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Iraq

Flag Description: three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black; the Takbir (Arabic expression meaning "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

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  • Official Name Republic of Iraq 

  • Population 26,298,000

  • 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%

  • Capital City Baghdad (6 million) 

  • Languages Arabic, Kurdish, others 

  • Official Currency Iraqi Dinar  

  • Latitude/Longitude 33º 33N, 44º 44E 

  • Land Area 437,370 sq km (168,869 sq miles) 

  • Landforms Most of Iraq is a series of broad, sandy plains. In the far-west, the Syrian Desert covers the land, and in the far-southeast near the Persian Gulf, the land is low, marshy, and often flooded. It's mountainous in the far-north, as the Zagros Mountains front its borders with Iran and Turkey. The highest point, a unamed peak, rises to 11,795 ft. (3,595 m). Two historically significant rivers, the Euphrates and Tigris, drain the land. 

  • Land Divisions 18 governorates

  1. Baghdad(بغداد)
  2. Salah ad-Din (صلاح الدين)
  3. Diyala (ديالى)
  4. Wasit (واسط)
  5. Maysan(ميسان)
  6. Al-Basrah(البصرة)
  7. Dhi Qar(ذي قار)
  8. Al-Muthanna(المثنى)
  9. Al-Qadisiyyah (القادسية)
  10. Babil (بابل)
  11. Al-Karbala' (كربلاء)
  12. An-Najaf(النجف)
  13. Al-Anbar(الأنبار)
  14. Ninawa (نينوى)
  15. Dahuk(دهوك)
  16. Arbil(أربيل)
  17. Kirkuk (التاميم)
  18. As-Sulaymaniyyah (السل

 

raq, an ancient land, was once at the heart of the Mesopotamia culture, the world's first civilization. Over the centuries, numerous empires dominated Mesopotamia, the fertile land between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. The city of Baghdad became the most significant commercial and cultural center in the entire Muslim world. Dozens of invasions and wars would follow, and in 1638, it was conquered by the Ottoman Turks. 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 have ruled the country since then, the latest was Saddam Hussein. 

 

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. 

At around 0230 GMT,March 20 2003 shortly after the 48-hour deadline for Saddam to quit Iraq expires, America launches its first series of air strikes on Baghdad. George Bush says the US has begun attacks against 'targets of military opportunity'. Saddam Hussein gives a televised address to the Iraqi people at around 0530 GMT, calling the attack a 'shameful crime' and vowing to win the war. China, France and Russia denounce the US-led action.

At around 1805 GMT, US planes begin a heavy bombardment of military targets in central Baghdad. Later on, British marines invade the Faw peninsula in the south of the country.

The US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 ousted the Saddam Hussein regime. Coalition forces remain in Iraq, helping to restore degraded infrastructure and facilitating the establishment of a freely elected government. The Coalition Provisional Authority transferred sovereignty to the Interim Government on 28 June 2004.

 

U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein on 13 December 2003 after finding him hiding in a small underground pit on a farm near the town of Tikrit. Late in 2005 he went on trial in Iraq for the 1982 deaths of over 140 men in the town of Dujail. On 5 November 2006 he was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. The sentence was upheld after appeal, and Hussein was executed by hanging in Baghdad on the morning of 30 December 2006.

 

U.S State Department Profile

Geography
Area: 437,072 sq. km.; about the size of California.
Cities: Capital--Baghdad (5.7 million, 2004 estimate). Other cities--Basrah, Mosul, Kirkuk, Sulaymaniyah, Erbil.
Terrain: Alluvial plains, mountains, and desert.
Climate: Mostly hot and dry.

People
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Iraqi(s).
Population (July 2009 est.): 28,945,657.
Population growth rate (2009 est.): 2.507%.
Ethnic groups: Arab 75%-80%, Kurd 15%-20%, Turcoman, Chaldean, Assyrian, or others approximately 5%.
Religions: Muslim 97%, Christian and others approximately 3%.
Languages: Arabic (official), Kurdish (official), Turcoman (a Turkish dialect), Assyrian, Armenian.
Education: Years compulsory--primary school (age 6 through grade 6). Literacy (2006 UNESCO est.)--74.1%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--43.82 deaths/1,000 live births. Life expectancy--69.94 yrs. (2009 est.).

