UN, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, concurred:

We heard loud and clear during the negotiations the concerns about “automaticity” and “hidden triggers” – the concern that on a decision so crucial we should not rush into military action; that on a decision so crucial any Iraqi violations should be discussed by the Council. Let me be equally clear in response, as one of the co-sponsors of the text we have adopted: there is no “automaticity” in this Resolution.[75]

The UN itself never had the chance to declare that Iraq had failed to take its “final opportunity” to comply as the U.S. invasion made it a moot point. American President George W. Bush stated that Saddam Hussein had 48 hours to step down and leave Iraq.[76] As the deadline approached, the United States announced that forces would be sent to verify his disarmament and a transition to a new government.[citation needed]

On May 30, 2003, Paul Wolfowitz stated in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine that the issue of weapons of mass destruction was the point of greatest agreement among Bush’s team among the reasons to remove Saddam Hussein from power. He said, “The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason, but, there have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually I guess you could say there’s a fourth overriding one which is the connection between the first two.”[77]

In an interview with BBC in June 2004, David Kay, former head of the Iraq Survey Group, made the following comment: “Anyone out there holding as I gather Prime Minister Blair has recently said the prospect that, in fact, the Iraq Survey Group is going to unmask actual weapons of mass destruction, [is] really delusional.”

In 2002, Scott Ritter, a former UNSCOM weapons inspector heavily criticized the Bush administration and media outlets for using the testimony of alleged former Iraqi nuclear scientist Khidir Hamza, who defected from Iraq in 1994, as a rationale for invading Iraq:

We seized the entire records of the Iraqi Nuclear program, especially the administrative records. We got a name of everybody, where they worked, what they did, and the top of the list, Saddam’s “Bombmaker” [which was the title of Hamza’s book, and earned the nickname afterwards] was a man named Jafar Dhia Jafar, not Khidir Hamza, and if you go down the list of the senior administrative personnel you will not find Hamza’s name in there. In fact, we didn’t find his name at all. Because in 1990, he didn’t work for the Iraqi nuclear program. He had no knowledge of it because he worked as a kickback specialist for Hussein Kamel in the Presidential Palace.

He goes into northern Iraq and meets up with Ahmad Chalabi. He walks in and says, I’m Saddam’s “Bombmaker”. So they call the CIA and they say, “We know who you are, you’re not Saddam’s ‘Bombmaker’, go sell your story to someone else.” And he was released, he was rejected by all intelligence services at the time, he’s a fraud.

And here we are, someone who the CIA knows is a fraud, the US Government knows is a fraud, is allowed to sit in front of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and give testimony as a expert witness. I got a problem with that, I got a problem with the American media, and I’ve told them over and over and over again that this man is a documentable fraud, a fake, and yet they allow him to go on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, and testify as if he actually knows what he is talking about.[78]

On June 4, 2003, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts announced that the U.S. Select Committee on Intelligence that he chaired would, as a part of its ongoing oversight of the intelligence community, conduct a Review of intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. On July 9, 2004, the Committee released the Senate Report of Pre-war Intelligence on Iraq. On July 17, 2003, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in an address to the U.S. Congress, that history would forgive the United States and United Kingdom, even if they were wrong about weapons of mass destruction. He still maintained that “with every fiber of instinct and conviction” Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction.

On February 3, 2004, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw announced an independent inquiry, to be chaired by Lord Butler of Brockwell, to examine the reliability of British intelligence relating to alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.[79] The Butler Review was published July 14, 2004.

In the buildup to the 2003 war, the New York Times published a number of stories claiming to prove that Iraq possessed WMD. One story in particular, written by Judith Miller helped persuade the American public that Iraq had WMD: in September 2002 she wrote about an intercepted shipment of aluminum tubes which the NYT said were to be used to develop nuclear material.[citation needed] It is now generally understood that they were not intended (or well suited) for that purpose but rather for artillery rockets.[citation needed] The story was followed up with television appearances by Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice all pointing to the story as part of the basis for taking military action against Iraq. Miller’s sources were introduced to her by Ahmed Chalabi, an Iraqi exile favorable to a U.S. invasion of Iraq.[citation needed] Miller is also listed as a speaker for The Middle East Forum, an organization which openly declared support for an invasion.[citation needed] In May 2004 the New York Times published an editorial which stated that its journalism in the build up to war had sometimes been lax. It appears that in the cases where Iraqi exiles were used for the stories about WMD were either ignorant as to the real status of Iraq’s WMD or lied to journalists to achieve their own ends.[citation needed]

Despite the intelligence lapse, Bush stood by his decision to invade Iraq stating:

But what wasn’t wrong was Saddam Hussein had invaded a country, he had used weapons of mass destruction, he had the capability of making weapons of mass destruction, he was firing at our pilots. He was a state sponsor of terror. Removing Saddam Hussein was the right thing for world peace and the security of our country.

In a speech before the World Affairs Council of Charlotte, NC, on April 7, 2006, President Bush stated that he “fully understood that the intelligence was wrong, and [he was] just as disappointed as everybody else” when U.S. troops failed to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.[80]

Intelligence shortly before the 2003 invasion of Iraq was heavily used as support arguments in favor of military intervention, with the October 2002 C.I.A. report on Iraqi WMDs considered to be the most reliable one available at that time.[81]

“According to the CIA’s report, all U.S. intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons. There is little question that Saddam Hussein wants to develop nuclear weapons.” Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) – Congressional Record, October 9, 2002[82]

On May 29, 2003, Andrew Gilligan appears on the BBC’s Today program early in the morning. Among the contentions he makes in his report are that the government “ordered (the September Dossier, a British Government dossier on WMD) to be sexed up, to be made more exciting, and ordered more facts to be…discovered.” The broadcast is not repeated.[83]

On May 27, 2003, a secret Defense Intelligence Agency fact-finding mission in Iraq reported unanimously to intelligence officials in Washington that two trailers captured in Iraq by Kurdish troops “had nothing to do with biological weapons.” The trailers had been a key part of the argument for the 2003 invasion; Secretary of State Colin Powell had told the United Nations Security Council, “We have firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails. We know what the fermenters look like. We know what the tanks, pumps, compressors and other parts look like.” The Pentagon team had been sent to investigate the trailers after the invasion. The team of experts unanimously found “no connection to anything biological”; one of the experts told reporters that they privately called the trailers “the biggest sand toilets in the world.” The report was classified, and the next day, the CIA publicly released the assessment of its Washington analysts that the trailers were “mobile biological weapons production.” The White House continued to refer to the trailers as mobile biological laboratories throughout the year, and the Pentagon field report remained classified. It is still classified, but a Washington Post report of April 12, 2006 disclosed some of the details of the report. According to the Post:

A spokesman for the DIA asserted that the team’s findings were neither ignored nor suppressed, but were incorporated in the work of the Iraqi Survey Group, which led the official search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The survey group’s final report in September 2004 15 months after the technical report was written said the trailers were “impractical” for biological weapons production and were “almost certainly intended” for manufacturing hydrogen for weather balloons.[84]

General Tommy Franks was quoted as saying: “I think no one in this country probably was more surprised than I when weapons of mass destruction were not used against our troops as they moved toward Baghdad.”[85]

On February 6, 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush named an Iraq Intelligence Commission, chaired by Charles Robb and Laurence Silberman, to investigate U.S. intelligence, specifically regarding the 2003 invasion of Iraq and Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. On February 8, 2004, Dr Hans Blix, in an interview on BBC TV, accused the U.S. and UK governments of dramatising the threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, in order to strengthen the case for the 2003 war against the government of Saddam Hussein.

On May 30, 2003, The U.S. Department of Defense briefed the media that it was ready to formally begin the work of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), a fact finding mission from the coalition of the Iraq occupation into the WMD programs developed by Iraq, taking over from the British-American 75th Exploitation Task Force.

Various nuclear facilities, including the Baghdad Nuclear Research Facility and Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center, were found looted in the month following the invasion. (Gellman, May 3, 2003) On June 20, 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that tons of uranium, as well as other radioactive materials such as thorium, had been recovered, and that the vast majority had remained on site. There were several reports of radiation sickness in the area. It has been suggested that the documents and suspected weapons sites were looted and burned in Iraq by looters in the final days of the war.[86]

On September 30, 2004, the U.S. Iraq Survey Group issued its Final Report.[87] Among its key findings were:

The report found that “The ISG has not found evidence that Saddam possessed WMD stocks in 2003, but [there is] the possibility that some weapons existed in Iraq, although not of a militarily significant capability.” It also concluded that there was a possible intent to restart all banned weapons programs as soon as multilateral sanctions against it had been dropped, with Hussein pursuing WMD proliferation in the future: “There is an extensive, yet fragmentary and circumstantial, body of evidence suggesting that Saddam pursued a strategy to maintain a capability to return to WMD after sanctions were lifted…”[89] No senior Iraqi official interviewed by the ISG believed that Saddam had forsaken WMD forever.

On October 6, 2004, the head of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), Charles Duelfer, announced to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee that the group found no evidence that Iraq under Saddam Hussein had produced and stockpiled any weapons of mass destruction since 1991, when UN sanctions were imposed.[90]

After he began cooperating with U.S. forces in Baghdad in 2003, Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, who ran Saddam’s nuclear centrifuge program until 1997, handed over blueprints for a nuclear centrifuge along with some actual centrifuge components, stored at his home buried in the front yard awaiting orders from Baghdad to proceed. He said, “I had to maintain the program to the bitter end.” In his book The Bomb in My Garden: The Secrets of Saddam’s Nuclear Mastermind, the Iraqi nuclear engineer explains that his nuclear stash was the key that could have unlocked and restarted Saddam’s bombmaking program. However, it would require a massive investment and a re-creation of thousands of centrifuges in order to reconstitute a full centrifugal enrichment program.

In a January 26, 2004 interview with Tom Brokaw of NBC news, Kay described Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs as being in a “rudimentary” stage. He also stated that “What we did find, and as others are investigating it, we found a lot of terrorist groups and individuals that passed through Iraq.”[91] In responding to a question by Brokaw as to whether Iraq was a “gathering threat” as President Bush had asserted before the invasion, Kay answered:

Tom, an imminent threat is a political judgment. It’s not a technical judgment. I think Baghdad was actually becoming more dangerous in the last two years than even we realized. Saddam was not controlling the society any longer. In the marketplace of terrorism and of WMD, Iraq well could have been that supplier if the war had not intervened.

In June 2004, the United States removed 2 tons of low-enriched uranium from Iraq, sufficient raw material for a single nuclear weapon.[92]

Demetrius Perricos, then head of UNMOVIC, stated that the Kay report contained little information not already known by UNMOVIC.[93] Many organizations, such as the journal Biosecurity and Bioterrorism, have claimed that Kay’s report is a “worst case analysis”.[94]

Operation Iraqi Freedom documents refers to some 48,000 boxes of documents, audiotapes and videotapes that were captured by the U.S. military during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Many of these documents seem to make clear that Saddam’s regime had given up on seeking a WMD capability by the mid-1990s. Associated Press reported, “Repeatedly in the transcripts, Saddam and his lieutenants remind each other that Iraq destroyed its chemical and biological weapons in the early 1990s, and shut down those programs and the nuclear-bomb program, which had never produced a weapon.” At one 1996 presidential meeting, top weapons program official Amer Mohammed Rashid, describes his conversation with UN weapons inspector Rolf Ekeus: “We don’t have anything to hide, so we’re giving you all the details.” At another meeting Saddam told his deputies, “We cooperated with the resolutions 100 percent and you all know that, and the 5 percent they claim we have not executed could take them 10 years to (verify). Don’t think for a minute that we still have WMD. We have nothing.”[95] U.S. Congressman Peter Hoekstra called for the U.S. government to put the remaining documents on the Internet so Arabic speakers around the world can help translate the documents.[96]

Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, several reported finds of chemical weapons were announced, including half a dozen incidents during the invasion itself.

In April 2003, US Marines stumbled across a number of buildings which emitted unusual levels of radiation. Upon close inspection the troops uncovered “many, many drums” containing low-grade uranium, also known as yellowcake. According to an expert familiar with UN nuclear inspections, US troops had arrived at the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center and the material under investigation had been documented, stored in sealed containers and subject to supervision by the International Atomic Energy Agency since 1991.[97][98] The material was transported out of Iraq in July 2008 and sold to Canadian uranium producer Cameco Corp., in a transaction described as worth “tens of millions of dollars.”[99][100]

A post-war case occurred on January 9, 2004, when Icelandic munitions experts and Danish military engineers discovered 36 120-mm mortar rounds containing liquid buried in Southern Iraq. While initial tests suggested that the rounds contained a blister agent, subsequent analysis by American and Danish experts showed that no chemical agent was present.[101]

On May 2, 2004, a shell containing mustard gas was found in the middle of a street west of Baghdad. The Iraq Survey Group investigation reported that it had been previously “stored improperly”, and thus the gas was “ineffective” as a useful chemical agent. Officials from the Defense Department commented that they were not certain if use was to be made of the device as a bomb.[102]

On May 16, 2004, a 152mm artillery shell was used as an improvised bomb.[103] The shell exploded and two U.S. soldiers were treated for minor exposure to a nerve agent (nausea and dilated pupils). On May 18 it was reported by U.S. Department of Defense intelligence officials that tests showed the two-chambered shell contained the chemical agent sarin, the shell being “likely” to have contained three to four liters of the substance (in the form of its two unmixed precursor chemicals prior to the aforementioned explosion that had not effectively mixed them).[102] Former U.S. weapons inspector David Kay told the Associated Press that “he doubted the shell or the nerve agent came from a hidden stockpile, although he didn’t rule out that possibility.” Kay also considered it possible that the shell was “an old relic overlooked when Saddam said he had destroyed such weapons in the mid-1990s.”[104] It is likely that the insurgents who planted the bomb did not know it contained sarin, according to Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, and another U.S. official confirmed that the shell did not have the markings of a chemical agent.[104] The Iraq Survey Group later concluded that the shell “probably originated with a batch that was stored in a Al Muthanna CW complex basement during the late 1980s for the purpose of leakage testing.”[103]

In a July 2, 2004, article published by The Associated Press and Fox News, it was reported that sarin gas warheads dating back to the last IranIraq War were found in South Central Iraq by Polish Allies. The Polish troops secured munitions on June 23, 2004,[105] but it turned out that the warheads did not in fact contain sarin gas but “were all empty and tested negative for any type of chemicals”and it transpired that the Poles had bought the shells for $5,000 each.[106]

In 2004, hundreds of chemical warheads were recovered from the desert close to the IranIraq border. According to the Washington Post, the munitions “had been buried near the Iranian border, and then long forgotten, by Iraqi troops during their eight-year war with Iran”. Officials did not consider the discovery as evidence of an ongoing weapons program that was believed to be in existence before the invasion began.[107]

On June 21, 2006 the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released key points from a classified report provided to them by the National Ground Intelligence Center on the recovery of chemical weapons in Iraq.[108] The declassified summary stated that “Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent”, that chemical munitions “are assessed to still exist” and that they “could be sold on the black market”.[109] All weapons were thought to be manufactured in the 1980s and date to Iraq’s war with Iran.[108] The report prompted US Senator Rick Santorum to hold a press conference in which he declared “We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”[110] During a House Armed Services Committee meeting convened to discuss the topic, the center’s commander, Army Colonel John Chiu, elaborated that the munitions are “badly corroded in most cases [and] some were deliberately dismantled, if you will, to prevent them from being used.”[111] Nonetheless, in response to a question from committee member Curt Weldon, Col. Chui agreed that the munitions met the technical definition of weapons of mass destruction. “These are chemical weapons as defined under the Chemical Weapons Convention and yes, sir, they do constitute weapons of mass destruction.”[112] Weapons expert David Kay, who also appeared before the committee, disagreed with the assessment, contending that any chemical weapon produced by Iraq in the 1980s would not remain a viable weapon of mass destruction today. Kay said the chemical agent, though hazardous, is “less toxic than most things Americans have under their kitchen sink at this point”.[108] Speaking on National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation, weapons expert Charles Duelfer agreed: “We said in the [ISG] report that such chemical munitions would probably still be found. But the ones which have been found are left over from the Iran-Iraq war. They are almost 20 years old, and they are in a decayed fashion. It is very interesting that there are so many that were unaccounted for, but they do not constitute a weapon of mass destruction, although they could be a local hazard.[113]

The Iraqi government informed the United Nations in 2014 that insurgents affiliated with the Islamic State terror group had seized control of the Muthana State Establishment, including a chemical weapons depot northwest of Baghdad. The facility was partially destroyed and placed under the supervision of UNSCOM following the 1991 Gulf War. It housed some 2,500 sarin-filled rockets at the time of their departure in 1999. The U.N. said that the munitions were of “poor quality” and “would largely be degraded after years of storage under the conditions existing there.”[114][115]

In October 2014, the New York Times reported that U.S. servicemen had been exposed and injured during the disposal and destruction of abandoned 4,990 chemical weapons that had been discovered in Iraq.[116] CBS News reported that the U.S. government had concealed the injuries to the troops by chemical weapons.[117][118] US soldiers reporting exposure to mustard gas and sarin allege they were required to keep their exposure secret, sometimes declined admission to hospital and evacuation home despite the request of their commanders.[118] “We were absolutely told not to talk about it” by a colonel, the former sergeant said.[118]

In 2005, the CIA collaborated with the Army Intelligence Corps in contacting an unnamed Iraqi individual who had knowledge and possession of all chemicals WMD stockpiles and munitions in Iraq.[11] The operation was classified from the public and from most of the armed forces.[11] In addition, chemical specialists and ordnance disposal units were assigned to the task to aid in the destruction of recovered WMDs.[11]

It is unknown who the individual is who held possession of the weapons, and how they had come into possession. Nonetheless, they cooperated with U.S. intelligence measures and sold all known chemical WMDs to the units heading Operation Avarice. As a result, the CIA and Army intelligence acquired over 400 rockets, missiles, and other chemical weapons in varying states of operation.[11]

The unnamed Iraqi individual periodically notified the CIA’s Baghdad headquarters when they had additional weapons to sell. The sales varied in size, with the largest tradeoff being for 150 separate rockets containing chemical agents. Chemical and demolitions experts then destroyed the weapons. Some of the weapons analyzed indicated a concentration of nerve agents far higher than military intelligence had initially expected Iraq held the capabilities to formulate, with the highest “agent purity of up to 25 percent for recovered unitary sarin weapons”, which was considered highly lethal and dangerous.[11]

The mission resulted in the largest recovery of chemical weapons during the Iraq war. It was confirmed that these weapons were remnants of the Iraqi weapons program first developed during the Iran-Iraq war and confirmed that the Hussein government had failed to dismantle and dispose WMDs in its possession. The collaboration between American military intelligence and the unnamed Iraqi proprietor resulted in minimal attacks on U.S. military and coalition personnel or Iraqi citizenry from WMDs on a scale seen during the Iran-Iraq war, although minor attacks still occurred.[11]

The identity of the Iraqi seller was never ascertained, but there were several theories that he was an official of either the former or current Iraqi government, or perhaps a front for the Iraqi government. The source never revealed where the supply originated from, although it is speculated they came from the city of Amarah, which was used as a forward base against Iranian forces during the 1980s.[11]

Military intelligence experienced some difficulty during the mission. At least once the undisclosed seller attempted to sell weapons with fake chemical components. In addition, he once “called the intel guys to tell them he was going to turn [WMDs] over to the insurgents” unless he was paid immediately.[11] However, the mission was overall considered a success for both nonproliferation and for minimizing risk exposure for military personnel on the ground in Iraq.[11]

Operation Avarice remained classified for security reasons until 2015.[11] Retired Lieutenant General Richard P. Zahner, the former highest-ranking army intelligence officer in Iraq, praised the operation for having “neutralized what could have become an arsenal used against the US and its allies”.[11]

Iraq became a member state of the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2009, declaring “two bunkers with filled and unfilled chemical weapons munitions, some precursors, as well as five former chemical weapons production facilities” according to OPCW Director General Rogelio Pfirter.[119] No plans were announced at that time for the destruction of the material, although it was noted that the bunkers were damaged in the 2003 war and even inspection of the site must be carefully planned.

The declaration contained no surprises, OPCW spokesman Michael Luhan indicated. The production facilities were “put out of commission” by airstrikes during the 1991 conflict, while U.N. personnel afterward secured the chemical munitions in the bunkers. Luhan stated at the time: “These are legacy weapons, remnants.” He declined to discuss how many weapons were stored in the bunkers or what materials they contained. The weapons were not believed to be in a usable state.[119]

In a study published in 2005,[120] a group of researchers assessed the effects reports and retractions in the media had on people’s memory regarding the search for WMD in Iraq during the 2003 Iraq War. The study focused on populations in two coalition countries (Australia and USA) and one opposed to the war (Germany). This led to three conclusions:

A poll conducted between June and September 2003 asked people whether they thought evidence of WMD had been discovered in Iraq since the war ended. They were also asked which media sources they relied upon. Those who obtained their news primarily from Fox News were three times as likely to believe that evidence of WMD had been discovered in Iraq than those who relied on PBS and NPR for their news, and one third more likely than those who primarily watched CBS.

Based on a series of polls taken from JuneSeptember 2003.[121]

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Iraq – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 33N 44E / 33N 44E / 33; 44

Iraq (, i, or ; Arabic: al-Irq, Kurdish: raq), officially the Republic of Iraq (Arabic: (helpinfo) Jumhryat al-Irq; Kurdish: Komar-i raq), is a country in Western Asia. The country is bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest, and Syria to the west. The southern part of Iraq is within the Arabian Peninsula. The capital, Baghdad, is in the centre of the country and its largest city. The largest ethnic groups in Iraq are Arabs and Kurds. Other ethnic groups include Assyrians, Turkmen, Shabakis, Yazidis, Armenians, Mandeans, Circassians, and Kawliya.[6] Around 95% of the country’s 36 million citizens are Shia or Sunni Muslims, with Christianity, Yarsan, Yezidism, and Mandeanism also present.

Iraq has a narrow section of coastline measuring 58km (36 miles) on the northern Persian Gulf and its territory encompasses the Mesopotamian Alluvial Plain, the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, and the eastern part of the Syrian Desert.[7] Two major rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, run south through the centre of Iraq and flow into the Shatt al-Arab near the Persian Gulf. These rivers provide Iraq with significant amounts of fertile land.

The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, historically known as Mesopotamia, is most often referred to as humanity’s cradle of civilisation. It was here that mankind first began to read, write, create laws, and live in cities under an organised governmentnotably Uruk, from which Iraq was derived. The area has been home to continuous successive civilisations since the 6th millennium BC. At different periods in its history, Iraq was the centre of the indigenous Akkadian, Sumerian, Assyrian, and Babylonian empires. It was also part of the Median, Achaemenid, Hellenistic, Parthian, Sassanid, Roman, Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid, Ayyubid, Mongol, Safavid, Afsharid, and Ottoman empires, and under British control as a League of Nations mandate.[8]

Iraq’s modern borders were mostly demarcated in 1920 by the League of Nations when the Ottoman Empire was divided by the Treaty of Svres. Iraq was placed under the authority of the United Kingdom as the British Mandate of Mesopotamia. A monarchy was established in 1921 and the Kingdom of Iraq gained independence from Britain in 1932. In 1958, the monarchy was overthrown and the Iraqi Republic was created. Iraq was controlled by the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party from 1968 until 2003. After an invasion by the United States and its allies in 2003, Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party was removed from power and multi-party parliamentary elections were held in 2005. The American presence in Iraq ended in 2011,[9] but the Iraqi insurgency continued and intensified as fighters from the Syrian Civil War spilled into the country.

The Arabic name al-Irq has been in use since before the 6th century. There are several suggested origins for the name. One dates to the Sumerian city of Uruk (Biblical Hebrew Erech) and is thus ultimately of Sumerian origin, as Uruk was the Akkadian name for the Sumerian city of Urug, containing the Sumerian word for “city”, UR.[10][11] An Arabic folk etymology for the name is “deeply rooted, well-watered; fertile”.[12] During the medieval period, there was a region called Irq Arab (“Arabian Iraq”) for Lower Mesopotamia and Irq ajam (“Foreign Iraq”),[13] for the region now situated in Central and Western Iran.[14] The term historically included the plain south of the Hamrin Mountains and did not include the northernmost and westernmost parts of the modern territory of Iraq.[15] The term Sawad was also used in early Islamic times for the region of the alluvial plain of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, contrasting it with the arid Arabian desert. As an Arabic word, means “hem”, “shore”, “bank”, or “edge”, so that the name by folk etymology came to be interpreted as “the escarpment”, viz. at the south and east of the Jazira Plateau, which forms the northern and western edge of the “al-Iraq arabi” area.[16]

The Arabic pronunciation is [irq]. In English, it is either (the only pronunciation listed in the Oxford English Dictionary and the first one in Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary) or (listed first by MQD), the American Heritage Dictionary, and the Random House Dictionary. The pronunciation is frequently heard in US media.

Between 65,000 BC and 35,000 BC northern Iraq was home to a Neanderthal culture, archaeological remains of which have been discovered at Shanidar Cave[17] This same region is also the location of a number of pre-Neolithic cemeteries, dating from approximately 11,000 BC.[18]

Since approximately 10,000 BC, Iraq (alongside Asia Minor and The Levant) was one of centres of a Caucasoid Neolithic culture (known as Pre-Pottery Neolithic A) where agriculture and cattle breeding appeared for the first time in the world. The following Neolithic period (PPNB) is represented by rectangular houses. At the time of the pre-pottery Neolithic, people used vessels made of stone, gypsum and burnt lime (Vaisselle blanche). Finds of obsidian tools from Anatolia are evidences of early trade relations.

