Iraq

Introduction Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq was occupied by Britain during the course of World War I; in 1920, it was declared a League of Nations mandate under UK administration. In stages over the next dozen years, Iraq attained its independence as a kingdom in 1932. A "republic" was proclaimed in 1958, but in actuality a series of military strongmen ruled the country until 2003, the last was SADDAM Husayn. Territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive and costly eight-year war (1980-88). In August 1990, Iraq seized Kuwait, but was expelled by US-led, UN coalition forces during the Gulf War of January-February 1991. Following Kuwait's liberation, the UN Security Council (UNSC) required Iraq to scrap all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles and to allow UN verification inspections. Continued Iraqi noncompliance with UNSC resolutions over a period of 12 years led to the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the ouster of the SADDAM Husayn regime. Coalition forces remain in Iraq under a UNSC mandate, helping to provide security and to support the freely elected government. The Coalition Provisional Authority, which temporarily administered Iraq after the invasion, transferred full governmental authority on 28 June 2004 to the Iraqi Interim Government, which governed under the Transitional Administrative Law for Iraq (TAL). Under the TAL, elections for a 275-member Transitional National Assembly (TNA) were held in Iraq on 30 January 2005. Following these elections, the Iraqi Transitional Government (ITG) assumed office. The TNA was charged with drafting Iraq's permanent constitution, which was approved in a 15 October 2005 constitutional referendum. An election under the constitution for a 275-member Council of Representatives (CoR) was held on 15 December 2005. The CoR approval in the selection of most of the cabinet ministers on 20 May 2006 marked the transition from the ITG to Iraq's first constitutional government in nearly a half-century.
History

Ancient Mesopotamia

The region of Iraq was historically known as Mesopotamia (Greek: "between the rivers"). It was home to the world's first known civilization, the Sumerian culture, followed by the Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian cultures, whose influence extended into neighboring regions as early as 5000 BC. These civilizations produced some of the earliest writing and some of the first sciences, mathematics, laws and philosophies of the world; hence its common epithet, the "Cradle of Civilization".

In the sixth century BC, Cyrus the Great conquered the Neo-Babylonian Empire, and Mesopotamia was subsumed in the Achaemenid Persian Empire for nearly four centuries. Alexander the Great conquered the region again, putting it under Macedonian rule for nearly two centuries. A Central Asian tribe of ancient Iranian peoples known as the Parthians later annexed the region, followed by the Sassanid Persians. The region remained a province of the Persian Empire for nine centuries, until the 7th century.

Islamic Caliphate

Beginning in the seventh century AD, Islam spread to what is now Iraq during the Islamic conquest of Persia, led by the Muslim Arab commander Khalid ibn al-Walid. Under the Rashidun Caliphate, the prophet Mohammed's cousin and son-in-law Ali moved his capital to Kufa "fi al-Iraq" 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 Cordoba.)

The Abbasid Caliphate built the city of Baghdad in the 8th century as their capital, and it 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, and was the centre of learning during the Islamic Golden Age. The Mongols destroyed the city during the sack of Baghdad in the 13th century.

Mongol Conquest

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 demanded surrender but the caliph refused. This angered Hulagu, and, consistent with Mongol strategy of discouraging resistance, Baghdad was decimated. Estimates of the number of dead range from 200,000 to a million.

The Mongols destroyed the Abbasid Caliphate and The Grand Library of Baghdad (Arabic بيت الحكمة Bayt al-Hikma, lit., House of Wisdom), which contained countless, precious, historical documents. The city would never regain its status as major center of culture and influence.

In 1401, warlord of Turco-Mongol descent Tamerlane (Timur Lenk) invaded Iraq. After the capture of Bagdad, 20,000 of its citizens were massacred. 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).

Ottoman Empire

Later, the Ottoman Turks took Baghdad from the Persians in 1535. The Ottomans lost Baghdad to the Iranian Safavids in 1609, and took it back in 1632. From 1747 to 1831, Iraq was ruled, with short intermissions, by the Mamluk officers of Georgian origin who enjoyed local autonomy from the Sublime Porte.[8] In 1831, the direct Ottoman rule was imposed and lasted until World War I, during which the Ottomans sided with Germany and the Central Powers.

During World War I the Ottomans were 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, though only 112,000 were combat troops.