Government
Type: Parliamentary democracy.
Constitution: October 15, 2005.
Independence: On October 3, 1932, Iraq gained independence from British administration under a League of Nations Mandate. Several coups after 1958 resulted in dictatorship, with the Ba’ath Party seizing power in 1963 and again in 1968. From July 1979 to March 2003, Iraq was ruled by Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath Party. Following the overthrow of the regime by a U.S.-led coalition in March-April 2003, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) assumed administrative and security responsibility for Iraq while Iraqi political leaders and the Iraqi people established a transitional government. On June 28, 2004, the CPA transferred sovereignty to the Iraqi Interim Government. A new 4-year, constitutionally based government took office in March 2006, and a new cabinet was installed in May 2006. On June 31, 2009, U.S. troops withdrew from urban areas, a step that reinforced Iraqi sovereignty. On March 7, 2010, Iraq held a second round of national elections to choose the members of the Council of Representatives and, in turn, the executive branch of government.
Branches: Executive--Presidency Council (one president and two vice presidents; this configuration may change following the March 2010 national elections and the formation of a new government; Council of Ministers (one prime minister, two deputy prime ministers, and 37 cabinet ministers). Judicial--Supreme Court appointed by the prime minister and confirmed by the Council of Representatives. Legislative--Council of Representatives (COR) consisting of 325 members.
Divisions: 18 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah)--Al Anbar, Al Basrah, Al Muthanna, Al Qadisiyah, An Najaf, Erbil, As Sulaymaniyah, Kirkuk, Babil, Baghdad, Dahuk, Dhi Qar, Diyala, Karbala', Maysan, Ninawa, Salah ad Din, Wasit. One region--the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Economy
Nominal GDP (2009 est.): $65.8 billion.
Nominal GDP per capita (2009 est., PPP): $2,108.
GDP real growth rate (2009 est.): 4.0%.
Rate of inflation (2009 est.): -4.4%.
Unemployment rate (2008 official): 12% to 18%.
Budget (FY 2010): Revenues--$52.8 billion; expenditures--$72.4 billion.
Public debt (Dec. 2008 est.): $46 billion to $87 billion.
Natural resources: Oil, natural gas, phosphates, sulfur.
Agriculture: Products--wheat, barley, rice, corn, chickpeas, beans, dates, cotton, sunflowers, cattle, sheep, and chickens.
Industry: Types--petroleum, chemicals, textiles, construction materials, food processing, fertilizer, metal fabrication/processing.
Trade: Exports (2009 est.)--$39.3 billion; export commodities--crude oil, crude materials excluding fuels, food and live animals. Export partners (2009)--U.S. 27.6%, India 14.5%, Italy 10.1%, South Korea 8.6%, Taiwan 5.6%, China 4.2%, Netherlands 4.1%, Japan 4.0%. Imports (2009 est.)--$41.3 billion; import commodities--food, medicine, manufactured goods. Import partners (2009): Turkey 25.0%, Syria 17.4%, U.S. 8.7%, China 6.8%, Jordan 4.2%, Italy 4.0%, Germany 4.0%.

GEOGRAPHY
Iraq is bordered by Kuwait, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. The country slopes from mountains over 3,000 meters (10,000 ft.) above sea level along the border with Iran and Turkey to the remnants of sea-level marshes in the southeast. Much of the land is desert or wasteland. The mountains in the northeast are an extension of the alpine system that runs eastward from the Balkans into southern Turkey, northern Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, terminating in the Himalayas.

Average temperatures range from higher than 48°C (120°F) in July and August to below freezing in January. Most of the rainfall occurs from December through April and averages between 10 and 18 centimeters (4-7 in.) annually. The mountainous region of northern Iraq receives appreciably more precipitation than the central or southern desert region.

PEOPLE
Almost 75% of Iraq's population lives in the flat, alluvial plain stretching southeast from Baghdad and Basrah to the Persian Gulf. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers carry about 70 million cubic meters of silt annually to the delta. Known in ancient times as Mesopotamia, the region is the legendary locale of the Garden of Eden. The ruins of Ur, Babylon, and other ancient cities are located in Iraq.

Iraq's two largest ethnic groups are Arabs and Kurds. Other distinct groups include Turcoman, Chaldeans, Assyrians, and Armenians. Arabic is the most commonly spoken language. Kurdish is spoken in the north, and English is the most commonly spoken Western language.

The majority (60%-65%) of Iraqi Muslims are members of the Shi'a sect, but there is a large (32-37%) Sunni population as well, made up of both Arabs and Kurds. Most Kurds are Sunni Muslim but differ from their Arab neighbors in language and customs. Communities of Christians, Mandaeans, and Yezidis also exist. Iraq’s once-substantial Jewish community has almost completely disappeared from the country.

In recent years, a large number of Iraqis have been displaced, and there are currently 229,000 Iraqi refugees registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, and Iran. UNHCR estimates that approximately 1.5 million Iraqis displaced by sectarian violence following the Samarra Mosque bombing of February 2006 remain internally displaced inside Iraq. For more information on Iraqi refugees, internally displaced persons, and conflict victims, please visit: http://www.state.gov/g/prm/108717.htm.

