In April 2003, the United States and Britain launched a war against Iraq as Saddam Hussein’s regime was portrayed as a threat to the outside world with weapons of mass destruction and contacts with al-Qaeda terrorists. But the motives for the invasion were false. The vision of “spreading democracy” to the Middle East also proved unsuccessful. On the contrary, the invasion contributed to the disintegration of Iraq and became a real threat to the outside world.
The war ended, however, for a regime that caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in Iran, Kuwait and Iraq. Most Iraqis welcomed Saddam’s fall, but soon developments were mostly in the wrong direction.
Armed resistance to the occupation grew stronger. Behind this were the remnants of Saddam’s disbanded party and elite alliances, as well as extreme Iraqi and foreign Islamists. Suicide bombings and other terrorist acts affected innocent civilians who belonged to the “wrong” ethnic group or religious denomination. International terrorism had come to Iraq – as a direct result of the war. The violence reached its peak in 2006 with growing concerns about a full-scale civil war between Sunni Arabs, Shia Arabs and Kurds.
The construction of the new state was slow and the United States made big mistakes.
Iraq regained full sovereignty in 2009 but violence has continued to flare up.
After the US withdrawal in December 2011, the conflict between the three main groups has remained unresolved and violence has increased again, especially from Sunnis protesting against Shiite dominance. 2014 was the bloodiest year since 2007, despite a new prime minister promising to work for reconciliation. Sunni extremists from the ” Islamic State ” (IS) took control of such large areas that Iraq’s existence as a state was seriously threatened. IS violence against other religious and ethnic groups chased such terror in the outside world that the United States once again intervened militarily in Iraq, with the support of a number of other countries, including from the Arab world. In the autumn of 2017, IS had lost almost all land in Iraq but could still retaliate through terrorist attacks in government-controlled areas.
According to 800zipcodes, Iraq is a fragile state with a violent history. Today’s divisions between Shia Muslims, Sunni Arabs and Kurds go back many hundreds of years. For several years, it could also be exploited by the extreme Sunni movement calling itself the Islamic State (IS), before the movement could be repulsed.
After centuries of war between the Mongols, Persians and Turks, Baghdad was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1535, but it was not until 1638 that the Turks had full control over the area roughly equivalent to present-day Iraq. The Ottoman rulers did not allow the Shia Muslim Arabs to take part in power, but Sunni Arabs benefited.
When the Ottoman Empire collapsed in the early 20th century, the British expelled the Turks from present-day Iraq and were given the right by the League of Nations to manage the country and its oil wells. Iraq was created through a merger of three provinces: the predominantly Shia Arab Basra, the largely Sunni Arab Baghdad, and the more mixed Mosul with Kurds, Turkmens, and Sunni Arabs.
Several military coups
The British agreed to Iraq’s independence in 1932 but retained military bases in the country. In 1936, the first military coup was carried out. The regime was short-lived, but was a starting point for the military’s involvement in politics.
After World War II and the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948, dissatisfaction within the army with Western influence grew. In July 1958, Brigadier General Abd al-Karim Qasim and Colonel Abd al-Salam Arif seized power. The entire royal family was murdered. Qasim led a nationalist left-wing regime that was helped by the Warsaw Pact to arm the army. Business began to nationalize.
Qasim was overthrown in 1963 by Colonel Arif. Major General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr of the Ba’ath party became prime minister, but soon Arif cleared the Ba’athists. The Ba’ath party regained power in a new coup in 1968.
The Ba’ath party’s power base was some Sunni Arab clans and a growing security apparatus. Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr now became president, but the real power lay with the Revolutionary Leadership Council (RCC). With the growing revenues from the state oil industry, prosperity increased. Major investments were made for the first time in education and healthcare.
al-Bakr let his relative Saddam Hussein control more and more of the development. When al-Bakr resigned in 1979, Saddam became president, party leader, chairman of the RCC and commander-in-chief.