- Formal Name:
- Republic of Iraq
- 3 bands. Red over white over black. 3 green stars in the white band.
- 167,925 square miles (roughly California and Maryland combined)
- 18,80000(1990) (3,80000Baghdad)
- Ethnic Breakdown
- 75% Arab, 20% Kurds, 5% other
- Gross Domestic Product
- $35 Billion (US) 1985
- Paved Roads:
- 22,397 km
- 2,029 km
- Basra, Umm Qasr
- Baghdad International, Basra International
- 95 other airports, 61 with permanent runways
*Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in W.W.I, the United Kingdom put Iraq under British mandate installing Amir Faisal as King in 1921. The monarchy ruled for several decades, but was eventually overthrown in 1958. This set in motion a decade of coups, countercoups and the political instability of a country adrift. In the 1970's, power began to solidify behind the Baath (Arab Socialist Resurrection) party; partially due to increased spending from oil revenues, partially the result of force. Iraq grew until September of 1980 when Iraqi troops poured over the border into Iran. The bloody, drawn-out battles that lasted the next eight years killed hundreds of thousands (accurate counts are not known) until the war ended much in the same way as it was fought -- stalemate.
During the war years, Iraq spent considerable sums of money enhancing her military forces. Although most of the weapons were Soviet supplied, the Iraqi government also purchased weapons on the international market from France, South Africa, and the United States. Iraq made no secret of its desire to obtain nuclear weapons, although these efforts were seriously set back by an Israeli air raid in 1981 that destroyed Iraqi nuclear facilities. Iraq has developed chemical weapons, the "poor man's nuclear bomb," and became one of the first countries to use them since World War I when they shelled Iranian positions with chemical agents. This increased military spending, coupled with lower oil prices and the devastating costs of the Iran-Iraq war have hindered the economy of Iraq, but dissent is not easily visible given the authoritarian rule of Saddam Hussein.
The recent disagreement with Kuwait stems from long held claims by Iraq to Kuwaiti lands. In 1961, following Kuwait's independence, Iraq made a claim on Kuwait lands saying that the Ottoman Empire once considered them one in the same. Kuwait rejected this claim but that has not stemmed Iraq's desire to this land, as is evident by their August 2nd invasion.
Five weeks of allied bombing has caused considerable damage to the Iraqi military's command, control and communication network. It also took its toll on the civilian infrastructure of command and control, knocking out bridges and telephone switching centers. Water and power have been cut off to several parts of the country and the government is in no position to begin drastically needed emergency repairs.
To compound this difficulty, the United Nation's intends to maintain the embargo on trade with Iraq as long as Saddam Hussein remains in power. Although the sanctions may be slightly lifted for humanitarian reasons, considerable damage has already been done to the Iraqi economy and it may be beyond the point of recovery. In addition, unlike Kuwait which has several billion in foreign assets, much of the money Iraq made over the last decade has been wasted on a massive military machine which now litters the sands of Kuwait. The only asset available to Iraq is oil, and with the price of oil as low as when the invasion started, it is not known if she will be able to produce petroleum at a level that can sustain rebuilding efforts.
Militarily, the offensive threat from Iraq has been eliminated. Not only have all of its weapons been destroyed, but the world community seems very interested in enacting an arms embargo on Iraq for several years to come. Iraq's industry, especially chemical, nuclear and biological technology has been eliminated by allied bombers and new safeguards on trade with Iraq should ensure that she is unable to acquire this technology in the future.
The elimination of Saddam Hussein would be a first step toward resurrecting the country of Iraq, but there are concerns that a weak and disorganized government would be unable to hold Iraq together. Saddam Hussein has eliminated so much of the opposition in his country, many feel there is no alternative to the Baath party, except possibly a coup by the military. Not only are several rebel groups fighting the government, but many of Iraq's neighbors may be interested in land if Iraq is unable to militarily ensure its territorial sovereignty. Syria, Iran and the Soviet Union may see a weak Iraq as valuable land to add to their countries in the future.
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