HISTORY
Once known as Mesopotamia, Iraq was the site of flourishing ancient civilizations, including the Sumerian, Babylonian, and Parthian cultures. Muslims conquered Iraq in the seventh century A.D. In the eighth century, the Abassid caliphate established its capital at Baghdad. The territory of modern Iraq came under the rule of the Ottoman Turks early in the 1500s.

At the end of World War I, Ottoman control ended and Iraq came under the authority of a British mandate. When it was declared independent in 1932, the Hashemite family, a branch of which also ruled Jordan, ruled as a constitutional monarchy. In 1945, Iraq joined the United Nations and became a founding member of the Arab League. In 1956, the Baghdad Pact allied Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom, and established its headquarters in Baghdad.

Gen. Abdul Karim Qasim took power in a July 1958 coup, during which King Faysal II and Prime Minister Nuri as-Said were killed. Qasim ended Iraq's membership in the Baghdad Pact in 1959. Qasim was assassinated in February 1963, when the Arab Socialist Renaissance Party (Ba'ath Party) took power under the leadership of Gen. Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr as prime minister and Col. Abdul Salam Arif as president.

Nine months later, Arif led a coup ousting the Ba'ath government. In April 1966, Arif was killed in a plane crash and was succeeded by his brother, Gen. Abdul Rahman Mohammad Arif. On July 17, 1968, a group of Ba'athists and military elements overthrew the Arif regime. Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr reemerged as the President of Iraq and Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC).

In July 1979, Bakr resigned, and his cousin Saddam Hussein, already a key figure in the Ba’ath party and the RCC, assumed the two offices of President and RCC Chairman. The Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) devastated the economy of Iraq. Iraq declared victory in 1988 but actually achieved a weary return to the status quo antebellum. The war left Iraq with the largest military establishment in the Gulf region but with huge debts and an ongoing rebellion by Kurdish elements in the northern mountains. The government suppressed the rebellion by using chemical and biological weapons on civilian targets, including a mass chemical weapons attack on the Kurdish city of Halabja that killed several thousand civilians.

Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, but a U.S.-led coalition acting under United Nations (UN) resolutions expelled Iraq in February 1991. After the war, Kurds in the north and Shi'a Muslims in the south rebelled against the government of Saddam Hussein. The government responded quickly and with crushing force, killing thousands, and pursued damaging environmental and agricultural policies meant to drain the marshes of the south. As a result, the United States, United Kingdom, and France established protective no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq. Coalition forces enforced no-fly zones in southern and northern Iraq to protect Iraqi citizens from attack by the regime and a no-drive zone in southern Iraq to prevent the regime from massing forces to threaten or again invade Kuwait. In addition, the UN Security Council required the regime to surrender its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and submit to UN inspections. When the regime refused to fully cooperate with the UN inspections, the Security Council passed a series of Chapter VII sanctions to prevent further WMD development and compel Iraqi adherence to international obligations.

Citing Iraq’s failure to comply with UN inspections, a U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq in March-April 2003 and removed the Ba'ath regime, leading to the overthrow of the dictator Saddam Hussein. (Following his capture in December 2003 and subsequent trial, Saddam Hussein was executed on December 30, 2006 by the Government of Iraq.) The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) assumed security and administrative responsibility for Iraq while Iraqi political leaders and the Iraqi people established a transitional administration. The CPA’s mission was to restore conditions of security and stability and to create conditions in which the Iraqi people could freely determine their own political future. The UN Security Council acknowledged the authority of the Coalition Provisional Authority and provided a role for the UN and other parties to assist in fulfilling these objectives.

The CPA disbanded on June 28, 2004, transferring sovereign authority for governing Iraq to the Iraqi Interim Government (IIG). Based on the timetable laid out in the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL), the IIG governed Iraq until elections were held on January 30, 2005; thereafter, the Iraqi Transitional Government assumed authority.

In May 2005, the Iraqi Transitional Government appointed a multi-ethnic committee to draft a new Iraqi constitution. The new constitution was finalized in September 2005, and was ratified in a nationwide referendum on October 15, 2005. On December 15, 2005, Iraqis again went to the polls to participate in the first national legislative elections as established by the new constitution. The new 4-year, constitutionally based government took office in March 2006, and the new cabinet was approved and installed in May 2006. By that time, following the February 2006 bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samara, violence in the country was widespread.

The ongoing violence and instability prompted President George W. Bush to increase troop numbers in Iraq (the “surge” in U.S. forces) in an attempt to improve the security situation and give Iraqi political leaders an opportunity to address the many problems that plagued the Iraqi people. Following the troop increase and adjustments to military strategy, violence declined, thereby providing political space and an improved environment for leaders to make progress on difficult national issues.