During World War I the British and French divided the Middle East in the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The Treaty of Sèvres, which was ratified in the Treaty of Lausanne, led to the advent of the modern Middle East and Republic of Turkey. The League of Nations granted France mandates over Syria and Lebanon and granted the United Kingdom mandates over Iraq and Palestine (which then consisted of two autonomous regions: Palestine and Transjordan). Parts of the Ottoman Empire on the Arabian Peninsula became parts of what are today Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

British Mandate of Mesopotamia

At the end of World War I, the League of Nations granted the area to the United Kingdom as a mandate. It initially formed two former Ottoman vilayets (regions): Baghdad, and Basra into a single country in August 1921. Five years later, in 1926, the northern vilayet of Mosul was added, forming the territorial boundaries of the modern Iraqi state.

For three out of four centuries of Ottoman rule, Baghdad was the seat of administration for the vilayets of Baghdad, Mosul, and Basra. During the mandate, British colonial administrators ruled the country, and through the use of British armed forces, suppressed Arab and Kurdish rebellions against the occupation. They established the Hashemite king, Faisal, 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][9]

Hashemite monarchy

Britain granted independence to Iraq in 1932, on the urging of King Faisal, though the British retained military bases and transit rights for their forces. King Ghazi of Iraq ruled as a figurehead after King Faisal's death in 1933, while undermined by attempted military coups, until his death in 1939. The United Kingdom invaded Iraq in 1941, for fear that the government of Rashid Ali al-Gaylani might cut oil supplies to Western nations, and because of his strong ideological leanings to Nazi Germany. A military occupation followed the restoration of the Hashemite monarchy, and the occupation ended on October 26, 1947. The rulers during the occupation and the remainder of the Hashemite monarchy were Nuri al-Said, the autocratic prime minister, who also ruled from 1930–1932, and 'Abd al-Ilah, an advisor to the king Faisal II.

Republic of Iraq

The reinstated Hashemite monarchy lasted until 1958, when it was overthrown by a coup d'etat of the Iraqi Army, known as the 14 July Revolution. The coup brought Brigadier General Abdul Karim Qassim to power. He withdrew from the Baghdad Pact and established friendly relations with the Soviet Union, but his government lasted only until 1963, when it was overthrown by Colonel Abdul Salam Arif. Salam Arif died in 1966 and his brother, Abdul Rahman Arif, assumed the presidency. In 1968, Rahman Arif was overthrown by the Arab Socialist Baath Party. This movement gradually came under the control of Saddam Hussein 'Abd al-Majid al Tikriti, who acceded to the presidency and control of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), then Iraq's supreme executive body, in July 1979, while killing many of his opponents.

Saddam Hussein

In 1979, Saddam Hussein took power as Iraqi President, after killing and arresting his leadership rivals. Shortly after taking power, the political situation in Iraq's neighbour Iran changed drastically after the success of the Islamic Revolution of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, which resulted in a Shi'ite Muslim theocratic state being established. This was a dangerous change in the eyes of the Iraqi government, as Iraq had a Shi'ite majority, but was ruled by Hussein's Sunni Muslim dominated regime. In 1980, Hussein claimed that Iranian forces were trying to topple his government and declared war on Iran. Saddam Hussein supported the Iranian Islamic socialist organization called the People's Mujahedin of Iran which opposed the Iranian government. During the Iran-Iraq War Iraqi forces attacked Iranian soldiers and civilians with chemical weapons. Hussein's regime was notorious for its human rights abuses; for instance, during the Al-Anfal campaign as well as attacks on Kurd civilians inside Iraq, such as the Halabja massacre, as punishment for elements of Kurdish support of Iran. The war ended in stalemate in 1988, largely due to American and Western support for Iraq. This was part of the US policy of "dual containment" of Iraq and Iran.

In 1977, the Iraqi government ordered the construction of Osirak (also spelled Osiraq) at the Al Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center, 18 km (11 miles) south-east of Baghdad. It was a 40 MW light-water nuclear materials testing reactor (MTR). In 1981, Israeli aircraft bombed the facility, in order to prevent the country from using the reactor for creation of nuclear weapons.

