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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

British Troops Withdrawn from Basra.


England must "bestow its gifts of efficient administration, or impartial justice, of honest finance and of security on backward peoples who, in return for these services were to assume places in the economic and defensive system of the Empire." - Philip W. Ireland on the duties of British Acting Civil Commissioner in Iraq after World War I.

HISTORY IN THE NEWS: DEVOTED TO THE DEEP ORIGINS OF CONTEMPORARY EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD.

TAG: Due to repeated assertion of her interests in Iraq and the difficulty of maintaining them, Britain extended her colonial presence in Basra with occupation in 1914 and again in 1940. But the problems of holding on to influence let alone rule in Iraq have ended in staggered withdrawals in 1930, 1948 and 1958. The latest is 2007. In most cases, Basra was one of the last places occupied.

IN THE NEWS: BRITISH TROOPS EVACUATE BASRA AS PART OF BRITAIN'S PHASED WITHDRAWAL FROM IRAQ. THOUGH THE SHIA MILITIA, THE MAHDI ARMY HAD BEEN SHELLING THE BRITISH INSTALLATION FOR MONTHS AND THE SHIA OF BASRA REGARD THE BRITISH DEPARTURE A VICTORY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER GORDON BROWN ALSO CALLS IT A VICTORY. HE SAYS THE BRITISH ARE MERELY HANDING OVER SECURITY DUTIES TO THE IRAQI ARMY AND ARE WITHDRAWING FROM BASRA TO TAKE ON AN 'OVER-WATCH' ROLE.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The British have maintained an interest in Iraq for at least 300 years, first in trade, afterwards as an imperial link between India and the Levant; then as a source of oil; then as part of the Middle Eastern front in World War I. British participation in the last two Iraq wars have been an extension of a more or less implicit Anglo-Amercan alliance that has lasted for almost a century.

IN A NUTSHELL: After the British set up a diplomatic legation in Basra to represent trading interests in the Persian Gulf region in the 17th century, Basra's political importance grew with the British Empire. By the end of the 19th century, Basra and Baghdad together were regarded as vital strategic links between British India and British interests in the rest of the Middle East. Oil and and war against the Otttomans intensified the British presence in World War I. British withdrawal after both world wars and her final withdrawal in 1958 were, like the present withdrawal from Basra, staggered and reluctant affairs.

CONTENTS: Scroll down for:

DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
THEN AND NOW
RELEVANT DATES
RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
LOCATION OF NOTE: BASRA
PROFILE: SIR ARNOLD WILSON
CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY
PRESENT SITUATION
PLUS CA CHANGE
CURIOSITY
ARTICLE: 'The End of the End of the End of the British Empire?"
TIMELINE FOR THE HISTORY OF IRAQ

DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS: 1500-2003- Iraq was never a separate entity until it was constituted from remnants of the Ottoman empire by British mandate at the end of World War One. At the beginning of the 16th century, the Mesopotamian region, or Iraq, was ruled by the Safavid Shahs of Persia. By 1533 the Ottoman Turks had wrested Iraq away from the Safavids. The Safavids converted to Shiism and early Iraq is best understood as a disputed frontier region between Ottoman Turkey and Persia- a division which, in effect, has continued in modern Itaq. In the 17th century, an ongoing struggle between Shia Persia and Sunni Ottoman Turkey over Baghdad and the surrounding region soon had the character of a sectarian struggle. Persia and Turkey fought over Iraq well into the 17th century.

Ottoman Sunni control over Iraq wasn't permanently established until 1638, after which the Ottomans divided Iraq into three "veleyats" or provinces: Mosul, which was mainly Kurdish and Sunni; Baghdad which was Sunni; and Basra, in the south, which was Shia. The Ottoman sultans gave the administration over to Sunni control and the Shia stayed aloof from power and suffered relgious, political and social discrimination.

It was in the 17th century that the British first set up a residence in Basra to represent their trading interests with the Ottomans of the Persian Gulf. By the 18th century, the East India company began to spread its power westward by using Basra as a site for political intervention to promote favourable conditions for British trade between the Midddle East, the Persian Gulf and India.

As the British pursued their trading interests in the Persian Gulf,, many Persian Shia moved into southern Iraq while Persia enriched and empowered Iraq's southern Shia shrine cities of Najaf and Karbala. In an odd sense, there was a de facto underground Shia religious nation that stretched from Basra to Tehran.

As the Shia consolidated their Shrine cities in the south, the 19th century saw the British diplomatic legations in Baghdad and in Basra develop as outposts in the resistance of Russian and German ambitions in the region. Basra was also a centre for Anglo-Indian shippping. It was the doctrine of the British Colonial Secretary, Lord Curzon, that Baghdad and Basra were the linch-pin between British empire in India and the East and British interests in the Middle East.

In 1914, the Germans, allied with Constantinople made Ottoman Empire a zone of control. The British occupied Iraq not just to expel Axis troops but also to gain control of Iraqi oil for the war effort in Europe. Indeed, most of Iraq's oil reserves were in the far south, close Basra. In 1920, after the end of the war and the fall of the Ottoman empire, Britain ruled Iraq under a League of Nations mandate. . Almost immediately, Sunnis and Shia joined in a rebellion against British rule, spearheaded by the Shia south which was in full revolt. But the upsrising was cruched by the British.

Like the Ottomans before them, the British decided Iraq was too difficult to rule and appointed the minority Sunnis to rule the country. In 1921, the British appointed King Faisal of Jordan's Hashemite Sunni dynasty as king of Iraq. In 1922, there was another revolt, this time against the imposition of a king by a foreign power. It was led by the Shia religious elite or Mujtahids. The revolt was put down by the British and their Sunni allies. Then as now, under the current US-British occupation, there was a strong suspicion of Persian complicity in the Shia rebellions

The British decided Iraq was too difficult to rule and granted it nominal independence in 1933 on the condition that Britian could maintain two air bases in Iraq, one at Basra and the other near Baghdad. For the next few years, London continued to work behind the scenes. In an attempt to get rid of British influence once and for all, Iraq allied itself with Germany in World war Two. But by 1945 Britain was victorious in Iraq as it was elsewhere in the Middle East.

While Britain and other western nations continued to maintain an interest in Iraqi oil, there were new political developments. In the 1950s under King Faisal II, Iraq joined the Baghdad Pact aligning itself with the United States, Britain and other western and Arab nations against the Soviet Union. In 1958, the Baghdad Pact collapsed and Colonel Karim Qasim took power in a Communist-backed military coup. King Faisal was executed and the British expelled once and for all.

THEN AND NOW: In 1958, the nationalist coup of Colonel Qassim ousted the pro-British monachical government and executed King Faisal II. Though the last British bases were evacuated and the Britain's remaining advisors expelled from the country, the British exit could easily be presented as part Britain's gradual process of granting the Iraqis complete self-rule. In 2007, Britain's formal withdrawal from its base in Basra is presented as a planned recognition of Iraqi sovereignty and therefore a success. As in 1958, however, it is also a practical response to an untenable situation: maintaining a presence in the face of southern Iraq's effective rule by increasingly powerful Shia relgious parties and militias.

RELEVANT DATES for the British in Iraq.

1668- the Ottomans take Basra.

-17th century- the British, Dutch and Portuguese establish trading posts in Iraq. The British set up a residence in Basra.

-18th century- due to repeated wars between Persia and Afghanistan, the British move headquarters for Middle Eastern trade westward to the Ottoman province of Basra. The East India company was able to use Basra as a base not just for trade but for political intervention in the Middle East. It used its power to appoint and dismiss local governors and settled tribal disputes.

1766- Britain's East India company lends the Ottoman Pasha of Baghdad six ships to put down tribal insurrections.

1810- British open a diplomatic residence in Baghdad in addition to the one in Basra.

-Britain's policy in the 19th century is to prevent any other power from becoming strong enough to dominate the Middle East and hence threaten British India and British interests in the East.

-the British interest in the region includes the protection of trade routes to India and the blocking of German and Russian influence in Basra, Baghdad and southern Iran. By the early 19th century the Persian Gulf is entirely British-controlled.

-the British begin developing the canals, sanitation and the postal system as well as prividing protection for Indian traders and pilgrims.

Basra and Baghdad Become Crucial to British India and British Competition with Germany.

Iraq becomes a colonial link to British India.

1868- the British award Basra and Baghdad the Indian Postal system.

1903- Germany, competing with Britain for trade with the Ottoman Empire, completes plans for a Berlin-Baghdad railway.

1910- German trade with the Ottoman Empire has moved from 15th to second place.

1911- Lord Curzon tells the British House of Commons that Baghdad must be included in the sphere of "indisputable" British supremacy.

-British influence against Germany is shored up as the British secure from the local Sheikh the administration of Basra and the navigation of its waterways.

-British-controlled Basra is an Anglo-Indian shipping centre.

World War I

-on the eve of the war: Sunnis participated in Ottoman Gov't, taking key positions. Shiites stayed apart.

-in an effort to calm tensions between them, Germany and Britain agree that in exhcange for the rights to build the Berlin-Baghdad railway, Germany will allow two British to serve on the railway's board.

1914- war breaks out.

-the Germans retain the Ottoman Empire, with the exception of Egypt, as their zone of influence.

-British interested in Mesopotamian oil reserves.

1916- the secret Sykes-Picot settlement for a post-war arrangement makes Syria, northern Iraq and the Mosul oil fields an 'independent Arab Zone" under French protection. Iraq from Baghdad to the Persian Gulf and across through Jordan to Acre on the Mediterranean is to be a British protectorate. Kirkuk would be an autonomous Arab Zone under British protection.

1917- the Russian Revolution puts an end to a Russian offensive into northern Iraq.