In January 2009 two bilateral agreements between the United States and the Government of Iraq took effect: 1) the “Agreement between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq On the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq and the Organization of Their Activities During Their Temporary Presence in Iraq” (referred to as the “Security Agreement”) governs the presence and status of U.S. forces in Iraq, and addresses the withdrawal of these forces; and, 2) the “Strategic Framework Agreement for a Relationship of Friendship and Cooperation between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq” (referred to as the“Strategic Framework Agreement” or “SFA”) sets out a variety of areas and aims for bilateral cooperation and forms the basis for a long-term partnership with the people and Government of Iraq.

On January 31, 2009, Iraq held elections for provincial councils in all provinces except the three provinces comprising the Kurdistan Regional Government and at-Ta’mim (Kirkuk) province. On March 7, 2010, Iraq held national elections in which parties competed for positions in the Council of Representatives and the executive branch.

In June 2009, in accordance with the bilateral Security Agreement, U.S. forces withdrew from urban areas in Iraq. On August 31, 2010, President Barack Obama announced the end of major combat operations, the completion of the withdrawal of all U.S. combat brigades, and the transition of the role of the remaining U.S. military force of 50,000 troops to advising and assisting Iraqi security forces. By December 31, 2011, all U.S. military forces will withdraw from the country.

GOVERNMENT
Iraq is a parliamentary democracy with a federal system of government. The 2005 Iraqi constitution guarantees basic rights. The executive branch consists of the Presidency Council (one president, two vice presidents--an arrangement that may change following the March 2010 elections and the formation of a new government) and a Council of Ministers (one prime minister, two deputy prime ministers, and 37 cabinet ministers). The president is the head of state, protecting the constitution and representing the sovereignty and unity of the state, while the prime minister is the direct executive authority and commander in chief. The president and vice presidents are elected by the Council of Representatives. The prime minister is nominated by the largest bloc in the Council of Representatives. Upon designation, the prime minister names the members of his cabinet, the Council of Ministers, which is then approved by the Council of Representatives. The executive branch serves a 4-year term concurrent with that of the Council of Representatives.

Iraq's legislative branch consists of an elected Council of Representatives (COR). After the 2005 elections, the Council of Representatives consisted of 275 members, each of whom was elected to a 4-year term of service. Following the March 7, 2010 elections the COR consists of 325 members to reflect an increase in the population of Iraq. At least one-quarter of the members of the Council of Representatives must be female. The responsibilities of the Council of Representatives include enacting federal laws, monitoring the executive branch, and electing the president of the republic.

Iraq's judicial branch is independent, and is under no authority but that of the law. The federal judicial authority is comprised of the Higher Judicial Council, Federal Supreme Court, Court of Cassation, Public Prosecution Department, Judiciary Oversight Commission, and other federal courts. The Higher Judicial Council supervises the affairs of the federal judiciary. The Federal Supreme Court has limited jurisdiction related to intra-governmental disputes and constitutional issues. The appellate courts appeal up to the Court of Cassation, the highest court of appeal. The establishment of the federal courts, their types, and methods for judicial appointments are set forth by laws enacted by the Council of Representatives.

Principal Officials of the Iraqi National Unity Government
President--Jalal Talabani
Vice President--Adil Abd al-Mahdi
Vice President--Tariq al-Hashimi
Prime Minister--Nuri al-Maliki
Deputy Prime Minister--Rafi al-Issawi
Deputy Prime Minister--Rowsch Nuri Shaways
Minister of Defense--Abd al-Qadir Muhammad Jassim al-Mufriji al-Ubaydi
Minister of Finance--Bayan Baqir Jabr Sulagh al-Zubaydi
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Hoshyar Mahmud Zebari
Minister of Interior--Jawad Karim al-Bulani
Minister of Oil--Husayn al-Shahristani

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Recent Elections
On January 31, 2009, Iraq held elections for provincial councils in all provinces except for the three provinces comprising the Kurdistan Regional Government and Kirkuk (al-Tamim) province.

On March 7, 2010 Iraq held national parliamentary elections based on an open list system that elected the members of the Council of Representatives, who will elect the President and approve the next executive branch appointments. The Iraqi National Movement coalition led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi won the most seats (91), followed by Prime Minister al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition (89 seats), the Kurdish bloc (headed by Kurdistan Democratic Party President Masud Barzani and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan President Jalal Talabani, with a total of 57 seats), the Iraqi National Alliance led by Muqtada al-Sadr (70 seats), and other smaller political and minority parties (18 seats).