Further important sites of human advancement were Jarmo (circa 7100 BC),[18] the Halaf culture and Ubaid period (between 6500 BC and 3800 BC),[19] these periods show ever increasing levels of advancement in agriculture, tool making and architecture.

The historical period in Iraq truly begins during the Uruk period (4000 BC to 3100 BC), with the founding of a number of Sumerian cities, and the use of Pictographs, Cylinder seals and mass-produced goods.[21]

The “Cradle of Civilization” is thus a common term for the area comprising modern Iraq as it was home to the earliest known civilisation, the Sumerian civilisation, which arose in the fertile Tigris-Euphrates river valley of southern Iraq in the Chalcolithic (Ubaid period).

It was here in the late 4th millennium BC, that the world’s first writing system and recorded history itself were born. The Sumerians were also the first to harness the wheel and create City States, and whose writings record the first evidence of Mathematics, Astronomy, Astrology, Written Law, Medicine and Organised religion.

The Sumerians spoke a Language Isolate, in other words, a language utterly unrelated to any other, including the Semitic Languages, Indo-European Languages, Afroasiatic languages or any other isolates. The major city states of the early Sumerian period were; Eridu, Bad-tibira, Larsa, Sippar, Shuruppak, Uruk, Kish, Ur, Nippur, Lagash, Girsu, Umma, Hamazi, Adab, Mari, Isin, Kutha, Der and Akshak.

Cities such as Ashur, Arbela (modern Irbil) and Arrapkha (modern Kirkuk) were also extant in what was to be called Assyria from the 25th century BC, however at this early stage they were Sumerian ruled administrative centres.

In the 26th century BC, Eannatum of Lagash created what was perhaps the first Empire in history, though this was short lived. Later, Lugal-Zage-Si, the priest-king of Umma, overthrew the primacy of the Lagash dynasty in the area, then conquered Uruk, making it his capital, and claimed an empire extending from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean.[22] It was during this period that the Epic of Gilgamesh originates, which includes the tale of The Great Flood.

From approximately 3000 BC, a Semitic people had also entered Iraq from the west and settled amongst the Sumerians. These people spoke an East Semitic language which would later come to be known as Akkadian. From the 29th century BC Akkadian Semitic names began to appear on king lists and administrative documents of various city states.

During the 3rd millennium BCE a cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism. The influences between Sumerian and Akkadian are evident in all areas including lexical borrowing on a massive scaleand syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence. This mutual influence has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and Akkadian of the 3rd millennium BCE as a Sprachbund.[23] From this period the civilisation in Iraq came to be known as Sumero-Akkadian.

Between the 29th and 24th centuries BC, a number of kingdoms and city states within Iraq began to have Akkadian speaking dynasties; including Assyria, Ekallatum, Isin and Larsa.

However, the Sumerians remained generally dominant until the rise of the Akkadian Empire (2335-2124 BC), based in the city of Akkad in central Iraq. Sargon of Akkad, originally a Rabshakeh to a Sumerian king, founded the empire, he conquered all of the city states of southern and central Iraq, and subjugated the kings of Assyria, thus uniting the Sumerians and Akkadians in one state. He then set about expanding his empire, conquering Gutium, Elam, Cissia and Turukku in Ancient Iran, the Hurrians, Luwians and Hattians of Anatolia, and the Amorites and Eblaites of Ancient Syria.

After the collapse of the Akkadian Empire in the late 22nd century BC, the Gutians occupied the south for a few decades, while Assyria reasserted its independence in the north. This was followed by a Sumerian renaissance in the form of the Neo-Sumerian Empire. The Sumerians under king Shulgi conquered almost all of Iraq except the northern reaches of Assyria, and asserted themselves over the Elamites, Gutians and Amorites.

An Elamite invasion in 2004 BC brought the Sumerian revival to an end. By the mid 21st century BC the Akkadian speaking kingdom of Assyria, had risen to dominance in northern Iraq, it expanded territorially into the north eastern Levant, central Iraq, and eastern Anatolia, forming the Old Assyrian Empire (circa 2035-1750 BC) under kings such as Puzur-Ashur I, Sargon I, Ilushuma and Erishum I, the latter of whom produced the most detailed set of Written Laws yet written. The south broke up into a number of Akkadian speaking states, Isin, Larsa and Eshnunna being the major ones.

During the 20th century BC, the Canaanite speaking Northwest Semitic Amorites began to migrate into southern Mesopotamia. Eventually these Amorites began to set up small petty kingdoms in the south, as well as usurping the thrones of extant city states such as Isin, Larsa and Eshnunna.

One of these small kingdoms founded in 1894 BC contained the then small administrative town of Babylon within its borders. It remained insignificant for over a century, overshadowed by older and more powerful states such as Assyria, Elam, Isin, Ehnunna and Larsa.

In 1792 BC, an Amorite ruler named Hammurabi came to power in this state, and immediately set about building Babylon from a minor town into a major city, declaring himself its king. Hammurabi conquered the whole of southern and central Iraq, as well as Elam to the east and Mari to the west, then engaged in a protracted war with the Assyrian king Ishme-Dagan for domination of the region, creating the short lived Babylonian Empire. He eventually prevailed over the successor of Ishme-Dagan and subjected Assyria and its Anatolian colonies.

It is from the period of Hammurabi that southern Iraq came to be known as Babylonia, while the north had already coalesced into Assyria hundreds of years before. However, his empire was short lived, and rapidly collapsed after his death, with both Assyria and southern Iraq, in the form of the Sealand Dynasty, falling back into native Akkadian hands. The foreign Amorites clung on to power in a once more weak and small Babylonia until it was sacked by the Indo-European speaking Hittite Empire based in Anatolia in 1595 BC. After this, another foreign people, the Language Isolate speaking Kassites, originating in the Zagros Mountains of Ancient Iran, seized control of Babylonia, where they were to rule for almost six hundred years, by far the longest dynasty ever to rule in Babylon.

Iraq was from this point divided into three polities; Assyria in the north, Kassite Babylonia in the south central region, and the Sealand Dynasty in the far south. The Sealand Dynasty was finally conquered into Babylonia by the Kassites circa 1380 BC.

The Middle Assyrian Empire (13651020 BC) saw Assyria rise to be the most powerful nation in the known world. Beginning with the campaigns of Ashur-uballit I, Assyria destroyed the rival Hurrian-Mitanni Empire, annexed huge swathes of the Hittite Empire for itself, annexed northern Babylonia from the Kassites, forced the Egyptian Empire from the region, and defeated the Elamites, Phrygians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Cilicians, Gutians, Dilmunites and Arameans. At its height the Middle Assyrian Empire stretched from The Caucasus to Dilmun (modern Bahrain), and from the Mediterranean coasts of Phoenicia to the Zagros Mountains of Iran. In 1235 BC, Tukulti-Ninurta I of Assyria took the throne of Babylon, thus becoming the very first native Mesopotamian to rule the state.

During the Bronze Age collapse (1200-900 BC) Babylonia was in a state of chaos, dominated for long periods by Assyria and Elam. The Kassites were driven from power by Assyria and Elam, allowing native south Mesopotamian kings to rule Babylonia for the first time, although often subject to Assyrian or Elamite rulers. However, these East Semitic Akkadian kings, were unable to prevent new waves of West Semitic migrants entering southern Iraq, and during the 11th century BC Arameans and Suteans entered Babylonia from The Levant, and these were followed in the late 10th to early 9th century BC by the migrant Chaldeans who were closely related to the earlier Arameans.

After a period of comparative decline in Assyria, it once more began to expand with the Neo Assyrian Empire (935605 BC). This was to be the largest and most powerful empire the world had yet seen, and under rulers such as Adad-Nirari II, Ashurnasirpal, Shalmaneser III, Semiramis, Tiglath-pileser III, Sargon II, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal, Iraq became the centre of an empire stretching from Persia, Parthia and Elam in the east, to Cyprus and Antioch in the west, and from The Caucasus in the north to Egypt, Nubia and Arabia in the south.

The Arabs are first mentioned in written history (circa 850 BC) as a subject people of Shalmaneser III, dwelling in the Arabian Peninsula. The Chaldeans are first mentioned at this time also.

It was during this period that an Akkadian influenced form of Eastern Aramaic was introduced by the Assyrians as the lingua franca of their vast empire, and Mesopotamian Aramaic began to supplant Akkadian as the spoken language of the general populace of both Assyria and Babylonia. The descendant dialects of this tongue survive amongst the Assyrians of northern Iraq to this day.

In the late 7th century BC the Assyrian Empire tore itself apart with a series of brutal civil wars, weakening itself to such a degree that a coalition of its former subjects; the Babylonians, Chaldeans, Medes, Persians, Parthians, Scythians and Cimmerians, were able to attack Assyria, finally bringing its empire down by 605 BC.[24]

The short lived Neo-Babylonian Empire (620-539 BC) succeeded that of Assyria. It failed to attain the size, power or longevity of its predecessor, however it came to dominate The Levant, Canaan, Arabia, Israel and Judah, and to defeat Egypt. Initially, Babylon was ruled by yet another foreign dynasty, that of the Chaldeans, who had migrated to the region in the late 10th or early 9th century BC. Its greatest king, Nebuchadnezzar II rivalled another non native ruler, the ethnically unrelated Amorite king Hammurabi, as the greatest king of Babylon. However, by 556 BC the Chaldeans had been deposed from power by the Assyrian born Nabonidus and his son and regent Belshazzar.

In the 6th century BC, Cyrus the Great of neighbouring Persia defeated the Neo-Babylonian Empire at the Battle of Opis and Iraq was subsumed into the Achaemenid Empire for nearly two centuries. The Achaemenids made Babylon their main capital. The Chaldeans and Chaldea disappeared at around this time, though both Assyria and Babylonia endured and thrived under Achaemenid rule (see Achaemenid Assyria). Little changed under the Persians, having spent three centuries under Assyrian rule, their kings saw themselves as successors to Ashurbanipal, and they retained Assyrian Imperial Aramaic as the language of empire, together with the Assyrian imperial infrastructure, and an Assyrian style of art and architecture.

In the late 4th century BC, Alexander the Great conquered the region, putting it under Hellenistic Seleucid rule for over two centuries.[25] The Seleucids introduced the Indo-Anatolian and Greek term Syria to the region. This name had for many centuries been the Indo-European word for Assyria and specifically and only meant Assyria, however the Seleucids also applied it to The Levant (Aramea, causing both the Assyria and the Assyrians of Iraq and the Arameans and The Levant to be called Syria and Syrians/Syriacs in the Greco-Roman world.[26]

The Parthians (247 BC 224 AD) from Persia conquered the region during the reign of Mithridates I of Parthia (r. 171138 BC). From Syria, the Romans invaded western parts of the region several times, briefly founding Assyria Provincia in Assyria. Christianity began to take hold in Iraq (particularly in Assyria) between the 1st and 3rd centuries, and Assyria became a centre of Syriac Christianity, the Church of the East and Syriac literature. A number of indigenous independent Neo-Assyrian states evolved in the north during the Parthian era, such as Adiabene, Assur, Osroene and Hatra.

A number of Assyrians from Mesopotamia were conscripted into or joined the Roman Army, and the Aramaic language of Assyria and Mesopotamia has been found as far afield as Hadrians Wall in northern Ancient Britain, with inscriptions written by Assyrian and Aramean soldiers of the Roman Empire.[27]

The Sassanids of Persia under Ardashir I destroyed the Parthian Empire and conquered the region in 224 AD. During the 240s and 250’s AD the Sassanids gradually conquered the small Neo Assyrian states, culminating with Assur in 256 AD. The region was thus a province of the Sassanid Empire for over four centuries (see also; Asristn), and became the frontier and battle ground between the Sassanid Empire and Byzantine Empire, with both empires weakening each other greatly, paving the way for the Arab-Muslim conquest of Persia in the mid-7th century,

The Arab Islamic conquest in the mid-7th century AD established Islam in Iraq and saw a large influx of Arabs. Under the Rashidun Caliphate, the prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, Ali, moved his capital to Kufa when he became the fourth caliph. The Umayyad Caliphate ruled the province of Iraq from Damascus in the 7th century. (However, eventually there was a separate, independent Caliphate of Crdoba in Iberia.)

The Abbasid Caliphate built the city of Baghdad in the 8th century as its capital, and the city became the leading metropolis of the Arab and Muslim world for five centuries. Baghdad was the largest multicultural city of the Middle Ages, peaking at a population of more than a million,[28] and was the centre of learning during the Islamic Golden Age. The Mongols destroyed the city during the siege of Baghdad in the 13th century.[29]

In 1257 Hulagu Khan amassed an unusually large army, a significant portion of the Mongol Empire’s forces, for the purpose of conquering Baghdad. When they arrived at the Islamic capital, Hulagu Khan demanded surrender but the last Abbasid Caliph Al-Musta’sim refused. This angered Hulagu, and, consistent with Mongol strategy of discouraging resistance, he besieged Baghdad, sacked the city and massacred many of the inhabitants.[30] Estimates of the number of dead range from 200,000 to a million.[31]

The Mongols destroyed the Abbasid Caliphate and Baghdad’s House of Wisdom, which contained countless precious and historical documents. The city has never regained its previous pre-eminence as a major centre of culture and influence. Some historians believe that the Mongol invasion destroyed much of the irrigation infrastructure that had sustained Mesopotamia for millennia. Other historians point to soil salination as the culprit in the decline in agriculture.[32]

The mid-14th-century Black Death ravaged much of the Islamic world.[33] The best estimate for the Middle East is a death rate of roughly one-third.[34]

In 1401 a warlord of Mongol descent, Tamerlane (Timur Lenk), invaded Iraq. After the capture of Baghdad, 20,000 of its citizens were massacred.[35] Timur ordered that every soldier should return with at least two severed human heads to show him (many warriors were so scared they killed prisoners captured earlier in the campaign just to ensure they had heads to present to Timur).[36] Timur also conducted massacres of the indigenous Assyrian Christian population, hitherto still the majority population in northern Mesopotamia, and it was during this time that the ancient Assyrian city of Assur was finally abandoned.[37]

During the late 14th and early 15th centuries, the Black Sheep Turkmen ruled the area now known as Iraq. In 1466, the White Sheep Turkmen defeated the Black Sheep and took control. From the earliest 16th century, in 1508, as with all territories of the former White Sheep Turkmen, Iraq fell into the hands of the Iranian Safavids. Owing to the century long Turco-Iranian rivalary between the Safavids and the neighbouring Ottoman Turks, Iraq would be contested between the two for more than a hundred years during the frequent Ottoman-Persian Wars. In the course of the 17th century, in 1639 precisely with the Treaty of Zuhab, most of the territory of present-day Iraq eventually decisively came under the control of Ottoman Empire as the eyalet of Baghdad as a result of wars with neighbouring rivalling Safavid Iran. Throughout most of the period of Ottoman rule (15331918) the territory of present-day Iraq was a battle zone between the rival regional empires and tribal alliances.

By the 17th century, the frequent conflicts with the Safavids had sapped the strength of the Ottoman Empire and had weakened its control over its provinces. The nomadic population swelled with the influx of bedouins from Najd, in the Arabian Peninsula. Bedouin raids on settled areas became impossible to curb.[38]

During the years 17471831 Iraq was ruled by a Mamluk dynasty of Georgian[39] origin who succeeded in obtaining autonomy from the Ottoman Porte, suppressed tribal revolts, curbed the power of the Janissaries, restored order and introduced a programme of modernisation of economy and military. In 1831, the Ottomans managed to overthrow the Mamluk regime and imposed their direct control over Iraq. The population of Iraq, estimated at 30 million in 800 AD, was only 5 million at the start of the 20th century.[40]

During World War I, the Ottomans sided with Germany and the Central Powers. In the Mesopotamian campaign against the Central Powers, British forces invaded the country and initially suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Turkish army during the Siege of Kut (19151916). However, subsequent to this the British began to gain the upper hand, and were further aided by the support of local Arabs and Assyrians. In 1916, the British and French made a plan for the post-war division of Western Asia under the Sykes-Picot Agreement.[41] British forces regrouped and captured Baghdad in 1917, and defeated the Ottomans. An armistice was signed in 1918.

During World War I the Ottomans were defeated and driven from much of the area by the United Kingdom during the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The British lost 92,000 soldiers in the Mesopotamian campaign. Ottoman losses are unknown but the British captured a total of 45,000 prisoners of war. By the end of 1918 the British had deployed 410,000 men in the area, of which 112,000 were combat troops.[citation needed]

On 11 November 1920 Iraq became a League of Nations mandate under British control with the name “State of Iraq”. The British established the Hashemite king, Faisal I of Iraq, who had been forced out of Syria by the French, as their client ruler. Likewise, British authorities selected Sunni Arab elites from the region for appointments to government and ministry offices.[specify][42][pageneeded]

Faced with spiraling costs and influenced by the public protestations of war hero T. E. Lawrence[43] in The Times, Britain replaced Arnold Wilson in October 1920 with new Civil Commissioner Sir Percy Cox.[citation needed] Cox managed to quell a rebellion, yet was also responsible for implementing the fateful policy of close co-operation with Iraq’s Sunni minority.[44] The institution of slavery was abolished in the 1920s.[45]

Britain granted independence to the Kingdom of Iraq in 1932,[46] on the urging of King Faisal, though the British retained military bases, local militia in the form of Assyrian Levies, and transit rights for their forces. King Ghazi ruled as a figurehead after King Faisal’s death in 1933, while undermined by attempted military coups, until his death in 1939. Ghazi was followed by his underage son, Faisal II. ‘Abd al-Ilah served as Regent during Faisal’s minority.

On 1 April 1941, Rashid Ali al-Gaylani and members of the Golden Square staged a coup d’tat and overthrew the government of ‘Abd al-Ilah. During the subsequent Anglo-Iraqi War, the United Kingdom (which still maintained air bases in Iraq) invaded Iraq for fear that the Rashid Ali government might cut oil supplies to Western nations because of his links to the Axis powers. The war started on 2 May, and the British, together with loyal Assyrian Levies,[47] defeated the forces of Al-Gaylani, forcing an armistice on 31 May.

A military occupation followed the restoration of the pre-coup government of the Hashemite monarchy. The occupation ended on 26 October 1947, although Britain was to retain military bases in Iraq until 1954, after which the Assyrian militias were disbanded. The rulers during the occupation and the remainder of the Hashemite monarchy were Nuri as-Said, the autocratic Prime Minister, who also ruled from 19301932, and ‘Abd al-Ilah, the former Regent who now served as an adviser to King Faisal II.

In 1958 a coup d’etat known as the 14 July Revolution led to the end of the monarchy. Brigadier General Abd al-Karim Qasim assumed power, but he was overthrown by Colonel Abdul Salam Arif in a February 1963 coup. After his death in 1966 he was succeeded by his brother, Abdul Rahman Arif, who was overthrown by the Ba’ath Party in 1968. Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr became the first Ba’ath President of Iraq but then the movement gradually came under the control of General Saddam Hussein, who acceded to the presidency and control of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), then Iraq’s supreme executive body, in July 1979.

After the success of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, President Saddam Hussein initially welcomed the overthrow of the Shah and sought to establish good relations with Ayatollah Khomeini’s new government.[citation needed] However, Khomeini openly called for the spread of the Islamic Revolution to Iraq, arming Shiite and Kurdish rebels against Saddam’s regime and sponsoring assassination attempts on senior Iraqi officials.[citation needed] Following months of cross-border raids between the two countries, Saddam declared war on Iran in September 1980, initiating the IranIraq War (or First Persian Gulf War). Iraq withdrew from Iran in 1982, and for the next six years Iran was on the offensive.[48][pageneeded] The war ended in stalemate in 1988 and cost the lives of between half a million and 1.5 million people.[49] In 1981, Israeli aircraft bombed an Iraqi nuclear materials testing reactor at Osirak and was widely criticised at the United Nations.[50][51] Iraq waged chemical warfare against Iran.[52] In the final stages of IranIraq War, the Ba’athist Iraqi regime led the Al-Anfal Campaign, a genocidal[53] campaign that targeted Iraqi Kurds,[54][55][56] and led to the killing of 50,000100,000 civilians.[57]

In August 1990, Iraq invaded and annexed Kuwait. This subsequently led to military intervention by United States-led forces in the First Gulf War. The coalition forces proceeded with a bombing campaign targeting military targets[58][59][60] and then launched a 100-hour-long ground assault against Iraqi forces in Southern Iraq and those occupying Kuwait.

Iraq’s armed forces were devastated during the war and shortly after it ended in 1991, Shia and Kurdish Iraqis led several uprisings against Saddam Hussein’s regime, but these were successfully repressed using the Iraqi security forces and chemical weapons. It is estimated that as many as 100,000 people, including many civilians were killed.[61] During the uprisings the US, UK, France and Turkey, claiming authority under UNSCR 688, established the Iraqi no-fly zones to protect Kurdish and Shiite populations from attacks by the Hussein regime’s fixed-wing aircraft (but not helicopters).

Iraq was ordered to destroy its chemical and biological weapons and the UN attempted to compel Saddam Hussein’s government to disarm and agree to a ceasefire by imposing additional sanctions on the country in addition to the initial sanctions imposed following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The Iraqi Government’s failure to disarm and agree to a ceasefire resulted in sanctions which remained in place until 2003. Studies dispute the effects of the sanctions on Iraqi civilians.[62][63][64]

During the late 1990s, the UN considered relaxing the Iraq sanctions because of the hardships suffered by ordinary Iraqis[citation needed] and attacks on US aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones led to US bombing of Iraq in December 1998.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks the George W. Bush administration began planning the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s government and in October 2002, the US Congress passed the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq. In November 2002 the UN Security Council passed UNSCR 1441 and in March 2003 the US and its allies invaded Iraq.

On March 20, 2003, a United States-organized coalition invaded Iraq, under the pretext that Iraq had failed to abandon its weapons of mass destruction program in violation of U.N. Resolution 687. This claim was based on documents provided by the CIA and British government[65] and were later found to be unreliable.[66][67]

Following the invasion, the United States established the Coalition Provisional Authority to govern Iraq. In May 2003 L. Paul Bremer, the chief executive of the CPA, issued orders to exclude Baath Party members from the new Iraqi government (CPA Order 1) and to disband the Iraqi Army (CPA Order 2).[68] The decision dissolved the largely Sunni Iraqi Army[69] and excluded many of the country’s former government officials from participating in the country’s governance including 40,000 school teachers who had joined the Baath Party simply to keep their jobs,[70] helping to bring about a chaotic post-invasion environment.[71]

An insurgency against the US-led coalition-rule of Iraq began in summer 2003 within elements of the former Iraqi secret police and army who formed guerilla units. In fall 2003, also self-entitled jihadist groups began targeting coalition forces. Various Sunni militias were created in 2003, for example Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The insurgency included intense inter-ethnic violence between Sunnis and Shias.[72] The Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal came to light, late 2003 in reports by Amnesty International and Associated Press.

The Mahdi Armya Shia militia created in the summer of 2003 by Muqtada al-Sadr[73]began to fight Coalition forces in April 2004.[73] 2004 saw Sunni and Shia militants fighting against each other and against the new Iraqi Interim Government installed June 2004, and against Coalition forces, as well as the First Battle of Fallujah in April and Second Battle of Fallujah in November. Sunni militia Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad became Al-Qaeda in Iraq in October 2004 and targeted Coalition forces as well as civilians, mainly Shia Muslims, further exacerbating ethnic tensions.[74]

In January 2005 the first elections since the invasion took place and in October a new Constitution was approved which was followed by parliamentary elections in December. Insurgent attacks were common however and increased to 34,131 in 2005 from 26,496 in 2004.[75]

During 2006 fighting continued and reached its highest levels of violence, more war crimes scandals were made public, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq was killed by US forces and Iraq’s former dictator Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death for crimes against humanity and hanged.[76][77][78] In late 2006 the US government’s Iraq Study Group recommended that the US begin focusing on training Iraqi military personnel and in January 2007 US President George W. Bush announced a “Surge” in the number of US troops deployed to the country.[79]

In May 2007 Iraq’s Parliament called on the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal[80] and US coalition partners such as the UK and Denmark began withdrawing their forces from the country.[81][82] The war in Iraq has resulted in between 151,000 and 1.2 million Iraqis being killed.[83][84]

In 2008 fighting continued and Iraq’s newly trained armed forces launched attacks against militants. The Iraqi government signed the USIraq Status of Forces Agreement which required US forces to withdraw from Iraqi cities by 30 June 2009 and to withdraw completely out of Iraq by 31 December 2011.

US troops handed over security duties to Iraqi forces in June 2009, though they continued to work with Iraqi forces after the pullout.[85] On the morning of 18 December 2011, the final contingent of US troops to be withdrawn ceremonially exited over the border to Kuwait.[9] Crime and violence initially spiked in the months following the US withdrawal from cities in mid-2009[86][87] but despite the initial increase in violence, in November 2009, Iraqi Interior Ministry officials reported that the civilian death toll in Iraq fell to its lowest level since the 2003 invasion.[88]

Following the withdrawal of US troops in 2011 the insurgency continued and Iraq suffered from political instability. In February 2011 the Arab Spring protests spread to Iraq;[89] but the initial protests did not topple the government. The Iraqi National Movement, reportedly representing the majority of Iraqi Sunnis, boycotted Parliament for several weeks in late 2011 and early 2012, claiming that the Shiite-dominated government was striving to sideline Sunnis.

