Space Program of Iraq

------The Iraqi Space Agency------

Level = 0                                         Development: Very Low


Country Overview

What has been going on in Iraq?



Space Agency and its Activity

What kind of space power do they have?



Weapons and Power Projection

Does Iraq have space weapons?



Timeline and the Future

What are they planning over there?

Population: 29,000,000 / Language: Arabic / GDP: $3500 / Cities: Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Fallujah

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 Though free from the yoke of its former president Saddam Hussein,

pressing problems loom large for Iraq and its new leaders.

The paramount challenge is to restore security and civil order.

Since US-led coalition forces deposed Saddam in 2003 insurgents have targeted civilians, Iraqi security forces and international agencies. Tensions between Shia and Sunni Muslims have spilled over into brutal sectarian violence, prompting fears of civil war. Coalition and Iraqi troops have faced armed rebellions and guerrilla-style attacks.

More than 2,000 coalition troops, and many thousands more Iraqi civilians, have been killed since the start of the military action.

American missiles hit targets in Baghdad in the early hours of 20 March 2003, marking the start of the campaign to remove the Iraqi leader.


  • Politics: Iraq has been the battleground for forces vying for power since the US-led invasion of 2003
  • Security: Unity government and US-led coalition forces are struggling to establish control; thousands of civilians have been killed and security forces are under constant threat from well-organised rebels
  • Economy: Violence and sabotage hinder efforts to revive an economy shattered by decades of conflict and sanctions; Iraq has the world's third largest reserves of crude oil but attacks, corruption and smuggling have crippled exports

Saddam's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) had formed the main justification for the action, though inspectors later concluded that Iraq had no WMD stockpiles.

US and British ground forces entered from the south, with the leadership in Baghdad remaining defiant. By 9 April US forces had advanced into central Baghdad and Saddam Hussein's grip on power had withered.

Sovereignty was transferred to an interim government in June 2004 and six months later Iraqis voted in the first multi-party elections in 50 years.

Cradle of civilisation

Straddling the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and stretching from the Gulf to the Anti-Taurus Mountains, modern Iraq occupies roughly what was once ancient Mesopotamia, one of the cradles of human civilisation.

In the Middle Ages Iraq was the centre of the Islamic Empire, with Baghdad the cultural and political capital of an area extending from Morocco to the Indian subcontinent.

Mongol invasions in the 13th century saw its influence wane, and it played a minor role in the region until independence from British control in 1932.

Following the overthrow of the monarchy in 1958 and a coup in 1968, Iraq became one of the centres of Arab nationalism under the control of the ruling Baath (Renaissance) party. Oil made the country rich, and when Saddam Hussein became president in 1979 petroleum made up 95% of its foreign exchange earnings.

But the war with Iran from 1980 to 1988 and the Gulf War in 1991 following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, together with the subsequent imposition of international sanctions, had a devastating effect on its economy and society. In 1991 the UN said Iraq had been reduced to a pre-industrial state; later reports described living standards as being at subsistence level.

In the post-Saddam years, attacks by insurgents on Iraq's oil infrastructure have cost the country billions of dollars in lost revenues.

In the north, the Kurdish community has broken away to create a semi-autonomous region of its own.

Full name: Republic of Iraq

  • Population: 26.5 million (UN, 2005)
  • Area: 438,317 sq km (169,235 sq miles)
  • Capital: Baghdad
  • Major languages: Arabic, Kurdish
  • Major religion: Islam
  • Life expectancy: 57 years (men), 60 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 Iraqi dinar = 1,000 fils
  • Main exports: Crude oil
  • GNI per capita: n/a
  • Internet domain: .iq
  • International dialling code: 964

President: Jalal Talabani

The parliament that emerged from elections in December 2005 re-elected Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani to a second term in the largely-ceremonial post in April 2006.

He heads the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of the two main Kurdish parties in northern Iraq. The first non-Arab to head an Arab state, he has promised to work with all ethnic and religious factions to rebuild Iraq.

Vice presidents: Adil Abd al-Mahdi, Tariq al-Hashimi

Prime minister: Jawad al-Maliki

Within minutes of being re-elected, President Talabani asked Shia politican Jawad al-Maliki to form Iraq's first full-term government since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Mr Maliki was the compromise candidate of the Shia-led United Iraqi Alliance, the winners of parliamentary polls in December 2005. Kurdish and Sunni parties opposed the alliance's first nominee, interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, who withdrew his candidature after four months of political deadlock.