Major Political Parties and Organizations and Leaders
Badr Organization [Hadi al-Amiri]; Da'wa al-Islamiya Party [Nouri Kamil al-Maliki]; Goran List [Nowshirwan Mustafa]; Independents Bloc [Husayn al-Shahristani]; Iraqi Front for National Dialogue [Salih al-Mutlaq]; Accord/Withaq [Ayad Allawi]; Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq or ISCI [Ammar Adb al-Aziz al-Hakim]; Kurdistan Democratic Party or KDP [Mas’oud Barzani]; National Movement of Reform and Development/Al-Hal (Kamil Karem al-Dulaimi]; Patriotic Union of Kurdistan or PUK [Jalal Talabani]; Renewal/Tajdeed List [Tariq al-Hashimi]; Sadrist Trend [Muqtada al-Sadr].

Smaller Parties and Organizations and Leaders
Future Gathering [Rafi’ al-Issawi]; Iraqi Islamic Party [Osama al-Tikriti]; Iraqi Justice and Reform Movement [Ajeel al-Yawer]; Iraqi National Congress/INC [Ahmad CHALABI]; Iraqi Turcoman Front [Saad al-Din Mohammed Amen]; Iraqiyoon [Osama al-Nujaifi]; Iraq Unity Alliance [Jawad al-Bulani and Sa’doun al-Dulaimi]; Islamic Virtue Party/Al-Fadilah [Hashim al-Hashimi]; Kurdistan Islamic Union [Salah ad-Din Muhammad Baha al-Din]; Kurdistan Islamic Group [Ali Bapir]; Life Current [Eskandar Witwit]; National Reform Current [Ibrahim al-Ja’afari]; Sons of Rafidain [Salam al-Zowba’e].

Minority Parties and Organizations and Leaders
Rafidan List/Assyrian Democratic Movement [Younadam Kanna]; Assyrian Chaldean Syriac People’s Council [Khalis Estepho]; Shabak [Jamshed al-Shabaki]; Yezedi [Ameen Jejjo]; Sabi’/Manda’i [Khalid al-Roomi].

ECONOMY
Historically, Iraq's economy was characterized by heavy dependence on oil exports and emphasis on development through central planning. Prior to the outbreak of the war with Iran in September 1980, Iraq's economic prospects were bright. Oil production had reached a level of 3.5 million barrels per day, and oil revenues were $21 billion in 1979 and $27 billion in 1980. At the outbreak of the war, Iraq had amassed an estimated $35 billion in foreign exchange reserves.

The Iran-Iraq war depleted Iraq's foreign exchange reserves, devastated its economy, and left the country saddled with foreign debt of more than $40 billion. However, after hostilities ceased in August 1988, oil exports gradually began to increase, with the construction of new pipelines and the restoration of damaged facilities. But Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, subsequent international sanctions, damage from military action by an international coalition in January and February of 1991, and neglect of infrastructure devastated Iraq’s economy again. Government policies that diverted government income to key supporters of the regime and sustained a large military and internal-security force further impaired the economy and left the typical Iraqi facing desperate hardships.

The UN created the Oil-for-Food (OFF) program in April 1995 (UN Security Council Resolution 986) as a temporary measure to provide for the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people because of the effect of the continued sanctions regime. The OFF authorized nations to allow the importation of petroleum and petroleum products from Iraq worth $1 billion dollars (U.S.) every 90 days. The Security Council directed the Secretary General to create an escrow account that would hold the proceeds from the sales of oil, and allow Iraq to purchase food, medical supplies, and other goods for “essential” civilian needs. Although GDP fell in 2001-2002 largely as a result of the global economic slowdown and lower oil prices, per capita food imports increased and medical supplies and health care services improved. However, the military action of the U.S.-led coalition from March to April 2003 disrupted the central economic administrative structure. Since then, the rebuilding and enhancement of oil and utilities infrastructure and other production capacities has proceeded steadily, despite attacks on key economic facilities and internal security incidents. Iraq is now making progress toward establishing the laws and institutions needed to make and implement economic policy.

Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector, which currently provides about 90% of foreign exchange earnings. Oil production currently averages about 2.4 million barrels per day, of which about 1.9 million barrels per day are exported.

Iraq is seeking to pass and implement laws to strengthen the economy, including a hydrocarbon law that encourages development of the oil and gas sector and a revenue sharing law that equitably divides oil and gas revenues among the central government, the provinces, and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Implementing structural reforms, such as bank restructuring and private sector development, while simultaneously reducing corruption, will be key to Iraq's economic growth.

Foreign assistance has been an integral component of Iraq's reconstruction efforts since 2003. At a donors conference in Madrid in October 2003, more than $33 billion was pledged to assist in the reconstruction of Iraq. Following that conference, the UN and the World Bank launched the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI) to administer and disburse about $1.7 billion of those funds. The rest of the assistance is being disbursed bilaterally. Since 2003, international donors have pledged about $17 billion in financial and technical assistance, soft loans or potential loan facilities, and trade finance. International donors have exceeded their combined pledges for grants and technical assistance totaling about $5.3 billion by more than $700 million. Total soft loan pledges amount to about $11.8 billion, of which $4.7 billion has been committed. Japan is the leading soft loan contributor, having committed nearly $3.3 billion to projects around Iraq. New programs approved by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank will substantially close the gap between soft-loan pledges and commitments.