In 2012 and 2013 levels of violence increased and armed groups inside Iraq were increasingly galvanised by the Syrian Civil War. Both Sunnis and Shias crossed the border to fight in Syria.[90] In December 2012, mainly Sunni Arabs protested against the government who they claimed marginalised them.[91][92]

During 2013 Sunni militant groups stepped up attacks targeting the Iraq’s Shia population in an attempt to undermine confidence in the Nouri al-Maliki-led government.[93] In 2014 Sunni insurgents belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group seized control of large swathes of land including several major Iraqi cities, like Tikrit, Fallujah and Mosul creating hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons amid reports of atrocities by ISIL fighters.[94]

After an inconclusive election in April 2014, Nouri al-Maliki served as caretaker-Prime-Minister.[95]

On 11 August, Iraqs highest court ruled that PM Malikis bloc is biggest in parliament, meaning Maliki could stay Prime Minister.[95] By 13 August, however, the Iraqi president had tasked Haider al-Abadi with forming a new government, and the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and some Iraqi politicians expressed their wish for a new leadership in Iraq, for example from Haider al-Abadi.[96] Maliki on 14 August stepped down as PM, to support Mr al-Abadi and to safeguard the high interests of the country. The US government welcomed this as another major step forward in uniting Iraq.[97][98] On September 9, 2014, Haider al-Abadi had formed a new government and became the new prime minister.[citation needed] Intermittent conflict between Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish factions has led to increasing debate about the splitting of Iraq into three autonomous regions, including Kurdistan in the northeast, a Sunnistan in the west and a Shiastan in the southeast.[99]

Iraq lies between latitudes 29 and 38 N, and longitudes 39 and 49 E (a small area lies west of 39). Spanning 437,072km2 (168,754sqmi), it is the 58th-largest country in the world. It is comparable in size to the US state of California, and somewhat larger than Paraguay.

Iraq mainly consists of desert, but near the two major rivers (Euphrates and Tigris) are fertile alluvial plains, as the rivers carry about 60,000,000m3 (78,477,037cuyd) of silt annually to the delta. The north of the country is mostly composed of mountains; the highest point being at 3,611m (11,847ft) point, unnamed on the map opposite, but known locally as Cheekah Dar (black tent). Iraq has a small coastline measuring 58km (36mi) along the Persian Gulf. Close to the coast and along the Shatt al-Arab (known as arvandrd: among Iranians) there used to be marshlands, but many were drained in the 1990s.

Most of Iraq has a hot arid climate with subtropical influence. Summer temperatures average above 40C (104F) for most of the country and frequently exceed 48C (118.4F). Winter temperatures infrequently exceed 21C (69.8F) with maxima roughly 15 to 19C (59.0 to 66.2F) and night-time lows 2 to 5C (35.6 to 41.0F). Typically precipitation is low; most places receive less than 250mm (9.8in) annually, with maximum rainfall occurring during the winter months. Rainfall during the summer is extremely rare, except in the far north of the country. The northern mountainous regions have cold winters with occasional heavy snows, sometimes causing extensive flooding.

The federal government of Iraq is defined under the current Constitution as a democratic, federal parliamentary Islamic republic. The federal government is composed of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as numerous independent commissions. Aside from the federal government, there are regions (made of one or more governorates), governorates, and districts within Iraq with jurisdiction over various matters as defined by law.

The National Alliance is the main Shia parliamentary bloc, and was established as a result of a merger of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s State of Law Coalition and the Iraqi National Alliance.[100] The Iraqi National Movement is led by Iyad Allawi, a secular Shia widely supported by Sunnis. The party has a more consistent anti-sectarian perspective than most of its rivals.[100] The Kurdistan List is dominated by two parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party led by Masood Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan headed by Jalal Talabani. Both parties are secular and enjoy close ties with the West.[100]

In 2010, according to the Failed States Index, Iraq was the world’s seventh most politically unstable country.[101][102] The concentration of power in the hands of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and growing pressure on the opposition led to growing concern about the future of political rights in Iraq.[103] Nevertheless, progress was made and the country had risen to 11th place by 2013.[104] In August 2014 al-Maliki’s reign came to an end. He announced on 14 August 2014 he would stand aside so Haider Al-Abadi, who had been nominated just days earlier by newly installed President Fuad Masum, could take over. Until that point al-Maliki had clung to power even asking the federal court to veto the president’s nomination describing it as a violation of the constitution.[105]

Since the establishment of the nofly zones following the Gulf War of 19901991, the Kurds established their own autonomous region..

In October 2005, the new Constitution of Iraq was approved in a referendum with a 78% overall majority, although the percentage of support varying widely between the country’s territories.[106] The new constitution was backed by the Shia and Kurdish communities, but was rejected by Arab Sunnis. Under the terms of the constitution, the country conducted fresh nationwide parliamentary elections on December 15, 2005. All three major ethnic groups in Iraq voted along ethnic lines, as did Assyrian and Turcoman minorities.

Law no. 188 of the year 1959 (Personal Status Law)[107] made polygamy extremely difficult, granted child custody to the mother in case of divorce, prohibited repudiation and marriage under the age of 16.[108] Article 1 of Civil Code also identifies Islamic law as a formal source of law.[109] Iraq had no Sharia courts but civil courts used Sharia for issues of personal status including marriage and divorce. In 1995 Iraq introduced Sharia punishment for certain types of criminal offences.[110] The code is based on French civil law as well as Sunni and Jafari (Shiite) interpretations of Sharia.[111]

In 2004, the CFA chief executive L. Paul Bremer said he would veto any constitutional draft stating that sharia is the principal basis of law.[112] The declaration enraged many local Shia clerics,[113] and by 2005 the United States had relented, allowing a role for sharia in the constitution to help end a stalemate on the draft constitution.[114]

The Iraqi Penal Code is the statutory law of Iraq.

Iraqi security forces are composed of forces serving under the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense, as well as the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Bureau, reporting directly to the Prime Minister of Iraq, which oversees the Iraqi Special Operations Forces. Ministry of Defense forces include the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Air Force and the Iraqi Navy. The Peshmerga are a separate armed force loyal to the Kurdistan Regional Government. The regional government and the central government disagree as to whether they are under Baghdad’s authority and to what extent.[115]

The Iraqi Army is an objective counter-insurgency force that as of November 2009 includes 14 divisions, each division consisting of 4 brigades.[116] It is described as the most important element of the counter-insurgency fight.[117] Light infantry brigades are equipped with small arms, machine guns, RPGs, body armour and light armoured vehicles. Mechanized infantry brigades are equipped with T-54/55 main battle tanks and BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles.[117] As of mid-2008, logistical problems included a maintenance crisis and ongoing supply problems.[118]

The Iraqi Air Force is designed to support ground forces with surveillance, reconnaissance and troop lift. Two reconnaissance squadrons use light aircraft, three helicopter squadrons are used to move troops and one air transportation squadron uses C-130 transport aircraft to move troops, equipment, and supplies. It currently has 3,000 personnel. It is planned to increase to 18,000 personnel, with 550 aircraft by 2018.[117]

The Iraqi Navy is a small force with 1,500 sailors and officers, including 800 Marines, designed to protect shoreline and inland waterways from insurgent infiltration. The navy is also responsible for the security of offshore oil platforms. The navy will have coastal patrol squadrons, assault boat squadrons and a marine battalion.[117] The force will consist of 2,000 to 2,500 sailors by year 2010.[119]

On November 17, 2008, the US and Iraq agreed to a Status of Forces Agreement,[120] as part of the broader Strategic Framework Agreement.[121] This agreement states “the Government of Iraq requests” US forces to temporarily remain in Iraq to “maintain security and stability,” and that Iraq has jurisdiction over military contractors, and US personnel when not on US bases or onduty.

On 12 February 2009, Iraq officially became the 186th State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Under the provisions of this treaty, Iraq is considered a party with declared stockpiles of chemical weapons. Because of their late accession, Iraq is the only State Party exempt from the existing timeline for destruction of their chemical weapons. Specific criteria is in development to address the unique nature of Iraqi accession.[122]

IranIraq relations have flourished since 2005 by the exchange of high level visits: Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki made frequent visits to Iran, along with Jalal Talabani visiting numerous times, to help boost bilateral co-operation in all fields.[citation needed] A conflict occurred in December 2009, when Iraq accused Iran of seizing an oil well on the border.[123]

Relationships with Turkey are tense, largely because of the Kurdistan Regional Government, as clashes between Turkey and the PKK continue.[124] In October 2011, the Turkish parliament renewed a law that gives Turkish forces the ability to pursue rebels over the border in Iraq.”[125]

Relations between Iraq and its Kurdish population have been sour in recent history, especially with Saddam Hussein’s genocidal campaign against them in the 1980s. After uprisings during the early 90s, many Kurds fled their homeland and no-fly zones were established in northern Iraq to prevent more conflicts. Despite historically poor relations, some progress has been made, and Iraq elected its first Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, in 2005. Furthermore, Kurdish is now an official language of Iraq alongside Arabic according to Article 4 of the constitution.[126]

LGBT rights in Iraq remain limited. Although decriminalised, homosexuality remains stigmatised in Iraqi society.[127] Targeting people because of their gender identity or sexual orientation is not uncommon and is usually carried out in the name of family honour. People who dress in emo style are mistakenly associated with homosexuality and may suffer the same fate.[128] A BBC article published in 2009, which includes interviews of homosexual and transgendered Iraqis, suggests that LGBT people were less subject to violence under Hussein’s regime.[129]

Iraq is composed of nineteen governorates (or provinces) (Arabic: muhafadhat (singular muhafadhah); Kurdish: Prizgah). The governorates are subdivided into districts (or qadhas). Iraqi Kurdistan (Erbil, Dohuk, Sulaymaniyah and Halabja) is the only legally defined region within Iraq, with its own government and quasi-official army Peshmerga.

Iraq’s economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided about 95% of foreign exchange earnings. The lack of development in other sectors has resulted in 18%30% unemployed and a depressed per capita GDP of $4,000.[2] Public sector employment accounted for nearly 60% of full-time employment in 2011.[130] The oil export industry, which dominates the Iraqi economy, generates very little employment.[130] Currently only a modest percentage of women (the highest estimate for 2011 was 22%) participate in the labour force.[130]

Prior to US occupation, Iraq’s centrally planned economy prohibited foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses, ran most large industries as state-owned enterprises, and imposed large tariffs to keep out foreign goods.[131] After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority quickly began issuing many binding orders privatising Iraq’s economy and opening it up to foreign investment.

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Iraq – The Washington Post

both: rk, rk or Irak

Iraq’s only outlet to the sea is a short stretch of coast on the northwestern end of the Persian Gulf, including the Shatt al Arab waterway. Basra and Umm Qasr are the main ports. Iraq is approximately coextensive with ancient Mesopotamia. The southwest, part of the Syrian Desert, supports a small population of nomadic shepherds. In the rest of the country, life centers on the great southeast-flowing rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, which come together in the Shatt al Arab at the head of the Persian Gulf. The marshy delta was largely drained in the early 1990s as part of a government program to control the Marsh Arabs, who had participated in the Shiite uprising against Saddam Hussein; marsh restoration efforts began in 2003, and by 2006 roughly half the area had been restored. Between the two rivers are numerous wadis and water basins.

Very little rainfall occurs in Iraq except in the northeast, and agriculture mainly depends upon river water. The sandy soil and steady heat of the southeast enable a large date crop and much cotton to be produced. The rivers cause destructive floods, though they occur less often as a result of flood-control projects undertaken since the 1950s. Farther upstream, as the elevation increases, rainfall becomes sufficient to grow diversified crops, including grains and vegetables. In the mountainous north the economy shifts from agriculture to oil production, notably in the great fields near Mosul and Kirkuk.

Nearly 80% of the population of Iraq is Arabic-speaking, while over 95% is Muslim (Sunni and Shiite) in religion. There are about twice as many Shiites as Sunnis, the latter sect being more numerous throughout the majority of Arab countries. The hilly uplands of NE Iraq are primarily inhabited by Kurds, who are Sunni Muslims; other large minorities of Iraq include Turkomans (Turks), Armenians, and Assyrians (Nestorian Christians). Most of the country’s once large Jewish population emigrated to Israel in the early 1950s. As a result of the insurgent and sectarian fighting that occurred following the U.S. occupation of Iraq in 2003, an estimated 1.6 to 2 million Iraqis had left Iraq by the end of 2006, mainly to neighboring Jordan or Syria; a similar number had relocated within Iraq. Among those who have left are an estimated two thirds of Iraq’s Christians.

The oil industry dominates Iraq’s economy, traditionally accounting for nearly 95% of the country’s revenues. Oil is produced mainly by the Iraq Petroleum Company, which was owned by an international group of investors until it was nationalized in 1972. The oil is piped to Turkey, Tripoli (Lebanon), Baniyas (Syria), and the Persian Gulf. Oil exports, which had suffered during the Iran-Iraq War, improved during the late 1980s, only to be severely decreased by embargoes related to the Persian Gulf War. In 1996, a UN agreement allowed Iraq to export oil for the first time since 1990; by the 2002, oil production was about 70% of what it was in the 1970s. Following the U.S. invasion in 2003, oil production slowly returned to about 80% to 95% of what it had been in 2002.

Aside from petroleum production and refining, Iraq has a small, diversified industrial sector, including the production of chemicals, textiles, cement, food products, construction materials, leather goods, and machinery. New industries have been started in electronics products, fertilizers, and refined sugar. Agricultural production, which employs about a third of the workforce, is not sufficient to meet the country’s food requirements. Iraq’s chief crops include wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, dates (Iraq is one of the world’s largest producers), and cotton. Cattle and sheep are also raised.

Iraq has been highly dependent on foreign economic aid in recent years, from both Western and Arab countries. The country also has a severe labor shortage. The Baghdad Railway, long an important means of communication, is declining in importance in favor of travel by road and air. There are international airports at Baghdad and Basra, and a state-owned airline operates within Iraq and abroad.

Iraq is a veritable treasure house of antiquities, and recent archaeological excavations have greatly expanded the knowledge of ancient history. Prior to the Arab conquest in the 7th cent. AD, Iraq had been the site of a number of flourishing civilizations, including the Sumer, which developed one of the earliest known writing systems, Akkad, Babylonia, and Assyria. The capital of the Abbasid caliphate was established at Baghdad in the 8th cent. and the city became a famous center for learning and the arts.

Despite fierce resistance, Mesopotamia fell to the Ottoman Turks in the 16th cent. and passed under direct Ottoman administration in the 19th cent. (see Ottoman Empire, when it came to constitute the three Turkish provinces of Basra, Baghdad, and Mosul. At this time the area became of great interest to the European powers, especially the Germans, who wanted to extend the Berlin-Baghdad railroad all the way to the port of Kuwait.

In World War I the British invaded Iraq in their war against the Ottoman Empire; Britain declared then that it intended to return to Iraq some control of its own affairs. Nationalist elements, impatient over delay in gaining independence, revolted in 1920 but were suppressed by the British. Late that year the Treaty of Svres established Iraq as a mandate of the League of Nations under British administration, and in 1921 the country was made a kingdom headed by Faisal I. With strong reluctance an elected Iraqi assembly agreed in 1924 to a treaty with Great Britain providing for the maintenance of British military bases and for a British right of veto over legislation. By 1926 an Iraqi parliament and administration were governing the country. The treaty of 1930 provided for a 25-year alliance with Britain. The British mandate was terminated in 1932, and Iraq was admitted to the League of Nations.

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UN Finds Credible Evidence Linking ISIS to Israel, US Invasion of Iraq – Video



UN Finds Credible Evidence Linking ISIS to Israel, US Invasion of Iraq
www.undergroundworldnews.com In a new report from the UN, it is revealed that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were maintaining regular contact with members …

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Chris Bollyn – Israel Behind the 9/11 Attacks & Iraq Wars – Video



Chris Bollyn – Israel Behind the 9/11 Attacks Iraq Wars
Veritas Vincit Omnia ~ http://www.bollyn.com/solving-9-11-the-book Solving 9 -11: The Deception that Changed the World – Online Book.