Mr Maliki is the deputy leader of the Dawaa Party, a Shia Islamist grouping. He spent years in exile after leading an anti-Saddam resistance movement in the 1970s.

He advised Mr Jaafari, also from the Dawaa Party, who was chosen as interim premier in April 2005 and went on to form Iraq's first democratically-elected government in more than 50 years.

Mr Maliki helped to draft Iraq's new constitution, approved by voters in October 2005.

  • Foreign minister: Hoshyar Zebari
  • Defence minister: Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Obeidi
  • Oil minister: Hussein al-Shahristani

Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 there has been a profound transformation in the Iraqi media scene. Instead of a few, tightly-controlled media outlets, Iraqis now have a choice of hundreds of publications and dozens of radio and TV stations.

But political and religious divisions are making themselves evident in the media. Moreover, scores of journalists and other media workers have fallen victim to insurgents and coalition military action. The financial viability of media companies is seriously affected by the security situation.

There are more than 100 newspapers and magazines on offer in Baghdad and other cities and private radio and television stations have mushroomed.

The TV and radio stations set up by the now-defunct US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) are now part of a publicly-funded broadcaster, the Iraqi Public Broadcasting Service.

Private media outlets are often linked to the political, ethnic or religious groups which are jostling for a say in Iraq's future. But they face a lack of resources, in particular a constant power supply.

Banned under Saddam, satellite TV has a large following

Iraq's television revolution
Foreign broadcasters targeting Iraq include the BBC, Paris-based Radio Monte Carlo and the US-backed Al-Hurra TV, Radio Sawa and Radio Free Iraq. Many of them are available via local relays. The BBC is relayed in Baghdad and Basra.

Satellite TV is watched by around 70% of Iraqi viewers; the pan-Arab news stations Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera are popular. Iran's Al-Alam TV, which broadcasts in Arabic, can be received in Baghdad without a dish.

In the northern autonomous Kurdish enclaves, rival factions operate their own media.


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 Iraq's Space Infrastructure


Iraq is troubled by the ongoing insurgency throughout the country against the occupation of it by American forces. Its space program is not suprisingly, nonexistent. Not only does it not have an agency, but also not much of an infrastructure in which one would arise. The University of Baghdad offers a degree in engineering but nothing specific to space related educational architecture, such as astrophysics, astronomy, astronautics or aeronautics. The government has no ministry devoted to science of this type. Saddam Hussein owned Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles when he was in power, SCUD's to be exact, and this made Iraq a Level 3 space power. With the removal of Saddam and confiscation of all manner of Iraqi artillery and infrastructure by American forces, its Level of Indigeneous space power dropped to Level 0.




 When Iraq was a Level III Space Power, this is the damage it could do- 1991's Scud Missile attacks on Tel-Aviv, Israel




 Iraq has no history of being part of any organization dealing with space, nor has launch capability any longer.





 This is a similar kind of missile that North Korea used to almost launch a satellite in 1998- a Scud.


Here we see American military forces destroying the missile, which was buried in the ground


 Iraq operates no satellites and, not having an orbital presence, has no space power. When it owned ICBM's, it had the capability to hit targets on the following map, from the Houston Chronicle: 





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Timeline of Events in Iraq

...From the Past to the Future

1920 25 April - Iraq is placed under British mandate.

1921 23 August - Faysal, son of Hussein Bin Ali, the Sharif of Mecca, is crowned Iraq's first king.

1932 3 October - Iraq becomes an independent state.

1958 14 July - The monarchy is overthrown in a military coup led by Brig Abd-al-Karim Qasim and Col Abd-al-Salam Muhammad Arif. Iraq is declared a republic and Qasim becomes prime minister.

1963 8 February - Qasim is ousted in a coup led by the Arab Socialist Baath Party (ASBP). Arif becomes president.

1963 18 November - The Baathist government is overthrown by Arif and a group of officers.

1966 17 April - After Arif is killed in a helicopter crash on 13 April, his elder brother, Maj-Gen Abd-al-Rahman Muhammad Arif, succeeds him as president.

1968 17 July - A Baathist led-coup ousts Arif and Gen Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr becomes president.

1970 11 March - The Revolution Command Council (RCC) and Mullah Mustafa Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), sign a peace agreement.

1972 - A 15-year Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation is signed between Iraq and the Soviet Union.