In February 2010, the IMF and World Bank approved $3.6 billion and $250 million of support to Iraq, respectively. Both programs are focused on helping the Iraqi Government maintain macroeconomic stability and mitigate Iraq’s vulnerability to external shocks due to volatility in global oil markets. The Iraqi Government has worked closely with both institutions since 2003, including the December 2008 completion of an IMF Stand-By Arrangement (SBA), after which Iraq received the balance of the Paris Club’s 80% debt reduction.

Agriculture
Agriculture is Iraq’s second-largest economic sector (after the oil sector), producing about 12% of GDP, and the second-largest source of jobs (after the public sector), employing at least 15% of the labor force. However, despite its abundant land and water resources, Iraq is a net food importer. Obstacles to agricultural development, most of which existed prior to the removal of the Ba'ath regime in 2003, include government policies and subsidies that distort the market and undermine productivity and competition; outdated technology in plant and animal genetics, fertilizers, irrigation and drainage systems, and farm equipment; inadequate and unstable electricity; degradation of irrigation-management systems; insufficient credit and private capital; and inadequate market information and networks. In addition, the policy of the Ba'ath regime to destroy the "Marsh Arab" culture by draining the southern marshes and introducing irrigated farming to the region destroyed a natural food-producing area, while concentration of salts and minerals in the soil due to the draining left the land unsuitable for agriculture. Assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and other international partners since 2003 has helped Iraq begin the necessary improvements. Current U.S. efforts are focused primarily on helping Iraq transition to a private-sector driven agricultural system.

Trade
The United Nations imposed economic sanctions on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1990. Under the Oil-for-Food program, Iraq was allowed to export oil and use the proceeds to purchase goods for essential civilian needs, including food, medicine, and infrastructure-repair parts. With the lifting of UN sanctions after the Ba'ath regime was removed in 2003, Iraq is gradually resuming trade relations with the international community, including the United States. The United States designated Iraq as a beneficiary developing country under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program in September 2004. Iraq was granted observer status at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in February 2004, and began its WTO accession process in December 2004. Iraq has participated in two Working Party meetings as part of the accession process, one on May 25, 2007, and the other on April 2, 2008. During this long-term process, Iraq must align its trade regime with the rules-based, multilateral international trade system. Through USAID technical assistance, the United States is continuing to support Iraq’s accession to the WTO. Completion of the requirements for WTO membership will help Iraq establish a proven framework for fostering a more stable and transparent economy that will encourage both domestic and foreign investment.

DEFENSE
The Iran-Iraq war ended with Iraq sustaining the largest military structure in the Middle East, with more than 70 divisions in its army and an air force of over 700 modern aircraft. Losses during the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and subsequent expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991 by a UN coalition resulted in the reduction of Iraq's ground forces to 23 divisions and air force to less than 300 aircraft.

In April 2003, the Coalition Provisional Authority officially dissolved the Iraqi military and Ministry of Defense. On August 7, 2003, the CPA established the New Iraqi Army as the first step toward the creation of the national self-defense force of post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. The U.S. Forces-Iraq Assistance and Training Assistance Mission (A&T) currently mans, trains, and equips Iraq's security forces. The Ministry of Interior, with the help of A&T, is training and equipping civilian police forces to establish security and stability. Initially under the command and control of the Multi-National Forces-Iraq (MNF-I) command, in 2006 police and Iraqi Army units began to transition to Iraqi control. By November 2007, all of the original 10 Iraq Army divisions had completed the transfer to Iraq Ground Forces Command. The process of transferring provinces to Provincial Iraqi Control (PIC) began in July 2007, when Muthanna became the first province where Iraq Security Forces took the leading role of security in a province. By December 31, 2008 all provinces had transferred to PIC. U.S. forces remained in Iraq under a UN Security Council mandate until December 31, 2008, and under the bilateral Security Agreement thereafter, helping to provide security and to support the freely elected government. On June 31, 2009, U.S. forces withdrew from Iraqi cities, villages, and localities, in accordance with the Security Agreement. By August 31, 2010, U.S. forces had drawn down to 50,000 troops in Iraq, whose mission transitioned from combat operations to the conduct of stability and support operations through assistance to Iraqi security forces.

FOREIGN RELATIONS
With the fall of Saddam Hussein and the Ba'ath regime, Iraq has taken steps toward re-engagement on the international stage. Iraq currently has diplomatic representation in 54 countries around the world, including three permanent Missions to the United Nations in New York, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, and the Arab League in Cairo. Forty-three nations have diplomatic representation in Iraq.