-British civilian administrators sent from India regard Iraq as an appendage of India and want to delegate authrority to local Sheikhs. The British military ibjects throughout that such a policy is compromosing military afforts. Some British administrators demand that Baghdad and Basra be annexed as bases for Britih India.

-the subordinates of the British High Commissioner are instructed to control Arab nationalismof the kind that TE Lawrence had let loose in Arabia.

1917- Britain invades northward from the Persian Gulf, past Baghdad, defeating Ottoman forces at the Battle of Ramadi.

-British supported an independent Arabia under the Hasemite Sheiks as a reward for fighting the Ottomans- and because they had Arabian clients in the gulf.

The End of World War I.

-Baghdad and Basra are under British occupation. The area is administered as if it were an appendage of colonial India despite advice to the contrary from experienced Arabists Gertrude Bell and TE Lawrence who are sympathetic to Arab nationalism.

-At the end of the war: Sunni Kurds in the north Sunni Arab Bedouins in the centre and southwest- Shiite Arabs and Persians in the south and southeast.

-Sunni Kurds in the north; Sunni Arab Bedouins in the centre and southwest; Shiite Arabs and Persians in the south and souteast.

-Shiites have oil, agricuture and a seaport. The Kurds had the largest oil reserves.

1920- Treaty Of Sevres- all the Arab Ottoman provinces fall under French-British protection. Promises of an independent Kurdistan and an autonomous Mosul are left in limbo.

-1920- League of nations gives British a mandate to rule over Mesopotamia.


The Seeds of Revolt.

-Britain favoured Sunnis- 20 per cent of poulation at that time. Shiites and Kurds rebelled agaoinst British rule.

-Britain favoured Sunnis- 20 per cent of poulation at that time.

-even though the power of the Sheikhs had declined, the British mandate restored their power to create a local ruling class and provide security and to protect british access to mineral and agricultural resources.

-British institution of private property through land registration erodes tribal feudal government by the Sheikhs. And moreso as the Sheiks exproriated tribal land for their own estates.

-as a result tribesmen are reduced to sharecroppers and labourers.

-judicial and police powers given to the Sunni Sheiks leave peasants at the level of indebted serfs. "The social basis for Sheikhly power had been transformed from military valour and moral rectitude to an effective possession of wealth as embodied in vast landholdings and a claim to the greater share of the peasants' production." The Iraqi Information Resource.

-the impact of its development was felt more in the agrcultural south than in the north.

-the biggest Sheikhly states developed in land recovered by irrigation and dams after WW I. Most autocratic were in the rice-growing Al Amarah region which exploited the greatest amount of labour.

1919-1920- British Commissioner for Iraq, Sir Arnold Wilson, having no faith in Iraqis' ability to govern themselves, manipulates the results of popular plebiscites on self-government.

-Sunni Sheikhs continue to administer the Shia on behalf of Britain, getting control of schools, the army and the economy. They use force to repress rivals and repress the general population.

Sunni-Shia revolt against British.

-in protest Shia refused to participate in government and boycotted elections. The centre of revolt was the Hawza in Najaf. Since the British invaded in 1914, every secular regime has tried to break the power of the Shiite clergy.

-Mahdist movements among Shiites have often fought agianst western imperialism.

1919-1920 -conflicts between Sunni and Shia put aside as a Sunni nationalist movement joins forces with the Mujtahids, the Shia relegious leaders of Najaf and Karbala.

-1920: Ayatollah Muhmmad Taqi al-Shirazi declared cooperation with British administration to be a violation of religious law.

-As soon as Sir Arnold Wilson announces the establishment of the British Mandate over Iraq, Shiites and Kurds rebel against British rule. Big Shiite rebellion in south.

-the revolt is crushed by the end of the summer.

-British realize that direct rule of Iraq is impossible so they license the Sunnis to rule.

Hashemite King Faisal.

-Faisal set up as king by British colonial officials in 1921. A Reward for his Hashemite family's support of Britsh during WW I.

-after WWI British installed a Saudi Arabian King- Faisal I and maintained cohesion with the British army.

-Faisal or his family had no roots in Iraq. Seen in Iraq (recently part of Ottoman Empire) as a British puppet.

-Faisal set up as king by British colonial officials in 1921. A Reward for his Hashemite family's support of British during WW I.

-this is the birth of the modern iraqi state.

-1921- at a conference in Cairo convened by colonial secretary Winston Churchill, the Anglo-Iraqi treaty to last 20 yrs signed by the iraqi gov't defining relations between Colonial Britain and Iraqi kingdom. But it has to be ratified by the assembly and elections for the assmebly won;t be held til 1923.

1922-the Anglo Iraqi Treaty of Alliance- recongizes Iraqi independence on condition of the presence of British advisors, a British hand in foreign policy and British control of the army.

The Rebellion of 1922- the Shia Mujtahids.

1922- the Shia mujtahids or high jurists who are mostly Iranian felt that Faisal had broken a promise that he would never serve foreign interests- by continually serving the British instead of freeing them from the british. They considered him a British agent.

-Mujtahids increase pressure on Faisal and try to start another revolt like the one crushed in 1920. Since they are mostly Iranian this could be doen using immigration law. Decree issued against foeeginers engaged in anti-government activity.

-Leading Mujtahids are deported. 9 most prominent leave for exile in iran voluntarily.

-elections finally held and Anglo-American treaty is ratified. This was a historic defeat for the Shia, the mujtajids and the persian influence in iraq. Arab Shia sught to disaassociate temselves from the persian Shia and the mujtahids and to stengthen their psotions by supporting the elections.

1930- Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of Alliance renewed for 25 years : Britain would provide military protection and eventual independence if Britain could have air bases at Basra and baghdad.

Iraq Independence.

-1932- Iraq gains independence and joins the League of Nations.

1932-1945- with foreign policies "coordinated" under the treaty of 1930, almost all Iraqi policies required implicit agreement from London.

World War II.

1938- Nuri al-Said seizes power in a pro-British coup.

-pro-German Iraqi Nationalists rally against pro-British Nuri Al Said.

1940-41- Rashid Ali, supported by Palestinian Arab Nationalists take power and attempt at an alliance with Germany and the Axis to get rid of British influence. German support never arrives and the British invade from the Persian Gulf.

-Rashid Ali orders the British to evacuate but the Britsh refuse. Rashid Ali's forces attack the British air base at Habbaniya and seize the Iraq Petroleum Company's oil pumps.

-Germany fails to come to Rashid's aid and the British and Transjordan forces occupy the country for the remainder of the war.

1945- British occupy Iraq- expel pro-axis elements.

-the British retain a few officers in Iraq after the war.

The British Presence in Iraq comes to a slow end.

1948- the Treaty of Portsmouth attempts to redefine the relationship between Iraq and Britain but Iraqi nationalists mistrust the terms and refuse to ratify it.

1953- The Baghdad Pact aligns Iraq with western powers and replaces the Anglo--Iraqi alliance of 1930. Iraq, Turkey, Irana and Pakistan in allaince with US and with support from British against Soviet Union. Many Iraqis oppose this alliance with the West. Pan-Arab movement begins to develop. Iraqi nationalists see that Pact allows for a continued British hand in Iraq.

1958- Baghdad pact collapses when nationalist Col. Abdel Karim Qasim -with Communist ties- stages bloody coup against monarchist government of Nuri al-Said. Army officers set up a 3-man governing council: A Shiite, a Sunni Arab and a Kurd. Qasm becomes premier.

-the last British air bases are closed and the British evacuate from Iraq.

US-British Invasion and Occupation of Iraq. Fall of Baghdad and Saddam to US forces.

-April 9, 2003- Fall of Saddam's regime and baghdad. -huge explosion of Shia ritual and public expression -chest-beating in sadr city- held date palm leaves, green banners and clay tablets above their heads. This was not the modern seculr iraq the world knew. Chest beating for alleigiance to the Imam Hussein- gesture of catharsis and purification. Green plam leaves for ecstasy. Green banners for the Imam Ali. Clay prayer tablets made from the soil of najaf. To touch the tablet with thehead is to touchthe burial place of the first Shai Imam. No political slogans. (Jabar, Middle east Report, Summer 2003)

-the British occupy, administer and provide security for Basra and the far south of Iraq.

2003: The Shia move into power vacuum.

-in the week after the fall of baghdad- 3 million Shia pilgrims -in response to request by exiled SCIRI in iran- marched to the Imam Hussein shrine in karbala to comemorate the arabi'a- the 40 day point after the martyrdom.

-about 400 Baathist buildings and offices thoughout Baghdad taken over by Shiites and converted into mosques, religious schools, Islamic social service agencies, clinics. In otherwords a dense baathist nbetwork has been replaced by a dense Shiite netowrk.

The Shia use their neutrality to consolidate power in the South.

-Sistani issues injunction (not a fatwa) not to attack US troops.

2003-2005- For the first two to three years, the British manage a more disciplined, controlled and less violent administration of the south than the Americans are able to do in the rest of Iraq where run-ins with Moqtada a Sadr's Shia militia, the Mahdi Army embroil US forces in two Sadrist insurrections.. This is ascribed to years of experience with colonial rule.

2005-2007- the perceived British wisdom of delegating much of the security in the south to a the patchwork of local Shia militias gradually begins to backfire. As more Shia become disenchanted with the Occupation, their militias begin to take over many of the local administrations despite British attempts to put in civilian, non-sectarian Iraqi governments and gradually hand over security to the Iraqi army.

-by 2006 most of southern Iraq has been brought under Sharia law by the militias of Moqtada al Sadr, the Badr Brigades of the Supreme Iraqi Isamic Council (foirmerly SCIRI) and the Fadhila or 'Virtue' party.