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Iraq – Wikipedia

Coordinates: 33N 44E / 33N 44E / 33; 44 Iraq (/rk/, i/rk/, or /ark/; Arabic: al-Irq; Kurdish: Eraq), officially known as the Republic of Iraq (Arabic: Jumhryyat al-Irq; Kurdish: Komari Eraq) is a country in Western Asia, bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest, and Syria to the west. The capital, and largest city, is Baghdad. The main ethnic groups are Arabs and Kurds; others include Assyrians, Turkmen, Shabakis, Yazidis, Armenians, Mandeans, Circassians, and Kawliya.[6] Around 95% of the country’s 36 million citizens are Muslims, with Christianity, Yarsan, Yezidism, and Mandeanism also present. The official languages of Iraq are Arabic and Kurdish. Iraq has a coastline measuring 58km (36 miles) on the northern Persian Gulf and encompasses the Mesopotamian Alluvial Plain, the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, and the eastern part of the Syrian Desert.[7] Two major rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, run south through Iraq and into the Shatt al-Arab near the Persian Gulf. These rivers provide Iraq with significant amounts of fertile land. The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, historically known as Mesopotamia, is often referred to as the cradle of civilisation. It was here that mankind first began to read, write, create laws, and live in cities under an organised governmentnotably Uruk, from which “Iraq” is derived. The area has been home to successive civilisations since the 6th millennium BC. Iraq was the centre of the Akkadian, Sumerian, Assyrian, and Babylonian empires. It was also part of the Median, Achaemenid, Hellenistic, Parthian, Sassanid, Roman, Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid, Ayyubid, Mongol, Safavid, Afsharid, and Ottoman empires.[8] Iraq’s modern borders were mostly demarcated in 1920 by the League of Nations when the Ottoman Empire was divided by the Treaty of Svres. Iraq was placed under the authority of the United Kingdom as the British Mandate of Mesopotamia. A monarchy was established in 1921 and the Kingdom of Iraq gained independence from Britain in 1932. In 1958, the monarchy was overthrown and the Iraqi Republic created. Iraq was controlled by the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party from 1968 until 2003. After an invasion by the United States and its allies in 2003, Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party was removed from power and multi-party parliamentary elections were held in 2005. The American presence in Iraq ended in 2011,[9] but the Iraqi insurgency continued and intensified as fighters from the Syrian Civil War spilled into the country. The Arabic name al-Irq has been in use since before the 6th century. There are several suggested origins for the name. One dates to the Sumerian city of Uruk (Biblical Hebrew Erech) and is thus ultimately of Sumerian origin, as Uruk was the Akkadian name for the Sumerian city of Urug, containing the Sumerian word for “city”, UR.[10][11] An Arabic folk etymology for the name is “deeply rooted, well-watered; fertile”.[12] During the medieval period, there was a region called Irq Arab (“Arabian Iraq”) for Lower Mesopotamia and Irq ajam (“Foreign Iraq”),[13] for the region now situated in Central and Western Iran.[14] The term historically included the plain south of the Hamrin Mountains and did not include the northernmost and westernmost parts of the modern territory of Iraq.[15] The term Sawad was also used in early Islamic times for the region of the alluvial plain of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, contrasting it with the arid Arabian desert. As an Arabic word, means “hem”, “shore”, “bank”, or “edge”, so that the name by folk etymology came to be interpreted as “the escarpment”, viz. at the south and east of the Jazira Plateau, which forms the northern and western edge of the “al-Iraq arabi” area.[16] The Arabic pronunciation is [irq]. In English, it is either /rk/ (the only pronunciation listed in the Oxford English Dictionary and the first one in Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary) or /rk/ (listed first by MQD), the American Heritage Dictionary, and the Random House Dictionary. The pronunciation /ark/ is frequently heard in U.S. media. Between 65,000 BC and 35,000 BC northern Iraq was home to a Neanderthal culture, archaeological remains of which have been discovered at Shanidar Cave[17] This same region is also the location of a number of pre-Neolithic cemeteries, dating from approximately 11,000 BC.[18] Since approximately 10,000 BC, Iraq (alongside Asia Minor and The Levant) was one of centres of a Caucasoid Neolithic culture (known as Pre-Pottery Neolithic A) where agriculture and cattle breeding appeared for the first time in the world. The following Neolithic period (PPNB) is represented by rectangular houses. At the time of the pre-pottery Neolithic, people used vessels made of stone, gypsum and burnt lime (Vaisselle blanche). Finds of obsidian tools from Anatolia are evidences of early trade relations. Further important sites of human advancement were Jarmo (circa 7100 BC),[18] the Halaf culture and Ubaid period (between 6500 BC and 3800 BC),[19] these periods show ever increasing levels of advancement in agriculture, tool making and architecture. The historical period in Iraq truly begins during the Uruk period (4000 BC to 3100 BC), with the founding of a number of Sumerian cities, and the use of Pictographs, Cylinder seals and mass-produced goods.[21] The “Cradle of Civilization” is thus a common term for the area comprising modern Iraq as it was home to the earliest known civilisation, the Sumerian civilisation, which arose in the fertile Tigris-Euphrates river valley of southern Iraq in the Chalcolithic (Ubaid period). It was here, in the late 4th millennium BC, that the world’s first writing system and recorded history itself were born. The Sumerians were also the first to harness the wheel and create City States, and whose writings record the first evidence of Mathematics, Astronomy, Astrology, Written Law, Medicine and Organised religion. The Sumerians spoke a Language Isolate, in other words, a language utterly unrelated to any other, including the Semitic Languages, Indo-European Languages, Afroasiatic languages or any other isolates. The major city states of the early Sumerian period were; Eridu, Bad-tibira, Larsa, Sippar, Shuruppak, Uruk, Kish, Ur, Nippur, Lagash, Girsu, Umma, Hamazi, Adab, Mari, Isin, Kutha, Der and Akshak. Cities such as Ashur, Arbela (modern Irbil) and Arrapkha (modern Kirkuk) were also extant in what was to be called Assyria from the 25th century BC; however, at this early stage, they were Sumerian ruled administrative centres. In the 26th century BC, Eannatum of Lagash created what was perhaps the first empire in history, though this was short-lived. Later, Lugal-Zage-Si, the priest-king of Umma, overthrew the primacy of the Lagash dynasty in the area, then conquered Uruk, making it his capital, and claimed an empire extending from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean.[22] It was during this period that the Epic of Gilgamesh originates, which includes the tale of The Great Flood. From approximately 3000 BC, a Semitic people had entered Iraq from the west and settled amongst the Sumerians. These people spoke an East Semitic language that would later come to be known as Akkadian. From the 29th century BC, Akkadian Semitic names began to appear on king lists and administrative documents of various city states. During the 3rd millennium BCE, a cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism. The influences between Sumerian and Akkadian are evident in all areas, including lexical borrowing on a massive scaleand syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence. This mutual influence has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and Akkadian of the 3rd millennium BCE as a Sprachbund.[23] From this period, the civilisation in Iraq came to be known as Sumero-Akkadian. Between the 29th and 24th centuries BC, a number of kingdoms and city states within Iraq began to have Akkadian speaking dynasties; including Assyria, Ekallatum, Isin and Larsa. However, the Sumerians remained generally dominant until the rise of the Akkadian Empire (23352124 BC), based in the city of Akkad in central Iraq. Sargon of Akkad, originally a Rabshakeh to a Sumerian king, founded the empire, he conquered all of the city states of southern and central Iraq, and subjugated the kings of Assyria, thus uniting the Sumerians and Akkadians in one state. He then set about expanding his empire, conquering Gutium, Elam, Cissia and Turukku in Ancient Iran, the Hurrians, Luwians and Hattians of Anatolia, and the Amorites and Eblaites of Ancient Syria. After the collapse of the Akkadian Empire in the late 22nd century BC, the Gutians occupied the south for a few decades, while Assyria reasserted its independence in the north. This was followed by a Sumerian renaissance in the form of the Neo-Sumerian Empire. The Sumerians under king Shulgi conquered almost all of Iraq except the northern reaches of Assyria, and asserted themselves over the Elamites, Gutians and Amorites. An Elamite invasion in 2004 BC brought the Sumerian revival to an end. By the mid 21st century BC, the Akkadian speaking kingdom of Assyria had risen to dominance in northern Iraq. Assyria expanded territorially into the north eastern Levant, central Iraq, and eastern Anatolia, forming the Old Assyrian Empire (circa 20351750 BC) under kings such as Puzur-Ashur I, Sargon I, Ilushuma and Erishum I, the latter of whom produced the most detailed set of Written Laws yet written. The south broke up into a number of Akkadian speaking states, Isin, Larsa and Eshnunna being the major ones. During the 20th century BC, the Canaanite speaking Northwest Semitic Amorites began to migrate into southern Mesopotamia. Eventually, these Amorites began to set up small petty kingdoms in the south, as well as usurping the thrones of extant city states such as Isin, Larsa and Eshnunna. One of these small kingdoms founded in 1894 BC contained the then small administrative town of Babylon within its borders. It remained insignificant for over a century, overshadowed by older and more powerful states, such as Assyria, Elam, Isin, Ehnunna and Larsa. In 1792 BC, an Amorite ruler named Hammurabi came to power in this state, and immediately set about building Babylon from a minor town into a major city, declaring himself its king. Hammurabi conquered the whole of southern and central Iraq, as well as Elam to the east and Mari to the west, then engaged in a protracted war with the Assyrian king Ishme-Dagan for domination of the region, creating the short-lived Babylonian Empire. He eventually prevailed over the successor of Ishme-Dagan and subjected Assyria and its Anatolian colonies. It is from the period of Hammurabi that southern Iraq came to be known as Babylonia, while the north had already coalesced into Assyria hundreds of years before. However, his empire was short-lived, and rapidly collapsed after his death, with both Assyria and southern Iraq, in the form of the Sealand Dynasty, falling back into native Akkadian hands. The foreign Amorites clung on to power in a once more weak and small Babylonia until it was sacked by the Indo-European speaking Hittite Empire based in Anatolia in 1595 BC. After this, another foreign people, the Language Isolate speaking Kassites, originating in the Zagros Mountains of Ancient Iran, seized control of Babylonia, where they were to rule for almost 600 years, by far the longest dynasty ever to rule in Babylon. Iraq was from this point divided into three polities: Assyria in the north, Kassite Babylonia in the south central region, and the Sealand Dynasty in the far south. The Sealand Dynasty was finally conquered by Kassite Babylonia circa 1380 BC. The Middle Assyrian Empire (13651020 BC) saw Assyria rise to be the most powerful nation in the known world. Beginning with the campaigns of Ashur-uballit I, Assyria destroyed the rival Hurrian-Mitanni Empire, annexed huge swathes of the Hittite Empire for itself, annexed northern Babylonia from the Kassites, forced the Egyptian Empire from the region, and defeated the Elamites, Phrygians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Cilicians, Gutians, Dilmunites and Arameans. At its height, the Middle Assyrian Empire stretched from The Caucasus to Dilmun (modern Bahrain), and from the Mediterranean coasts of Phoenicia to the Zagros Mountains of Iran. In 1235 BC, Tukulti-Ninurta I of Assyria took the throne of Babylon, thus becoming the very first native Mesopotamian to rule the state. During the Bronze Age collapse (1200900 BC), Babylonia was in a state of chaos, dominated for long periods by Assyria and Elam. The Kassites were driven from power by Assyria and Elam, allowing native south Mesopotamian kings to rule Babylonia for the first time, although often subject to Assyrian or Elamite rulers. However, these East Semitic Akkadian kings, were unable to prevent new waves of West Semitic migrants entering southern Iraq, and during the 11th century BC Arameans and Suteans entered Babylonia from The Levant, and these were followed in the late 10th to early 9th century BC by the migrant Chaldeans who were closely related to the earlier Arameans. After a period of comparative decline in Assyria, it once more began to expand with the Neo Assyrian Empire (935605 BC). This was to be the largest and most powerful empire the world had yet seen, and under rulers such as Adad-Nirari II, Ashurnasirpal, Shalmaneser III, Semiramis, Tiglath-pileser III, Sargon II, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal, Iraq became the centre of an empire stretching from Persia, Parthia and Elam in the east, to Cyprus and Antioch in the west, and from The Caucasus in the north to Egypt, Nubia and Arabia in the south. The Arabs are first mentioned in written history (circa 850 BC) as a subject people of Shalmaneser III, dwelling in the Arabian Peninsula. The Chaldeans are also first mentioned at this time. It was during this period that an Akkadian influenced form of Eastern Aramaic was introduced by the Assyrians as the lingua franca of their vast empire, and Mesopotamian Aramaic began to supplant Akkadian as the spoken language of the general populace of both Assyria and Babylonia. The descendant dialects of this tongue survive amongst the Assyrians of northern Iraq to this day. In the late 7th century BC, the Assyrian Empire tore itself apart with a series of brutal civil wars, weakening itself to such a degree that a coalition of its former subjects; the Babylonians, Chaldeans, Medes, Persians, Parthians, Scythians and Cimmerians, were able to attack Assyria, finally bringing its empire down by 605 BC.[24] The short-lived Neo-Babylonian Empire (620539 BC) succeeded that of Assyria. It failed to attain the size, power or longevity of its predecessor; however, it came to dominate The Levant, Canaan, Arabia, Israel and Judah, and to defeat Egypt. Initially, Babylon was ruled by yet another foreign dynasty, that of the Chaldeans, who had migrated to the region in the late 10th or early 9th century BC. Its greatest king, Nebuchadnezzar II, rivalled another non native ruler, the ethnically unrelated Amorite king Hammurabi, as the greatest king of Babylon. However, by 556 BC, the Chaldeans had been deposed from power by the Assyrian born Nabonidus and his son and regent Belshazzar. In the 6th century BC, Cyrus the Great of neighbouring Persia defeated the Neo-Babylonian Empire at the Battle of Opis and Iraq was subsumed into the Achaemenid Empire for nearly two centuries. The Achaemenids made Babylon their main capital. The Chaldeans and Chaldea disappeared at around this time, though both Assyria and Babylonia endured and thrived under Achaemenid rule (see Achaemenid Assyria). Little changed under the Persians, having spent three centuries under Assyrian rule, their kings saw themselves as successors to Ashurbanipal, and they retained Assyrian Imperial Aramaic as the language of empire, together with the Assyrian imperial infrastructure, and an Assyrian style of art and architecture. In the late 4th century BC, Alexander the Great conquered the region, putting it under Hellenistic Seleucid rule for over two centuries.[25] The Seleucids introduced the Indo-Anatolian and Greek term Syria to the region. This name had for many centuries been the Indo-European word for Assyria and specifically and only meant Assyria; however, the Seleucids also applied it to The Levant (Aramea, causing both the Assyria and the Assyrians of Iraq and the Arameans and The Levant to be called Syria and Syrians/Syriacs in the Greco-Roman world.[26] The Parthians (247 BC 224 AD) from Persia conquered the region during the reign of Mithridates I of Parthia (r. 171138 BC). From Syria, the Romans invaded western parts of the region several times, briefly founding Assyria Provincia in Assyria. Christianity began to take hold in Iraq (particularly in Assyria) between the 1st and 3rd centuries, and Assyria became a centre of Syriac Christianity, the Church of the East and Syriac literature. A number of indigenous independent Neo-Assyrian states evolved in the north during the Parthian era, such as Adiabene, Assur, Osroene and Hatra. A number of Assyrians from Mesopotamia were conscripted into or joined the Roman Army, and the Aramaic language of Assyria and Mesopotamia has been found as far afield as Hadrians Wall in northern Ancient Britain, with inscriptions written by Assyrian and Aramean soldiers of the Roman Empire.[29] The Sassanids of Persia under Ardashir I destroyed the Parthian Empire and conquered the region in 224 AD. During the 240s and 250’s AD, the Sassanids gradually conquered the small Neo Assyrian states, culminating with Assur in 256 AD. The region was thus a province of the Sassanid Empire for over four centuries (see also; Asristn), and became the frontier and battle ground between the Sassanid Empire and Byzantine Empire, with both empires weakening each other greatly, paving the way for the Arab-Muslim conquest of Persia in the mid-7th century. The Arab Islamic conquest in the mid-7th century AD established Islam in Iraq and saw a large influx of Arabs. Under the Rashidun Caliphate, the prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, Ali, moved his capital to Kufa when he became the fourth caliph. The Umayyad Caliphate ruled the province of Iraq from Damascus in the 7th century. (However, eventually there was a separate, independent Caliphate of Crdoba in Iberia.) The Abbasid Caliphate built the city of Baghdad in the 8th century as its capital, and the city became the leading metropolis of the Arab and Muslim world for five centuries. Baghdad was the largest multicultural city of the Middle Ages, peaking at a population of more than a million,[30] and was the centre of learning during the Islamic Golden Age. The Mongols destroyed the city during the siege of Baghdad in the 13th century.[31] In 1257, Hulagu Khan amassed an unusually large army, a significant portion of the Mongol Empire’s forces, for the purpose of conquering Baghdad. When they arrived at the Islamic capital, Hulagu Khan demanded its surrender, but the last Abbasid Caliph Al-Musta’sim refused. This angered Hulagu, and, consistent with Mongol strategy of discouraging resistance, he besieged Baghdad, sacked the city and massacred many of the inhabitants.[32] Estimates of the number of dead range from 200,000 to a million.[33] The Mongols destroyed the Abbasid Caliphate and Baghdad’s House of Wisdom, which contained countless precious and historical documents. The city has never regained its previous pre-eminence as a major centre of culture and influence. Some historians believe that the Mongol invasion destroyed much of the irrigation infrastructure that had sustained Mesopotamia for millennia. Other historians point to soil salination as the culprit in the decline in agriculture.[34] The mid-14th-century Black Death ravaged much of the Islamic world.[35] The best estimate for the Middle East is a death rate of roughly one-third.[36] In 1401, a warlord of Mongol descent, Tamerlane (Timur Lenk), invaded Iraq. After the capture of Baghdad, 20,000 of its citizens were massacred.[37] Timur ordered that every soldier should return with at least two severed human heads to show him (many warriors were so scared they killed prisoners captured earlier in the campaign just to ensure they had heads to present to Timur).[38] Timur also conducted massacres of the indigenous Assyrian Christian population, hitherto still the majority population in northern Mesopotamia, and it was during this time that the ancient Assyrian city of Assur was finally abandoned.[39] During the late 14th and early 15th centuries, the Black Sheep Turkmen ruled the area now known as Iraq. In 1466, the White Sheep Turkmen defeated the Black Sheep and took control. From the earliest 16th century, in 1508, as with all territories of the former White Sheep Turkmen, Iraq fell into the hands of the Iranian Safavids. Owing to the century long Turco-Iranian rivalary between the Safavids and the neighbouring Ottoman Turks, Iraq would be contested between the two for more than a hundred years during the frequent Ottoman-Persian Wars. With the Treaty of Zuhab in 1639, most of the territory of present-day Iraq eventually came under the control of Ottoman Empire as the eyalet of Baghdad as a result of wars with the neighbouring rival, Safavid Iran. Throughout most of the period of Ottoman rule (15331918), the territory of present-day Iraq was a battle zone between the rival regional empires and tribal alliances. By the 17th century, the frequent conflicts with the Safavids had sapped the strength of the Ottoman Empire and had weakened its control over its provinces. The nomadic population swelled with the influx of bedouins from Najd, in the Arabian Peninsula. Bedouin raids on settled areas became impossible to curb.[40] During the years 17471831, Iraq was ruled by a Mamluk dynasty of Georgian[41] origin who succeeded in obtaining autonomy from the Ottoman Porte, suppressed tribal revolts, curbed the power of the Janissaries, restored order and introduced a programme of modernisation of economy and military. In 1831, the Ottomans managed to overthrow the Mamluk regime and imposed their direct control over Iraq. The population of Iraq, estimated at 30 million in 800 AD, was only 5 million at the start of the 20th century.[42] During World War I, the Ottomans sided with Germany and the Central Powers. In the Mesopotamian campaign against the Central Powers, British forces invaded the country and initially suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Turkish army during the Siege of Kut (19151916). However, subsequent to this the British began to gain the upper hand, and were further aided by the support of local Arabs and Assyrians. In 1916, the British and French made a plan for the post-war division of Western Asia under the Sykes-Picot Agreement.[43] British forces regrouped and captured Baghdad in 1917, and defeated the Ottomans. An armistice was signed in 1918. During World War I, the Ottomans were defeated and driven from much of the area by the United Kingdom during the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The British lost 92,000 soldiers in the Mesopotamian campaign. Ottoman losses are unknown but the British captured a total of 45,000 prisoners of war. By the end of 1918, the British had deployed 410,000 men in the area, of which 112,000 were combat troops.[citation needed] On 11 November 1920, Iraq became a League of Nations mandate under British control with the name “State of Iraq”. The British established the Hashemite king, Faisal I of Iraq, who had been forced out of Syria by the French, as their client ruler. Likewise, British authorities selected Sunni Arab elites from the region for appointments to government and ministry offices.[specify][44][pageneeded] Faced with spiraling costs and influenced by the public protestations of the war hero T. E. Lawrence[45] in The Times, Britain replaced Arnold Wilson in October 1920 with a new Civil Commissioner, Sir Percy Cox.[46] Cox managed to quell a rebellion, yet was also responsible for implementing the fateful policy of close co-operation with Iraq’s Sunni minority.[47] The institution of slavery was abolished in the 1920s.[48] Britain granted independence to the Kingdom of Iraq in 1932,[49] on the urging of King Faisal, though the British retained military bases, local militia in the form of Assyrian Levies, and transit rights for their forces. King Ghazi ruled as a figurehead after King Faisal’s death in 1933, while undermined by attempted military coups, until his death in 1939. Ghazi was followed by his underage son, Faisal II. ‘Abd al-Ilah served as Regent during Faisal’s minority. On 1 April 1941, Rashid Ali al-Gaylani and members of the Golden Square staged a coup d’tat and overthrew the government of ‘Abd al-Ilah. During the subsequent Anglo-Iraqi War, the United Kingdom (which still maintained air bases in Iraq) invaded Iraq for fear that the Rashid Ali government might cut oil supplies to Western nations because of his links to the Axis powers. The war started on 2 May, and the British, together with loyal Assyrian Levies,[50] defeated the forces of Al-Gaylani, forcing an armistice on 31 May. A military occupation followed the restoration of the pre-coup government of the Hashemite monarchy. The occupation ended on 26 October 1947, although Britain was to retain military bases in Iraq until 1954, after which the Assyrian militias were disbanded. The rulers during the occupation and the remainder of the Hashemite monarchy were Nuri as-Said, the autocratic Prime Minister, who also ruled from 1930 to 1932, and ‘Abd al-Ilah, the former Regent who now served as an adviser to King Faisal II. In 1958, a coup d’etat known as the 14 July Revolution led by the Brigadier General Abd al-Karim Qasim. This revolt was strongly anti-imperial and anti-monarchical in nature and had strong socialist elements. Numerous people were killed in the coup, including King Faysal II, Prince Abd al-Ilah, and Nuri al-Sa’id.[51] Qasim controlled Iraq through military rule and in 1958 he began a process of forcibly reducing the surplus amounts of land owned by a few citizens and having the state redistribute the land. He was overthrown by Colonel Abdul Salam Arif in a February 1963 coup. After his death in 1966, he was succeeded by his brother, Abdul Rahman Arif, who was overthrown by the Ba’ath Party in 1968. Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr became the first Ba’ath President of Iraq but then the movement gradually came under the control of General Saddam Hussein, who acceded to the presidency and control of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), then Iraq’s supreme executive body, in July 1979. In 1979, the Iranian Revolution took place. Following months of cross-border raids between the two countries, Saddam declared war on Iran in September 1980, initiating the IranIraq War (or First Persian Gulf War). Taking advantage of the post-revolution chaos in Iran, Iraq captured some territories in southwest of Iran, but Iran recaptured all of the lost territories within two years, and for the next six years Iran was on the offensive.[52][pageneeded] The war, which ended in stalemate in 1988, had cost the lives of between half a million and 1.5 million people.[53] In 1981, Israeli aircraft bombed an Iraqi nuclear materials testing reactor at Osirak and was widely criticised at the United Nations.[54][55] During the 8-year war with Iran, Saddam Hussein extensively used chemical weapons against Iranians,[56] In the final stages of the IranIraq War, the Ba’athist Iraqi regime led the Al-Anfal Campaign, a genocidal[57] campaign that targeted Iraqi Kurds,[58][59][60] and led to the killing of 50,000100,000 civilians.[61] Chemical weapons were also used against Iraqi Shia civilians during the 1991 uprisings in Iraq. In August 1990, Iraq invaded and annexed Kuwait. This subsequently led to military intervention by United States-led forces in the First Gulf War. The coalition forces proceeded with a bombing campaign targeting military targets[62][63][64] and then launched a 100-hour-long ground assault against Iraqi forces in Southern Iraq and those occupying Kuwait. Iraq’s armed forces were devastated during the war and shortly after it ended in 1991, Shia and Kurdish Iraqis led several uprisings against Saddam Hussein’s regime, but these were successfully repressed using the Iraqi security forces and chemical weapons. It is estimated that as many as 100,000 people, including many civilians were killed.[65] During the uprisings the US, UK, France and Turkey, claiming authority under UNSCR 688, established the Iraqi no-fly zones to protect Kurdish and Shiite populations from attacks by the Hussein regime’s fixed-wing aircraft (but not helicopters). Iraq was ordered to destroy its chemical and biological weapons and the UN attempted to compel Saddam Hussein’s government to disarm and agree to a ceasefire by imposing additional sanctions on the country in addition to the initial sanctions imposed following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The Iraqi Government’s failure to disarm and agree to a ceasefire resulted in sanctions which remained in place until 2003. Studies dispute the effects of the sanctions on Iraqi civilians.[66][67][68] During the late 1990s, the UN considered relaxing the Iraq sanctions because of the hardships suffered by ordinary Iraqis[citation needed] and attacks on US aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones led to US bombing of Iraq in December 1998. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the George W. Bush administration began planning the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s government and in October 2002, the US Congress passed the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq. In November 2002, the UN Security Council passed UNSCR 1441 and in March 2003 the US and its allies invaded Iraq. On 20 March 2003, a United States-organized coalition invaded Iraq, under the pretext that Iraq had failed to abandon its weapons of mass destruction program in violation of U.N. Resolution 687. This claim was based on documents provided by the CIA and the British government[69] and were later found to be unreliable.[70][71] Following the invasion, the United States established the Coalition Provisional Authority to govern Iraq. In May 2003 L. Paul Bremer, the chief executive of the CPA, issued orders to exclude Baath Party members from the new Iraqi government (CPA Order 1) and to disband the Iraqi Army (CPA Order 2).[72] The decision dissolved the largely Sunni Iraqi Army[73] and excluded many of the country’s former government officials from participating in the country’s governance, including 40,000 school teachers who had joined the Baath Party simply to keep their jobs,[74] helping to bring about a chaotic post-invasion environment.[75] An insurgency against the US-led coalition-rule of Iraq began in summer 2003 within elements of the former Iraqi secret police and army, who formed guerilla units. In fall 2003, self-entitled ‘jihadist’ groups began targeting coalition forces. Various Sunni militias were created in 2003, for example Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The insurgency included intense inter-ethnic violence between Sunnis and Shias.[76] The Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal came to light, late 2003 in reports by Amnesty International and Associated Press. The Mahdi Armya Shia militia created in the summer of 2003 by Muqtada al-Sadr[77]began to fight Coalition forces in April 2004.[77] 2004 saw Sunni and Shia militants fighting against each other and against the new Iraqi Interim Government installed in June 2004, and against Coalition forces, as well as the First Battle of Fallujah in April and Second Battle of Fallujah in November. The Sunni militia Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad became Al-Qaeda in Iraq in October 2004 and targeted Coalition forces as well as civilians, mainly Shia Muslims, further exacerbating ethnic tensions.[78] In January 2005, the first elections since the invasion took place and in October a new Constitution was approved, which was followed by parliamentary elections in December. However, insurgent attacks were common and increased to 34,131 in 2005 from 26,496 in 2004.[79] During 2006, fighting continued and reached its highest levels of violence, more war crimes scandals were made public, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq was killed by US forces and Iraq’s former dictator Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death for crimes against humanity and hanged.[80][81][82] In late 2006, the US government’s Iraq Study Group recommended that the US begin focusing on training Iraqi military personnel and in January 2007 US President George W. Bush announced a “Surge” in the number of US troops deployed to the country.[83] In May 2007, Iraq’s Parliament called on the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal[84] and US coalition partners such as the UK and Denmark began withdrawing their forces from the country.[85][86] The war in Iraq has resulted in between 151,000 and 1.2 million Iraqis being killed.[87][88] In 2008, fighting continued and Iraq’s newly trained armed forces launched attacks against militants. The Iraqi government signed the USIraq Status of Forces Agreement, which required US forces to withdraw from Iraqi cities by 30 June 2009 and to withdraw completely from Iraq by 31 December 2011. US troops handed over security duties to Iraqi forces in June 2009, though they continued to work with Iraqi forces after the pullout.[89] On the morning of 18 December 2011, the final contingent of US troops to be withdrawn ceremonially exited over the border to Kuwait.[9] Crime and violence initially spiked in the months following the US withdrawal from cities in mid-2009[90][91] but despite the initial increase in violence, in November 2009, Iraqi Interior Ministry officials reported that the civilian death toll in Iraq fell to its lowest level since the 2003 invasion.[92] Following the withdrawal of US troops in 2011, the insurgency continued and Iraq suffered from political instability. In February 2011, the Arab Spring protests spread to Iraq;[93] but the initial protests did not topple the government. The Iraqi National Movement, reportedly representing the majority of Iraqi Sunnis, boycotted Parliament for several weeks in late 2011 and early 2012, claiming that the Shiite-dominated government was striving to sideline Sunnis. In 2012 and 2013, levels of violence increased and armed groups inside Iraq were increasingly galvanised by the Syrian Civil War. Both Sunnis and Shias crossed the border to fight in Syria.[94] In December 2012, Sunni Arabs protested against the government, whom they claimed marginalised them.[95][96] During 2013, Sunni militant groups stepped up attacks targeting the Iraq’s Shia population in an attempt to undermine confidence in the Nouri al-Maliki-led government.[97] In 2014, Sunni insurgents belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group seized control of large swathes of land including several major Iraqi cities, like Tikrit, Fallujah and Mosul creating hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons amid reports of atrocities by ISIL fighters.[98] After an inconclusive election in April 2014, Nouri al-Maliki served as caretaker-Prime-Minister.[99] On 11 August, Iraq’s highest court ruled that PM Maliki’s bloc is biggest in parliament, meaning Maliki could stay Prime Minister.[99] By 13 August, however, the Iraqi president had tasked Haider al-Abadi with forming a new government, and the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and some Iraqi politicians expressed their wish for a new leadership in Iraq, for example from Haider al-Abadi.[100] On 14 August, Maliki stepped down as PM to support Mr al-Abadi and to “safeguard the high interests of the country”. The US government welcomed this as “another major step forward” in uniting Iraq.[101][102] On 9 September 2014, Haider al-Abadi had formed a new government and became the new prime minister.[citation needed] Intermittent conflict between Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish factions has led to increasing debate about the splitting of Iraq into three autonomous regions, including Kurdistan in the northeast, a Sunnistan in the west and a Shiastan in the southeast.[103] Iraq lies between latitudes 29 and 38 N, and longitudes 39 and 49 E (a small area lies west of 39). Spanning 437,072km2 (168,754sqmi), it is the 58th-largest country in the world. It is comparable in size to the US state of California, and somewhat larger than Paraguay. Iraq mainly consists of desert, but near the two major rivers (Euphrates and Tigris) are fertile alluvial plains, as the rivers carry about 60,000,000m3 (78,477,037cuyd) of silt annually to the delta. The north of the country is mostly composed of mountains; the highest point being at 3,611m (11,847ft) point, unnamed on the map opposite, but known locally as Cheekah Dar (black tent). Iraq has a small coastline measuring 58km (36mi) along the Persian Gulf. Close to the coast and along the Shatt al-Arab (known as arvandrd: among Iranians) there used to be marshlands, but many were drained in the 1990s. Most of Iraq has a hot arid climate with subtropical influence. Summer temperatures average above 40C (104F) for most of the country and frequently exceed 48C (118.4F). Winter temperatures infrequently exceed 21C (69.8F) with maxima roughly 15 to 19C (59.0 to 66.2F) and night-time lows 2 to 5C (35.6 to 41.0F). Typically, precipitation is low; most places receive less than 250mm (9.8in) annually, with maximum rainfall occurring during the winter months. Rainfall during the summer is extremely rare, except in the far north of the country. The northern mountainous regions have cold winters with occasional heavy snows, sometimes causing extensive flooding. The federal government of Iraq is defined under the current Constitution as a democratic, federal parliamentary Islamic republic. The federal government is composed of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as numerous independent commissions. Aside from the federal government, there are regions (made of one or more governorates), governorates, and districts within Iraq with jurisdiction over various matters as defined by law. The National Alliance is the main Shia parliamentary bloc, and was established as a result of a merger of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s State of Law Coalition and the Iraqi National Alliance.[104] The Iraqi National Movement is led by Iyad Allawi, a secular Shia widely supported by Sunnis. The party has a more consistent anti-sectarian perspective than most of its rivals.[104] The Kurdistan List is dominated by two parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party led by Masood Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan headed by Jalal Talabani. Both parties are secular and enjoy close ties with the West.[104] In 2010, according to the Failed States Index, Iraq was the world’s seventh most politically unstable country.[105][106] The concentration of power in the hands of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and growing pressure on the opposition led to growing concern about the future of political rights in Iraq.[107] Nevertheless, progress was made and the country had risen to 11th place by 2013.[108] In August 2014, al-Maliki’s reign came to an end. He announced on 14 August 2014 that he would stand aside so that Haider Al-Abadi, who had been nominated just days earlier by newly installed President Fuad Masum, could take over. Until that point, al-Maliki had clung to power even asking the federal court to veto the president’s nomination describing it as a violation of the constitution.[109] Transparency International ranks Iraq’s government as the eighth-most-corrupt government in the world. Government payroll have increased from 1 million employees under Saddam Hussein to around 7 million employees in 2016. In combination with decreased oil prices, the government budget deficit is near 25% of GDP as of 2016.[110] Since the establishment of the nofly zones following the Gulf War of 19901991, the Kurds established their own autonomous region. In October 2005, the new Constitution of Iraq was approved in a referendum with a 78% overall majority, although the percentage of support varying widely between the country’s territories.[111] The new constitution was backed by the Shia and Kurdish communities, but was rejected by Arab Sunnis. Under the terms of the constitution, the country conducted fresh nationwide parliamentary elections on 15 December 2005. All three major ethnic groups in Iraq voted along ethnic lines, as did Assyrian and Turcoman minorities. Law no. 188 of the year 1959 (Personal Status Law)[112] made polygamy extremely difficult, granted child custody to the mother in case of divorce, prohibited repudiation and marriage under the age of 16.[113] Article 1 of Civil Code also identifies Islamic law as a formal source of law.[114] Iraq had no Sharia courts but civil courts used Sharia for issues of personal status including marriage and divorce. In 1995 Iraq introduced Sharia punishment for certain types of criminal offences.[115] The code is based on French civil law as well as Sunni and Jafari (Shiite) interpretations of Sharia.[116] In 2004, the CPA chief executive L. Paul Bremer said he would veto any constitutional draft stating that sharia is the principal basis of law.[117] The declaration enraged many local Shia clerics,[118] and by 2005 the United States had relented, allowing a role for sharia in the constitution to help end a stalemate on the draft constitution.[119] The Iraqi Penal Code is the statutory law of Iraq. Iraqi security forces are composed of forces serving under the Ministry of Interior (which controls the Police and Popular Mobilization Forces) and the Ministry of Defense, as well as the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Bureau, reporting directly to the Prime Minister of Iraq, which oversees the Iraqi Special Operations Forces. Ministry of Defense forces include the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Air Force and the Iraqi Navy. The Peshmerga are a separate armed force loyal to the Kurdistan Regional Government. The regional government and the central government disagree as to whether they are under Baghdad’s authority and to what extent.[120] The Iraqi Army is an objective counter-insurgency force that as of November 2009 includes 14 divisions, each division consisting of 4 brigades.[121] It is described as the most important element of the counter-insurgency fight.[122] Light infantry brigades are equipped with small arms, machine guns, RPGs, body armour and light armoured vehicles. Mechanized infantry brigades are equipped with T-54/55 main battle tanks and BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles.[122] As of mid-2008, logistical problems included a maintenance crisis and ongoing supply problems.[123] The Iraqi Air Force is designed to support ground forces with surveillance, reconnaissance and troop lift. Two reconnaissance squadrons use light aircraft, three helicopter squadrons are used to move troops and one air transportation squadron uses C-130 transport aircraft to move troops, equipment, and supplies. It currently has 3,000 personnel. It is planned to increase to 18,000 personnel, with 550 aircraft by 2018.[122] The Iraqi Navy is a small force with 1,500 sailors and officers, including 800 Marines, designed to protect shoreline and inland waterways from insurgent infiltration. The navy is also responsible for the security of offshore oil platforms. The navy will have coastal patrol squadrons, assault boat squadrons and a marine battalion.[122] The force will consist of 2,000 to 2,500 sailors by year 2010.[124] On 17 November 2008, the US and Iraq agreed to a Status of Forces Agreement,[125] as part of the broader Strategic Framework Agreement.[126] This agreement states “the Government of Iraq requests” US forces to temporarily remain in Iraq to “maintain security and stability” and that Iraq has jurisdiction over military contractors, and US personnel when not on US bases or onduty. On 12 February 2009, Iraq officially became the 186th State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Under the provisions of this treaty, Iraq is considered a party with declared stockpiles of chemical weapons. Because of their late accession, Iraq is the only State Party exempt from the existing timeline for destruction of their chemical weapons. Specific criteria is in development to address the unique nature of Iraqi accession.[127] IranIraq relations have flourished since 2005 by the exchange of high level visits: Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki made frequent visits to Iran, along with Jalal Talabani visiting numerous times, to help boost bilateral co-operation in all fields.[citation needed] A conflict occurred in December 2009, when Iraq accused Iran of seizing an oil well on the border.[128] Relationships with Turkey are tense, largely because of the Kurdistan Regional Government, as clashes between Turkey and the PKK continue.[129] In October 2011, the Turkish parliament renewed a law that gives Turkish forces the ability to pursue rebels over the border in Iraq.”[130] Relations between Iraq and its Kurdish population have been sour in recent history, especially with Saddam Hussein’s genocidal campaign against them in the 1980s. After uprisings during the early 90s, many Kurds fled their homeland and no-fly zones were established in northern Iraq to prevent more conflicts. Despite historically poor relations, some progress has been made, and Iraq elected its first Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, in 2005. Furthermore, Kurdish is now an official language of Iraq alongside Arabic according to Article 4 of the constitution.[131]