Petroleum firm nationalised

1972 - Iraq nationalises the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC).

1974 - In implementation of the 1970 agreement, Iraq grants limited autonomy to the Kurds but the KDP rejects it.

1975 March - At a meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) in Algiers, Iraq and Iran sign a treaty ending their border disputes.

1979 16 July - President Al-Bakr resigns and is succeeded by Vice-President Saddam Hussein.

1980 1 April - The pro-Iranian Dawah Party claims responsibility for an attack on Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, at Mustansiriyah University, Baghdad.

Iran-Iraq war

1980 4 September - Iran shells Iraqi border towns (Iraq considers this as the start of the Iran/Iraq war).

Almost one million people died in the conflict; exchanges of war dead continued for years

1980 17 September - Iraq abrogates the 1975 treaty with Iran.

1980 22 September - Iraq attacks Iranian air bases.

1980 23 September - Iran bombs Iraqi military and economic targets.

1981 7 June - Israel attacks an Iraqi nuclear research centre at Tuwaythah near Baghdad.

Chemical attack on Kurds

1988 16 March - Iraq is said to have used chemical weapons against the Kurdish town of Halabjah.

1988 20 August - A ceasefire comes into effect to be monitored by the UN Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group (Uniimog).

1990 15 March - Farzad Bazoft, an Iranian-born journalist with London's Observer newspaper, accused of spying on a military installation, is hanged in Baghdad.

Iraq invades Kuwait

1990 2 August - Iraq invades Kuwait and is condemned by United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 660 which calls for full withdrawal.

1990 6 August - UNSC Resolution 661 imposes economic sanctions on Iraq.

Iraq's army was all but destroyed in the 1991 Gulf War

1990 8 August - Iraq announces the merger of Iraq and Kuwait.

1990 29 November - UNSC Resolution 678 authorizes the states cooperating with Kuwait to use "all necessary means" to uphold UNSC Resolution 660.

1991 16 -17 January - The Gulf War starts when the coalition forces begin aerial bombing of Iraq ("Operation Desert Storm").

1991 13 February - US planes destroy an air raid shelter at Amiriyah in Baghdad, killing more than 300 people.

1991 24 February - The start of a ground operation which results in the liberation of Kuwait on 27 February.


1991 3 March - Iraq accepts the terms of a ceasefire.

1991 Mid-March/early April - Iraqi forces suppress rebellions in the south and the north of the country.

1991 8 April - A plan to establish a UN safe-haven in northern Iraq to protect the Kurds is approved at a European Union meeting. On 10 April the USA orders Iraq to end all military activity in this area.

1992 26 August - A no-fly zone, which Iraqi planes are not allowed to enter, is set up in southern Iraq, south of latitude 32 degrees north.

1993 27 June - US forces launch a cruise missile attack on Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Baghdad in retaliation for the attempted assassination of US President George Bush in Kuwait in April.

1994 29 May - Saddam Hussein becomes prime minister.

1994 10 November - Iraqi National Assembly recognises Kuwait's borders and its independence.


1995 14 April - UNSC Resolution 986 allows the partial resumption of Iraq's oil exports to buy food and medicine ( the "oil-for-food programme"). It is not accepted by Iraq until May 1996 and is not implemented until December 1996.

1995 August - Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, Gen Hussein Kamil Hasan al-Majid, his brother and their families leave Iraq and are granted asylum in Jordan.

1995 15 October - Saddam Hussein wins a referendum allowing him to remain president for another seven years.

1996 20 February - Hussein Kamil Hasan al-Majid and his brother, promised a pardon by Saddam Hussein, return to Baghdad and are killed on 23 February.

1996 31 August - After call for aid from KDP, Iraqi forces launch offensive into northern no-fly zone and capture Irbil.

1996 3 September - US extends northern limit of southern no-fly zone to latitude 33 degrees north, just south of Baghdad.

1996 12 December - Saddam Hussein's elder son, Uday, is seriously wounded in an assassination attempt in Baghdad.

1998 31 October - Iraq ends cooperation with UN Special Commission to Oversee the Destruction of Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction (Unscom).

Operation Desert Fox

1998 16-19 December - After UN staff are evacuated from Baghdad, the US and UK launch a bombing campaign, "Operation Desert Fox", to destroy Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programmes.

1999 19 February - Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, spiritual leader of the Shia community, is assassinated in Najaf.