2006-2007- Feuding between all the Shia parties and miltiasas well, as countless smaller outfits, many of them criminal gangs, makes Basra for a period less governable and more dangerous even than Baghdad. Meanwhile, Iran makes its presence felt, sending arms, supplies, agents and advisors into the British occupied south raising suspicions that Tehran intends to turn southern Iraq into an Iranian protectorate. The British, meanwhile, ae forced to stand by or go on the defensive as their military installations came increasingly under attack, in particular by the Mahdi Army.

2007- July-August- the Mahdi repeatedly shells the British base in Basra.

Sept 2, 2007- Formally handing over Basra to the Iraqi army, the British manage to coordinate their retreat from Basra with a plan for a phased withdrawal from Iraq.


RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS; After the US-British invasion of Iraq, Britain administered and occupied the south around Basra while the US handled the rest of the country. Unlike the US, the British assigned some security to the Shia militias. While British success at keeping the peace and remaining on friendly terms with Iraqis was explained by their long colonial experience, the Shia saw it as a matter of time before they could fill the power vacuum left in the wake of rule by the Sunnis.

Slowly, the mood of the Shia changed. Shia nationalist passions escalated as the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al Sadr's miltia battled US troops. In 2005, the election of a transitional government put the Shia majority in power. The constituion drafted that year fulfilled the Shia-Kurd majority's dream of a federal Iraq with autonomous Shia, Kurdhish and Sunni regions and sectatrian control over natural resources, mainly oil.

The British policy of assigning security to the Shia militias began to backfire. Gradually the militias and ther religious parties took control of local governments and imposed Islamic law. Rampant criminal gangs and feuding between the main Shia parties, Moqtada al Sadr's group, the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council and the Fadhila or 'Virtue' party and their associated militias made the south scarcely governable and brought Basra to near anarchy. The British, meanwhile, could do little but fend off increasing attacks from Sadr's Mahdi Army while Iran, clearly eyeing the region as a proectorate sent advisors, agents, supplies and arms to the militias.

REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS. 3,000 BC- 1500 AD: Historically, Mesopotamia forms a natural region, defined by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. On the north and east it is bounded by mountains, in the south by the Arabian desert and the persian Gulf and on the west by the Syrian and Jordanian deserts. But it is also a fertile lowland region without natural defences. This has given all states that flourished in Mesopotamia the dual character of a self-defined region with clear natural boundaries on the one hand and the object of invasion and rule by outside powers on the other. For Example, Elam, an Iranian kingdom in the bordering Zagros mountains engaged both in rivalry and in cultural interhange with Sumer in Mesopotamia. To this day, a power vacuum in Iraq, caused by the US invasion, is effecting the neighbouring countries- Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Iran- all of whom have interests, invovling security, economic and sectarian issues. In short, from the earliest times, strong government in Mesopotamia has been the guarantor of regional security.

Within Mesopotamia itself, there was also, since the founding civilization of Sumer in the 4th century BC, an internal north-south tension between the city states of Sumer in the southern Gulf region and those of Akkad in central Mesopotamia. The north-south tension within and the external tensions from neighbouring kingdoms without, continued through the ancient period. These tensions were responsible for the development of the first centralized states in human history. (Today, it seems, a powerful state in the same region remains just as important) From northern Mesopotamia, the Assyrians built an empire in the 7th century BC. They were gradually supplanted by the Chaldean Babylonians who formed the last indigenous Mesopotamian state until modern Iraq became independent in 1933.

Around 500 BC, the Assyrians and then the Chaldeans were supplanted by Cyrus, founder of Persia's Achaemnind dynasty. Iraq was ruled by Persia for 800 years until the invasion of Alexander the Great bequeathed it to the Greek Seleucid kings. Indeed, Iraq has been periodically subject to extended foreign rule by Persia, a legacy still reflected in the tensions between Iraqi Sunnis and Shia.

By 50 BC, the Parthians of Iran had taken Mesopotamia from the Greek Seleucids. Rome was never able top conquer Parthia and Iraq remained the Parthians' celebrated frontier against the Roman Empire. The Parthian empire weakened in the second century and in the early third century it was taken from within by the Persian Saminid Dynasty. It was the Saminids who were defeated as Mesopotamia was conquered from the Arabian Peninsula by Islam in the seventh century.

The Shia-Sunni schism in Islam grew from a dispute over the succession to Mohammed between the followers of Abu Bakr, Mohammed's companion and the followers of Ali, Mohammed's cousin and son-in law. The tollowers of Abu Bakr became the Sunnis and ruled a Caliphate from Damascus. The followers of Ali became the Shia and founded their own dynasty at Kufa, near Najaf in Southern Iraq. So it was that Iraq became and remains, the original homeland of the Shia.

In 680, the Sunni Caliph Yazid of Damascus invaded Mesopotamia to put down what the Sunnis considered a Shia heresy. In a battle at Karbala, not far from Kufa, Hussein, the grandson of Mohammed and claimant to the rival caliphate of the Shia was defeated and killed by the forces of Yazid. (The modern Shia of Iraq, who nicknamed Saddam Hussein "Yazid" stil commemorate the matyrdom of Hussein in the festival of Ashura). Afterward, the Shia of Iraq lived mostly under Sunni rule.

From 750 the Sunni Abassid Caliphate ruled Iraq, bringing Islamic culture and society to its zenith under the Caliph, Harun Rashid. In the 9th century, Baghdad became the leading centre for the translation of Greek texts and developments in science. To this day, Iraqi Sunni nationalists look back to the Abassid Caliphate. At the same time, the Shia followed their own Imams until their 12th Imam, known as the Mahdi, was said to have disappeared from the town of Samarra, north of baghdad, into a supernatural realm. (Millenarian tendencies in Iraqi Shiism still anticipate the return of the Mahdi on Judgement Day in which the Shia will triumph over the Sunnis and all foreign and infidel influences in the Middle East; this is the inspiration of the present day movement of Moqtada al Sadr against the Sunnis and the US occupation). In the tenth century, the Abassids were weakened by a Shia dynasty, the Buyids that gained control of Baghdad. By that time, the Abassids had adopted Turkish body guards. The Turkish contingent began to amass political power in Baghdad and gradually gained control over a decaying Abassid Empire.

In th 12th century, the pattern of conquest from without resumed with the fall of Baghdad to the Seljuk Turks. The Abassid dynasty in Iraq fell to the Mongols in the following century. Iraq fell to the Central Asian armies of Tameraine in the 14th century. In the 15th century another invasion from the north ended in rule by the Turkmens. In the following century Iraq finally passed under Persian rule. The conversion of the Persian Safavids to Shiism gave new strength to Sunni-Shia rivalry in Iraq which had been relatively subdued since the martyrdom of Hussein in the 7th century.

LOCATION OF NOTE: Basra. A port city at the north end of the Perian Gulf, Basra was founded as a military camp in 636 by the Umayyad Caliph, Umar I. In the 8th century, it grew into a highly developed Islamic cultural centre under the Caliph Rashid of the Abassid dynasty and became a base for Arab campaigns against the Persian Sassinids. Known for its canals and waterways, it was famed as a sort of 'Venice' of the Persian Gulf. Basra declined with weakening of Abassid rule. It was destroyed in the 13th century Mongol invasions. In the 16th century the rebuilt city was disputed and taken and retaken by the Ottomans and Persians. The British occupied Ottoman Basra in 1914 and in 1930 retained a base there as a condition of granting Iraqi independence. The city became rich with the discovery of oil. The building of a Baghdad-Iraqi rail line restoredmore of its earlier importance. For a while it was a pleasure-loving waterfront city. But its location on the Shaat al Arab waterway, contested by Iran during the Iran-Iraq war led to is partial destruction. Basra suffered again in the the allied invasion of Iraq during the First Gulf War. After the violence of the present Iraq war and under British occupation, the city is a shadow of its former self, having fallen under Sharia law and ridden by internecine Shia feuding.

PROFILE: Sir Arnold Wilson was the British colonial administrator in Iraq during World War One. It was his manipulation of a plebiscite on Iraqi self-rule that incited in the rebellion of 1920. In 1907, Wilson was stationed with the British Indian Army in Iran when he was transferred to the Indian Political Department in the Persian Gulf. In 1915, he was charged with moving troops from India and the Persian Gulf up through Basra in the campaign against the Ottomans. After the war, as Civil Commissioner for Iraq he was distinguished by his fair treatment of minorities and the general improvement of local conditions. After the war, however, he seriously opposed the more liberal of the British civil affairs officials who advocated moves toward Iraqi self-government. At Paris, in 1919, it was Wilson who advocated changing the country's name from the Greek 'Mesopotamia' to the Arab 'Iraq'- as a cover for extending the new, British-controlled mandate to include the oil fields of Mosul. His unbending opposition to Iraqi independence ultimately brought about the Sunni-Shia revolt of 1920. Whitehall, having learned its lesson, withdrew him from Iraq.

CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY: Historically, the river valley of the Tigirs and Euphrates has formed a nautral power vacuum. Self-sustaining indigenous states have been few. After Sumer, Akkad, Assyria and the fall of Chaldean Babylonia to the Persians in 532 BC, Baghdad was not to be the centre of power in Mesopotamia until 750 AD when it was made the capital of the Abassid Caliphate. Even then, the Abassids could be said to have inherited their power from Damascus and the Arabian peninsula. After the fall of Abassid Iraq to the Mongols in 1258, Iraq had no status as an independent entity until the British salvaged it from the remains of the Ottoman empire after World War One. But the British were there well ahead of time. In the 17th century they had set up trade centers in Basra and Baghdad. In the 19th century, the Mesopotamian and Persian Gulf regions were considered by the British as their colonial and commercial link between between British India and her interests in the Middle East. As an independent entity, however, Iraq remained from 1500 until 1920, a marginal, frontier region between the Persian Shia and Ottoman Sunni empires- a legacy which endures today in Iraq's sectarian civil war. The British presence has had been an attenuated affair, originating in trade, progressing to an imperial political rile and finally, 1914, 1940 and 2007 to a military presence.