In 1990, faced with economic disaster following the end of the Iran-Iraq War, Saddam Hussein looked to the oil-rich neighbour of Kuwait as a target to invade to use its resources and money to rebuild Iraq's economy. The Iraqi government claimed that Kuwait was illegally slant drilling its oil pipelines into Iraqi territory which it demanded be stopped, Kuwait rejected the notion that it was slant drilling and Iraq followed this in August 1990 with the invasion of Kuwait. Upon successfully occupying Kuwait, Hussein declared that Kuwait had ceased to exist and it was to be part of Iraq, against heavy objections from many countries and the United Nations.

The UN agreed to pass sanctions against Iraq and demanded its immediate withdrawal from Kuwait. Iraq refused and the UN Security Council in 1991 unanimously voted for military action against Iraq. The United States, which had enormous vested interests in the oil supplies of the Middle East led an international coalition into Kuwait and Iraq. The coalition forces entered the war with more advanced weaponry than that of Iraq, though Iraq's army was the largest armed force in the Middle East at the time. Despite a large arsenal of military forces, the Iraqi army stood no match to the advanced weaponry of the coalition forces and the air superiority which the U.S. Air Force provided. Iraq responded to the invasion by launching SCUD missile attacks against Israel and Saudi Arabia. Hussein hoped that by attacking Israel, the Israeli military would be drawn into the war, which he believed would rally anti-Israeli sentiment in neighbouring Arab countries to support Iraq. However Hussein's gamble failed as Israel reluctantly accepted U.S. demand for Israel to remain out of the conflict to avoid inflaming tensions. Iraqi armed forces were quickly destroyed and Hussein eventually accepted the inevitable and ordered a withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, but before they were to do so, he ordered them to sabotage Kuwait's oil wells, which resulted in hundreds of wells being set ablaze causing an economic and ecological disaster in Kuwait.

The aftermath of the war saw the Iraqi military, especially its air force destroyed. In turn for peace, Iraq was forced to accept "no-fly zones", the dismantlement of all chemical and biological weapons it possessed, and end any attempt to create or purchase nuclear weapons, to be insured by the allowance of UN weapons inspectors to evaluate the dismantlement of such weapons. And finally, Iraq would face sanctions if it disobeyed any of the demands. Shortly after the war ended in 1991, Shia Muslim Iraqis engaged in protests against Hussein's regime, but Hussein responded with violent repression against Shia Muslims and the protests came to an end. After the war, Iraq on a number of occasions through the 1990s was accused of breaking its obligations including the discovery in 1993, of a plan to assasinate former President George H. W. Bush, in which sanctions were imposed and military action was taken by U.S. forces against Iraq.

Critics estimate that more than 500,000 Iraqi children died as a result of the sanctions.[13] The U.S. and the UK declared no-fly zones over Kurdish northern and Shiite southern Iraq to oversee the Kurds and southern Shiites.[specify]

Invasion by American-led Coalition forces

20 March 2003, a United States-organized coalition invaded Iraq, with the stated reason that Iraq had failed to abandon its nuclear and chemical weapons development program in violation of United Nations resolution 687. When Iraq invaded Kuwait during the first Gulf War, the United Nations Security Council, under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, adopted resolution 678, authorizing U.N. member states to use "all necessary means" to "restore international peace and security in the area." After Iraq was expelled from Kuwait the United Nations passed a cease-fire resolution 687. The agreement included provisions obligating Iraq to discontinue its nuclear weapons program. The United States asserted that because Iraq was in "material breach" of resolution 687, the armed forces authorization of resolution 678 was revived.

The United States gave further justification for the invasion of Iraq in claims that Iraq had or was developing weapons of mass destruction and the opportunity to remove an oppressive dictator from power and bring democracy to Iraq. In his State of Union Address on 29 January, 2002, the American President George W. Bush declared that Iraq was a member of the "axis of evil", and that, like North Korea and Iran, Iraq's attempt to acquire weapons of mass destruction gave credence to the claim that the Iraqi government posed a serious threat to America's national security. He added, "Iraq continues to flaunt its hostilities toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade... This is a regime that agreed to international inspections—then kicked out inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world... By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes [Iran, Iraq and North Korea] pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred."[14] However, no Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have been found since the invasion.[15]

Post-invasion

Following the invasion, the United States established the Coalition Provisional Authority to govern Iraq.[16] Government authority was transferred to an Iraqi Interim Government in June 2004 and a permanent government was elected in October 2005. More than 140,000 Coalition troops remain in Iraq.