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February 23, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

Iran and Iraq looking to team up on new oil pipeline – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Iran and Iraq looking to team up on new oil pipeline ByREUTERS February 20, 2017 15:44 Breaking news. (photo credit:JPOST STAFF) BAGHDAD – Iraq and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday to study the construction of a pipeline to export crude oil from the northern Iraqi fields of Kirkuk via Iran, the Iraqi oil ministry said in a statement. The agreement, signed in Baghdad by the oil ministers of the two countries, also calls for a commission to solve a conflict about joint oilfields and the possible transportation of Iraqi crude to Iran’s Abadan refinery, it said. Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said in the statement that he also agreed with visiting Iranian counterpart Bijan Zanganeh to cooperate on the policies of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. February 21, 2017 Mexico’s president asks central bank head Carstens to stay through November -sources By REUTERS Vatican and Rome Jewish community to host historic menorah exhibition By REUTERS Promoted Content Woman moderately wounded in Afula shooting By JPOST.COM STAFF Promoted Content UN: Congo must investigate credible reports of atrocities By REUTERS Promoted Content Russian ambassador to UN dies in New York By REUTERS Promoted Content OUR FREE DAILY NEWS BLAST Shmuley Boteach No Holds Barred: Cory Booker condemned David Friedman while giving Iran a pass Alan Dershowitz Trump: Palestinians must earn a two-state solution Seth J. Frantzman Terra Incognita: The Gambias defense of democracy is a lesson for us all Jonathan Adelman Nearing its 70th anniversary, Israel knows the best and worst of times Did Trump just nix the idea of a two-state solution? Trump dodges question on antisemitism Palestinians warn Trump against abandoning two-state solution REAL ESTATE CLASSIFIEDS Most Read Former Mossad chief: Maybe Flynn was thrown under the bus to protect Trump Saudi Arabia and Israel issue twin warnings on Iran No love lost for Bibi in Australia Report: ISIS claims Israeli drone attack killed 4 terrorists in Sinai

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February 20, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

It’s official: Our enemy is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS – USA TODAY

After retaking the city of Palmyra, ISIS has apparently destroyed Roman-era ruins. Video provided by Newsy Newslook Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, now called ISIS by the Pentagon.(Photo: Uncredited, AP) WASHINGTON Whats in a name? The Islamic State terrorist group would be still be as barbaric under any of its labels: ISIL (preferred under the Obama administration), or Daesh (the moniker of choice ISIS for many world leaders and some of its adversaries in the Middle East). But henceforth, by decree, the Pentagon, in all official references will refer to the terror network as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS. A memo circulated Tuesday throughout the military makes that clear. Subject: Naming Convention for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Consistent with National Security Presidential Memorandum-3 of January 28, 2017, Plan to Defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and guidance from the Secretary of Defense, the Department of Defense will use the term Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, when referring to this threat. Read more: Trump, Putin agree to coordinate on fighting Islamic State Fact check: Trumps bogus terrorist claim The move simply simplifies terms, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. We view ISIS, ISIL and Daesh as interchangeable terms for the same thing, Davis said in an email. ISIS is the term most known and understood by the American public, and it is what our leadership uses. This simply aligns our terminology. It also puts the Pentagon straight with the Commander in Chief, who has registered his disdain for abbreviation ISIL, which refers to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, a broader geographic area that includes Israel, Lebanon and Jordan. In a tweet after the terror attack in San Bernardino, which was inspired by Islamic State, Trump upbraided Obama for referring to the group as ISIL: Wish Obama would say ISIS, like almost everyone else, rather than ISIL. Now that Trump is in charge, they will at the Pentagon. Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/2ll4EuX

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February 15, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

Islamic State leader badly injured in Iraq airstrike reports – The Times of Israel

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Bahgdadi was seriously injured in a recent airstrike, several Iraqi news outlets reported on Sunday. The Iraqi television station al-Hura cited a security source saying Baghdadi and other senior members of the terror group were injured two days ago in an airstrike in Iraq. They were reportedly transferred to Syria for treatment. The Iraqi air force reportedly carried out the airstrike that injured Baghdadi after receiving information from the Iraqi Falcon Intelligence Cell of his whereabouts. The security source also said Baghdadi had been living in an underground bunker and was targeted while meeting with the jihadi groups leadership. Shortly after terrorist fighters swept across swathes of Iraq in June 2014, Baghdadi appeared at the Great Mosque of Al-Nuri to proclaim a state straddling Syria and Iraq in front of thousands of Muslim faithful. The video of the appearance in Mosul which showed a man with a black and grey beard wearing a black robe and matching turban is the only one IS has released of Baghdadi to date. It is rather remarkable that the leader of the most image-conscious terrorist group is so low-key in terms of his own publicity, said Patrick Skinner, an analyst with the Soufan Group intelligence consultancy. Baghdadi has been reported wounded in airstrikes multiple times, but the claims have never been verified, and his apparent survival has added to his mystique. In mid-December, the United States more than doubled the bounty on the shadowy IS leaders head to $25 million. An Iraqi intelligence report indicates that Baghdadi has a PhD in Islamic studies and was a professor at Tikrit University. Baghdadi apparently joined the insurgency that erupted after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, at one point spending time in an American military prison in the countrys south. AFP contributed to this report.

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February 12, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