PRESENT SITUATION: Although the British have formally handed over one large province to Iraqi administration and security and have handed over their base in Basra to Iraqi troops, the increasing power and militancy of the Shia militias and their control of most of the local governments in the south suggests that the British will leave Iraq sooner than they had planned to and not under conditions they had intended. Indeed, the British have never been able to determine the length of their stay in Iraq on their own terms.

PLUS CA CHANGE: The British arrived in Basra as traders in the 17th century. The British army arrived there in 1914 in 1940 and again in 2007. Even their role in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein can in some sense be seen as part of the fading afterglow of the British empire.

CURIOSITY: In 1766, as part of an early strategy for spreading its influence in the region, Britain's East India company lent the Ottoman Pasha of Baghdad six ships to put down several tribal insurrections.

ARTICLE: THE END OF THE END OF THE END OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE?
Hugh Graham, Toronto, September 9, 2007.

Has Britain's September 2nd withdrawal of 500 troops from Basra, Iraq, actually spelled an end to the Empire's strange and attenuated presence there since the 17th century?

The question as to whether British troops have finally begun to leave under the pressure of violent Iraqi resistance or out of respect for Iraqi Sovereignty is the same question that has dogged Britain's repeated, conditional and reluctant withdrawals from Iraq since the first World War. Another question is: will Britain ever really withdraw entirely?

Basra is and always was extremely important. It's in the middle of Iraq's biggest oil fields; it's right beside Iran and it controls access to the Persian Gulf. In the 17th century, the Persian Gulf was a direct route into the heart of the Ottoman empire, so the British set up a trading post there. In the eighteenth century, London shifted the centre of trade between India and the Middle East to Basra because of the wars between Afghanistan and Persia. Finally, Britain's East India Company used Basra as a western outpost for spreading its influence. By 1911, Lord Curzon had declared the region defined by Baghdad to be utterly crucial to the Empire. It linked India and Persia to interests in the Middle East and Africa. By then, the Persian Gulf was a "British Lake".

So when, in 1914, the Ottomans chose the wrong side in the war, the British landed in Basra, among other things to secure a Persian pipeline and the oil it needed to fight Germany. Even after letting go of Iraq bit by bit after 1932, there was no Iraqi foreign policy decision that was not first approved in Whitehall. As with other places around the empire, there was the need to appear to grant sovereignty without quite letting go; there was still the oil, after all. Even more important was retaining some control of the new quasi-nation's foreign policy. That is why Britain has held on so long by its fingernails in Iraq. Nor has it quite dropped. It is still clinging by one hand. Washington's wars in the Middle East has helped maintain the ghost of British Empire there. Britain needs to show its staying power there because many Arab states still count on British military support in return for British arms deals. But for how long?

Over the last century, the British presence in Iraq has never been assured or pleasant. Like the power vacuum that opened in the wake of Saddam Hussein, the void left behind by the Ottomans was more than Britain could fill. In 1915, the Foreign Office ruled through the most powerful Sheikhs. It deputized four leading Shia Sheikhs to police the holy city of Najaf, then changed its mind, removed the Sheikhs' authority and privileges and imposed direct rule. The result was the murder of the British officer in charge and an uprising in March, 1918. Then, Britain decided the entire Sheikhly network had to be broken. British rule was direct, sustained and violent.

In 2003, the British decided they ought to do what they had failed to do in 1918- delegate authority. The Shia militias were allowed to handle security. But by 2004, 150 Shia militias and religious parties had blossomed in Basra alone. In another year, criminal gangs were on the loose, Sunnis were being massacred and the Shia wanted the British out. Neither way worked.

Shia mistrust of the British is much older than that of the Sunnis. They had never known the privilege the Sunnis knew as administrators under both the Ottomans and Britain. In the post-war settlement of 1920, when the British were awarded Iraq as their mandate, it was the Shia who led the Sunni-Shia uprising that was staunched with aerial bombardment. In 1922, after the British put king Faisal I on the throne and signed a treaty of alliance with him, Iranian Shia religious leaders or "Mujtahids" based in Iraq called the king a traitor. That second rebellion failed and the British deported them. Britain was also determined to control the influence of Shia Iran.

And it still is today. Iran has been supplying the Shia militias with arms and training. By last July the Shia relgious parties had de facto control of the south and the British garrison that was soon to leave Basra took 750 mortar hits from Moqtada al Sadr's Shia militia, the Mahdi Army. As in every other case, Britain has needed a way to ease out of the fighting without losing its hand in Iraq or, for that matter, its stance toward Iran.

The British did it in 1930 with the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty which granted formal, if not actual independence to Iraq, provided Britain could keep two air bases there and provide military protection. Nor did the Iraqis like it. When the nationalist, anti-British king Ghazi died in what was seen to be a suspicious car accident, the British consul in Baghdad was stoned to death.

The Empire's next opportunity to reassert itself came in 1940 when Baghdad supported Germany during World War II. With victorious British troops occupying Iraq in 1945, the same question posed itself: how could Whitehall come closer to granting the appearance of independence without giving away the game? While the 1948 Portsmouth Treaty stipulated the evacuation of the two British air bases, it provided a "joint defence board"- a yet subtler way of keeping a hand in Iraq's foreign policy; moreover Britain never really evacuated the two bases. The treaty fooled no one and in 1952, the British troops lingering in Iraq were faced with rioting.

In 1953, the three hundred year British presence was rescued once again by the Baghdad Pact which recruited Iraq to the West's cause against the Soviet Union. The two controversial bases were still occupied and in 1955, rioting exploded again. Three years later there was a nationalist military coup and the British were expelled once and for all.

Or were they? By the looks of it, the Post-Soviet New World Order and then Washington's doctrine of preventative war extended the Empire's twilight in Iraq through two more invasions.

But surely the end is near. In the Persian Gulf, last March, Britannia, which once ruled the waves, was humiliated with the capture by Iran of 15 of her sailors; and on shore, British troops have been evacuated from Basra. But still, they're training the Iraqi army as they did after 1948. And they're keeping their bases as they did in 1953. The former Basra garrison, now at the airport, is standing by with the rest of the troops in a role dubbed "over watch”. They are still on call and they haven't boarded any planes. No, not just yet.


TIMELINE FOR THE HISTORY OF IRAQ:

SUMERIA

3.500 BC- In southern Mesopotamia-Early Summeria- the first development of towns and cities.

3,200-2,334- Sumerian city states in southern Mesopotamia.

-Summerians united at Nippur where they gathered to worship the wind god, Enlil.

2750- the rise of Akkad in northern Mesopotamia under Sargon I.

2,334-2,191- Akkadian Dynasty of the Tigris and Euphrates.

-rivalry and cultural interchange between Mesopotamia and the Iranian Elamites to the east.

-the Gutians raid from the northeast.

2190-2080- the Gutian Dynasty.

2050- local revolt against the Gutians.

2112-2004- Third Dynasty of Ur.

2000 BC- Yazidis believed to exist in northern Iraq. They will develop into a syncretic faith of pagan, Sabean, Shamanistac, Manichaean, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian and Islamic components.

1950- Ur overthrown by the Elamites from the East and the Amorites from the west. Mesopotamia collpases into disunity.

-Amorites foound a dynasty at Babylon.

1894-1595- dynasty of Babylon.

1700- (circa)- Hammurabi of Babylon re-unites Mesopotamia- creator of the great legal code. City State veneration of the god Marduk spreads to the region as whole, parallelling increasing centralized regional control in defence against outside invaders and insurrection from within.

-Babylon falls to Kassite invaders from the north.

1415-1154- the Kassite Dynasty.

911-605- the Assyrian Empire- developes from a confederation of Hurrian tribes in Assur, along the upper Tigris.

1250 Assyrians capture Babylon from the Kassites.

-600 the rise of Nebuchadnezzar at Babylon.

612-539- the Chaldean Empire grows from the Chaldeans of the Persian Gulf region. In alliance with the Medians, the Chaldeans expand to overthrow the Assyrians in the north.

650 BC- the Median clan provides the Iranians with independence from the Assyrians.

625- Chaldeans sack the Assyrian capital at Nineveh.

650-559 BC- The Median Empire.

CYRUS THE GREAT.- THE ACHAEMINIDS.

559 BC- Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaeminid dynasty, leads a Persian revolt against the Medes.

546 BC –The Persians take Anatolia.

-Chaldean Babylon, meanwhile, remains the last indigenous power to rule Mesopotamia until moder Iraq attains independence in 1933 AD .

539- Babylon falls to Cyrus of Persia.

500-330 BC- the Persian Achaeminid Empire expands from Iran through Babylonian Mesopotamia to Egypt.

530-522- BC Cambyses, son of Cyrus takes Egypt, Libya and part of Nubia.

521-486- BC- Darius the Great extends the empire as far as the Aegean and Macedonia; and in the east as far as the Indus. He developes a sophisticated Imperial administration based on the Assyrian model.

513 BC- Darius the Great fails to defeat the Scythians.

THE GREEK-PERSIAN WARS.

512- Darius the Great takes Thrace.

490- Darius the Great invades Greece. He is defeated at Marathon.

480- Darius the Great’s army is defeated at Thermopylae; his navy is destroyed at Salamis.

404-343 BC- Egypt is independent from Persia.

ALEXANDER AND THE SELEUCIDS

323-330 BC- conquest of Mesopotamia and the Persian Empire by Alexander of Macedon.

312-63 BC- the Seleucid Empire covers most of the Middle East, save for Egypt.

PARTHIA

248 BC- the Parthians revolt and take Iran back from the Greek Seleucids.

248 BC- 224 AD- the Parthians maintain an empire in Iran.

171-138 BC- Mithridates I of Iran.