The Republic of Iraq belongs to the following international organizations: United Nations (UN); Arab League (AL); World Bank (WB); International Monetary Fund (IMF); International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); Nonaligned Movement (NAM); Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC); Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC); Interpol; World Health Organization (WHO); G-19; G-77; Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (ABEDA); Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD, suspended); Arab Monetary Fund (AMF); Council of Arab Economic Unity (CAEU); Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD); International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO); International Community for Radionuclide Metrology (ICRM); International Development Association (IDA); International Development Bank (IDB); International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); International Finance Corporation (IFC); International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRCS); International Labor Organization (ILO); International Maritime Organization (IMO); International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO); Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC); International Organization for Standardization (ISO); International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO); International Telecommunication Union (ITU); Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC); Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA); United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA); United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); World Tourism Organization (UNWTO); Universal Postal Union (UPU); World Customs Organization (WCO); World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU); World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); World Meteorological Organization (WMO); World Trade Organization (WTO) observer.

U.S.-IRAQ RELATIONS
The goal of United States policy is the emergence of an Iraq that is sovereign, stable, and self-reliant. U.S. policy promotes a just, representative, and accountable Iraqi government. The Security Agreement and the Strategic Framework Agreement provide the basis for the development of U.S.-Iraq relations. When announcing the timeline for withdrawing American combat forces from Iraq, President Obama emphasized that the long-term solution to Iraq’s problems must be political and that decisions about the country’s future must be made by the Iraqis themselves. On August 31, 2010, the United States completed withdrawal of combat brigades in accordance with President Obama’s timeline. The remaining U.S. forces (approximately 50,000 troops) will advise and assist in training and equipping Iraqi security forces, and will withdraw by the end of 2011 in accordance with the terms of the Security Agreement.

 

Iraq timeline

A chronology of key events:

1534 - 1918 - Region is part of the Ottoman Empire.

1914 - 1918 - World War I.

1917 - Britain seizes Baghdad.

1920 - Britain creates state of Iraq with League of Nations approval.

1920 - Great Iraqi Revolution - rebellion against British rule.

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

1932 - Iraq becomes an independent state.

1939-1945 - World War II. Britain re-occupies Iraq.

1958 - 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.

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

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

1966 - 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 - A Baathist led-coup ousts Arif. Revolution Command Council (RCC) takes charge with Gen Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr as chairman and country's president.

1970 - Central government and Mullah Mustafa Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), sign a peace agreement.

Petroleum firm nationalised

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

1974 - Iraq grants limited autonomy to Kurdish region.

1979 - Saddam Hussein succeeds Al-Bakr as president.

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

Iran-Iraq war

1980 - 1988 - Iran-Iraq war.

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

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.

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 - Iraq invades Kuwait, prompting what becomes known as the first Gulf War. A US-led coalition forces Iraq to withdraw in February 1991.

Rebellion

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

1991 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 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 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 10 November - Iraqi National Assembly recognises Kuwait's borders and its independence.

Oil-for-food

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").

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

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

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

1998 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 February - Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, spiritual leader of the Shia community, is assassinated in Najaf.

1999 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.

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 ''dodgy'' dossier on Iraq's military capability.

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 - US-led invasion topples Saddam Hussein's government, marks start of years of violent conflict with different groups competing for power.

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 - Suicide truck bomb wrecks UN headquarters in Baghdad, killing UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Car bomb in Najaf kills 125 including Shia leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim.

2003 14 December - Saddam Hussein captured in Tikrit.

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.

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.

2005 30 January - Some 8 million 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 car bomb in Hilla, south of Baghdad, in 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 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 October - Voters approve a new constitution, which aims to create an Islamic federal democracy.

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

2006 January - Shia-led United Iraqi Alliance emerges as the winner of December's 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 Nouri al-Maliki to form a new government, ending months of 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 November - Iraq and Syria restore diplomatic relations after nearly a quarter century.

More than 200 die in car bombings in the mostly Shia area of Sadr City in Baghdad, in 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.

Saddam executed

2006 December - Saddam Hussein is executed for crimes against humanity.

2007 January - US President Bush announces a new Iraq strategy; thousands more US troops will be dispatched to shore up security in Baghdad.

UN says more than 34,000 civilians were killed in violence during 2006; the figure surpasses official Iraqi estimates threefold.

2007 February - A bomb in Baghdad's Sadriya market kills more than 130 people. It is the worst single bombing since 2003.

2007 March - Insurgents detonate three trucks with toxic chlorine gas in Falluja and Ramadi, injuring hundreds.

2007 April - Bombings in Baghdad kill nearly 200 people in the worst day of violence since a US-led security drive began in the capital in February.

2007 August - The main Sunni Arab political bloc in Iraq, the Iraqi Accordance Front, withdraws from the cabinet following a dispute over power-sharing.