Studies have placed the number of civilians deaths as high as 655,000 (see The Lancet study), although most studies have put the number much lower; the Iraq Body Count project has a figure of less than 10% of The Lancet Study, though IBC organizers acknowledge that their statistics are an undercount as they base their information off of media-confirmed deaths. The website of the Iraq body count states, "Our maximum therefore refers to reported deaths - which can only be a sample of true deaths unless one assumes that every civilian death has been reported. It is likely that many if not most civilian casualties will go unreported by the media."

After the invasion, al-Qaeda took advantage of the insurgency to entrench itself in the country concurrently with an Arab-Sunni led insurgency and sectarian violence.

On December 30, 2006, Saddam Hussein was hanged.[18] Hussein's half-brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Hassan and former chief judge of the Revolutionary Court Awad Hamed al-Bandar were likewise executed on January 15, 2007;[19] as was Taha Yassin Ramadan, Saddam's former deputy and former vice-president (originally sentenced to life in prison but later to death by hanging), on March 20, 2007.[20] Ramadan was the fourth and last man in the al-Dujail trial to die by hanging for crimes against humanity.

At the Anfal genocide trial, Saddam's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid (aka Chemical Ali), former defense minister Sultan Hashim Ahmed al-Tay, and former deputy Hussein Rashid Mohammed were sentenced to hang for their role in the Al-Anfal Campaign against the Kurds on June 24, 2007[citation needed].

Acts of sectarian violence have led to claims of ethnic cleansing in Iraq, and there have been many attacks on Iraqi minorities such as the Yezidis, Mandeans, Assyrians and others.[21]

In 2007 Foreign Policy Magazine named Iraq as the second most unstable nation in the world after Sudan.[22]

Although violence has declined from the summer of 2007,[23] the U.N. reported of a cholera outbreak in Iraq.[24]

Iraqi diaspora

The dispersion of native Iraqis to other countries is known as the Iraqi diaspora. There have been many large-scale waves of emigration from Iraq, beginning early in the regime of Saddam Hussein and continuing through to 2007. The UN High Commission for Refugees has estimated that nearly two million Iraqis have fled the country in recent years, mostly to Jordan and Syria.[25] Although some expatriates returned to Iraq after the 2003 invasion, the flow had virtually stopped by 2006.[26]

In addition to the 2 million Iraqis who fled to neighbouring countries, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre estimates the number of people currently displaced within the country at 1.9 million.

Roughly 40% of Iraq's middle class is believed to have fled, the U.N. said. Most are fleeing systematic persecution and have no desire to return.[28] Refugees are mired in poverty as they are generally barred from working in their host countries.

In recent times the Diaspora seems to be reversing with the increased security of the last few months, and the Iraqi government claims that so far 46,000 refugees have returned to their homes in October of 2007 alone.

Geography Location: Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iran and Kuwait
Geographic coordinates: 33 00 N, 44 00 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 437,072 sq km
land: 432,162 sq km
water: 4,910 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly more than twice the size of Idaho
Land boundaries: total: 3,650 km
border countries: Iran 1,458 km, Jordan 181 km, Kuwait 240 km, Saudi Arabia 814 km, Syria 605 km, Turkey 352 km
Coastline: 58 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: not specified
Climate: mostly desert; mild to cool winters with dry, hot, cloudless summers; northern mountainous regions along Iranian and Turkish borders experience cold winters with occasionally heavy snows that melt in early spring, sometimes causing extensive flooding in central and southern Iraq
Terrain: mostly broad plains; reedy marshes along Iranian border in south with large flooded areas; mountains along borders with Iran and Turkey
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: unnamed peak; 3,611 m; note - this peak is not Gundah Zhur 3,607 m or Kuh-e Hajji-Ebrahim 3,595 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, sulfur
Land use: arable land: 13.12%
permanent crops: 0.61%
other: 86.27% (2005)
Irrigated land: 35,250 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 96.4 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 42.7 cu km/yr (3%/5%/92%)
per capita: 1,482 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: dust storms, sandstorms, floods
Environment - current issues: government water control projects have drained most of the inhabited marsh areas east of An Nasiriyah by drying up or diverting the feeder streams and rivers; a once sizable population of Marsh Arabs, who inhabited these areas for thousands of years, has been displaced; furthermore, the destruction of the natural habitat poses serious threats to the area's wildlife populations; inadequate supplies of potable water; development of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers system contingent upon agreements with upstream riparian Turkey; air and water pollution; soil degradation (salination) and erosion; desertification
Environment - international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Law of the Sea
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography - note: strategic location on Shatt al Arab waterway and at the head of the Persian Gulf
Politics

Iraq was under Baath Party rule from 1968 to 2003; in 1979 Saddam Hussein took control and remained president until 2003 after which he was unseated by a US-led invasion.