74 BC- the Parthian empire, having expanded westward, includes Mesopotamia, formerly controlled by the Seleucids.

53 BC - Parthia defeats Rome at the Battle of Carrhae.

-Parthian Empire in decline.

216-277 AD- Mani founds the Manichaean belief in Iran.

THE SASSINIDS

224- 651 AD- Sassanid Empire in Iran.

226 AD- Persian Sassinids take control of Mesopotamia from the Parthians.

239-272- Emperor of Iran- Shapur I.

259- Shapur defeats the Romans, captures Valerian.

531-579- Khosrow I Anusharvan, Sassanid emperor of Iran.

591-628- Khosrow II Parviz, Sassanid emperor of Iran.

614-616- Sassanids conquer Syria, Jerusalem and Egypt.

627- Dastagird, the Sassanid city of palaces is sacked by the Byzantines.

ISLAM

many Muslims believe Mohammed appointed no successor.

Ali vs. Abu Bakr: the Succession

-632- 3 months before Mohammed's death, on his last pilgrimmage to mecca, Shiites believe that he stopped his caravan by a pond and said, "Do I not have more to say to you than all the others?" Followers ay 'yes'. Then he says, "All those whom I command shall also be commanded by Ali."

-but Abu Bakr, Mohammed's companion had been asked by the prophet to lead the prayers before hsi death, making him virtual leader.

-but after Mohammed's death in 632- many refuse to recongize Ali.

-Ali- the husband of the prophet's daughter fatima. Muhammed conferred on Ali the succession- to guide the faithful.

-according to Juan Cole: "The Shia developed out of the partisans of the family of the prophet. They believed that Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the propet Moahmmed should have been Islam's first vicar or caliph after the prophet's death. Ali was passed over but finally became the fourth calip in 656."

-Though Ali had been a close deputy and a military commander, Abu Bakr (632-634) became the Caliph or successor.

-Sunnis prefer choosing by consensus whereas Shia want a line of succession.

Mesopotamia.

-637- Arab Muslims take Mesopotamia from the Persian Sassinids.

636-651- the Muslim Arab conquest of Persia.

-Bakr succeeded by Omar (634-644) and then Osman- (644-656) followers from the old Arab aristocracy of Mecca- recent allies of Mohammed. Ali could not accept Osman and joined opposition because, though he differed on matters of doctrine with Bakr and Omar, his differences with Osman were severe. Osman followed by Hazrat Ali.

-Ali accepted the first two prophets Bakr and Omar

-the first 4 Caliphs: Ali and the succession dispute

-Sunnis regarded Ali as the fourth and last of the rightly-guided Caliphs succeeding Mohammed. Shiites regard Ali as the first caliph and that the three who preceded him were false, meanign that they were adminstrators and not Imams or spiritual leaders; and that the descent should only continue through direct descendants of Ali and Fatima.

Ali's followers believed that other Caliphs were unlawful.

-656- assassination of third caliph- Osman by rebels who included the son of Omar. Ali appointed to Caliphate by the rulign tribe, the Quraish. Decided not to punish the rebels severely. he was opposed by Aisha, wife of Muhammed and daughter of Abu Bakr who wanted rebels punished.

-656- Aisha's forces defeated by Ali at battle of the Camel. But he was forgiven.

-and moved to Kufa.

-controversy forced Ali to Kufa.

-657- Ali becomes the fourth Caliph. 4 year civil war starts.

-Osman's relative Muawija wants killers of Osman brought to justice and refused to recgnize Ali as Caliph. Ali and Muawija faced one another at battle of Siffin. When Ali decides to negotiate, a rebel group secedes in protest, Ali massacres tem and majority of hsi army deserts him.

-Muawija makes himself Caliph upon Ali's death.

Kufa and the origin of "Shia" as partisans of Ali.

-Majority of Muslims recongize Osman relative- Syrian Muawija as true Caliph. "Shiite Ali" or party of Ali held out against them.

-661- Kufa- assassination of Ali ibn Abi Talib- first imam- rightful succvessor to Muhammed. Killed by Kharijite extremists in the mosque of Kufa. (Shia = partisans of Ali). Shiites see this act as a rejection of the true succession by the Muslim majority. Buried at Najaf. Ali has since passed his own infallibility on to a series of Imams.

Yazid vs Hussein: the martyrdom of kabrala.

-680- Muawija dies and his son Yazid becomes Caliph in Damascus pre-empting a claim by Ali's son yonger Hussein. Ali's followers send reps to Mecca to Ali's son Hussein to make war on Yazid.

-680- Ali and Fatima's son (prophet's grandson) Hussein aspired to political power. Hussein and his family massacred at Karbala by Yazid son of the Sunni Caliph Mu'awiya. Sunnis do not defend this massacre and agree that victims are martyrs.

-first month in Islam's lunar calendar: feast commemorating the deaths of Hussein and his brother Abbas at the battle of Karbala in 680. At the battle with Yazid, Hussein's forces outnumbered and he was dying of thirst- while Abbas fought his way through to the banks of the Euphrates but was killed bringing water back to the camp. On March 2, Hussein;s followers were massacred anf their leader beheaded. His last words: death with dignity is better than life with humiliation."

-Hussein's infant son Ali survives to continue the line of Ali.

-Yazid founds the Omayyads. partisans of Yazid are Sunnis. partisans of Ali and the martyrs of Krbala are called Shia.

-failure of many Shiites to come to Hussein's aid led to a tradition of desiring expairoty death on the battlefield, and self-flagellation today.

-after the battle of Karbala- many Shia sects develope. That founded by Jafaar becomes dominant. Present day Shiism is called 'al-Jafaariya'. Jafaar's teachings diverged from the Sunnis'.

Abassids in Mesopotamia.

-750- Abassid Caliphate begins. Shiites maintain presence.

-"the tribal mode probably originated in the unstable social conditions that resiulted from the protracted decline of the Abbasid Caliphate and the siubsequent cycles of invarion and devastation." The Iraqi Information Resource.

-lack of central authority and urban society, smaller units prevailed according to their decisiveness, mobility, prowess.

-the Sheiks emerged as the warrior class. The warriror-nomad prevailed over the farmer.

786-809- Caliph harun Al Rashid rfepresents the zenith of the Abassids.

800- Baghdad- population 1 million, Centre of trade and culture.

819-1062- Persia ruled by the Sunni Saminids who win favour with the Abassids because of Shia Buwayhid (a dynasty from western Persia) rule of Baghdad.

-the Saminids restore elements of pre-Islamic Iranian culture, creating a sense of Persian nationalism.

833-841- the city of Samarra reaches its peak under the Caliph Mutasim.

836-892- the Caliph Mutasim moves his capital from Baghdad to Samarra where he institutes a corps of Turkish bodyguards.

861- the Abassids’ Turkish body-guard begins to weild authority in Samarra signaling the decline of the dynasty.

-869- son of the 11th Imam, Hassanal Askari, Mohammed al Qasim, the 12th Imam born. "Mahdi" means "the disappeared".

-870-892- Caliph al Mutamid moves the capital back from Samarra to Baghdad to escape control by the Turkish guard.

Mahdi, the 12th Imam.

-878- disappearance of mahdi in Samaera, the twelfth and last hereditary Shiite Imam 'Askari' who disappeared in Samarra in 873. Went into an invisible supernatural realm as a child. From there he secretly ruels the world. Mahdi will return to lead the partisans of Ali to justice and to paradise.

-892- the capital is returned from Samarra to Baghdad.

-909-1171 (circa) the Shia Fatamids of Egypt threaten the power of the Abassids.

-930s- west Persian Buwahids seize Isfahan, Kerman, and Reyy.

-932- due to relgious laxity, the Abassid Sunni Caliph of Baghdad is supplanted by a Persian Shia Buwahid king, Muizz al Dawla al Buyd.

-941- Shiite leaders declare that the 12th Imam had disappeared to return as the Messiah at the end of time. Mahdi's return is supposed to herald a new age. Believers in this doctrine are called twelvers.

-945- the Persian Buwahids take Baghdad.

-a minority believes in the 7th Imam and calls itself Seveners.

The Shia Buyids in Baghdad.

932-1062- in Baghdad, the Shia Buwayhid dyanasty, originally adopted by the Caliphs as a counterweight to the influence of the Turks, rules the Abassids who are reduced to administrators of their former territories.

The Hawza replaces the 12th Imam.

-992- Najaf: creation of the Hawza to replace the 12th Imam.

1000, circa-- the Turks invade, making several states in Iran

1055- the Seljuk Turks take Baghdad, deposing the Buwayhids.

1057- Tusi, a leading Shiite scholar in Baghdad has his houee and books burnrd by Shiites. He migrates to Najaf. Began teachign at Najaf. His school is accepted as the foundation of all madrasas to come.

1000-1300- The Assassins of Syria make periodic sorties to assassinate sectarian enemies in Baghdad.

1127- the Seljuk Turks take Mosul.

1130 (circa) Sheikh Adi Abin Mustafa, a Muslim Mystic reforms the Yezidi sect of northern Iraq with elements of Sufism. Though a Muslim mystic, Yezidis revere Adi as a saint who became divine after the transmigration of his soul.

The Mongols- Beginning of Anarchy in Iraq.

1258- Abassids destroyed by Mongols. After this Iraq has no central governemnt.

-mid-1300s- extreme instability in Iran and Iraq

TAMERLANE

1381-1387- Persia conquered by Tamerlane.

-1393-1394- Tamerlane conquers Mesopotamia.

1410-1508- Iraq ruled by rival Anatolian Turkmen dynasties, the Ak Koyunlu and the Kara Koyunlu.

1508-1533- Iraq ruled by Persia.