Iraq and weapons of mass destruction – Wikipedia, the free …

The fifth president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein,[1] was internationally condemned for his use of chemical weapons during the 1980s against Iranian and Kurdish civilians during and after the IranIraq War. In the 1980s, Saddam pursued an extensive biological weapons program and a nuclear weapons program, though no nuclear bomb was built. After the Persian Gulf War, the United Nations located and destroyed large quantities of Iraqi chemical weapons and related equipment and materials throughout the early 1990s, with varying degrees of Iraqi cooperation and obstruction.[2] In response to diminishing Iraqi cooperation with UNSCOM, the United States called for withdrawal of all UN and IAEA inspectors in 1998, resulting in Operation Desert Fox. The United States and the UK asserted that Saddam Hussein still possessed large hidden stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in 2003, and that he was clandestinely procuring and producing more. Inspections by the UN to resolve the status of unresolved disarmament questions restarted between November 2002 and March 2003,[3] under UN Security Council Resolution 1441, which demanded Saddam give “immediate, unconditional and active cooperation” with UN and IAEA inspections, shortly before his country was attacked.[4] During the lead-up to war in 2003, United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix said that Iraq made significant progress toward resolving open issues of disarmament noting the “proactive” but not always “immediate” cooperation as called for by UN Security Council Resolution 1441. He concluded that it would take “but months” to resolve the key remaining disarmament tasks.[5] The United States asserted this was a breach of Resolution 1441, but failed to convince the UN Security Council to pass a new resolution authorizing the use of force due to lack of evidence.[6][7][8] Despite being unable to get a new resolution authorizing force and citing section 3 of the Joint Resolution passed by the U.S. Congress,[9]President George W. Bush asserted peaceful measures could not disarm Iraq of the weapons he alleged it to have and launched a second Gulf War. Later U.S.-led inspections found out that Iraq had earlier ceased active WMD production and stockpiling. The report also found that Iraq had worked covertly to maintain the intellectual and physical capacity to produce WMDs and intended to restart production once sanctions were lifted.[10] In 2015 it was learned that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction had not been fully accounted for by UN inspections.[11] Ten years after its inception, Operation Avarice was declassified and it was learned that there were stockpiles of warheads and rockets containing degraded chemical agents similar to those used in the Iran-Iraq War. From 2005 through 2006 military intelligence discovered that the weaponsmany in poor condition, some empty or containing nonlethal liquid, but others containing sarin with unexpectedly high puritywere in the possession of one Iraqi individual who remained anonymous. Operation Avarice, headed by army intelligence and the CIA, involved the discreet purchase of the weapons from the unidentified individual to keep them off the black market.[11] 1959 August 17 USSR and Iraq wrote an agreement about building a nuclear power plant and established a nuclear program as part of their mutual understanding.[12] 1968 a Soviet supplied IRT-2000 research reactor together with a number of other facilities that could be used for radioisotope production was built close to Baghdad.[13][14] 1975 Saddam Hussein arrived in Moscow and asked about building an advanced model of an atomic power station. Moscow would approve only if the station was regulated by the International Atomic Energy Agency, but Iraq refused. Yet an agreement of co-operation was signed on April 15, which superseded the one from 1959.[15] After 6 months Paris agreed to sell 72kg of 93% Uranium[16] and built a nuclear power plant without International Atomic Energy Agency control at a price of $3 billion. In the early 1970s, Saddam Hussein ordered the creation of a clandestine nuclear weapons program.[17] Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs were assisted by a wide variety of firms and governments in the 1970s and 1980s.[18][19][20][21][22] As part of Project 922, German firms such as Karl Kobe helped build Iraqi chemical weapons facilities such as laboratories, bunkers, an administrative building, and first production buildings in the early 1980s under the cover of a pesticide plant. Other German firms sent 1,027 tons of precursors of mustard gas, sarin, tabun, and tear gasses in all. This work allowed Iraq to produce 150 tons of mustard agent and 60 tons of Tabun in 1983 and 1984 respectively, continuing throughout the decade. Five other German firms supplied equipment to manufacture botulin toxin and mycotoxin for germ warfare. In 1988, German engineers presented centrifuge data that helped Iraq expand its nuclear weapons program. Laboratory equipment and other information was provided, involving many German engineers. All told, 52% of Iraq’s international chemical weapon equipment was of German origin. The State Establishment for Pesticide Production (SEPP) ordered culture media and incubators from Germany’s Water Engineering Trading.[23] The United States exported support for Iraq during the IranIraq war over $500 million worth of dual use exports to Iraq that were approved by the Commerce department. Among them were advanced computers, some of which were used in Iraq’s nuclear program.[24] The non-profit American Type Culture Collection and the Centers for Disease Control sold or sent biological samples of anthrax, West Nile virus and botulism to Iraq up until 1989, which Iraq claimed it needed for medical research. A number of these materials were used for Iraq’s biological weapons research program, while others were used for vaccine development.[25] For example, the Iraqi military settled on the American Type Culture Collection strain 14578 as the exclusive anthrax strain for use as a biological weapon, according to Charles Duelfer.[26] In the late 1980s, the British government secretly gave the arms company Matrix Churchill permission to supply parts for Saddam Hussein’s weapons program, while British Industry supplied Gerald Bull as he developed the Iraqi supergun. In March 1990, a case of nuclear triggers bound for Iraq were seized at Heathrow Airport. The Scott Report uncovered much of the secrecy that had surrounded the Arms-to-Iraq affair when it became known.[27] The British government also financed a chlorine factory that was intended to be used for manufacturing mustard gas.[28] In 1980, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency filed a report stating that Iraq had been actively acquiring chemical weapons capacities for several years, which later proved to be accurate.[29] In November 1980, two months into the IranIraq War, the first reported use of chemical weapons took place when Tehran radio reported a poison gas attack on Susangerd by Iraqi forces.[30] The United Nations reported many similar attacks occurred the following year, leading Iran to develop and deploy a mustard gas capability.[citation needed] By 1984, Iraq was using poison gas with great effectiveness against Iranian “human wave” attacks.[verification needed] Chemical weapons were used extensively against Iran during the IranIraq War.[31][32] On January 14, 1991, the Defense Intelligence Agency said an Iraqi agent described, in medically accurate terms, military smallpox casualties he said he saw in 1985 or 1986. Two weeks later, the Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center reported that eight of 69 Iraqi prisoners of war whose blood was tested showed a current immunity to smallpox, which had not occurred naturally in Iraq since 1971; the same prisoners had also been inoculated for anthrax. The assumption being that Iraq used both smallpox and anthrax during this war.[33] All of this occurring while Iraq was a party to the Geneva Protocol on September 8, 1931, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on October 29, 1969, signed the Biological Weapons Convention in 1972, but did not ratify until June 11, 1991. Iraq has not signed to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Washington Post reported that in 1984 the CIA secretly started providing intelligence to the Iraqi army during the Iran-Iraq War. This included information to target chemical weapons strikes. The same year it was confirmed beyond doubt by European doctors and UN expert missions that Iraq was employing chemical weapons against the Iranians.[34] Most of these occurred during the IranIraq War, but WMDs were used at least once to crush the popular uprisings against Kurds in 1991.[21] Chemical weapons were used extensively, with post-war Iranian estimates stating that more than 100,000 Iranians were affected Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons during the eight-year war with Iraq,[35] Iran today is the world’s second-most afflicted country by weapons of mass destruction, only after Japan.[citation needed] The official estimate does not include the civilian population contaminated in bordering towns or the children and relatives of veterans, many of whom have developed blood, lung and skin complications, according to the Organization for Veterans. Nerve gas agents killed about 20,000 Iranian soldiers immediately, according to official reports. Of the 90,000 survivors, some 5,000 seek medical treatment regularly and about 1,000 are still hospitalized with severe, chronic conditions.[citation needed] Many others were hit by mustard gas. Despite the removal of Saddam Hussein and his administration by American forces, there is deep resentment and anger in Iran that it was Western nations that helped Iraq develop and direct its chemical weapons arsenal in the first place and that the world did nothing to punish Iraq for its use of chemical weapons throughout the war.[citation needed] For example, the United States and the UK blocked condemnation of Iraq’s known chemical weapons attacks at the UN Security Council. No resolution was passed during the war that specifically criticized Iraq’s use of chemical weapons, despite the wishes of the majority to condemn this use. On March 21, 1986 the United Nation Security Council recognized that “chemical weapons on many occasions have been used by Iraqi forces against Iranian forces”; this statement was opposed by the United States, the sole country to vote against it in the Security Council (the UK abstained).[36] On March 23, 1988 western media sources reported from Halabja in Iraqi Kurdistan, that several days before Iraq had launched a large scale chemical assault on the town. Later estimates were that 7,000 people had been killed and 20,000 wounded. The Halabja poison gas attack caused an international outcry against the Iraqis. Later that year the U.S. Senate proposed the Prevention of Genocide Act of 1988, cutting off all U.S. assistance to Iraq and stopping U.S. imports of Iraqi oil. The Reagan administration opposed the bill, calling it premature, and eventually prevented it from taking effect, partly due to a mistaken DIA assessment which blamed Iran for the attack. At the time of the attack the town was held by Iranian troops and Iraqi Kurdish guerrillas allied with Tehran.[37] The Iraqis blamed the Halabja attack on Iranian forces. This was still the position of Saddam Hussein in his December 2003 captivity.[citation needed] On August 21, 2006, the trial of Saddam Hussein and six codefendants, including Hassan al-Majid (“Chemical Ali”), opened on charges of genocide against the Kurds. While this trial does not cover the Halabja attack, it does cover attacks on other villages during the Iraqi “Anfal” operation alleged to have included bombing with chemical weapons.[38] (Source:[21]) On August 2, 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait and was widely condemned internationally.[39] The policy of the United States on Hussein’s government changed rapidly, as it was feared Saddam intended to attack other oil-rich nations in the region such as Saudi Arabia.[citation needed] As stories of atrocities from the occupation of Kuwait spread, older atrocities and his WMD arsenal were also given attention.[citation needed] Iraq’s nuclear weapons program suffered a serious setback in 1981 when the Osiraq reactor, which would have been capable of breeding weapons-usable nuclear material, was bombed by Israel before it could be commissioned.[16] David Albright and Mark Hibbs, writing for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, disagree with this view, however. There were far too many technological challenges unsolved, they say.[40] An international coalition of nations, led by the United States, liberated Kuwait in 1991.[41] In the terms of the UN ceasefire set out in Security Council Resolution 686, and in Resolution 687, Iraq was forbidden from developing, possessing or using chemical, biological and nuclear weapons by resolution 686. Also proscribed by the treaty were missiles with a range of more than 150 kilometres. The UN Special Commission on weapons (UNSCOM) was created to carry out weapons inspections in Iraq, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was to verify the destruction of Iraq’s nuclear program.[42][43] The United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) was set up after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait to inspect Iraqi weapons facilities. It was headed first by Rolf Ekus and later by Richard Butler. During several visits to Iraq by UNSCOM, weapons inspectors interviewed British-educated Iraqi biologist Rihab Rashid Taha. According to a 1999 report from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, the normally mild-mannered Taha exploded into violent rages whenever UNSCOM questioned her about al-Hakam, shouting, screaming and, on one occasion, smashing a chair, while insisting that al-Hakam was a chicken-feed plant.[44] “There were a few things that were peculiar about this animal-feed production plant”, Charles Duelfer, UNSCOM’s deputy executive chairman, later told reporters, “beginning with the extensive air defenses surrounding it.” The facility was destroyed by UNSCOM in 1996.[45] In 1995, UNSCOM’s principal weapons inspector, Dr. Rod Barton from Australia, showed Taha documents obtained by UNSCOM that showed the Iraqi government had just purchased 10 tons of growth medium from a British company called Oxoid. Growth media is a mixture of sugars, proteins and minerals that provides nutrients for microorganisms to grow. It can be used in hospitals and microbiology/molecular biology research laboratories. In hospitals, swabs from patients are placed in dishes containing growth medium for diagnostic purposes. Iraq’s hospital consumption of growth medium was just 200kg a year; yet in 1988, Iraq imported 39 tons of it. Shown this evidence by UNSCOM, Taha admitted to the inspectors that she had grown 19,000 litres of botulinum toxin;[46] 8,000 litres of anthrax; 2,000 litres of aflatoxins, which can cause liver failure; Clostridium perfringens, a bacterium that can cause gas gangrene; and ricin. She also admitted conducting research into cholera, salmonella, foot and mouth disease, and camel pox, a disease that uses the same growth techniques as smallpox, but which is safer for researchers to work with. It was because of the discovery of Taha’s work with camel pox that the U.S. and British intelligence services feared Saddam Hussein may have been planning to weaponize the smallpox virus. Iraq had a smallpox outbreak in 1971 and the Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control Center (WINPAC) believed the Iraqi government retained contaminated material.[33] UNSCOM also learned that, in August 1990, after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, Taha’s team was ordered to set up a program to weaponize the biological agents. By January 1991, a team of 100 scientists and support staff had filled 157 bombs and 16 missile warheads with botulin toxin, and 50 bombs and five missile warheads with anthrax. In an interview with the BBC, Taha denied the Iraqi government had weaponized the bacteria. “We never intended to use it”, she told journalist Jane Corbin of the BBC’s Panorama program. “We never wanted to cause harm or damage to anybody.” However, UNSCOM found the munitions dumped in a river near al-Hakam. UNSCOM also discovered that Taha’s team had conducted inhalation experiments on donkeys from England and on beagles from Germany. The inspectors seized photographs showing beagles having convulsions inside sealed containers.[citation needed] The inspectors feared that Taha’s team had experimented on human beings. During one inspection, they discovered two primate-sized inhalation chambers, one measuring 5 cubic meters, though there was no evidence the Iraqis had used large primates in their experiments. According to former weapons inspector Scott Ritter in his 1999 book Endgame: Solving the Iraq Crisis, UNSCOM learned that, between July 1 and August 15, 1995, 50 prisoners from the Abu Ghraib prison were transferred to a military post in al-Haditha, in the northwest of Iraq.[citation needed] Iraqi opposition groups say that scientists sprayed the prisoners with anthrax, though no evidence was produced to support these allegations. During one experiment, the inspectors were told, 12 prisoners were tied to posts while shells loaded with anthrax were blown up nearby. Ritter’s team demanded to see documents from Abu Ghraib prison showing a prisoner count. Ritter writes that they discovered the records for July and August 1995 were missing. Asked to explain the missing documents, the Iraqi government charged that Ritter was working for the CIA and refused UNSCOM access to certain sites like Baath Party headquarters.[47] Although Ekus has said that he resisted attempts at such espionage, many allegations have since been made against the agency commission under Butler, charges which Butler has denied.[48][49] In April 1991 Iraq provided its first of what would be several declarations of its chemical weapons programs.[50] Subsequent declarations submitted by Iraq in June 1992, March 1995, June 1996 came only after pressure from UNSCOM.[50] In February 1998, UNSCOM unanimously determined that after seven years of attempts to establish the extent of Iraq’s chemical weapons programs, that Iraq had still not given the Commission sufficient information for them to conclude that Iraq had undertaken all the disarmament steps required by the UNSC resolutions concerning chemical weapons.[50] In August 1991 Iraq had declared to the UNSCOM biological inspection team that it did indeed have a biological weapons program but that it was for defensive purposes.[50] Iraq then provided its first biological weapons declaration shortly after. After UNSCOM determined such declarations to be incomplete, more pressure was placed on Iraq to declare fully and completely.[50] A second disclosure of the biological weapons came in March 1995. After UNSCOM’s investigations and the discovery of inreffutable evidence, Iraq was forced to admit for the first time the existence of an offensive biological weapons program.[50] But Iraq still denied weaponization. Further UNSCOM pressure resulted in a third prohibited biological weapons disclosure from Iraq in August 1995. Only after General Hussein Kamel al-Majid, Minister of Industry and Minerals and former Director of Iraq’s Military Industrialization Corporation, with responsibility for all of Iraq’s weapons programs, fled Iraq for Jordan, Iraq was forced to reveal that its biological warfare program was much more extensive than was previously admitted and that the program included weaponization.[50] At this time Iraq admitted that it had achieved the ability to produce longer-range missiles than had previously been admitted to.[50] At this point Iraq provides UNSCOM and IAEA with more documentation that turns out Hussein Kamel al-Majid had hidden on chicken farm. These documents gave further revelation to Iraq’s development of VX gas and its attempts to develop a nuclear weapon.[50] More declarations would follow in June 1996 and September 1997. However, in April and July 1998, the biological weapons team and UNSCOM Executive Chairman assessed that Iraq’s declarations were as yet “unverifiable” and “incomplete and inadequate”, seven years after the first declarations were given in 1991.[50] In August 1998, Ritter resigned his position as UN weapons inspector and sharply criticized the Clinton administration and the UN Security Council for not being vigorous enough about insisting that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction be destroyed. Ritter also accused UN Secretary General Kofi Annan of assisting Iraqi efforts at impeding UNSCOM’s work. “Iraq is not disarming”, Ritter said on August 27, 1998, and in a second statement, “Iraq retains the capability to launch a chemical strike.” In 1998 the UNSCOM weapons inspectors left Iraq. There is considerable debate about whether they were “withdrawn”, “expelled” from the country by Iraqi officials (as alleged by George W. Bush in his “axis of evil” speech), or they chose to leave because they felt their hands were tied sufficiently to see the mission as hopeless. According to Butler himself in his book Saddam Defiant, it was U.S. Ambassador Peter Burleigh, acting on instructions from Washington, who suggested Butler pull his team from Iraq in order to protect them from the forthcoming U.S. and British airstrikes[citation needed] which eventually took place from December 1619, 1998. In August, 1998, absent effective monitoring, Scott Ritter remarked that Iraq could “reconstitute chemical biological weapons, long-range ballistic missiles to deliver these weapons, and even certain aspects of their nuclear weaponization program.”[51] In June, 1999, Ritter responded to an interviewer, saying: “When you ask the question, ‘Does Iraq possess militarily viable biological or chemical weapons?’ the answer is no! It is a resounding NO. Can Iraq produce today chemical weapons on a meaningful scale? No! Can Iraq produce biological weapons on a meaningful scale? No! Ballistic missiles? No! It is ‘no’ across the board. So from a qualitative standpoint, Iraq has been disarmed. Ritter later accused some UNSCOM personnel of spying, and he strongly criticized the Bill Clinton administration for misusing the commission’s resources to eavesdrop on the Iraqi military.[52] According to Ritter: “Iraq today (1999) possesses no meaningful weapons of mass destruction capability.”[53] In June 2000, Ritter penned a piece for Arms Control Today entitled The Case for Iraq’s Qualitative Disarmament.[54] 2001 saw the theatrical release of his documentary on the UNSCOM weapons inspections in Iraq, In Shifting Sands: The Truth About Unscom and the Disarming of Iraq. The film was funded by an Iraqi-American businessman who, unknown to Ritter, had received Oil-for-Food coupons from the Iraqi administration.[55] In 2002, Scott Ritter stated that, by 1998, 9095% of Iraq’s nuclear, biological and chemical capabilities, and long-range ballistic missiles capable of delivering such weapons, had been verified as destroyed. Technical 100% verification was not possible, said Ritter, not because Iraq still had any hidden weapons, but because Iraq’ had preemptively destroyed some stockpiles and claimed they had never existed. Many people were surprised by Ritter’s turnaround in his view of Iraq during a period when no inspections were made.[56] During the 20022003 build-up to war Ritter criticized the Bush administration and maintained that it had provided no credible evidence that Iraq had reconstituted a significant WMD capability. In an interview with Time in September 2002 Ritter said there were attempts to use UNSCOM for spying on Iraq.[57] According to the New York Times and Washington Post media of Jan. 8, 1999, “In March [1998], in a last-ditch attempt to uncover Saddam Hussein’s covert weapons and intelligence networks, the United States used the United Nations inspection team to send an American spy into Baghdad to install a highly sophisticated electronic eavesdropping system.”[58][59] UNSCOM encountered various difficulties and a lack of cooperation by the Iraqi government. In 1998, UNSCOM was withdrawn at the request of the United States before Operation Desert Fox. Despite this, UNSCOM’s own estimate was that 90-95% of Iraqi WMDs had been successfully destroyed before its 1998 withdrawal. After that, for four years (from 1998 to 2002) Iraq remained without any outside weapons inspectors. During this time speculations arose that Iraq had actively resumed its WMD programs. In particular, various figures in the George W. Bush administration as well as Congress went so far as to express concern about nuclear weapons. There is dispute about whether Iraq still had WMD programs after 1998 and whether its cooperation with the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) was complete. Chief weapons inspector Hans Blix said in January 2003 that “access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect” and Iraq had “cooperated rather well” in that regard, although “Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance of the disarmament.”[60] On March 7, in an address to the Security Council, Hans Blix stated:”Against this background, the question is now asked whether Iraq has cooperated “immediately, unconditionally and actively” with UNMOVIC, as is required under paragraph 9 of resolution 1441 (2002)… while the numerous initiatives, which are now taken by the Iraqi side with a view to resolving some long-standing open disarmament issues, can be seen as “active”, or even “proactive”, these initiatives 34 months into the new resolution cannot be said to constitute “immediate” cooperation. Nor do they necessarily cover all areas of relevance.” Some U.S. officials understood this contradictory statement as a declaration of noncompliance. There were no weapon inspections in Iraq for nearly four years after the UN departed from Iraq in 1998, and Iraq asserted that they would never be invited back.[61] In addition, Saddam had issued a “secret order” that Iraq did not have to abide by any UN Resolution since in his view “the United States had broken international law”.[62] In 2001, Saddam stated: “we are not at all seeking to build up weapons or look for the most harmful weapons . . . however, we will never hesitate to possess the weapons to defend Iraq and the Arab nation”.[63] The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in Britain published in September 2002 a review of Iraq’s military capability, and concluded that Iraq could assemble nuclear weapons within months if fissile material from foreign sources were obtained.[64] However, IISS also concluded that without such foreign sources, it would take years at a bare minimum. The time to Iraq obtaining a nuclear weapon with fissile materials was viewed as being overly optimistic by some critics (that is, by the Federation of American Scientists and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists).[citation needed] Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, who created Saddam’s nuclear centrifuge program that had successfully enriched uranium to weapons grade before the 1991 Gulf War, stated in an op-ed in The New York Times that although Iraqi scientists possessed the knowledge to restart the nuclear program, by 2002 the idea had become “a vague dream from another era.”[65] Possession of WMDs was cited by the United States as the primary motivation instigating the Iraq War. In late 2002 Saddam Hussein, in a letter to Hans Blix, invited UN weapons inspectors back into the country. Subsequently the Security Council issued resolution 1441 authorizing new inspections in Iraq. The carefully worded UN resolution put the burden on Iraq, not UN inspectors, to prove that they no longer had weapons of mass destruction. The United States claimed that Iraq’s latest weapons declaration left materials and munitions unaccounted for; the Iraqis claimed that all such material had been destroyed, something which had been stated years earlier by Iraq’s highest ranking defector, Hussein Kamel al-Majid. According to reports from the previous UN inspection agency, UNSCOM, Iraq produced 600 metric tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, VX and sarin, and nearly 25,000 rockets and 15,000 artillery shells, with chemical agents, that are still unaccounted for. In January 2003, United Nations weapons inspectors reported that they had found no indication that Iraq possessed nuclear weapons or an active program. Some former UNSCOM inspectors disagree about whether the United States could know for certain whether or not Iraq had renewed production of weapons of mass destruction. Robert Gallucci said, “If Iraq had [uranium or plutonium], a fair assessment would be they could fabricate a nuclear weapon, and there’s no reason for us to assume we’d find out if they had.” Similarly, former inspector Jonathan Tucker said, “Nobody really knows what Iraq has. You really can’t tell from a satellite image what’s going on inside a factory.” However, Hans Blix said in late January 2003 that Iraq had “not genuinely accepted UN resolutions demanding that it disarm.”[66] He claimed there were some materials which had not been accounted for. Since sites had been found which evidenced the destruction of chemical weaponry, UNSCOM was actively working with Iraq on methods to ascertain for certain whether the amounts destroyed matched up with the amounts that Iraq had produced.[67][68] In the next quarterly report, after the war, the total amount of proscribed items destroyed by UNMOVIC in Iraq can be gathered.[69] Those include: In an attempt to counter the allegations that some WMD arsenals (or capability) were indeed hidden from inspectors, Scott Ritter would argue later; There’s no doubt Iraq hasn’t fully complied with its disarmament obligations as set forth by the Security Council in its resolution. But on the other hand, since 1998 Iraq has been fundamentally disarmed: 90-95% of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capacity has been verifiably eliminated… We have to remember that this missing 5-10% doesn’t necessarily constitute a threat… It constitutes bits and pieces of a weapons program which in its totality doesn’t amount to much, but which is still prohibited… We can’t give Iraq a clean bill of health, therefore we can’t close the book on their weapons of mass destruction. But simultaneously, we can’t reasonably talk about Iraqi non-compliance as representing a de-facto retention of a prohibited capacity worthy of war.[70] Ritter also argued that the WMDs Saddam had in his possession all those years ago, if retained, would have long since turned to harmless substances. He stated that Iraqi Sarin and tabun have a shelf life of approximately five years, VX lasts a bit longer (but not much longer), and finally he said botulinum toxin and liquid anthrax last about three years.[71][72] On March 17, 2003, Lord Goldsmith, Attorney General of the UK, set out his government’s legal justification for an invasion of Iraq. He said that Security Council resolution 678 authorised force against Iraq, which was suspended but not terminated by resolution 687, which imposed continuing obligations on Iraq to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction. A material breach of resolution 687 would revive the authority to use force under resolution 678. In resolution 1441 the Security Council determined that Iraq was in material breach of resolution 687 because it had not fully carried out its obligations to disarm. Although resolution 1441 had given Iraq a final chance to comply, UK Attorney General Goldsmith wrote “it is plain that Iraq has failed so to comply”. Most member governments of the United Nations Security Council made clear that after resolution 1441 there still was no authorization for the use of force. Indeed, at the time 1441 was passed, both the U.S. and UK representatives stated explicitly that 1441 contained no provision for military action. Then-U.S. Ambassador John D. Negroponte was quoted as saying: There’s no “automaticity” and this is a two-stage process, and in that regard we have met the principal concerns that have been expressed for the resolution Whatever violation there is, or is judged to exist, will be dealt with in the council, and the council will have an opportunity to consider the matter before any other action is taken.[74] The British ambassador to the UN, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, concurred: We heard loud and clear during the negotiations the concerns about “automaticity” and “hidden triggers” – the concern that on a decision so crucial we should not rush into military action; that on a decision so crucial any Iraqi violations should be discussed by the Council. Let me be equally clear in response, as one of the co-sponsors of the text we have adopted: there is no “automaticity” in this Resolution.[75] The UN itself never had the chance to declare that Iraq had failed to take its “final opportunity” to comply as the U.S. invasion made it a moot point. American President George W. Bush stated that Saddam Hussein had 48 hours to step down and leave Iraq.[76] As the deadline approached, the United States announced that forces would be sent to verify his disarmament and a transition to a new government.[citation needed] On May 30, 2003, Paul Wolfowitz stated in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine that the issue of weapons of mass destruction was the point of greatest agreement among Bush’s team among the reasons to remove Saddam Hussein from power. He said, “The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason, but, there have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually I guess you could say there’s a fourth overriding one which is the connection between the first two.”[77] In an interview with BBC in June 2004, David Kay, former head of the Iraq Survey Group, made the following comment: “Anyone out there holding as I gather Prime Minister Blair has recently said the prospect that, in fact, the Iraq Survey Group is going to unmask actual weapons of mass destruction, [is] really delusional.” In 2002, Scott Ritter, a former UNSCOM weapons inspector heavily criticized the Bush administration and media outlets for using the testimony of alleged former Iraqi nuclear scientist Khidir Hamza, who defected from Iraq in 1994, as a rationale for invading Iraq: We seized the entire records of the Iraqi Nuclear program, especially the administrative records. We got a name of everybody, where they worked, what they did, and the top of the list, Saddam’s “Bombmaker” [which was the title of Hamza’s book, and earned the nickname afterwards] was a man named Jafar Dhia Jafar, not Khidir Hamza, and if you go down the list of the senior administrative personnel you will not find Hamza’s name in there. In fact, we didn’t find his name at all. Because in 1990, he didn’t work for the Iraqi nuclear program. He had no knowledge of it because he worked as a kickback specialist for Hussein Kamel in the Presidential Palace. He goes into northern Iraq and meets up with Ahmad Chalabi. He walks in and says, I’m Saddam’s “Bombmaker”. So they call the CIA and they say, “We know who you are, you’re not Saddam’s ‘Bombmaker’, go sell your story to someone else.” And he was released, he was rejected by all intelligence services at the time, he’s a fraud. And here we are, someone who the CIA knows is a fraud, the US Government knows is a fraud, is allowed to sit in front of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and give testimony as a expert witness. I got a problem with that, I got a problem with the American media, and I’ve told them over and over and over again that this man is a documentable fraud, a fake, and yet they allow him to go on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, and testify as if he actually knows what he is talking about.[78] On June 4, 2003, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts announced that the U.S. Select Committee on Intelligence that he chaired would, as a part of its ongoing oversight of the intelligence community, conduct a Review of intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. On July 9, 2004, the Committee released the Senate Report of Pre-war Intelligence on Iraq. On July 17, 2003, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in an address to the U.S. Congress, that history would forgive the United States and United Kingdom, even if they were wrong about weapons of mass destruction. He still maintained that “with every fiber of instinct and conviction” Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction. On February 3, 2004, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw announced an independent inquiry, to be chaired by Lord Butler of Brockwell, to examine the reliability of British intelligence relating to alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.[79] The Butler Review was published July 14, 2004. In the buildup to the 2003 war, the New York Times published a number of stories claiming to prove that Iraq possessed WMD. One story in particular, written by Judith Miller helped persuade the American public that Iraq had WMD: in September 2002 she wrote about an intercepted shipment of aluminum tubes which the NYT said were to be used to develop nuclear material.[citation needed] It is now generally understood that they were not intended (or well suited) for that purpose but rather for artillery rockets.[citation needed] The story was followed up with television appearances by Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice all pointing to the story as part of the basis for taking military action against Iraq. Miller’s sources were introduced to her by Ahmed Chalabi, an Iraqi exile favorable to a U.S. invasion of Iraq.[citation needed] Miller is also listed as a speaker for The Middle East Forum, an organization which openly declared support for an invasion.[citation needed] In May 2004 the New York Times published an editorial which stated that its journalism in the build up to war had sometimes been lax. It appears that in the cases where Iraqi exiles were used for the stories about WMD were either ignorant as to the real status of Iraq’s WMD or lied to journalists to achieve their own ends.[citation needed] Despite the intelligence lapse, Bush stood by his decision to invade Iraq stating: But what wasn’t wrong was Saddam Hussein had invaded a country, he had used weapons of mass destruction, he had the capability of making weapons of mass destruction, he was firing at our pilots. He was a state sponsor of terror. Removing Saddam Hussein was the right thing for world peace and the security of our country. In a speech before the World Affairs Council of Charlotte, NC, on April 7, 2006, President Bush stated that he “fully understood that the intelligence was wrong, and [he was] just as disappointed as everybody else” when U.S. troops failed to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.[80] Intelligence shortly before the 2003 invasion of Iraq was heavily used as support arguments in favor of military intervention, with the October 2002 C.I.A. report on Iraqi WMDs considered to be the most reliable one available at that time.[81] “According to the CIA’s report, all U.S. intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons. There is little question that Saddam Hussein wants to develop nuclear weapons.” Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) – Congressional Record, October 9, 2002[82] On May 29, 2003, Andrew Gilligan appears on the BBC’s Today program early in the morning. Among the contentions he makes in his report are that the government “ordered (the September Dossier, a British Government dossier on WMD) to be sexed up, to be made more exciting, and ordered more facts to be…discovered.” The broadcast is not repeated.[83] On May 27, 2003, a secret Defense Intelligence Agency fact-finding mission in Iraq reported unanimously to intelligence officials in Washington that two trailers captured in Iraq by Kurdish troops “had nothing to do with biological weapons.” The trailers had been a key part of the argument for the 2003 invasion; Secretary of State Colin Powell had told the United Nations Security Council, “We have firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails. We know what the fermenters look like. We know what the tanks, pumps, compressors and other parts look like.” The Pentagon team had been sent to investigate the trailers after the invasion. The team of experts unanimously found “no connection to anything biological”; one of the experts told reporters that they privately called the trailers “the biggest sand toilets in the world.” The report was classified, and the next day, the CIA publicly released the assessment of its Washington analysts that the trailers were “mobile biological weapons production.” The White House continued to refer to the trailers as mobile biological laboratories throughout the year, and the Pentagon field report remained classified. It is still classified, but a Washington Post report of April 12, 2006 disclosed some of the details of the report. According to the Post: A spokesman for the DIA asserted that the team’s findings were neither ignored nor suppressed, but were incorporated in the work of the Iraqi Survey Group, which led the official search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The survey group’s final report in September 2004 15 months after the technical report was written said the trailers were “impractical” for biological weapons production and were “almost certainly intended” for manufacturing hydrogen for weather balloons.[84] General Tommy Franks was quoted as saying: “I think no one in this country probably was more surprised than I when weapons of mass destruction were not used against our troops as they moved toward Baghdad.”[85] On February 6, 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush named an Iraq Intelligence Commission, chaired by Charles Robb and Laurence Silberman, to investigate U.S. intelligence, specifically regarding the 2003 invasion of Iraq and Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. On February 8, 2004, Dr Hans Blix, in an interview on BBC TV, accused the U.S. and UK governments of dramatising the threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, in order to strengthen the case for the 2003 war against the government of Saddam Hussein. On May 30, 2003, The U.S. Department of Defense briefed the media that it was ready to formally begin the work of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), a fact finding mission from the coalition of the Iraq occupation into the WMD programs developed by Iraq, taking over from the British-American 75th Exploitation Task Force. Various nuclear facilities, including the Baghdad Nuclear Research Facility and Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center, were found looted in the month following the invasion. (Gellman, May 3, 2003) On June 20, 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that tons of uranium, as well as other radioactive materials such as thorium, had been recovered, and that the vast majority had remained on site. There were several reports of radiation sickness in the area. It has been suggested that the documents and suspected weapons sites were looted and burned in Iraq by looters in the final days of the war.[86] On September 30, 2004, the U.S. Iraq Survey Group issued its Final Report.[87] Among its key findings were: The report found that “The ISG has not found evidence that Saddam possessed WMD stocks in 2003, but [there is] the possibility that some weapons existed in Iraq, although not of a militarily significant capability.” It also concluded that there was a possible intent to restart all banned weapons programs as soon as multilateral sanctions against it had been dropped, with Hussein pursuing WMD proliferation in the future: “There is an extensive, yet fragmentary and circumstantial, body of evidence suggesting that Saddam pursued a strategy to maintain a capability to return to WMD after sanctions were lifted…”[89] No senior Iraqi official interviewed by the ISG believed that Saddam had forsaken WMD forever. On October 6, 2004, the head of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), Charles Duelfer, announced to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee that the group found no evidence that Iraq under Saddam Hussein had produced and stockpiled any weapons of mass destruction since 1991, when UN sanctions were imposed.[90] After he began cooperating with U.S. forces in Baghdad in 2003, Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, who ran Saddam’s nuclear centrifuge program until 1997, handed over blueprints for a nuclear centrifuge along with some actual centrifuge components, stored at his home buried in the front yard awaiting orders from Baghdad to proceed. He said, “I had to maintain the program to the bitter end.” In his book The Bomb in My Garden: The Secrets of Saddam’s Nuclear Mastermind, the Iraqi nuclear engineer explains that his nuclear stash was the key that could have unlocked and restarted Saddam’s bombmaking program. However, it would require a massive investment and a re-creation of thousands of centrifuges in order to reconstitute a full centrifugal enrichment program. In a January 26, 2004 interview with Tom Brokaw of NBC news, Kay described Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs as being in a “rudimentary” stage. He also stated that “What we did find, and as others are investigating it, we found a lot of terrorist groups and individuals that passed through Iraq.”[91] In responding to a question by Brokaw as to whether Iraq was a “gathering threat” as President Bush had asserted before the invasion, Kay answered: Tom, an imminent threat is a political judgment. It’s not a technical judgment. I think Baghdad was actually becoming more dangerous in the last two years than even we realized. Saddam was not controlling the society any longer. In the marketplace of terrorism and of WMD, Iraq well could have been that supplier if the war had not intervened. In June 2004, the United States removed 2 tons of low-enriched uranium from Iraq, sufficient raw material for a single nuclear weapon.[92] Demetrius Perricos, then head of UNMOVIC, stated that the Kay report contained little information not already known by UNMOVIC.[93] Many organizations, such as the journal Biosecurity and Bioterrorism, have claimed that Kay’s report is a “worst case analysis”.[94] Operation Iraqi Freedom documents refers to some 48,000 boxes of documents, audiotapes and videotapes that were captured by the U.S. military during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Many of these documents seem to make clear that Saddam’s regime had given up on seeking a WMD capability by the mid-1990s. Associated Press reported, “Repeatedly in the transcripts, Saddam and his lieutenants remind each other that Iraq destroyed its chemical and biological weapons in the early 1990s, and shut down those programs and the nuclear-bomb program, which had never produced a weapon.” At one 1996 presidential meeting, top weapons program official Amer Mohammed Rashid, describes his conversation with UN weapons inspector Rolf Ekeus: “We don’t have anything to hide, so we’re giving you all the details.” At another meeting Saddam told his deputies, “We cooperated with the resolutions 100 percent and you all know that, and the 5 percent they claim we have not executed could take them 10 years to (verify). Don’t think for a minute that we still have WMD. We have nothing.”[95] U.S. Congressman Peter Hoekstra called for the U.S. government to put the remaining documents on the Internet so Arabic speakers around the world can help translate the documents.[96] Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, several reported finds of chemical weapons were announced, including half a dozen incidents during the invasion itself. In April 2003, US Marines stumbled across a number of buildings which emitted unusual levels of radiation. Upon close inspection the troops uncovered “many, many drums” containing low-grade uranium, also known as yellowcake. According to an expert familiar with UN nuclear inspections, US troops had arrived at the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center and the material under investigation had been documented, stored in sealed containers and subject to supervision by the International Atomic Energy Agency since 1991.[97][98] The material was transported out of Iraq in July 2008 and sold to Canadian uranium producer Cameco Corp., in a transaction described as worth “tens of millions of dollars.”[99][100] A post-war case occurred on January 9, 2004, when Icelandic munitions experts and Danish military engineers discovered 36 120-mm mortar rounds containing liquid buried in Southern Iraq. While initial tests suggested that the rounds contained a blister agent, subsequent analysis by American and Danish experts showed that no chemical agent was present.[101] On May 2, 2004, a shell containing mustard gas was found in the middle of a street west of Baghdad. The Iraq Survey Group investigation reported that it had been previously “stored improperly”, and thus the gas was “ineffective” as a useful chemical agent. Officials from the Defense Department commented that they were not certain if use was to be made of the device as a bomb.[102] On May 16, 2004, a 152mm artillery shell was used as an improvised bomb.[103] The shell exploded and two U.S. soldiers were treated for minor exposure to a nerve agent (nausea and dilated pupils). On May 18 it was reported by U.S. Department of Defense intelligence officials that tests showed the two-chambered shell contained the chemical agent sarin, the shell being “likely” to have contained three to four liters of the substance (in the form of its two unmixed precursor chemicals prior to the aforementioned explosion that had not effectively mixed them).[102] Former U.S. weapons inspector David Kay told the Associated Press that “he doubted the shell or the nerve agent came from a hidden stockpile, although he didn’t rule out that possibility.” Kay also considered it possible that the shell was “an old relic overlooked when Saddam said he had destroyed such weapons in the mid-1990s.”[104] It is likely that the insurgents who planted the bomb did not know it contained sarin, according to Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, and another U.S. official confirmed that the shell did not have the markings of a chemical agent.[104] The Iraq Survey Group later concluded that the shell “probably originated with a batch that was stored in a Al Muthanna CW complex basement during the late 1980s for the purpose of leakage testing.”[103] In a July 2, 2004, article published by The Associated Press and Fox News, it was reported that sarin gas warheads dating back to the last IranIraq War were found in South Central Iraq by Polish Allies. The Polish troops secured munitions on June 23, 2004,[105] but it turned out that the warheads did not in fact contain sarin gas but “were all empty and tested negative for any type of chemicals”and it transpired that the Poles had bought the shells for $5,000 each.[106] In 2004, hundreds of chemical warheads were recovered from the desert close to the IranIraq border. According to the Washington Post, the munitions “had been buried near the Iranian border, and then long forgotten, by Iraqi troops during their eight-year war with Iran”. Officials did not consider the discovery as evidence of an ongoing weapons program that was believed to be in existence before the invasion began.[107] On June 21, 2006 the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released key points from a classified report provided to them by the National Ground Intelligence Center on the recovery of chemical weapons in Iraq.[108] The declassified summary stated that “Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent”, that chemical munitions “are assessed to still exist” and that they “could be sold on the black market”.[109] All weapons were thought to be manufactured in the 1980s and date to Iraq’s war with Iran.[108] The report prompted US Senator Rick Santorum to hold a press conference in which he declared “We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”[110] During a House Armed Services Committee meeting convened to discuss the topic, the center’s commander, Army Colonel John Chiu, elaborated that the munitions are “badly corroded in most cases [and] some were deliberately dismantled, if you will, to prevent them from being used.”[111] Nonetheless, in response to a question from committee member Curt Weldon, Col. Chui agreed that the munitions met the technical definition of weapons of mass destruction. “These are chemical weapons as defined under the Chemical Weapons Convention and yes, sir, they do constitute weapons of mass destruction.”[112] Weapons expert David Kay, who also appeared before the committee, disagreed with the assessment, contending that any chemical weapon produced by Iraq in the 1980s would not remain a viable weapon of mass destruction today. Kay said the chemical agent, though hazardous, is “less toxic than most things Americans have under their kitchen sink at this point”.[108] Speaking on National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation, weapons expert Charles Duelfer agreed: “We said in the [ISG] report that such chemical munitions would probably still be found. But the ones which have been found are left over from the Iran-Iraq war. They are almost 20 years old, and they are in a decayed fashion. It is very interesting that there are so many that were unaccounted for, but they do not constitute a weapon of mass destruction, although they could be a local hazard.[113] The Iraqi government informed the United Nations in 2014 that insurgents affiliated with the Islamic State terror group had seized control of the Muthana State Establishment, including a chemical weapons depot northwest of Baghdad. The facility was partially destroyed and placed under the supervision of UNSCOM following the 1991 Gulf War. It housed some 2,500 sarin-filled rockets at the time of their departure in 1999. The U.N. said that the munitions were of “poor quality” and “would largely be degraded after years of storage under the conditions existing there.”[114][115] In October 2014, the New York Times reported that U.S. servicemen had been exposed and injured during the disposal and destruction of abandoned 4,990 chemical weapons that had been discovered in Iraq.[116] CBS News reported that the U.S. government had concealed the injuries to the troops by chemical weapons.[117][118] US soldiers reporting exposure to mustard gas and sarin allege they were required to keep their exposure secret, sometimes declined admission to hospital and evacuation home despite the request of their commanders.[118] “We were absolutely told not to talk about it” by a colonel, the former sergeant said.[118] In 2005, the CIA collaborated with the Army Intelligence Corps in contacting an unnamed Iraqi individual who had knowledge and possession of all chemicals WMD stockpiles and munitions in Iraq.[11] The operation was classified from the public and from most of the armed forces.[11] In addition, chemical specialists and ordnance disposal units were assigned to the task to aid in the destruction of recovered WMDs.[11] It is unknown who the individual is who held possession of the weapons, and how they had come into possession. Nonetheless, they cooperated with U.S. intelligence measures and sold all known chemical WMDs to the units heading Operation Avarice. As a result, the CIA and Army intelligence acquired over 400 rockets, missiles, and other chemical weapons in varying states of operation.[11] The unnamed Iraqi individual periodically notified the CIA’s Baghdad headquarters when they had additional weapons to sell. The sales varied in size, with the largest tradeoff being for 150 separate rockets containing chemical agents. Chemical and demolitions experts then destroyed the weapons. Some of the weapons analyzed indicated a concentration of nerve agents far higher than military intelligence had initially expected Iraq held the capabilities to formulate, with the highest “agent purity of up to 25 percent for recovered unitary sarin weapons”, which was considered highly lethal and dangerous.[11] The mission resulted in the largest recovery of chemical weapons during the Iraq war. It was confirmed that these weapons were remnants of the Iraqi weapons program first developed during the Iran-Iraq war and confirmed that the Hussein government had failed to dismantle and dispose WMDs in its possession. The collaboration between American military intelligence and the unnamed Iraqi proprietor resulted in minimal attacks on U.S. military and coalition personnel or Iraqi citizenry from WMDs on a scale seen during the Iran-Iraq war, although minor attacks still occurred.[11] The identity of the Iraqi seller was never ascertained, but there were several theories that he was an official of either the former or current Iraqi government, or perhaps a front for the Iraqi government. The source never revealed where the supply originated from, although it is speculated they came from the city of Amarah, which was used as a forward base against Iranian forces during the 1980s.[11] Military intelligence experienced some difficulty during the mission. At least once the undisclosed seller attempted to sell weapons with fake chemical components. In addition, he once “called the intel guys to tell them he was going to turn [WMDs] over to the insurgents” unless he was paid immediately.[11] However, the mission was overall considered a success for both nonproliferation and for minimizing risk exposure for military personnel on the ground in Iraq.[11] Operation Avarice remained classified for security reasons until 2015.[11] Retired Lieutenant General Richard P. Zahner, the former highest-ranking army intelligence officer in Iraq, praised the operation for having “neutralized what could have become an arsenal used against the US and its allies”.[11] Iraq became a member state of the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2009, declaring “two bunkers with filled and unfilled chemical weapons munitions, some precursors, as well as five former chemical weapons production facilities” according to OPCW Director General Rogelio Pfirter.[119] No plans were announced at that time for the destruction of the material, although it was noted that the bunkers were damaged in the 2003 war and even inspection of the site must be carefully planned. The declaration contained no surprises, OPCW spokesman Michael Luhan indicated. The production facilities were “put out of commission” by airstrikes during the 1991 conflict, while U.N. personnel afterward secured the chemical munitions in the bunkers. Luhan stated at the time: “These are legacy weapons, remnants.” He declined to discuss how many weapons were stored in the bunkers or what materials they contained. The weapons were not believed to be in a usable state.[119] In a study published in 2005,[120] a group of researchers assessed the effects reports and retractions in the media had on people’s memory regarding the search for WMD in Iraq during the 2003 Iraq War. The study focused on populations in two coalition countries (Australia and USA) and one opposed to the war (Germany). This led to three conclusions: A poll conducted between June and September 2003 asked people whether they thought evidence of WMD had been discovered in Iraq since the war ended. They were also asked which media sources they relied upon. Those who obtained their news primarily from Fox News were three times as likely to believe that evidence of WMD had been discovered in Iraq than those who relied on PBS and NPR for their news, and one third more likely than those who primarily watched CBS. Based on a series of polls taken from JuneSeptember 2003.[121]