On October 15, 2005, more than 63% of eligible Iraqis came out across the country to vote on whether to accept or reject the new constitution. On October 25, the vote was certified and the constitution passed with a 78% overall majority, with the percentage of support varying widely between the country's territories.[32] The new constitution had overwhelming backing among the Shia and Ķurdish communities, but was overwhelmingly rejected by Arab Sunnis. Three majority Arab Sunni provinces rejected it (Salah ad Din with 82% against, Ninawa with 55% against, and Al Anbar with 97% against).

Under the terms of the constitution, the country conducted fresh nationwide parliamentary elections on December 15 to elect a new government. The overwhelming majority of all three major ethnic groups in Iraq voted along ethnic lines, turning this vote into more of an ethnic census than a competitive election, and setting the stage for the division of the country along ethnic lines.

Iraqi politicians have been under significant threat by the various factions that have promoted violence as a political weapon. The ongoing violence in Iraq has been incited by an amalgam of religious extremists that believe an Islamic Caliphate should rule, old sectarian regime members that had ruled under Saddam that want back the power they had, and Iraqi nationalists that are fighting the U.S. military presence.

Iraq has number of ethnic minority groups in Iraq: Kurds, Assyrians, Mandeans, Iraqi Turkmen, Shabaks and Roma. These groups have not enjoyed equal status with the majority Arab populations throughout Iraq's eighty-five year history. Since the establishment of the "no-fly zones" following the Gulf War of 1990–1991, the situation of the Kurds has changed as they have established their own autonomous region. The remainder of these ethnic groups continue to suffer discrimination on religious or ethnic grounds.