THE SAFAVIDS

1501-1524- Shah Ismail founds the Iranian Safavid dynasty and establishes Shiism as the relgion of Persia.

1514- the Seljuk Turk Selim the Great defeats the Persians at Caldiran.

-1514- War between the Ottoman Sultan Selim,a fanatical Sunni and newly Shia Persia's Sha Ismail who had intervened on behalf of a Shia minority in Turkey.

-early 16th century- Savafids of Persia adopt Shiism.

1524- Persians take Iraq.

1524-1638- Baghdad taken and retaken by Persians and Turks. This conflict over Iraq between the Turkish Ottomans and the Persian Safavids has the character of a Sunni-Shia religious rivalry.

Ottomans take Iraq.

1533- Ottomans take Iraq- Iraq a frontier zone under pressure from Persian Shiite Safavids. Bedouins convert to Shiism to escape Ottoman control.

1555- Ottoman rule of Iraq is confirmed in a peace with Persia.

-Iraq divided between 3 Ottoman provinces.

-Sunnis granted key positions in Ottoman government. The Shiites stayed apart.

-when the Mahdi fails to return, spiritual power passes to an Ulema or council of 12 scholars who elect a supreme Imam.

-end of 16th century. The Shia of iraq are mostly Arab.

-17th century- the British, Dutch and Portuguese establish trading posts in Iraq. The British set up a Residence in Basra.

-1623- the Persian Safavids take Baghdad.

-1638-Ottoman rule of baghdad is restored by Sultan Murad IV.

-18th century: Power of Ottomans in region begins to decline.

-18th century- Iranian Shia begin moving into Iraq where Sunnis are still the majority. But Iraqi Shia maintain their distinctly Arab tribal values. Karbala and Najaf come into their own in historicla importance as Shia shrines.

-18th century- due to repeated wars between Persia and Afghanistan, the British move headquarters for trade westward to the Ottoman province of Basra. The East India company was able to use Basra as a base not just for trade but for political intervention in the Middle East.
It used its power to appoint and dismiss local governors and settled tribal disputes.

1766- Britian's East India company lends the Ottoman Pasha of Baghdad six ships to put down tribal insurrections.

1810- British open a diplomatic residence in Baghdad in addition to the one in Basra.

18th-19th century: Islamic revivalism begins to purge a politically frangmenting and and ecnomiclly and morally decaying Islam of impurities.

-southern migrant tribes begin converting to Shiism desite Sunni missionaries sent by Ottomans.

-most Shia families in Iraq are relatively recent converts- from the 18th and 19th centuries when the clergy of Nakja and Karbala set out to convert the tribes that migrated into the south and west from Saudi Arabia.

-Britain's policy in the 19th century is to prevent any other power from becoming strong enough to dominate the Middle East and hence threaten British India and British interests in the East.

-the British interest in the region includes the protection of trade routes to India and the blocking of German and Russian influence in Basra, Baghdad and southern Iran. By the early 19th century the Pesian Gulf is entirely British-controlled.

-the British begin developing the canals, sanitation and the postal system as well as prividing protection for Indian traders and pilgrims.

Sources of Imitation established.

-1850- Persian 'ulama' (relgious scholars) control most of the schools.

-19th c. revolution in Shiite teaching. Majority of Madrasas accept that only the most qualified jurists could etablish norms of behaviour. Rarely number more than 10- the Marja al-Taqlid or "Source of Imitation." Only a source or "Marja" can give an answer or "fataw' on a point of law.

-increasingly sedentary Iraqi population causes a decline in the power of the Sheikhs.

-Iraq becomes a colonial link to British India.

1868- the British award Basra and Baghdad the Indian Postal system.

1903- Germany, competing with Britain for trade with the Ottoman Empire, completes plans for a Berlin-Baghdad railway.

1910- German trade with the Ottoman Empire has moved from 15th to second place.

1911- Lord Curzon tells the British House of Commons that Baghdad must be included in the sphere of "indisputable" British supremacy.

-British influence against Germany is shored up as the British secure from the local Sheikh the administration of Basra and the navigation of its waterways.

-British-controlled Basra is an Anglo-Indian shipping centre.

Arrival of the British

-on the eve of the war: Sunnis participated in Ottoman Gov't, taking key positions. Shiites stayed apart.

-in an effort to calm tensions between them, Germany and Britain agree that in exhcange for the rights to build the Berlin-Baghdad railway, Germany will allow two British to serve on the railway's board.

1914- WWI-

-the Germans retain the Ottoman Empire, with the exception of Egypt, as their zone of influence.

-British interested in Mesopotamian oil reserves.

1916- the secret Sykes-Picot settlement for a post-war arrangement makes Syria, northern Iraq and the Mosul oil fields an 'independent Arab Zone" under French protection Iraq from Baghdad to the Persian Gulf and across through Jordan to Acre on the Mediterranean is to be a British protectorate. Kirkuk would be an autonomous Arab Zone under British protection.

1917- the Russian Revolution puts an end to a Russian offensive into northern Iraq.

-British civilian administrators sent from India regard Iraq as an appendage of India and want to delegate authrority to local Sheikhs. The British military ibjects throughout that such a policy is compromosing military afforts. Some British administrators demand that Baghdad and Basra be annexed as bases for Britih India.

-the sibordinates of the British High Commissioner are instructed to control Arab nationalismof the kind that TE Lawrence had let loose in Arabia.

1917- Britain invades northward from the Persian Gulf, past Baghdad, defeating Ottoman forces at the Battle of Ramadi.

-British supported an independent Arabia under the Hasemite Sheiks as a reward for fighting the Ottomans- and because they had Arabian clients in the gulf.

The End fo World War I.

-Baghdad and Basra are under British occupation. The area is administered as if it were an appendage of colonial India despite advice to the contrary from experienced Arabists Gertrude Bell and TE Lawrence who are sympathetic to Arab nationalism.

-At the end of the war: Sunni Kurds in the north Sunni Arab Bedouins in the centre and southwest- Shiite Arabs and Persians in the south and southeast.

-Shiites have oil, agricuture and a seaport. The Kurds had the largest oil reserves.

-Britain favoured Sunnis- 20 per cent of poulation at that time.

-Sunni Kurds in the north; Sunni Arab Bedouins in the centre and southwest; Shiite Arabs and Persians in the south and souteast.

-even though the power of the Sheikhs had declined, the British mandate restored their power to create a local rulign class and provide security and to protect british access to mineral and agricultural resources.

-British institute private property through land registration erodes tribal feudal governemtn by the Sheikhs. And moreso as the Sheiks exproriated tribal land for their own estates.

-as a result tribesmen are reduced to sharecroppers and labourers.

-jusicial and police powers given to the Sheiks leave peasants at the level of indebted serfs. "The social basis for Sheikhly power had been transformed from military valour and moral rectitude to an effective possession of wealth as embodied in vast ladnholdings and a claim to the greater share or the peasants; production." The Iraqi Information Resource.

-the impact of tis development was felt more in the agrcultural south than in the north.

-the biggest Sheikhly states developed in land recovered by irrigation and dams after WW I. Most autocratic were in the rice-growing Al Amarah region which exploited the greatest amount of labour.

1920- Treaty Of Sevres- all the Arab Ottoman provinces fall under French-British protection. Promises of an independent Kurdistan and an autonomous Mosul are left in limbo.

-1920- League of nations gives British a mandate to rule over Mesopotamia.


The Seeds of Revolt.

-Britain favoured Sunnis- 20 per cent of poulation at that time. Shiites and Kurds rebelled agaoinst British rule.

1919-1920- British Commissioner for Iraq, Sir Arnold Wilson, having no faith in Iraqis' ability to govern themselves, manipulates the results of plebiscites on self-government.

-Sunni Sheikhs continue to administer over the Shia on behalf of Britain, getting control of schools, the amry and the economy. Used force to repress rivals and repressed the general population.

Sunni-Shia revolt against British.

-in protest Shia refused to participate in government and boycotted elections. The centre of frevolt was the Hawza in Najaf. Since the British invaded in 1914, every secular regime has tried to break the power of the Shiite clergy.

1919-1920 -conflicts between Sunni and Shia put aside as a Sunni nationalist movement joins forces with the Mujtahids, the Shia relegious leaders of Najaf and Karbala.

-1920: Ayatollah Muhmmad Taqi al-Shirazi declared cooperation with British administration to be a violation of religious law.

-As soon as Sir Arnold Wilson announces the establishment of the British Mandate over Iraq, Shiites and Kurds rebel against British rule. Big Shiite rebellion in south.

-the revolt is crushed by the end of the summer.

-Mahdist movements among Shiites have often fought agianst western imperialism.

-British realize that direct rule of Iraq is impossible so they license the Sunnis to rule.

Hashemite King Faisal.

-Faisal set up as king by British colonial officials in 1921. A Reward for his Hashemite family's support of Britsh during WW I.

-after WWI British installed a Saudi Arabian King- Faisal I and maintained cohesion with the British army.

-Faisal or his family had no roots in Iraq. Seen in Iraq (recently part of Ottoman Empire) as a British puppet.

-Faisal set up as king by British colonial officials in 1921. A Reward for his Hashemite family's support of Britsh during WW I.

-this is the birth of the modern iraqi state.

-1921- at a conference in Cairo convened by colobial secretary Winston Churchill, the Anglo-Iraqi treaty to last 20 yrs signed by the iraqi gov't defining relations between Colonial britain and Iraqi kingdom. But it has to bve rartified by the assembly and elections for the assmebly won;t be held til 1923.

1922-the Anglo Iraqi Treaty of Alliance- recongizes Iraqi independence on condition of the presence of British advisors, a British hand in foreign policy and British control of the armmy.

The Rebellion of 1922- the Shia Mujtahids.