1999 17 December - UNSC Resolution 1284 creates the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (Unmovic) to replace Unscom. Iraq rejects the resolution.

2001 February - Britain, US carry out bombing raids to try to disable Iraq's air defence network. The bombings have little international support.

2001 May - Saddam's son Qusay elected to the leadership of the ruling Baath Party, fuelling speculation that he's being groomed to succeed his father.

2002 April - Baghdad suspends oil exports to protest against Israeli incursions into Palestinian territories. Despite calls by Saddam Hussein, no other Arab countries follow suit. Exports resume after 30 days.

Weapons inspectors return

2002 September - US President George W Bush tells sceptical world leaders at a UN General Assembly session to confront the "grave and gathering danger" of Iraq - or stand aside as the US acts. In the same month British Prime Minister Tony Blair publishes a dossier on Iraq's military capability.

"In Iraq a dictator is building and hiding weapons that could enable him to dominate the Middle East and intimidate the civilised world - and we will not allow it "  -Bush

2002 November - UN weapons inspectors return to Iraq backed by a UN resolution which threatens serious consequences if Iraq is in "material breach" of its terms.

2003 March - Chief weapons inspector Hans Blix reports that Iraq has accelerated its cooperation but says inspectors need more time to verify Iraq's compliance.

Saddam ousted

2003 17 March - UK's ambassador to the UN says the diplomatic process on Iraq has ended; arms inspectors evacuate; US President George W Bush gives Saddam Hussein and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq or face war.

2003 20 March - American missiles hit targets in Baghdad, marking the start of a US-led campaign to topple Saddam Hussein. In the following days US and British ground troops enter Iraq from the south.

2003 9 April - US forces advance into central Baghdad. Saddam Hussein's grip on the city is broken. In the following days Kurdish fighters and US forces take control of the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul. There is looting in Baghdad and elsewhere.

2003 April - US lists 55 most-wanted members of former regime in the form of a deck of cards. Former deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz is taken into custody.

2003 May - UN Security Council backs US-led administration in Iraq and lifts economic sanctions. US administrator abolishes Baath Party and institutions of former regime.

2003 July - US-appointed Governing Council meets for first time. Commander of US forces says his troops face low-intensity guerrilla-style war. Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay killed in gun battle in Mosul.

Insurgency intensifies

2003 August - Deadly bomb attacks on Jordanian embassy and UN HQ in Baghdad. Saddam's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, or Chemical Ali, captured. Car bomb in Najaf kills 125 including Shia leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim.

Soldiers and civilians are targets in ongoing violence

Iraq Body Count: War dead figures

Who are the insurgents?

2003 14 December - Saddam Hussein captured in Tikrit.

2004 February - More than 100 killed in Irbil in suicide attacks on offices of main Kurdish factions.

2004 March - Suicide bombers attack Shia festival-goers in Karbala and Baghdad, killing 140 people.

2004 April-May - Shia militias loyal to radical cleric Moqtada Sadr take on coalition forces.

Hundreds are reported killed in fighting during the month-long US military siege of the Sunni Muslim city of Falluja.

Photographic evidence emerges of abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US troops.

Sovereignty and elections

2004 June - US hands sovereignty to interim government headed by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

Saddam Hussein transferred to Iraqi legal custody.

2004 August - Fighting in Najaf between US forces and Shia militia of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr.

2004 November - Major US-led offensive against insurgents in Falluja.

Religious, ethnic fault lines run through Iraqi politics

2005 30 January - An estimated eight million people vote in elections for a Transitional National Assembly. The Shia United Iraqi Alliance wins a majority of assembly seats. Kurdish parties come second.

2005 28 February - At least 114 people are killed by a massive car bomb in Hilla, south of Baghdad. It is the worst single such incident since the US-led invasion.

2005 April - Amid escalating violence, parliament selects Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani as president. Ibrahim Jaafari, a Shia, is named as prime minister.

2005 May onwards - Surge in car bombings, bomb explosions and shootings: Iraqi ministries put the civilian death toll for May at 672, up from 364 in April.

2005 June - Massoud Barzani is sworn in as regional president of Iraqi Kurdistan.

2005 July - Study compiled by the non-governmental Iraq Body Count organisation estimates that nearly 25,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the 2003 US-led invasion.

2005 August - Draft constitution is endorsed by Shia and Kurdish negotiators, but not by Sunni representatives.

More than 1,000 people are killed during a stampede at a Shia ceremony in Baghdad.