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Iraq – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 33N 44E / 33N 44E / 33; 44 Iraq (, i, or ; Arabic: al-Irq, Kurdish: raq), officially the Republic of Iraq (Arabic: (helpinfo) Jumhryat al-Irq; Kurdish: Komar-i raq), is a country in Western Asia. The country is bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest, and Syria to the west. The southern part of Iraq is within the Arabian Peninsula. The capital, Baghdad, is in the centre of the country and its largest city. The largest ethnic groups in Iraq are Arabs and Kurds. Other ethnic groups include Assyrians, Turkmen, Shabakis, Yazidis, Armenians, Mandeans, Circassians, and Kawliya.[6] Around 95% of the country’s 36 million citizens are Shia or Sunni Muslims, with Christianity, Yarsan, Yezidism, and Mandeanism also present. Iraq has a narrow section of coastline measuring 58km (36 miles) on the northern Persian Gulf and its territory encompasses the Mesopotamian Alluvial Plain, the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, and the eastern part of the Syrian Desert.[7] Two major rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, run south through the centre of Iraq and flow into the Shatt al-Arab near the Persian Gulf. These rivers provide Iraq with significant amounts of fertile land. The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, historically known as Mesopotamia, is most often referred to as humanity’s cradle of civilisation. It was here that mankind first began to read, write, create laws, and live in cities under an organised governmentnotably Uruk, from which Iraq was derived. The area has been home to continuous successive civilisations since the 6th millennium BC. At different periods in its history, Iraq was the centre of the indigenous Akkadian, Sumerian, Assyrian, and Babylonian empires. It was also part of the Median, Achaemenid, Hellenistic, Parthian, Sassanid, Roman, Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid, Ayyubid, Mongol, Safavid, Afsharid, and Ottoman empires, and under British control as a League of Nations mandate.[8] Iraq’s modern borders were mostly demarcated in 1920 by the League of Nations when the Ottoman Empire was divided by the Treaty of Svres. Iraq was placed under the authority of the United Kingdom as the British Mandate of Mesopotamia. A monarchy was established in 1921 and the Kingdom of Iraq gained independence from Britain in 1932. In 1958, the monarchy was overthrown and the Iraqi Republic was created. Iraq was controlled by the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party from 1968 until 2003. After an invasion by the United States and its allies in 2003, Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party was removed from power and multi-party parliamentary elections were held in 2005. The American presence in Iraq ended in 2011,[9] but the Iraqi insurgency continued and intensified as fighters from the Syrian Civil War spilled into the country. The Arabic name al-Irq has been in use since before the 6th century. There are several suggested origins for the name. One dates to the Sumerian city of Uruk (Biblical Hebrew Erech) and is thus ultimately of Sumerian origin, as Uruk was the Akkadian name for the Sumerian city of Urug, containing the Sumerian word for “city”, UR.[10][11] An Arabic folk etymology for the name is “deeply rooted, well-watered; fertile”.[12] During the medieval period, there was a region called Irq Arab (“Arabian Iraq”) for Lower Mesopotamia and Irq ajam (“Foreign Iraq”),[13] for the region now situated in Central and Western Iran.[14] The term historically included the plain south of the Hamrin Mountains and did not include the northernmost and westernmost parts of the modern territory of Iraq.[15] The term Sawad was also used in early Islamic times for the region of the alluvial plain of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, contrasting it with the arid Arabian desert. As an Arabic word, means “hem”, “shore”, “bank”, or “edge”, so that the name by folk etymology came to be interpreted as “the escarpment”, viz. at the south and east of the Jazira Plateau, which forms the northern and western edge of the “al-Iraq arabi” area.[16] The Arabic pronunciation is [irq]. In English, it is either (the only pronunciation listed in the Oxford English Dictionary and the first one in Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary) or (listed first by MQD), the American Heritage Dictionary, and the Random House Dictionary. The pronunciation is frequently heard in US media. Between 65,000 BC and 35,000 BC northern Iraq was home to a Neanderthal culture, archaeological remains of which have been discovered at Shanidar Cave[17] This same region is also the location of a number of pre-Neolithic cemeteries, dating from approximately 11,000 BC.[18] Since approximately 10,000 BC, Iraq (alongside Asia Minor and The Levant) was one of centres of a Caucasoid Neolithic culture (known as Pre-Pottery Neolithic A) where agriculture and cattle breeding appeared for the first time in the world. The following Neolithic period (PPNB) is represented by rectangular houses. At the time of the pre-pottery Neolithic, people used vessels made of stone, gypsum and burnt lime (Vaisselle blanche). Finds of obsidian tools from Anatolia are evidences of early trade relations. Further important sites of human advancement were Jarmo (circa 7100 BC),[18] the Halaf culture and Ubaid period (between 6500 BC and 3800 BC),[19] these periods show ever increasing levels of advancement in agriculture, tool making and architecture. The historical period in Iraq truly begins during the Uruk period (4000 BC to 3100 BC), with the founding of a number of Sumerian cities, and the use of Pictographs, Cylinder seals and mass-produced goods.[21] The “Cradle of Civilization” is thus a common term for the area comprising modern Iraq as it was home to the earliest known civilisation, the Sumerian civilisation, which arose in the fertile Tigris-Euphrates river valley of southern Iraq in the Chalcolithic (Ubaid period). It was here in the late 4th millennium BC, that the world’s first writing system and recorded history itself were born. The Sumerians were also the first to harness the wheel and create City States, and whose writings record the first evidence of Mathematics, Astronomy, Astrology, Written Law, Medicine and Organised religion. The Sumerians spoke a Language Isolate, in other words, a language utterly unrelated to any other, including the Semitic Languages, Indo-European Languages, Afroasiatic languages or any other isolates. The major city states of the early Sumerian period were; Eridu, Bad-tibira, Larsa, Sippar, Shuruppak, Uruk, Kish, Ur, Nippur, Lagash, Girsu, Umma, Hamazi, Adab, Mari, Isin, Kutha, Der and Akshak. Cities such as Ashur, Arbela (modern Irbil) and Arrapkha (modern Kirkuk) were also extant in what was to be called Assyria from the 25th century BC, however at this early stage they were Sumerian ruled administrative centres. In the 26th century BC, Eannatum of Lagash created what was perhaps the first Empire in history, though this was short lived. Later, Lugal-Zage-Si, the priest-king of Umma, overthrew the primacy of the Lagash dynasty in the area, then conquered Uruk, making it his capital, and claimed an empire extending from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean.[22] It was during this period that the Epic of Gilgamesh originates, which includes the tale of The Great Flood. From approximately 3000 BC, a Semitic people had also entered Iraq from the west and settled amongst the Sumerians. These people spoke an East Semitic language which would later come to be known as Akkadian. From the 29th century BC Akkadian Semitic names began to appear on king lists and administrative documents of various city states. During the 3rd millennium BCE a cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism. The influences between Sumerian and Akkadian are evident in all areas including lexical borrowing on a massive scaleand syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence. This mutual influence has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and Akkadian of the 3rd millennium BCE as a Sprachbund.[23] From this period the civilisation in Iraq came to be known as Sumero-Akkadian. Between the 29th and 24th centuries BC, a number of kingdoms and city states within Iraq began to have Akkadian speaking dynasties; including Assyria, Ekallatum, Isin and Larsa. However, the Sumerians remained generally dominant until the rise of the Akkadian Empire (2335-2124 BC), based in the city of Akkad in central Iraq. Sargon of Akkad, originally a Rabshakeh to a Sumerian king, founded the empire, he conquered all of the city states of southern and central Iraq, and subjugated the kings of Assyria, thus uniting the Sumerians and Akkadians in one state. He then set about expanding his empire, conquering Gutium, Elam, Cissia and Turukku in Ancient Iran, the Hurrians, Luwians and Hattians of Anatolia, and the Amorites and Eblaites of Ancient Syria. After the collapse of the Akkadian Empire in the late 22nd century BC, the Gutians occupied the south for a few decades, while Assyria reasserted its independence in the north. This was followed by a Sumerian renaissance in the form of the Neo-Sumerian Empire. The Sumerians under king Shulgi conquered almost all of Iraq except the northern reaches of Assyria, and asserted themselves over the Elamites, Gutians and Amorites. An Elamite invasion in 2004 BC brought the Sumerian revival to an end. By the mid 21st century BC the Akkadian speaking kingdom of Assyria, had risen to dominance in northern Iraq, it expanded territorially into the north eastern Levant, central Iraq, and eastern Anatolia, forming the Old Assyrian Empire (circa 2035-1750 BC) under kings such as Puzur-Ashur I, Sargon I, Ilushuma and Erishum I, the latter of whom produced the most detailed set of Written Laws yet written. The south broke up into a number of Akkadian speaking states, Isin, Larsa and Eshnunna being the major ones. During the 20th century BC, the Canaanite speaking Northwest Semitic Amorites began to migrate into southern Mesopotamia. Eventually these Amorites began to set up small petty kingdoms in the south, as well as usurping the thrones of extant city states such as Isin, Larsa and Eshnunna. One of these small kingdoms founded in 1894 BC contained the then small administrative town of Babylon within its borders. It remained insignificant for over a century, overshadowed by older and more powerful states such as Assyria, Elam, Isin, Ehnunna and Larsa. In 1792 BC, an Amorite ruler named Hammurabi came to power in this state, and immediately set about building Babylon from a minor town into a major city, declaring himself its king. Hammurabi conquered the whole of southern and central Iraq, as well as Elam to the east and Mari to the west, then engaged in a protracted war with the Assyrian king Ishme-Dagan for domination of the region, creating the short lived Babylonian Empire. He eventually prevailed over the successor of Ishme-Dagan and subjected Assyria and its Anatolian colonies. It is from the period of Hammurabi that southern Iraq came to be known as Babylonia, while the north had already coalesced into Assyria hundreds of years before. However, his empire was short lived, and rapidly collapsed after his death, with both Assyria and southern Iraq, in the form of the Sealand Dynasty, falling back into native Akkadian hands. The foreign Amorites clung on to power in a once more weak and small Babylonia until it was sacked by the Indo-European speaking Hittite Empire based in Anatolia in 1595 BC. After this, another foreign people, the Language Isolate speaking Kassites, originating in the Zagros Mountains of Ancient Iran, seized control of Babylonia, where they were to rule for almost six hundred years, by far the longest dynasty ever to rule in Babylon. Iraq was from this point divided into three polities; Assyria in the north, Kassite Babylonia in the south central region, and the Sealand Dynasty in the far south. The Sealand Dynasty was finally conquered into Babylonia by the Kassites circa 1380 BC. The Middle Assyrian Empire (13651020 BC) saw Assyria rise to be the most powerful nation in the known world. Beginning with the campaigns of Ashur-uballit I, Assyria destroyed the rival Hurrian-Mitanni Empire, annexed huge swathes of the Hittite Empire for itself, annexed northern Babylonia from the Kassites, forced the Egyptian Empire from the region, and defeated the Elamites, Phrygians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Cilicians, Gutians, Dilmunites and Arameans. At its height the Middle Assyrian Empire stretched from The Caucasus to Dilmun (modern Bahrain), and from the Mediterranean coasts of Phoenicia to the Zagros Mountains of Iran. In 1235 BC, Tukulti-Ninurta I of Assyria took the throne of Babylon, thus becoming the very first native Mesopotamian to rule the state. During the Bronze Age collapse (1200-900 BC) Babylonia was in a state of chaos, dominated for long periods by Assyria and Elam. The Kassites were driven from power by Assyria and Elam, allowing native south Mesopotamian kings to rule Babylonia for the first time, although often subject to Assyrian or Elamite rulers. However, these East Semitic Akkadian kings, were unable to prevent new waves of West Semitic migrants entering southern Iraq, and during the 11th century BC Arameans and Suteans entered Babylonia from The Levant, and these were followed in the late 10th to early 9th century BC by the migrant Chaldeans who were closely related to the earlier Arameans. After a period of comparative decline in Assyria, it once more began to expand with the Neo Assyrian Empire (935605 BC). This was to be the largest and most powerful empire the world had yet seen, and under rulers such as Adad-Nirari II, Ashurnasirpal, Shalmaneser III, Semiramis, Tiglath-pileser III, Sargon II, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal, Iraq became the centre of an empire stretching from Persia, Parthia and Elam in the east, to Cyprus and Antioch in the west, and from The Caucasus in the north to Egypt, Nubia and Arabia in the south. The Arabs are first mentioned in written history (circa 850 BC) as a subject people of Shalmaneser III, dwelling in the Arabian Peninsula. The Chaldeans are first mentioned at this time also. It was during this period that an Akkadian influenced form of Eastern Aramaic was introduced by the Assyrians as the lingua franca of their vast empire, and Mesopotamian Aramaic began to supplant Akkadian as the spoken language of the general populace of both Assyria and Babylonia. The descendant dialects of this tongue survive amongst the Assyrians of northern Iraq to this day. In the late 7th century BC the Assyrian Empire tore itself apart with a series of brutal civil wars, weakening itself to such a degree that a coalition of its former subjects; the Babylonians, Chaldeans, Medes, Persians, Parthians, Scythians and Cimmerians, were able to attack Assyria, finally bringing its empire down by 605 BC.[24] The short lived Neo-Babylonian Empire (620-539 BC) succeeded that of Assyria. It failed to attain the size, power or longevity of its predecessor, however it came to dominate The Levant, Canaan, Arabia, Israel and Judah, and to defeat Egypt. Initially, Babylon was ruled by yet another foreign dynasty, that of the Chaldeans, who had migrated to the region in the late 10th or early 9th century BC. Its greatest king, Nebuchadnezzar II rivalled another non native ruler, the ethnically unrelated Amorite king Hammurabi, as the greatest king of Babylon. However, by 556 BC the Chaldeans had been deposed from power by the Assyrian born Nabonidus and his son and regent Belshazzar. In the 6th century BC, Cyrus the Great of neighbouring Persia defeated the Neo-Babylonian Empire at the Battle of Opis and Iraq was subsumed into the Achaemenid Empire for nearly two centuries. The Achaemenids made Babylon their main capital. The Chaldeans and Chaldea disappeared at around this time, though both Assyria and Babylonia endured and thrived under Achaemenid rule (see Achaemenid Assyria). Little changed under the Persians, having spent three centuries under Assyrian rule, their kings saw themselves as successors to Ashurbanipal, and they retained Assyrian Imperial Aramaic as the language of empire, together with the Assyrian imperial infrastructure, and an Assyrian style of art and architecture. In the late 4th century BC, Alexander the Great conquered the region, putting it under Hellenistic Seleucid rule for over two centuries.[25] The Seleucids introduced the Indo-Anatolian and Greek term Syria to the region. This name had for many centuries been the Indo-European word for Assyria and specifically and only meant Assyria, however the Seleucids also applied it to The Levant (Aramea, causing both the Assyria and the Assyrians of Iraq and the Arameans and The Levant to be called Syria and Syrians/Syriacs in the Greco-Roman world.[26] The Parthians (247 BC 224 AD) from Persia conquered the region during the reign of Mithridates I of Parthia (r. 171138 BC). From Syria, the Romans invaded western parts of the region several times, briefly founding Assyria Provincia in Assyria. Christianity began to take hold in Iraq (particularly in Assyria) between the 1st and 3rd centuries, and Assyria became a centre of Syriac Christianity, the Church of the East and Syriac literature. A number of indigenous independent Neo-Assyrian states evolved in the north during the Parthian era, such as Adiabene, Assur, Osroene and Hatra. A number of Assyrians from Mesopotamia were conscripted into or joined the Roman Army, and the Aramaic language of Assyria and Mesopotamia has been found as far afield as Hadrians Wall in northern Ancient Britain, with inscriptions written by Assyrian and Aramean soldiers of the Roman Empire.[27] The Sassanids of Persia under Ardashir I destroyed the Parthian Empire and conquered the region in 224 AD. During the 240s and 250’s AD the Sassanids gradually conquered the small Neo Assyrian states, culminating with Assur in 256 AD. The region was thus a province of the Sassanid Empire for over four centuries (see also; Asristn), and became the frontier and battle ground between the Sassanid Empire and Byzantine Empire, with both empires weakening each other greatly, paving the way for the Arab-Muslim conquest of Persia in the mid-7th century, The Arab Islamic conquest in the mid-7th century AD established Islam in Iraq and saw a large influx of Arabs. Under the Rashidun Caliphate, the prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, Ali, moved his capital to Kufa when he became the fourth caliph. The Umayyad Caliphate ruled the province of Iraq from Damascus in the 7th century. (However, eventually there was a separate, independent Caliphate of Crdoba in Iberia.) The Abbasid Caliphate built the city of Baghdad in the 8th century as its capital, and the city became the leading metropolis of the Arab and Muslim world for five centuries. Baghdad was the largest multicultural city of the Middle Ages, peaking at a population of more than a million,[28] and was the centre of learning during the Islamic Golden Age. The Mongols destroyed the city during the siege of Baghdad in the 13th century.[29] In 1257 Hulagu Khan amassed an unusually large army, a significant portion of the Mongol Empire’s forces, for the purpose of conquering Baghdad. When they arrived at the Islamic capital, Hulagu Khan demanded surrender but the last Abbasid Caliph Al-Musta’sim refused. This angered Hulagu, and, consistent with Mongol strategy of discouraging resistance, he besieged Baghdad, sacked the city and massacred many of the inhabitants.[30] Estimates of the number of dead range from 200,000 to a million.[31] The Mongols destroyed the Abbasid Caliphate and Baghdad’s House of Wisdom, which contained countless precious and historical documents. The city has never regained its previous pre-eminence as a major centre of culture and influence. Some historians believe that the Mongol invasion destroyed much of the irrigation infrastructure that had sustained Mesopotamia for millennia. Other historians point to soil salination as the culprit in the decline in agriculture.[32] The mid-14th-century Black Death ravaged much of the Islamic world.[33] The best estimate for the Middle East is a death rate of roughly one-third.[34] In 1401 a warlord of Mongol descent, Tamerlane (Timur Lenk), invaded Iraq. After the capture of Baghdad, 20,000 of its citizens were massacred.[35] Timur ordered that every soldier should return with at least two severed human heads to show him (many warriors were so scared they killed prisoners captured earlier in the campaign just to ensure they had heads to present to Timur).[36] Timur also conducted massacres of the indigenous Assyrian Christian population, hitherto still the majority population in northern Mesopotamia, and it was during this time that the ancient Assyrian city of Assur was finally abandoned.[37] During the late 14th and early 15th centuries, the Black Sheep Turkmen ruled the area now known as Iraq. In 1466, the White Sheep Turkmen defeated the Black Sheep and took control. From the earliest 16th century, in 1508, as with all territories of the former White Sheep Turkmen, Iraq fell into the hands of the Iranian Safavids. Owing to the century long Turco-Iranian rivalary between the Safavids and the neighbouring Ottoman Turks, Iraq would be contested between the two for more than a hundred years during the frequent Ottoman-Persian Wars. In the course of the 17th century, in 1639 precisely with the Treaty of Zuhab, most of the territory of present-day Iraq eventually decisively came under the control of Ottoman Empire as the eyalet of Baghdad as a result of wars with neighbouring rivalling Safavid Iran. Throughout most of the period of Ottoman rule (15331918) the territory of present-day Iraq was a battle zone between the rival regional empires and tribal alliances. By the 17th century, the frequent conflicts with the Safavids had sapped the strength of the Ottoman Empire and had weakened its control over its provinces. The nomadic population swelled with the influx of bedouins from Najd, in the Arabian Peninsula. Bedouin raids on settled areas became impossible to curb.[38] During the years 17471831 Iraq was ruled by a Mamluk dynasty of Georgian[39] origin who succeeded in obtaining autonomy from the Ottoman Porte, suppressed tribal revolts, curbed the power of the Janissaries, restored order and introduced a programme of modernisation of economy and military. In 1831, the Ottomans managed to overthrow the Mamluk regime and imposed their direct control over Iraq. The population of Iraq, estimated at 30 million in 800 AD, was only 5 million at the start of the 20th century.[40] During World War I, the Ottomans sided with Germany and the Central Powers. In the Mesopotamian campaign against the Central Powers, British forces invaded the country and initially suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Turkish army during the Siege of Kut (19151916). However, subsequent to this the British began to gain the upper hand, and were further aided by the support of local Arabs and Assyrians. In 1916, the British and French made a plan for the post-war division of Western Asia under the Sykes-Picot Agreement.[41] British forces regrouped and captured Baghdad in 1917, and defeated the Ottomans. An armistice was signed in 1918. During World War I the Ottomans were defeated and driven from much of the area by the United Kingdom during the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The British lost 92,000 soldiers in the Mesopotamian campaign. Ottoman losses are unknown but the British captured a total of 45,000 prisoners of war. By the end of 1918 the British had deployed 410,000 men in the area, of which 112,000 were combat troops.[citation needed] On 11 November 1920 Iraq became a League of Nations mandate under British control with the name “State of Iraq”. The British established the Hashemite king, Faisal I of Iraq, who had been forced out of Syria by the French, as their client ruler. Likewise, British authorities selected Sunni Arab elites from the region for appointments to government and ministry offices.[specify][42][pageneeded] Faced with spiraling costs and influenced by the public protestations of war hero T. E. Lawrence[43] in The Times, Britain replaced Arnold Wilson in October 1920 with new Civil Commissioner Sir Percy Cox.[citation needed] Cox managed to quell a rebellion, yet was also responsible for implementing the fateful policy of close co-operation with Iraq’s Sunni minority.[44] The institution of slavery was abolished in the 1920s.[45] Britain granted independence to the Kingdom of Iraq in 1932,[46] on the urging of King Faisal, though the British retained military bases, local militia in the form of Assyrian Levies, and transit rights for their forces. King Ghazi ruled as a figurehead after King Faisal’s death in 1933, while undermined by attempted military coups, until his death in 1939. Ghazi was followed by his underage son, Faisal II. ‘Abd al-Ilah served as Regent during Faisal’s minority. On 1 April 1941, Rashid Ali al-Gaylani and members of the Golden Square staged a coup d’tat and overthrew the government of ‘Abd al-Ilah. During the subsequent Anglo-Iraqi War, the United Kingdom (which still maintained air bases in Iraq) invaded Iraq for fear that the Rashid Ali government might cut oil supplies to Western nations because of his links to the Axis powers. The war started on 2 May, and the British, together with loyal Assyrian Levies,[47] defeated the forces of Al-Gaylani, forcing an armistice on 31 May. A military occupation followed the restoration of the pre-coup government of the Hashemite monarchy. The occupation ended on 26 October 1947, although Britain was to retain military bases in Iraq until 1954, after which the Assyrian militias were disbanded. The rulers during the occupation and the remainder of the Hashemite monarchy were Nuri as-Said, the autocratic Prime Minister, who also ruled from 19301932, and ‘Abd al-Ilah, the former Regent who now served as an adviser to King Faisal II. In 1958 a coup d’etat known as the 14 July Revolution led to the end of the monarchy. Brigadier General Abd al-Karim Qasim assumed power, but he was overthrown by Colonel Abdul Salam Arif in a February 1963 coup. After his death in 1966 he was succeeded by his brother, Abdul Rahman Arif, who was overthrown by the Ba’ath Party in 1968. Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr became the first Ba’ath President of Iraq but then the movement gradually came under the control of General Saddam Hussein, who acceded to the presidency and control of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), then Iraq’s supreme executive body, in July 1979. After the success of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, President Saddam Hussein initially welcomed the overthrow of the Shah and sought to establish good relations with Ayatollah Khomeini’s new government.[citation needed] However, Khomeini openly called for the spread of the Islamic Revolution to Iraq, arming Shiite and Kurdish rebels against Saddam’s regime and sponsoring assassination attempts on senior Iraqi officials.[citation needed] Following months of cross-border raids between the two countries, Saddam declared war on Iran in September 1980, initiating the IranIraq War (or First Persian Gulf War). Iraq withdrew from Iran in 1982, and for the next six years Iran was on the offensive.[48][pageneeded] The war ended in stalemate in 1988 and cost the lives of between half a million and 1.5 million people.[49] In 1981, Israeli aircraft bombed an Iraqi nuclear materials testing reactor at Osirak and was widely criticised at the United Nations.[50][51] Iraq waged chemical warfare against Iran.[52] In the final stages of IranIraq War, the Ba’athist Iraqi regime led the Al-Anfal Campaign, a genocidal[53] campaign that targeted Iraqi Kurds,[54][55][56] and led to the killing of 50,000100,000 civilians.[57] In August 1990, Iraq invaded and annexed Kuwait. This subsequently led to military intervention by United States-led forces in the First Gulf War. The coalition forces proceeded with a bombing campaign targeting military targets[58][59][60] and then launched a 100-hour-long ground assault against Iraqi forces in Southern Iraq and those occupying Kuwait. Iraq’s armed forces were devastated during the war and shortly after it ended in 1991, Shia and Kurdish Iraqis led several uprisings against Saddam Hussein’s regime, but these were successfully repressed using the Iraqi security forces and chemical weapons. It is estimated that as many as 100,000 people, including many civilians were killed.[61] During the uprisings the US, UK, France and Turkey, claiming authority under UNSCR 688, established the Iraqi no-fly zones to protect Kurdish and Shiite populations from attacks by the Hussein regime’s fixed-wing aircraft (but not helicopters). Iraq was ordered to destroy its chemical and biological weapons and the UN attempted to compel Saddam Hussein’s government to disarm and agree to a ceasefire by imposing additional sanctions on the country in addition to the initial sanctions imposed following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The Iraqi Government’s failure to disarm and agree to a ceasefire resulted in sanctions which remained in place until 2003. Studies dispute the effects of the sanctions on Iraqi civilians.[62][63][64] During the late 1990s, the UN considered relaxing the Iraq sanctions because of the hardships suffered by ordinary Iraqis[citation needed] and attacks on US aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones led to US bombing of Iraq in December 1998. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks the George W. Bush administration began planning the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s government and in October 2002, the US Congress passed the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq. In November 2002 the UN Security Council passed UNSCR 1441 and in March 2003 the US and its allies invaded Iraq. On March 20, 2003, a United States-organized coalition invaded Iraq, under the pretext that Iraq had failed to abandon its weapons of mass destruction program in violation of U.N. Resolution 687. This claim was based on documents provided by the CIA and British government[65] and were later found to be unreliable.[66][67] Following the invasion, the United States established the Coalition Provisional Authority to govern Iraq. In May 2003 L. Paul Bremer, the chief executive of the CPA, issued orders to exclude Baath Party members from the new Iraqi government (CPA Order 1) and to disband the Iraqi Army (CPA Order 2).[68] The decision dissolved the largely Sunni Iraqi Army[69] and excluded many of the country’s former government officials from participating in the country’s governance including 40,000 school teachers who had joined the Baath Party simply to keep their jobs,[70] helping to bring about a chaotic post-invasion environment.[71] An insurgency against the US-led coalition-rule of Iraq began in summer 2003 within elements of the former Iraqi secret police and army who formed guerilla units. In fall 2003, also self-entitled jihadist groups began targeting coalition forces. Various Sunni militias were created in 2003, for example Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The insurgency included intense inter-ethnic violence between Sunnis and Shias.[72] The Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal came to light, late 2003 in reports by Amnesty International and Associated Press. The Mahdi Armya Shia militia created in the summer of 2003 by Muqtada al-Sadr[73]began to fight Coalition forces in April 2004.[73] 2004 saw Sunni and Shia militants fighting against each other and against the new Iraqi Interim Government installed June 2004, and against Coalition forces, as well as the First Battle of Fallujah in April and Second Battle of Fallujah in November. Sunni militia Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad became Al-Qaeda in Iraq in October 2004 and targeted Coalition forces as well as civilians, mainly Shia Muslims, further exacerbating ethnic tensions.[74] In January 2005 the first elections since the invasion took place and in October a new Constitution was approved which was followed by parliamentary elections in December. Insurgent attacks were common however and increased to 34,131 in 2005 from 26,496 in 2004.[75] During 2006 fighting continued and reached its highest levels of violence, more war crimes scandals were made public, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq was killed by US forces and Iraq’s former dictator Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death for crimes against humanity and hanged.[76][77][78] In late 2006 the US government’s Iraq Study Group recommended that the US begin focusing on training Iraqi military personnel and in January 2007 US President George W. Bush announced a “Surge” in the number of US troops deployed to the country.[79] In May 2007 Iraq’s Parliament called on the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal[80] and US coalition partners such as the UK and Denmark began withdrawing their forces from the country.[81][82] The war in Iraq has resulted in between 151,000 and 1.2 million Iraqis being killed.[83][84] In 2008 fighting continued and Iraq’s newly trained armed forces launched attacks against militants. The Iraqi government signed the USIraq Status of Forces Agreement which required US forces to withdraw from Iraqi cities by 30 June 2009 and to withdraw completely out of Iraq by 31 December 2011. US troops handed over security duties to Iraqi forces in June 2009, though they continued to work with Iraqi forces after the pullout.[85] On the morning of 18 December 2011, the final contingent of US troops to be withdrawn ceremonially exited over the border to Kuwait.[9] Crime and violence initially spiked in the months following the US withdrawal from cities in mid-2009[86][87] but despite the initial increase in violence, in November 2009, Iraqi Interior Ministry officials reported that the civilian death toll in Iraq fell to its lowest level since the 2003 invasion.[88] Following the withdrawal of US troops in 2011 the insurgency continued and Iraq suffered from political instability. In February 2011 the Arab Spring protests spread to Iraq;[89] but the initial protests did not topple the government. The Iraqi National Movement, reportedly representing the majority of Iraqi Sunnis, boycotted Parliament for several weeks in late 2011 and early 2012, claiming that the Shiite-dominated government was striving to sideline Sunnis. In 2012 and 2013 levels of violence increased and armed groups inside Iraq were increasingly galvanised by the Syrian Civil War. Both Sunnis and Shias crossed the border to fight in Syria.[90] In December 2012, mainly Sunni Arabs protested against the government who they claimed marginalised them.[91][92] During 2013 Sunni militant groups stepped up attacks targeting the Iraq’s Shia population in an attempt to undermine confidence in the Nouri al-Maliki-led government.[93] In 2014 Sunni insurgents belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group seized control of large swathes of land including several major Iraqi cities, like Tikrit, Fallujah and Mosul creating hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons amid reports of atrocities by ISIL fighters.[94] After an inconclusive election in April 2014, Nouri al-Maliki served as caretaker-Prime-Minister.[95] On 11 August, Iraqs highest court ruled that PM Malikis bloc is biggest in parliament, meaning Maliki could stay Prime Minister.[95] By 13 August, however, the Iraqi president had tasked Haider al-Abadi with forming a new government, and the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and some Iraqi politicians expressed their wish for a new leadership in Iraq, for example from Haider al-Abadi.[96] Maliki on 14 August stepped down as PM, to support Mr al-Abadi and to safeguard the high interests of the country. The US government welcomed this as another major step forward in uniting Iraq.[97][98] On September 9, 2014, Haider al-Abadi had formed a new government and became the new prime minister.[citation needed] Intermittent conflict between Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish factions has led to increasing debate about the splitting of Iraq into three autonomous regions, including Kurdistan in the northeast, a Sunnistan in the west and a Shiastan in the southeast.[99] Iraq lies between latitudes 29 and 38 N, and longitudes 39 and 49 E (a small area lies west of 39). Spanning 437,072km2 (168,754sqmi), it is the 58th-largest country in the world. It is comparable in size to the US state of California, and somewhat larger than Paraguay. Iraq mainly consists of desert, but near the two major rivers (Euphrates and Tigris) are fertile alluvial plains, as the rivers carry about 60,000,000m3 (78,477,037cuyd) of silt annually to the delta. The north of the country is mostly composed of mountains; the highest point being at 3,611m (11,847ft) point, unnamed on the map opposite, but known locally as Cheekah Dar (black tent). Iraq has a small coastline measuring 58km (36mi) along the Persian Gulf. Close to the coast and along the Shatt al-Arab (known as arvandrd: among Iranians) there used to be marshlands, but many were drained in the 1990s. Most of Iraq has a hot arid climate with subtropical influence. Summer temperatures average above 40C (104F) for most of the country and frequently exceed 48C (118.4F). Winter temperatures infrequently exceed 21C (69.8F) with maxima roughly 15 to 19C (59.0 to 66.2F) and night-time lows 2 to 5C (35.6 to 41.0F). Typically precipitation is low; most places receive less than 250mm (9.8in) annually, with maximum rainfall occurring during the winter months. Rainfall during the summer is extremely rare, except in the far north of the country. The northern mountainous regions have cold winters with occasional heavy snows, sometimes causing extensive flooding. The federal government of Iraq is defined under the current Constitution as a democratic, federal parliamentary Islamic republic. The federal government is composed of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as numerous independent commissions. Aside from the federal government, there are regions (made of one or more governorates), governorates, and districts within Iraq with jurisdiction over various matters as defined by law. The National Alliance is the main Shia parliamentary bloc, and was established as a result of a merger of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s State of Law Coalition and the Iraqi National Alliance.[100] The Iraqi National Movement is led by Iyad Allawi, a secular Shia widely supported by Sunnis. The party has a more consistent anti-sectarian perspective than most of its rivals.[100] The Kurdistan List is dominated by two parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party led by Masood Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan headed by Jalal Talabani. Both parties are secular and enjoy close ties with the West.[100] In 2010, according to the Failed States Index, Iraq was the world’s seventh most politically unstable country.[101][102] The concentration of power in the hands of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and growing pressure on the opposition led to growing concern about the future of political rights in Iraq.[103] Nevertheless, progress was made and the country had risen to 11th place by 2013.[104] In August 2014 al-Maliki’s reign came to an end. He announced on 14 August 2014 he would stand aside so Haider Al-Abadi, who had been nominated just days earlier by newly installed President Fuad Masum, could take over. Until that point al-Maliki had clung to power even asking the federal court to veto the president’s nomination describing it as a violation of the constitution.[105] Since the establishment of the nofly zones following the Gulf War of 19901991, the Kurds established their own autonomous region.. In October 2005, the new Constitution of Iraq was approved in a referendum with a 78% overall majority, although the percentage of support varying widely between the country’s territories.[106] The new constitution was backed by the Shia and Kurdish communities, but was rejected by Arab Sunnis. Under the terms of the constitution, the country conducted fresh nationwide parliamentary elections on December 15, 2005. All three major ethnic groups in Iraq voted along ethnic lines, as did Assyrian and Turcoman minorities. Law no. 188 of the year 1959 (Personal Status Law)[107] made polygamy extremely difficult, granted child custody to the mother in case of divorce, prohibited repudiation and marriage under the age of 16.[108] Article 1 of Civil Code also identifies Islamic law as a formal source of law.[109] Iraq had no Sharia courts but civil courts used Sharia for issues of personal status including marriage and divorce. In 1995 Iraq introduced Sharia punishment for certain types of criminal offences.[110] The code is based on French civil law as well as Sunni and Jafari (Shiite) interpretations of Sharia.[111] In 2004, the CFA chief executive L. Paul Bremer said he would veto any constitutional draft stating that sharia is the principal basis of law.[112] The declaration enraged many local Shia clerics,[113] and by 2005 the United States had relented, allowing a role for sharia in the constitution to help end a stalemate on the draft constitution.[114] The Iraqi Penal Code is the statutory law of Iraq. Iraqi security forces are composed of forces serving under the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense, as well as the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Bureau, reporting directly to the Prime Minister of Iraq, which oversees the Iraqi Special Operations Forces. Ministry of Defense forces include the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Air Force and the Iraqi Navy. The Peshmerga are a separate armed force loyal to the Kurdistan Regional Government. The regional government and the central government disagree as to whether they are under Baghdad’s authority and to what extent.[115] The Iraqi Army is an objective counter-insurgency force that as of November 2009 includes 14 divisions, each division consisting of 4 brigades.[116] It is described as the most important element of the counter-insurgency fight.[117] Light infantry brigades are equipped with small arms, machine guns, RPGs, body armour and light armoured vehicles. Mechanized infantry brigades are equipped with T-54/55 main battle tanks and BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles.[117] As of mid-2008, logistical problems included a maintenance crisis and ongoing supply problems.[118] The Iraqi Air Force is designed to support ground forces with surveillance, reconnaissance and troop lift. Two reconnaissance squadrons use light aircraft, three helicopter squadrons are used to move troops and one air transportation squadron uses C-130 transport aircraft to move troops, equipment, and supplies. It currently has 3,000 personnel. It is planned to increase to 18,000 personnel, with 550 aircraft by 2018.[117] The Iraqi Navy is a small force with 1,500 sailors and officers, including 800 Marines, designed to protect shoreline and inland waterways from insurgent infiltration. The navy is also responsible for the security of offshore oil platforms. The navy will have coastal patrol squadrons, assault boat squadrons and a marine battalion.[117] The force will consist of 2,000 to 2,500 sailors by year 2010.[119] On November 17, 2008, the US and Iraq agreed to a Status of Forces Agreement,[120] as part of the broader Strategic Framework Agreement.[121] This agreement states “the Government of Iraq requests” US forces to temporarily remain in Iraq to “maintain security and stability,” and that Iraq has jurisdiction over military contractors, and US personnel when not on US bases or onduty. On 12 February 2009, Iraq officially became the 186th State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Under the provisions of this treaty, Iraq is considered a party with declared stockpiles of chemical weapons. Because of their late accession, Iraq is the only State Party exempt from the existing timeline for destruction of their chemical weapons. Specific criteria is in development to address the unique nature of Iraqi accession.[122] IranIraq relations have flourished since 2005 by the exchange of high level visits: Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki made frequent visits to Iran, along with Jalal Talabani visiting numerous times, to help boost bilateral co-operation in all fields.[citation needed] A conflict occurred in December 2009, when Iraq accused Iran of seizing an oil well on the border.[123] Relationships with Turkey are tense, largely because of the Kurdistan Regional Government, as clashes between Turkey and the PKK continue.[124] In October 2011, the Turkish parliament renewed a law that gives Turkish forces the ability to pursue rebels over the border in Iraq.”[125] Relations between Iraq and its Kurdish population have been sour in recent history, especially with Saddam Hussein’s genocidal campaign against them in the 1980s. After uprisings during the early 90s, many Kurds fled their homeland and no-fly zones were established in northern Iraq to prevent more conflicts. Despite historically poor relations, some progress has been made, and Iraq elected its first Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, in 2005. Furthermore, Kurdish is now an official language of Iraq alongside Arabic according to Article 4 of the constitution.[126] LGBT rights in Iraq remain limited. Although decriminalised, homosexuality remains stigmatised in Iraqi society.[127] Targeting people because of their gender identity or sexual orientation is not uncommon and is usually carried out in the name of family honour. People who dress in emo style are mistakenly associated with homosexuality and may suffer the same fate.[128] A BBC article published in 2009, which includes interviews of homosexual and transgendered Iraqis, suggests that LGBT people were less subject to violence under Hussein’s regime.[129] Iraq is composed of nineteen governorates (or provinces) (Arabic: muhafadhat (singular muhafadhah); Kurdish: Prizgah). The governorates are subdivided into districts (or qadhas). Iraqi Kurdistan (Erbil, Dohuk, Sulaymaniyah and Halabja) is the only legally defined region within Iraq, with its own government and quasi-official army Peshmerga. Iraq’s economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided about 95% of foreign exchange earnings. The lack of development in other sectors has resulted in 18%30% unemployed and a depressed per capita GDP of $4,000.[2] Public sector employment accounted for nearly 60% of full-time employment in 2011.[130] The oil export industry, which dominates the Iraqi economy, generates very little employment.[130] Currently only a modest percentage of women (the highest estimate for 2011 was 22%) participate in the labour force.[130] Prior to US occupation, Iraq’s centrally planned economy prohibited foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses, ran most large industries as state-owned enterprises, and imposed large tariffs to keep out foreign goods.[131] After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority quickly began issuing many binding orders privatising Iraq’s economy and opening it up to foreign investment.