1922- the Shia mujtahids or high jurists who are mostly Iranian felt that Faisal had broken a promise that he would never serve foreign interests- by continually serving the British instead of freeing them from the british. They cinsidered him a British agent.

-mujtahids, worried about losing power, feared electionsthat would allow the laity to vote for reps in parliament.

-mutahids feared their own reps would not be elected and the British would put pressure for their own candidates to be elected.

-mujtahids called the elections a "death penalty for the islamic nation."

-Oct 20 Governors instructed to start preparing for elections to the Costituent assembly. Faisal allowed that the Governors be instruected to pressure the electorate to vote only for candidates who were likely to approve the Anglo-Iraqi agreement.

-5 November. Shai clerics decalre in fatwas- participation in the elections illegal- excommunication threatened. One fatwa" "We have passed judgement against the elections. Whoever takes part in them is fighting against God, the prophet and the Imams and will not be buried in Muslim cemeteries."

-in karbala and in Baquba the elections committeees tender resignations.

-Mujtahids put out more fatwas and a direct campaign agianst faisal charging him with consortingf treasonously with the British.

-Faisal, a Sunni prime minister and the British consider expelling the mujtahids to enable the elections they desire.

-Shia fatwas prevent elections in loclaities all over iraq for 9 months. In addition the makor tribal Sheikhs resent the paltry 20 of 100 seats set aside for them in the assembly- fear that the tribes wouldbe out-vote by townspeople. Sheikhs try to exploit the ftawas to put pressure on Faisal to increase their seats.

-Mujtahids increase pressure on Faisal and try to start another revolt like the one crushed in 1920. Since they are mostly Iranian this could be doen using immigration law. Decree issued against foeeginers engaged in anti-government activity.

-Leading mujtahids deported. 9 most prominent leave for exile in iran voluntarily.

-elections finally held and Anglo-American treaty is ratified. This was a historic defeat for the Shia, the mujtajids and the persian influence in iraq. Arab Shia sught to disaassociate temselves from the persian Shia and the mujtahids and to stengthen their psotions by supporting the elections.

-British agree to reduce Anglo-Iraqi agreement from 20 years to 4.

THE SHIA OF IRAQ- p. 113- Sunni educational policy.

1920s- Muslim brotherhood begins in Egypt.

1930- Anglo-Irai Treaty of Alliance renwed for 25 years : Britain would provide military protection and eventual independence if Britian could have air bases at Basra and baghdad.

Iraq Independence.

-1932- Iraq gains independence and joins the League of Nations.

1932-1945- with foreign policies "coordinated" under the treaty of 1830, almost all Iraqi policies required implicit agreement from London.

-1933- Faisal dies and Ghazi is new King. Because of weak rule, tribal and ethnic rebellions break out.

1935- Yezidis refuse militiary service on grounds of pacifism. The Iraqi army arrests, court martials and hangs several leaders of the Yezidi protest.

-1936- anti-British elements in the army seize control of governemnt. Ghazi reduced to a puppet.

1938- Nuri al-Said seizes power in a pro-British coup.

1939- Ghazi killed in a car accident. 3 year old son Faisal II becomes king. Uncle- prince Abdul Ilah rules for him.

-pro-German Iraqi Nationalists rally against Nuri Al Said.

1940-41- Rashid Ali, supported by Palestinian Arab Nationalists take power and attempt at an alliance with Germany and the Axis to get rid of British influence. German support never arrives and the British invade from the Persian Gulf.

-Rashid Ali orders the British to evacuate but the Britsh refuse. Rashid Ali's forces attack the British air base at Habbaniya and seize the Iraq Petroleum Company's oil pumps.

-Germany fails to come to Rahid's aid and the British and Transjordan forces occupy the country for the remainder of the war.

- British defeat Iraq- expel pro-axis elements.

1945- Iraq helps to form the Arab league.

-the British retain a few officers in Iraq after the war.

1948- the Treaty of Portsmouth attempts to redefine the relationship between Iraq and Britain but Iraqi nationalists mistrust the terms and refuse to ratify it.

1948- Arab league wages war on Israel.

1950-52- Iraq signs agreementds with foreign oil companies. Iraq to receive 50% of profits.

1953- The Baghdad Pact aligns Iraq with western powers and replaces the Anglo--Iraqi alliance of 1930 but Iraqi nationalists see that it allows for a continued British hand in Iraq.

1953- Faisal II turns 18 and takes control of government.

1950s- offshoot of radicals in Muslim brotherhood in Egypt wants to pujrify Islam through revolution rather than doctrine. Scholar Ibn Qutb returns from studying in America, horrified at America's 'sexual playgrouns. Wrote 'In the shade of Islam'- strict adherecne to Islam and death for alll tghe world's infidels. Qutb executed in Egypt. His brethren go into exile. Qutb's brother Mohammed flees to Saudi Arabia where he becomes professor of Islamic studies. Has a wealthy Saudi pupil- Osama Bin Laden.

1950s- Iraqis begin to oppose monarchy.

-1955- Baghdad pact- Iraq, Turkey, Irana and Pakistan in allaince with US and with sopport from British against Societ Union. Many Iraqis oppose this alliance with the West. Pan-Arab movement begins to develope.

Al-Da'awa.

-1957- Founding of Al-Da'awa. Intention is to found and Islamist state. Baqir al-Sadr a major al-Da'awa theorist- trying to build a modern Shiite ideology tat could compete with marxism.

-1955-1970- Grand Ayatollah of Shia World is Mushin al Hakim.

-Ayatollah Khomeini teaching in Najaf.

Hawza Nikita

-1950s. Amid quietist Shiite tradition a more radical form develops in iraq, the Hawza Natika- the 'otuspoken Hawza' or the thawra- 'revolutionary' hawza. Condemn the quietists as the 'Hawza samita' or silent Hawza. Coined by Sadiq al-Sadr.

Communist Qasm takes power in coup.

-Iraqi nationalists angered by contiued British influence under the Hashmenite monarchy.

1958- Baghdad pact collapses when nationalist Col. Abdel Karim Qasim -with Communist ties- stages bloody coup against monarchist gov't of Nuri al-Said. Army officers set up a 3-man governing council: A Shiite, a Sunni Arab and a Kurd. Qasm becomes premier.

-the last British air bases are closed and the British evacuate from Iraq.

Baathists move into power,

-1958- British and Saudi rulers expelled by Ba'thist nationalist coup. Power had to be kept away from Kurds and Shiites through oppression.

1958- Chalabi leaves Iraq.

-politico-military role of some tribal Sheikhs abolished by Baathists.

Tribes integrated with Baathism

-tribal system had surivied longest in the mid-Euphrates area, where there was smaller, more individual plots held to tribesmen who were not beholden to Sheikhs.

-as a result there was interaction between tribal customs, the new eduaction system and cicil servants sent to rrural areas resulting in the expansion of central power in Baghdad. Eg.- gov't hydraulic engineer would gain loacl authority and the local Sheikh would supply the labout the engineer required. This replaced military service in the minds of the tribesmen and was beneficial to them. Disputes over water rights were hand;ed by the Sheikh according to tradtiional practice.

-Today: the lack of other binding forms, allowed trbal bonds to maintain social cohesion. Tribal differecnes are also maintained. In the south, the Tigris tribes maintain an Iranian influence; and in the Euphrates tribes have historic links with the Arab Bedouin.

Baathists consider Shia a threat.

-Shiites considered a threat as a fifth column of iran and for recongizing the clerics as their supreme authority.

-Ayatollah Sayid Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr co-founder with Hakim of the Islamic Movement in the 1960s. Both jailed by Baathists.

-1960- Sadiq al-Sadr joined the staff of the journal al-Awa.

1960s- Najaf and karbala fading in influence as Holy cities.

-in the 1960s- Shiite politics was still secular.

Baathists oust Qasm.

-1963- US may have backed a Baathist failed coup against pro-Communist gov't of Qasm.

1963- Qasm assassinated by officers and Baath party members. Abdul Salaam Arif becomes president. Ahamed hasan al-Bakr becomes president. Arif uses military to take over and expel the baath party.

-1964-1968- Khomeini is in exile in Najaf.

Bakr al Hakim joins Bakr al-Sadr.

-in 1960s Baqr al-Hakim joined Ayatollah Sayid Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr in founding the islamic Movement. Both jailed by Baathists.

1966- Salaam Arif dies and his brother Abdul Rahman Arif becomes president.

Final Baathist Coup.

1968- Al-Bakr overthrows Arif and Baath Party takes power. Bans communists- Moderte relations with USD still iran-Iraq war.

Islamic Revival

1970s- a general Islamic revivial begins throughout the Middle east. Attempts t "Islamize" the population with relgious lterature, Ramadan fasting, outlawing of gambling and alcohol. Islam used to reinforce politial movements whether secular or islamist.

-in great shia debate of 196os and 1970s- opposed Baqr al-Sadr to Khomeini who wanted to seize power in the nme of the hidden Imam. Sistni was practising the scholarly tradtion of Allameh Hilli, Abol-Hassan Isfahani, Mushen Jakim-Talabatini, and Qadm al-Khoei.

Qasm al-Khoei

1970- Kazim al-Khoei seucceeds Mushin al Hakim in leadership.

-1972- Baqr al-Hkim imprisoned by Saddam.

-early 70s- Al Da'awa heavily persecuted by Baathists.

-1970s. Baqr al-Sadr founds a poltiical party.

-Baqr al-Hakim imprisoned 3 times in 1970s.

1973- iraq takes over all foreign oil companies.

-1975- Baath party forces Khomeini to flee Najaf for France.

Saddam Hussein takes power in a coup.

-1979- Baathist al-Bakr resigns. Key base for the Sunnis is the army. Saddam used it to take control in 1979 and eliminated his rivals in what he said was the name of Arab identity.

-Saddam put the army and the bureaucracy under control of the Ba'ath party.