2005 September - 182 people are killed in attacks in Baghdad, including a car bomb attack on a group of workers in a mainly-Shia district.

Saddam on trial

2005 October - Saddam Hussein goes on trial on charges of crimes against humanity.

Voters approve a new constitution, which aims to create an Islamic federal democracy.

2005 15 December - Iraqis vote for the first, full-term government and parliament since the US-led invasion.

2006 20 January - Shia-led United Iraqi Alliance emerges as the winner of December's parliamentary elections, but fails to gain an absolute majority.

Sectarian violence

2006 February onwards - A bomb attack on an important Shia shrine in Samarra unleashes a wave of sectarian violence in which hundreds of people are killed.

2006 22 April - Newly re-elected President Talabani asks Shia compromise candidate Jawad al-Maliki to form a new government. The move ends four months of political deadlock.

2006 May and June - An average of more than 100 civilians per day are killed in violence in Iraq, the UN says.

2006 7 June - Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is killed in an air strike.

2006 September - A much-anticipated ceremony to transfer operational command from US-led forces to Iraq's new army is postponed.

2006 November - Saddam Hussein is found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death.

Iraq and Syria restore diplomatic relations after nearly a quarter century.

More than 200 die in a series of car bombings in the mostly Shia area of Sadr City in Baghdad. An indefinite curfew is imposed after what is considered the worst attack on the capital since the US-led invasion of 2003.

2006 December - Iraq Study Group report making recommendations to President Bush on future policy in Iraq describes the situation as grave and deteriorating. It warns of the prospect of a slide towards chaos, triggering the collapse of the Iraqi government, and a humanitarian catastrophe.

2006 30 December - Saddam Hussein is executed by hanging.




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There are several suggestions for the origin of the name of Iraq; - one dates back to the Sumerian city of Uruk (or Erech). Another suggestion is that Iraq comes from the Aramaic language, meaning "the land along the banks of the rivers." Another suggestion is Iraq is a reference to the root of a palm tree, as they are numerous in the country.Under the Persian Sassanid dynasty, there was a region called "Erak Arabi" referring to part of the south western region of the Persian Empire, which now is part of southern Iraq. Al-Iraq was the name used by the Arabs themselves for the land since the 6th century.Pronunciation of Iraq - (1) [ɪ.ˈɹɑ(ː)k], (2) [ɪ.ˈɹæk], (3) [aɪ.ˈɹæk] (1) is the preferred pronunciation in most dictionaries, and the only pronunciation listed in the Oxford English Dictionary. MQD lists (2) first. (3) is considered uneducated or unacceptable to some. It is the pronunciation which is least like the original Arabic pronunciation [ʕiˈrɑːq].HistoryThe upper part of the stela of Hammurabi's code of lawsIraq was historically known as Mesopotamia, which literally means "between the rivers" in Greek. This land was home to the world's first 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 the earliest writing and some of the first sciences, mathematics, laws and philosophies in the world, making the region the center of what is commonly called the "Cradle of Civilization". Ancient Mesopotamian civilization dominated other civilizations of its time.

In the sixth century BC, the region became a part of the Persian Empire under Cyrus the Great for nearly 4 centuries, before it was conquered by Alexander the Great and remained under Greek rule for nearly two centuries. A Central Asian tribe of Iranian peoples called Parthians then annexed the region, followed by the Sassanid Persians for 9 centuries, until the 7th century.Beginning in the seventh century AD, Islam spread to what is now Iraq. The prophet Mohammed's cousin and son-in-law moved his capital to Kufa "fi al-Iraq" when he became the fourth caliph. The Umayyads ruling from Damascus in the 7th century ruled the province of Iraq.Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate, was the leading city of the Arab and Muslim world for five centuries.Ottoman EmpireIn 1258, Baghdad was devastated by the Mongols. The Ottoman Turks took Baghdad from the Persians in 1535. The Ottomans lost Baghdad to the Iranian Safavids in 1509, and took it back in 1632. Ottoman rule over Iraq lasted until the World War I when the Ottomans sided with Germany and the Central Powers.World War OneDuring 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 into the area though only 112,000 of them were combat troops.