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March 26, 2016   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

Iraq – The Washington Post

both: rk, rk or Irak Iraq’s only outlet to the sea is a short stretch of coast on the northwestern end of the Persian Gulf, including the Shatt al Arab waterway. Basra and Umm Qasr are the main ports. Iraq is approximately coextensive with ancient Mesopotamia. The southwest, part of the Syrian Desert, supports a small population of nomadic shepherds. In the rest of the country, life centers on the great southeast-flowing rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, which come together in the Shatt al Arab at the head of the Persian Gulf. The marshy delta was largely drained in the early 1990s as part of a government program to control the Marsh Arabs, who had participated in the Shiite uprising against Saddam Hussein; marsh restoration efforts began in 2003, and by 2006 roughly half the area had been restored. Between the two rivers are numerous wadis and water basins. Very little rainfall occurs in Iraq except in the northeast, and agriculture mainly depends upon river water. The sandy soil and steady heat of the southeast enable a large date crop and much cotton to be produced. The rivers cause destructive floods, though they occur less often as a result of flood-control projects undertaken since the 1950s. Farther upstream, as the elevation increases, rainfall becomes sufficient to grow diversified crops, including grains and vegetables. In the mountainous north the economy shifts from agriculture to oil production, notably in the great fields near Mosul and Kirkuk. Nearly 80% of the population of Iraq is Arabic-speaking, while over 95% is Muslim (Sunni and Shiite) in religion. There are about twice as many Shiites as Sunnis, the latter sect being more numerous throughout the majority of Arab countries. The hilly uplands of NE Iraq are primarily inhabited by Kurds, who are Sunni Muslims; other large minorities of Iraq include Turkomans (Turks), Armenians, and Assyrians (Nestorian Christians). Most of the country’s once large Jewish population emigrated to Israel in the early 1950s. As a result of the insurgent and sectarian fighting that occurred following the U.S. occupation of Iraq in 2003, an estimated 1.6 to 2 million Iraqis had left Iraq by the end of 2006, mainly to neighboring Jordan or Syria; a similar number had relocated within Iraq. Among those who have left are an estimated two thirds of Iraq’s Christians. The oil industry dominates Iraq’s economy, traditionally accounting for nearly 95% of the country’s revenues. Oil is produced mainly by the Iraq Petroleum Company, which was owned by an international group of investors until it was nationalized in 1972. The oil is piped to Turkey, Tripoli (Lebanon), Baniyas (Syria), and the Persian Gulf. Oil exports, which had suffered during the Iran-Iraq War, improved during the late 1980s, only to be severely decreased by embargoes related to the Persian Gulf War. In 1996, a UN agreement allowed Iraq to export oil for the first time since 1990; by the 2002, oil production was about 70% of what it was in the 1970s. Following the U.S. invasion in 2003, oil production slowly returned to about 80% to 95% of what it had been in 2002. Aside from petroleum production and refining, Iraq has a small, diversified industrial sector, including the production of chemicals, textiles, cement, food products, construction materials, leather goods, and machinery. New industries have been started in electronics products, fertilizers, and refined sugar. Agricultural production, which employs about a third of the workforce, is not sufficient to meet the country’s food requirements. Iraq’s chief crops include wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, dates (Iraq is one of the world’s largest producers), and cotton. Cattle and sheep are also raised. Iraq has been highly dependent on foreign economic aid in recent years, from both Western and Arab countries. The country also has a severe labor shortage. The Baghdad Railway, long an important means of communication, is declining in importance in favor of travel by road and air. There are international airports at Baghdad and Basra, and a state-owned airline operates within Iraq and abroad. Iraq is a veritable treasure house of antiquities, and recent archaeological excavations have greatly expanded the knowledge of ancient history. Prior to the Arab conquest in the 7th cent. AD, Iraq had been the site of a number of flourishing civilizations, including the Sumer, which developed one of the earliest known writing systems, Akkad, Babylonia, and Assyria. The capital of the Abbasid caliphate was established at Baghdad in the 8th cent. and the city became a famous center for learning and the arts. Despite fierce resistance, Mesopotamia fell to the Ottoman Turks in the 16th cent. and passed under direct Ottoman administration in the 19th cent. (see Ottoman Empire, when it came to constitute the three Turkish provinces of Basra, Baghdad, and Mosul. At this time the area became of great interest to the European powers, especially the Germans, who wanted to extend the Berlin-Baghdad railroad all the way to the port of Kuwait. In World War I the British invaded Iraq in their war against the Ottoman Empire; Britain declared then that it intended to return to Iraq some control of its own affairs. Nationalist elements, impatient over delay in gaining independence, revolted in 1920 but were suppressed by the British. Late that year the Treaty of Svres established Iraq as a mandate of the League of Nations under British administration, and in 1921 the country was made a kingdom headed by Faisal I. With strong reluctance an elected Iraqi assembly agreed in 1924 to a treaty with Great Britain providing for the maintenance of British military bases and for a British right of veto over legislation. By 1926 an Iraqi parliament and administration were governing the country. The treaty of 1930 provided for a 25-year alliance with Britain. The British mandate was terminated in 1932, and Iraq was admitted to the League of Nations.

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March 18, 2015   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

UN Finds Credible Evidence Linking ISIS to Israel, US Invasion of Iraq – Video




UN Finds Credible Evidence Linking ISIS to Israel, US Invasion of Iraq www.undergroundworldnews.com In a new report from the UN, it is revealed that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were maintaining regular contact with members … By: J.KNIGHT

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February 13, 2015   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

Chris Bollyn – Israel Behind the 9/11 Attacks & Iraq Wars – Video




Chris Bollyn – Israel Behind the 9/11 Attacks Iraq Wars Veritas Vincit Omnia ~ http://www.bollyn.com/solving-9-11-the-book Solving 9 -11: The Deception that Changed the World – Online Book. By: Veritas Vincit Omnia

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February 5, 2015   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed


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