People Population: 27,499,638 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 39.4% (male 5,509,736/female 5,338,722)
15-64 years: 57.6% (male 8,018,841/female 7,812,611)
65 years and over: 3% (male 386,321/female 433,407) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 20 years
male: 19.9 years
female: 20 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.618% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 31.44 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 5.26 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.032 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.026 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.891 male(s)/female
total population: 1.024 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 47.04 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 52.73 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 41.07 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 69.31 years
male: 68.04 years
female: 70.65 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 4.07 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: less than 500 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2008)
Nationality: noun: Iraqi(s)
adjective: Iraqi
Ethnic groups: Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian, or other 5%
Religions: Muslim 97% (Shi'a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian or other 3%
Languages: Arabic, Kurdish (official in Kurdish regions), Assyrian, Armenian
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 74.1%
male: 84.1%
female: 64.2% (2000 est.)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Iraq
conventional short form: Iraq
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al-Iraqiyah
local short form: Al Iraq
Government type: parliamentary democracy
Capital: name: Baghdad
geographic coordinates: 33 20 N, 44 23 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins 1 April; ends 1 October
Administrative divisions: 18 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah) and 1 region*; Al Anbar, Al Basrah, Al Muthanna, Al Qadisiyah, An Najaf, Arbil, As Sulaymaniyah, At Ta'mim, Babil, Baghdad, Dahuk, Dhi Qar, Diyala, Karbala', Kurdistan Regional Government*, Maysan, Ninawa, Salah ad Din, Wasit
Independence: 3 October 1932 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration); note - on 28 June 2004 the Coalition Provisional Authority transferred sovereignty to the Iraqi-controlled Government
National holiday: Revolution Day, 17 July (1968); note - this holiday was celebrated under the SADDAM Husayn regime; the Government of Iraq has yet to declare a new national holiday
Constitution: ratified on 15 October 2005 (subject to review by the Constitutional Review Committee and a possible public referendum )
Legal system: based on European civil and Islamic law under the framework outlined in the Iraqi Constitution; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Jalal TALABANI (since 6 April 2005); Vice Presidents Adil ABD AL-MAHDI and Tariq al-HASHIMI (since 22 April 2006); note - the president and vice presidents comprise the Presidency Council)
head of government: Prime Minister Nuri al-MALIKI (since 20 May 2006); Deputy Prime Minister Barham SALIH (since 20 May 2006); second deputy prime minister positon vacant
cabinet: 34 ministers appointed by the Presidency Council, plus Prime Minister Nuri al-MALIKI, and Deputy Prime Minister Barham SALIH; second deputy prime minister position vacant
elections: held 15 December 2005 to elect a 275-member Council of Representatives
Legislative branch: Council of Representatives (consisting of 275 members elected by a closed-list, proportional representation system)
elections: held 15 December 2005 to elect a 275-member Council of Representatives; the Council of Representatives elected the Presidency Council and approved the prime minister and two deputy prime ministers
election results: Council of Representatives - percent of vote by party - Unified Iraqi Alliance 41%, Kurdistan Alliance 22%, Tawafuq Coalition 15%, Iraqi National List 8%, Iraqi Front for National Dialogue 4%, other 10%; number of seats by party (as of November 2007) - Unified Iraqi Alliance (including the Sadrist bloc with 30 and Fadilah with 15) 130, Kurdistan Alliance 53, Tawafuq Front 44, Iraqi National List 25, Fadilah 15, Iraqi Front for National Dialogue 11, other 12
Judicial branch: the Iraq Constitution calls for the federal judicial power to be comprised of the Higher Juridical Council, Federal Supreme Court, Federal Court of Cassation, Public Prosecution Department, Judiciary Oversight Commission and other federal courts that are regulated in accordance with the law
Political parties and leaders: Assyrian Democratic Movement [Yunadim KANNA]; Badr Organization [Hadi al-AMIRI]; Constitutional Monarchy Movement or CMM [Sharif Ali Bin al-HUSAYN]; Da'wa al-Islamiya Party [Ibrahim al-JA'FARI]; General Conference of Iraqi People [Adnan al-DULAYMI]; Independent Iraqi Alliance or IIA [Falah al-NAQIB]; Iraqi Communist Party [Hamid MAJEED]; Iraqi Front for National Dialogue [Salih al-MUTLAQ]; Iraqi Hizballah [Karim Mahmud al-MUHAMMADAWI]; Iraqi Independent Democrats or IID [Adnan PACHACHI, Mahdi al-HAFIZ]; Iraqi Islamic Party or IIP [Tariq al-HASHIMI]; Iraqi National Accord or INA [Ayad ALLAWI]; Iraqi National Congress or INC [Ahmad CHALABI]; Iraqi National Council for Dialogue or INCD [Khalaf Ulayan al-Khalifawi al-DULAYMI]; Iraqi National Unity Movement or INUM [Ahmad al-KUBAYSI]; Islamic Action Organization or IAO [Ayatollah Muhammad al-MUDARRISI]; Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq or ISCI [Abd al-Aziz al-HAKIM]; Jama'at al Fadilah or JAF [Muhammad Ali al-YAQUBI]; Kurdistan Democratic Party or KDP [Masud BARZANI]; Kurdistan Islamic Union [Salah ad-Din Muhammad BAHA al-DIN]; National Reconciliation and Liberation Party [Mishan al-JABBURI]; Patriotic Union of Kurdistan or PUK [Jalal TALABANI]; Sadrist Trend [Muqtada al-SADR] (not an organized political party, but it fields independent candidates affiliated with Muqtada al-SADR); Sahawa al-Iraq [Ahmed al-RISAWHI]
note: the Kurdistan Alliance, Iraqi National List, Tawafuq Front, Iraqi Front for National Dialogue, and Unified Iraqi Alliance were only electoral slates consisting of the representatives from the various Iraqi political parties
Political pressure groups and leaders: an insurgency against the Government of Iraq and Coalition forces is primarily concentrated in Baghdad and in areas north, northeast, and west of the capital; the diverse, multigroup insurgency consists principally of Sunni Arabs with a shared desire to oust the Coalition, end US influence in Iraq, and reassert Sunni Arab dominance; a number of predominantly Shia militias, some associated with political parties, challenge governmental authority in Baghdad and southern Iraq
International organization participation: ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, CAEU, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Samir Shakir al-SUMAYDI
chancery: 3421 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 483-7500 (Consular section)
FAX: [1] (202) 333-1129
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Ryan C. CROCKER
embassy: Baghdad
mailing address: APO AE 09316
telephone: 1-240-553-0589 ext. 5340 or 5635; note - Consular Section
FAX: NA
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black; the phrase ALLAHU AKBAR (God is Great) in green Arabic script is centered in the white band; similar to the flag of Syria, which has two stars but no script, Yemen, which has a plain white band, and that of Egypt, which has a gold Eagle of Saladin centered in the white band; design is based upon the Arab Liberation colors; Council of Representatives approved this flag as a compromise temporary replacement for Ba'athist Saddam-era flag
Culture