PartitioningDuring World War I, the British and French divided the Middle East in the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The Treaty of Sèvres which was ratified by Treaty of Lausanne led to the creation of the modern Middle East and Republic of Turkey. The League of Nations granted France mandates over the Syria and the Lebanon and granted the United Kingdom mandates over the Iraq and the Palestine (which was comprised 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 MesopotamiaAt the end of World War I, the League of Nations granted the area to the United Kingdom as a mandate. It was formed out of three former Ottoman vilayets (regions): Mosul, Baghdad and Basra.For three out of four centuries of Ottoman rule, the vilayets of Baghdad, Mosul, and Basra were administered from Baghdad. During the British mandate, the country was ruled by British colonial administrators who used the British armed forces to put down rebellions against the government. They selected the Hashemite king, Faisal, who had been forced out of Syria by the French, to be their client ruler.

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

Hashemite monarchyThe reinstalled Hashemite monarchy lasted until 1958, when it was overthrown through a coup d'etat by 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 Ba'ath Party. This movement gradually came under the control of Saddam Hussein 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, killing off many of his opponents in the process.

Saddam HusseinSaddam's rule lasted throughout the Iran-Iraq War (1980–1988), a war that ended in stalemate. In the late 1980s, Saddam Hussein's regime launched the al-Anfal campaign (Spoils of War), which led to the disappearance of tens of thousands of Kurds (182,000 is the number given by Kurdish authorities for the year 1988 alone) in northern Iraq when the military razed thousands of villages, launched poison gas attacks and rounded up men, women and children before shooting them or burying them alive in mass graves.In 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait resulting in the Gulf War and United Nations imposed economic sanctions at the urging of the U.S. The economic sanctions were designed to compel Saddam to dispose of weapons of mass destruction.[2] Critics estimate that over 500,000 Iraqi children died as a result of the sanctions.[3] The U.S. and the UK declared no-fly zones over Kurdish northern and Shiite southern Iraq to oversee the Kurds and southern Shiites.Occupation by Coalition ForcesIraq was invaded in March 2003 by a United States-organized coalition with the stated reasons that Iraq had nt abandoned its nuclear and chemical weapons development program according to United Nations resolutions. The justifications given for invasion included purported Iraqi government links to Al Qaeda, claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the opportunity to remove an oppressive dictator from power, and the bringing of democracy to Iraq.The United States established the Coalition Provisional Authority to govern Iraq. Government authority was transferred to an Iraqi Interim Government in 2004 and a permanent government was elected in October 2005. Over 140,000 Coalition troops remain in Iraq in order to assist the government.Estimates on Iraqi casualties since the 2003 invasion range from 655,000 from a Lancet study to between 43,937 and 48,783 from the Iraq Body Count project. There is considerable controversy over the numbers.After the invasion, al-Qaeda was able to exploit the insurgency to establish its organization in the country[4] in concurrency with a Sunni-led insurgency and sectarian violence. In 2006, Foreign Policy Magazine named Iraq as the fourth most unstable nation in the world.On November 5, 2006, Saddam, his half-brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Hassan, and former chief judge of the Revolutionary Court Awad Bandar, were found guilty of genocide and sentenced to death by hanging. [6]Iraqi diasporaThe Iraqi diaspora is the dispersion of native Iraqis to other countries. There were two large waves of expatriation. The first was during the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, and the second was during the Second Gulf War.GovernmentPoliticsIraq was under Ba'ath 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.[5] The new constitution had overwhelming backing among the Shia and Ķurdish communities, but was overwhelmingly rejected by Sunnis. Three majority-Sunni provinces rejected it (Salah ad Din with 82% against, Ninawa with 55% against, and l 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 against what they view as a foreign occupation.Minority politicsThere are a 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 First Gulf War, 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.eographyAt 168,743 sq.mi (437,072 km²), Iraq is the 58th-largest country in the world, after Morocco. It is comparable in size to the US state of California, and somewhat larger than Paraguay.Large parts of Iraq consist of desert, but the area between the two major rivers (Euphrates and Tigris) is fertile, with the rivers carrying about 60 million cubic metres (78 million cu. yd) of silt annually to the delta. The north of the country is largely mountainous, with the highest point being a 3,611 metres (11,847 ft) point, unnamed on the map opposite, but known locally as Cheekah Dar (black tent). Iraq has a small coastline with the Persian Gulf. Close to the coast and along the Shatt al-Arab (known as arvandrūd: اروندرود among Iranians) there used to be marshlands, but many of these were drained in the 1990s.

