Iraq’s been in the news quite a bit lately. I don’t know about the rest of you, but there always seems to be a layer of confusion to everything I’m reading, listening and watching… There’s so much information that it’s tough to get a grasp on any one thing in particular. I’m seeing all these broad overviews and I feel like I should know more about a certain something or someone…
So I’m sharing with you what I just recently learned – a very basic history of the nation Iraq. I’m hoping someone will find it informative, well actually I don’t really care if anyone even finds it. My biggest source of information was a discussion guide on seattletimes.com. It’s intended audience is junior high schoolers but it suited me just fine. A great and simple piece, read it more than once.
This map of Iraq is useful while reading, should you choose to do so.
Religion in Iraq
While I believe that most of the decisions made by political leaders and people with power have very little to do with their religious beliefs, You need a little background on the people of Iraq.
95% of Iraqis are muslim and the official state recognized religion is Islam. It’s been this way since about 637 AD.
So you got muslims in Iraq. They’re also called Arabs – same thing. The Arabs are essentially broken down into 3 types – the Kurds, the Shiites and The Sunni. While the Shiites are the majority, Saddam and the rest of his baath party are Sunni’s. The baath party is a secular ( has little to do with religion) government. That’s all you have to know about religion in Iraq.
In 1975 Saddams’ Iraq signed a treaty with Iran, their neighbor to the east. The treaty settled border disputes between the 2 countries; deciding to keep the border split down the middle of the “Shatt al Arab“, the point where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers meet, providing Iraq its only access to the Persian Gulf.
1979 : An Islamic Shiite revolution overthrows the people in charge of Iran; leaving the country vulnerable.
1980 – Iraq – Iran war : Saddam rips up treaty and invades Iran; he was afraid his own shiite population would overthrow him, just like they did in Iran. He also wants full control of the Shatt al Arab.
The United States also feared a Shiite ruled Iran, so we provided Saddam with intelligence, money, and military strategy. Why did the US fear a Shiite Iran? I’m not sure.
1988 : Iraq – Iran war is over, their is no victor. Iraq is in shambles, they’ve spent all their loot on the military and their infrastructure has fallen apart.
1990 : Iraq invades Kuwait. Kuwait had loaned Iraq tons of money during the Iraq – Iran war, and they were asking for it back; so Iraq said – no loot for you, as a matter of fact, not only will I not pay you back – but I will take over your country and you oil fields.
1990 : George W and the US most certainly do not want Saddam to have control over the precious black gold required to power our SUV’s. So we went in and helped Kuwait. The Gulf War lasted 6 weeks. Iraq was devastated.