In the most recent millennium, what is now Iraq has been made up of five cultural areas: Kurdish in the north centered on Arbil, Sunni Islamic Arabs in the center around Baghdad, Shi'a Islamic Arabs in the south centered on Basra, the Assyrians, a Christian people, living in various cities in the north, and the Marsh Arabs, a nomadic people, who live on the marshlands of the central river. There are also the Bedouin tribes primarily in southern and western Iraq, with smaller groups scattered throughout the country. Markets and bartering are the common form of trade.

Music

Iraq is known primarily for an instrument called the oud (similar to a lute) and a rebab (similar to a fiddle); its stars include Ahmed Mukhtar and the Assyrian Munir Bashir. Until the fall of Saddam Hussein, the most popular radio station was the Voice of Youth. It played a mix of western rock, hip hop and pop music, all of which had to be imported via Jordan due to international economic sanctions. Iraq has also produced a major pan-Arab pop star-in-exile in Kathem Al Saher, whose songs include Ladghat E-Hayya, which was banned for its racy lyrics.

Cuisine

The Iraqi cuisine is generally a heavy cuisine with more spices than most Arab cuisines. Iraq's main food crops include wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, and dates. Vegetables include eggplant, okra, potatoes, and tomatoes. Beans such as chickpeas and lentils are also quite common. Common meats in Iraqi cooking are lamb and beef; fish and poultry are also used. Soups and stews are often prepared and served with rice and vegetables. Although Iraq is not a coastal area, the population is used to consuming fish, however, freshwater fish is more common than saltwater fish. Masgouf is one of the most popular dishes. Biryani although influenced by the Indian cuisine, is much milder with a different mixture of spices and a wider variety of vegetables including potatoes, peas, carrots and onions among others. Dolma is also one of the popular dishes. The Iraqi cuisine is famous for its extremely tender kabab as well as its tikka. A wide verity of spices pickles and Amba are also extensively used.