The local climate is mostly desert with mild to cool winters and dry, hot, cloudless summers. The northern mountainous regions experience cold winters with occasional heavy snows, sometimes causing extensive flooding. The capital of Baghdad is situated in the centre of the country, on the banks of the Tigris. Other major cities include Basra in the south and Mosul in the north.While its proven oil reserves of 112 billion barrels ranks Iraq second in the world behind Saudi Arabia, the United States Department of Energy estimates that up to 90 percent of the country remains unexplored. Unexplored regions of Iraq could yield an additional 100 billion barrels. Iraq's oil production costs are among the lowest in the world. However, only about 2,000 oil wells have been drilled in Iraq, compared to about 1 million wells in Texas alone.[6]Economy

Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided about 95 percent of foreign exchange earnings. In the 1980s financial problems caused by massive expenditures in the eight-year war with Iran and damage to oil export facilities by Iran led the government to implement austerity measures, borrow heavily, and later reschedule foreign debt payments. Iraq suffered economic losses from the war of at least US$100 billion. After hostilities ended in 1988, oil exports gradually increased with the construction of new pipelines and restoration of damaged facilities. A combination of low oil prices, repayment of war debts (estimated at around US$3 billion a year) and the costs of reconstruction resulted in a serious financial crisis which was the main short term motivation for the invasion of Kuwait.A Rendering of Tahrir Square, the first phase of the Baghdad Renaissance Plan, a private investment reconstruction effort.

On November 20, 2004, the Paris Club of creditor nations agreed to write off 80% ($33 billion) of Iraq's $42 billion debt to Club members. Iraq's total external debt was around $120 billion at the time of the 2003 invasion, and had grown by $5 billion by 2004. The debt relief will be implemented in three stages: two of 30% each and one of 20%.[7]At the end of 2005, and in the first half of 2006, Iraq implemented a restructuring of about $20 billion of commercial debt claims on terms comparable to that of its November 2004 Paris Club agreement (i.e. with an 80% writeoff). Iraq offered to its larger claimants a U.S. dollar denominated bond maturing in 2028. Smaller commercial claimants received a cash settlement of comparable value.ReconstructionReconstruction in Iraq has been difficult, due to the amount of damage done to the basic infrastructure of the region; the influx of US invasion and the strife among factions within the native populace. Large-scale reconstruction efforts have had, at best, limited success.DemographicsA July 2005 estimate of the total Iraqi population is 26,074,906.Seventy-five to eighty percent of Iraq's population are Arabs; the other major ethnic groups are the Kurds at 15-20%, Assyrians, Iraqi Turkmen and others (5%), who mostly live in the north and northeast of the country. The Kurds, Assyrians, and Turkmen differ from Arabs in many ways, including culture, history, clothing, and language. Other distinct groups are Persians and Armenians (possible descendants of the ancient Mesopotamian culture). About 20,000–50,000 Marsh Arabs live in southern Iraq.Arabic and Kurdish are official languages. Assyrian and Turkmen are official languages in areas where the Assyrians and Iraqi Turkmen are located respectively. Armenian and Persian are also spoken but to a lesser extent. English is the most commonly spoken Western language.Most of Iraqis are Shi'ite Muslims (60%), and Sunni represent one third of the total population (35%) made up of mostly Arabs and Kurds. Ethnic Assyrians (of the Chaldean rite) account for most of Iraq's sizable Christian population, along with Armenians. Bahá'ís, Mandaeans, Shabaks, and Yezidis also exist. Most Kurds are Sunni Muslims, although the Faili (Feyli) Kurds are largely Shi'a.Ethnic Composition:Ethnic groups: Arab, 75–80%; Kurdish, 15-20%; Turkoman, Assyrian or other 5%.Religions: Muslim, 97%; Christian or other, 3%.Proportions: There are no official figures available, mainly due to the highly politically charged nature of the subject. Source: Britannica: Shi'a 60%, Sunni 40% Source: CIA World Fact Book: Shi'a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%Shi'a: mostly Arabs some Turkmen and Faili Kurds almost all are Twelver schoolSunni: composed of Arabs who are Hanafi school and Kurds who are Shafi schoolCultureAn Iraqi girl living next to Al Daura Oil Refinery.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. Markets and bartering are the common form of trade.MusicIraq 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 Kazem al Saher, whose songs include Ladghat E-Hayya, which was banned for its racy lyrics.