Iraq: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, history, size, population, and government of the country Iraq.

IRAQ

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Location--At the eastern end of the Levant, stretching from the mountains of Turkey in the north to the Persian Gulf in the southeast, Iraq is bordered on the east by Iran and shares borders in the desert to the west with Syria and Jordan. Saudi Arabia lies to the south and Kuwait is to the southeast.

How Created--Iraq is the Mesopotamia of Western literature. It is dependent upon 2 great rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, which create livable country out of the desert, but these interior rivers could not establish borders for Iraq. Sumeria, Assyria, Babylonia, the Persian Empires, the Arab Empire, and the Turkish Empires have all chopped the area at will. The present borders are the creation of European imperialist intervention, mainly British and French. These countries drew their own borders after W.W. I, with the rubber stamp approval of their League of Nations. As a result, Kuwait is separate from Iraq, the Mosul region is part of Iraq rather than of Syria, and the desert has boundaries drawn through it.

Size--168,927 sq. mi. (437,522 sq. km.), larger than California.

Population--Over 10 million: Arab, 77.8%; Kurd, 17.9%; Persian, 1.2%; Turkmen, 1.2%; Assyrian, 0.5%; other, 1.4%. 95% Muslim, 4% Christian.

Who Rules--The Arab Baath Socialist party in alliance with the Iraq Communist party through a National Front. The Kurdish Democratic party has been invited to join the Front, but has mainly refused to join. The President of the Republic has extensive powers, and is appointed by the Revolutionary Command Council. The National Assembly is controlled by the National Front. In the Kurdish autonomous region, a separate executive and legislative Government exists, but has limited independence from the Central Government. Various regional assemblies and popular organizations exist in the Arab sections of the country and have roles within the governmental structure, but are dominated by the Baath party.

Who REALLY Rules--Real power is in the hands of a clique within the Baath party, made up of civilians and military officers, but dominated by the civilians. It has been able to beat back challenges from other military cliques, including challenges from the governing clique itself. The Government and party machinery, and perhaps more significantly the military, are now fully in the hands of this group, which is based largely at Tikrit, a small city northwest of Baghdad. The Tikriti clan and its associates have controlled the Baath party for over a decade, mainly through Tikriti military officers.

The Soviet Union and its allies strongly support the Iraqi Government, but have no effective control over the country. Because of these ties to the Soviet Union, the Baath party had admitted the Communist party into the National Front, though little power has passed into the hands of the CP.

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