Economy Economy - overview: Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided about 95% of foreign exchange earnings. Although looting, insurgent attacks, and sabotage have undermined economy rebuilding efforts, economic activity is beginning to pick up in areas recently secured by the US military surge. Oil exports are around levels seen before Operation Iraqi Freedom, and total government revenues have benefited from high oil prices. Despite political uncertainty, Iraq is making some progress in building the institutions needed to implement economic policy and has negotiated a debt reduction agreement with the Paris Club and a new Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF. The International Compact with Iraq was established in May 2007 to integrate Iraq into the regional and global economy, and the Iraqi government is seeking to pass laws to strengthen its economy. This legislation includes a hydrocarbon law to establish a modern legal framework to allow Iraq to develop its resources and a revenue sharing law to equitably divide oil revenues within the nation, although both are still bogged down in discussions. The Central Bank has been successful in controlling inflation through appreciation of the dinar against the US dollar. Reducing corruption and implementing structural reforms, such as bank restructuring and developing the private sector, will be key to Iraq's economic success.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $100 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $55.44 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 5% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $3,600 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 5%
industry: 68%
services: 27% (2006 est.)
Labor force: 7.4 million (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Unemployment rate: 18% to 30% (2006 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4.7% (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $42.3 billion
expenditures: $48.4 billion (FY08 est.)
Agriculture - products: wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, dates, cotton; cattle, sheep, poultry
Industries: petroleum, chemicals, textiles, leather, construction materials, food processing, fertilizer, metal fabrication/processing
Industrial production growth rate: 4% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production: 33.53 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 98.4%
hydro: 1.6%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 35.84 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2007)
Electricity - imports: 2.315 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Oil - production: 2.11 million bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - consumption: 295,000 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - exports: 1.67 million bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports: NA bbl/day
Oil - proved reserves: 115 billion bbl (1 January 2007 est.)
Natural gas - production: 3.5 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 980 million cu m
note: 1.48 billion cu m were flared (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 3.17 trillion cu m (1 January 2007 est.)
Current account balance: $7.802 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $34.04 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: crude oil 84%, crude materials excluding fuels 8%, food and live animals 5%
Exports - partners: US 46.7%, Italy 10.7%, Spain 6.2%, Canada 6.2% (2006)
Imports: $23.09 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: food, medicine, manufactures
Imports - partners: Syria 26.5%, Turkey 20.5%, US 11.8%, Jordan 7.2% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: $21.65 billion $13.5 billion pledged in foreign aid for 2004-07 from outside of the US, over $33 billion pledged total (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $21.26 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external: $56.31 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $NA
Currency (code): New Iraqi dinar (NID) as of 22 January 2004
Currency code: NID, IQD prior to 22 January 2004
Exchange rates: New Iraqi dinars per US dollar - 1,255 (2007), 1,466 (2006), 1,475 (2005), 1,890 (second half, 2003)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 1.547 million (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 10.9 million (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: the 2003 liberation of Iraq severely disrupted telecommunications throughout Iraq including international connections; widespread government efforts to rebuild domestic and international communications through fiber optic links are in progress; the mobile cellular market has expanded rapidly with an estimated 10.9 million current users
domestic: repairs to switches and lines destroyed during 2003 continue; additional switching capacity is improving access; cellular service is available and centered on 3 GSM networks which are being expanded beyond their regional roots, improving country-wide connectivity; wireless local loop licences have been issued with the hope of overcoming the lack of fixed-line infrastructure
international: country code - 964; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean), 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region), and 1 Arabsat (inoperative); local microwave radio relay connects border regions to Jordan, Kuwait, Syria, and Turkey; planned international fiber-optic connections to Iran (terrestrial) with a link to the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) submarine fiber-optic cable (2007)
Radio broadcast stations: after 17 months of unregulated media growth, there are approximately 80 radio stations (types NA) on the air inside Iraq (2004)
Radios: 4.85 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 21 (2004)
Televisions: 1.75 million (1997)
Internet country code: .iq
Internet hosts: 3 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 36,000 (2004)
Transportation Airports: 110 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 76
over 3,047 m: 19
2,438 to 3,047 m: 37
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 6
under 914 m: 9 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 34
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 10 (2007)
Heliports: 17 (2007)
Pipelines: gas 2,250 km; liquid petroleum gas 918 km; oil 5,509 km; refined products 1,637 km (2007)
Railways: total: 2,272 km
standard gauge: 2,272 km 1.435-m gauge (2006)
Roadways: total: 45,550 km
paved: 38,399 km
unpaved: 7,151 km (1999)
Waterways: 5,279 km
note: Euphrates River (2,815 km), Tigris River (1,899 km), and Third River (565 km) are principal waterways (2006)
Merchant marine: total: 13 ships (1000 GRT or over) 67,796 GRT/101,317 DWT
by type: cargo 11, petroleum tanker 2 (2007)
Ports and terminals: Al Basrah, Khawr az Zubayr, Umm Qasr
Military Military branches: Iraqi Armed Forces: Iraqi Army (includes Iraqi Special Operations Force, Iraqi Intervention Force), Iraqi Navy (former Iraqi Coastal Defense Force), Iraqi Air Force (former Iraqi Army Air Corps) (2005)
Military service age and obligation: 18-40 years of age for voluntary military service (2006)
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 5,870,640
females age 18-49: 5,642,073 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 4,930,074
females age 18-49: 4,771,105 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 18-49: 198,518
females age 18-49: 289,879 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 8.6% (2006)
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: coalition forces assist Iraqis in monitoring internal and cross-border security; approximately two million Iraqis have fled the conflict in Iraq, with the majority taking refuge in Syria and Jordan, and lesser numbers to Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, and Turkey; Iraq's lack of a maritime boundary with Iran prompts jurisdiction disputes beyond the mouth of the Shatt al Arab in the Persian Gulf; Turkey has expressed concern over the autonomous status of Kurds in Iraq
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 15,000 (Palestinian Territories), 11,960 (Iran), 16,110 (Turkey)
IDPs: 1.9 million (ongoing US-led war and Kurds' subsequent return) (2007)