Truck and car bombs hit two villages of Yazidi Kurds, killing at least 250 people - the deadliest attack since 2003.

Kurdish and Shia leaders form an alliance to support Prime Minister Maliki's government but fail to bring in Sunni leaders.

Blackwater shootings, Turkish raids

2007 September - Controversy over private security contractors after Blackwater security guards allegedly fire at civilians, killing 17.

2007 October - The number of violent civilian and military deaths continues to drop, as does the frequency of rocket attacks.

2007 December - Turkey launches an air raid on fighters from the Kurdish PKK movement inside Iraq.

Britain hands over security of Basra province to Iraqi forces, effectively marking the end of nearly five years of British control of southern Iraq.

2008 January - Parliament passes legislation allowing former officials from Saddam Hussein's Baath party to return to public life.

Turkish forces mount a ground offensive against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq.

2008 March - Unprecedented two-day visit by Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to Iraq.

Prime Minister Maliki orders crackdown on militia in Basra, sparking pitched battles with Moqtada Sadr's Mehdi Army. Hundreds are killed.

2008 July - The main Sunni Arab bloc, the Iraqi Accordance Front, rejoins the Shia-led government almost a year after it pulled out.

2008 September - US forces hand over control of the western province of Anbar - once an insurgent and Al-Qaeda stronghold - to the Iraqi government. It is the first Sunni province to be returned to to the Shia-led government.

Iraqi parliament passes provincial elections law. Issue of contested city of Kirkuk is set aside so elections can go ahead elsewhere.

Security pact approved

2008 November - Parliament approves a security pact with the United States under which all US troops are due to leave the country by the end of 2011.

2009 January - Iraq takes control of security in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone and assumes more powers over foreign troops based in the country. PM Nouri al-Maliki welcomes the move as Iraq's "day of sovereignty".

2009 February - The political bloc headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki scores big wins in provincial elections.

2009 March - US President Barack Obama announces withdrawal of most US troops by end of August 2010. Up to 50,000 of 142,000 troops now there will stay on into 2011 to advise Iraqi forces and protect US interests, leaving by end of 2011.

2009 June - US troops withdraw from towns and cities in Iraq, six years after the invasion, having formally handed over security duties to new Iraqi forces.

New political groupings

2009 July - New opposition forces make strong gains in elections to the regional parliament of Kurdistan, but the governing KDP and PUK alliance retains a reduced majority. Masoud Barzani (KDP) is re-elected in the presidential election.

2010 ELECTIONS
More than 60% of Iraqis braved the threat of violence to vote

2009 October - Prime Minister al-Maliki announces the formation of a new political grouping of 40 parties, called the State of Law, after a split in the broad Shia United Iraqi Alliance that won the 2005 elections.

Two car bombs near the Green Zone in Baghdad kill at least 155 people, in Iraq's deadliest attack since April 2007.

2009 December - The al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq claims responsibility for a wave of suicide bombings in Baghdad that leaves at least 127 people dead, as well as attacks in August and October that killed 240 people.

Tension flares with Tehran as Iranian troops briefly occupy an oilfield in Iraqi territory.

2010 January - Controversy as candidates with alleged links to Baath Party are banned from March parliamentary polls. A court later lifts the ban, prompting a delay in campaigning.

"Chemical" Ali Hassan al-Majid, a key figure in Saddam Hussein's government, is executed.

Inconclusive elections

2010 March - Parliamentary elections. No coalition wins enough votes for a majority in parliament.

2010 April - Amnesty International says political uncertainty has led to an upsurge in violence.

2010 August - Iraq's top army officer criticises planned US troop withdrawal as premature. He warns that Iraqi military might not be ready to take control for another decade.

Five months after the elections, Iraq's two main political blocs suspend talks on forming a government.

Seven years after the US-led invasion, the last US combat brigade leaves Iraq.

MOQTADA SADR

2010 September - Syria and Iraq restore diplomatic ties a year after breaking them off.

2010 October - Whistleblowing website Wikileaks publishes thousands of classified US military logs on the war in Iraq.

Church in Baghdad seized by militants. 52 people killed in what is described as worst single disaster to hit Iraq's Christians in modern times.

2010 November - Parliament reconvenes after long delay, re-appoints Jalal Talabani as president and Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister.

2010 December - Parliament approves a new government including all major factions, ending nine months of deadlock after inconclusive elections. Some key ministries remain unfilled because nominees could not be agreed.

2011 January - Radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr returns to Iraq after nearly four years of self-imposed exile in Iran.

2011 February - Oil exports from Iraqi Kurdistan resume, amid a lengthy dispute between the region and the central government over contracts with foreign firms.

 

Credit: CIA Fact Book, United Nations, US State Department, The BBC