-Saddam gives the Shiites official, govenrment-approved Imamas.

-tribes preserved greater autonomy than the rest of the vcountry.

-Saddam gives weapon and uthority to tribl leaders in return for their control of anti-baathist elements and for guarding the border with Iran and maintaining order. This resulted in tribal autonomy and customs such as blood feuds, honour killigns etc. But the state cold exert its authority when it felt like it.

-Baathist manipulation of the tribes and the seminaries has left a legacy in which they are inclined to form an aliance.

"Because Saddam's Baathist one-party state took over for its own purposes the universal ideologies avaiolable to Iraqis, of soicalism or Arab nationalism, dissidents -fearful of the secret police- turned inward to narrow ties of family, clan, tribe and relgion." Juan Cole 'How the US is Sowing Gridlock in Iraq' March 14, 04.

-Saddam uses differecnes between Shiites and Sunnis as well as tribal differences to divide and control.

-under Saddam- the more moderate clerics restricted themselves to deciding questions on day-to day issues- as to what activities and activities were an were not permissible under Islam..

-Saddam uses the arrival and conversion of many Arabs to Shiism in the south in the 19th C.- to portray the Shia as interlopers, an illigitmate migrant people.

1979-2003- though theYazidis were Kurds, Saddam Hussein isolated them as part of a strategy of divide and rule.

Saddam's First Shiite crackdown.

1977- Shiite demonstrations. Baaths repress Shiite relgious parties.

-Sheikh Mahdi al-Khalisi a leader of shiite demonstrations.

-1977- Bakr al-Hakim imprisoned again by Saddam. In 1972 and in 1977 Saddam forced to free A-Hakim, fearing a shiite uprising.

-1977- Sadr City gets no share in oil bonanza and there are rebellions. Terrble repression.

-1979- Khomeini in Iran sets himself up as a proxy for the returning Mahdi. Religious and political head of state and God's representative on earth.

-1979- Iranian revolution caused factional splits in Iraq.

-most Iraqis reject Khomeini's theocratic Guardianship of the Jursiprudent.

-1979. Followers of Baqr al-Sadr attempt to assassinate Iraqi foreign mimister Tariz Aziz.

Sddam cracks down hard because of the Iranian Revolution.

-because of Iranian revolution, Baathists crack down on Shiites.

-1979- Sheikh Mahdi Khalisi arrested by Baathists. Flees to Iran affter 1979 Iran Revoution- is setneced to death in absentia by Saddam.

-in Najaf Khomeinism looked attrative to Shia weary of the rule of Saddam. Baqr al-Sadr tried to lead a Khomeinist Revolution. There was an attempt at insufrreection but al Sadr was killed by Saddam.

-1980- Saddam makes membershup in Da'awa a capital crime.

Murder of Bakr al-Sadr.

-1980 Baqr al-Sadr: uncle of Moqtada al-Sadr. because he was seena s the leader of the Iraqi shiites, he was hanged by Saddam in 1980. Fundamnetalist Shia from iran were also blamed for his murder. Some even blamed Bakr al-Hakim's SCIRI

1980s- everywhere a new modern generation of an Islamic elite develops with professional training anjd qualifications.

-1980: Baqr-al-Hakim's brother, having succeeded their father Mushin is murdered by Saddam along with his sister.

Bakr al-Hakim leaves for Iran. Great Shia exodus.

-Baqr al Hakim left Iraq in 1980 after murder of Mohammad al-Sadr and settled in iran.

-1980-Saddam expels all the Iranian-influenced shiites. 40,000 leave over next years, property confiscated. Some of these "Iranian" Iraqi Shiites were given governemnt jobs in Iran.

-after 1980- al-Da'awa members arrested and party driven underground but expanded as it did so. Membership in the al-Da'awa party a capital crime. Remained string in the central Euphrates around Nasiriya.

-Shia maintain that Saddamn plundered the oil in their region to enrich his own tribal base.

-80s and 90s: al Da'awa bases were set up in Iran, in London, Nasirya and Basra. Tended to grow and evolce separately.

1980s-1990s- 200,000 Shiites in exile in Iran. Many were members in the Iran-based Da'awa which was Khomeinist.

-1982- Hezbollah formed in Lebanon to get occupiers out of Beiruit.

SCIRI developes as an iranian-backed Iraqi exile oppostion.

-1982 - Iran starts funding SCIRI as an umbrella group of all the iraqi groups for the overthrow of saddam Hussein- includes al-Da'awa.

1983- Saddam arrested 100 and murdered 16 of Hakim's relatvies in iraq accusing them of cooperating with iran. Murdering one per year in order to bring him back.

1984- Baqr al-Hakim becomes head of SCIRI. He accepts the Khmoeinst theory of the jurisprudent.

1984- al-Da'awa breaks away from SCIRI to remain independent.

-SCIRI's open alliancw with Iran during iran-Iraq war damaged its credibility within Iraq.

-some Iraqis remember Bakr al Hakim's Badr Brigade interrogating Iraqi psisoners in the Iran-Iraq war and being given a choice of joing the brigade or being tortured. And that his suport for the 1991 uprising was from Iran and was half-hearted. (NY Times, Sept. 1).

-the Shia served in the army and suffered the most durign the iran-iraq war. They say he put them in the front lines.

-1987- By end of iraq war- Khmeini is putting into pactice his Veleyat e-Faqih.

1987-1988- Iraq punished Kurds for their support of iran in the war.

1988- August- cease-fire signed with iran.

1990- Saddam occupies Kuwait.

-January 1991- First Gulf War.

-1991- US encourages a massive Shia uprising centred in basra.

1991- ShiA uprising and its ruthless sppression.

-March 1991- Shia and Kurd uprisigns.

- Al-Khoei is de facto leader of the Shia uprising.

-Majid Khoei a leader dringthe Shiite uprising in 1991. When Baathists were driven out of Najaf- formed a local council to run Najaf and issued decrees forbiddign looting.

-rebellion lasted 13 days- Saddam invades Najaf with tanks-, crushes resistance. 18,000 arrested. Khoei's brother never seen again.

-al Khoei flees to exile in London.

-1991- April- Shia uprising massively put down at end of Gulf war. Muhammad Hazmaq al Zubaydi the "Shia thug" charged with putting down the Shia uprisings of 1991.

1991- Sadr City population swells rapidly to 2 million. They retain some tribal ties and folk ways but gradually turn to the more sophisticated urban shiite scholasticism.

1991- more Sadr City riots against poverty. Terrble repression.

-1991- US pulls plug on support for Shiite uprising because o the influence of the Badr brigade -pouring over the border from Iran- and iranian influence generally. Kazim al-Khoei sent his son Majid al-Khoei to meet the Gen. Schwarzkopf- but Schwarzkopf never shopwed up.

-Bush abandoned the Shiite revolt of march 1991- because he feared Iran would take it over to make a shiite islamic reoublic.

-it is also said that the subsequent slaughter of Shiites in iran was carried out at the behest of the US in answer to Saudi Arabia's fears that a Shiite Iraq would fall into the orbit of an Iranian shiite hegemoney.

1991- Baathists arrest 108 Shia Ckerics and students incouding Kazm al Khoei and mosyt of his family and staff. Held under house arrest until death in 1992.

1991- in uprising, al-Da'awa members in iraq arrested and thousands executed and buried in mass graves.

Rise of Sadiq al-Sadr

1991- after Shia uprising- Baathists gov't asks Kelidar family of Najaf to recommend a head of the Shiites. Kelidar skips over the the leading Marjas and shooses an Arab who whill be complaint to the baathists. This is a remote cousin of Baqr al-Sadr, Sadiq a;-Sadr. Puous but not a big jurisprudent. But he was good with congregations as was accepted by ordinary Shiites as a source.

-after 1991 revolt, iranian cleric al-Sebizwary becomes president of hawza. Hawz splits into reformist faction led by Sadiq al-Sadr and traditoionalist faction led by Sistani.

-Bush abandoned the Shiite revolt of march 1991- because he feared Iran would take it over to make a shiite islamic reoublic.

1991- after Shia uprising in Iraq, Baqr al-Hakim took over father's role as unofficial leader of Shia.

-after 1991 uprising, Baath regimne began co-opting or buying off Shiite tribes.

1991- Riath al-Hakim rleased from prison. Flees to Qom.

The Islamic Revival

-move of iraq shiites toward fundamentalism begins in wake of 1991 Gulf War. Saddam hithces a ride on the Ialmic revivial by inaugurating a "campaugn of faith" which increased element of relgion in state media. Alcohol occasionally banned.

-as a result of the violent repression of 1991- many otherwise moderate Shia turned to Khomeinism.

1996- from Tehran, SCIRI , the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraqformed relations with Clinton admnistration via Nayati in London Office. They were encouraged by appointment of reform president Khatami in iran and by Congress's iraq Liberation ASct of 1998.

-SCIRI got the support of the State Dept.

--1996- UN oil for food program.

Murder of Sadiq al Sadr and others. New mass persecution.

1998-2000. Muhammed Hamza al-Zubaydi- Saddam's commander of the Central Euphrates Region charged with the continued repression of Shiites in the south. Clamping down on all political or relgious functions.

-Sadr's son, Muqtada, arrested with alot of theological students who had studied under Sadr. 19 of Sadiq Sadr's followers executed in late 1999- Imams, prayer leaders and theology students.

-in 1999 Moqtada went underground and organized poor shiites of Najaf and Kufa.

-1999-2000- 4,000 Shia expelled from Baghdad and sent to southern and western Iraq for the distubances in the wake of Sadr's death.

Sistani top ceric.

-Sistani succeeded Sadiq al-Sadr as the most prominent cleric after al-Sadr's assasination in 1999 for defying Saddam.

US plans regime change.

-Jan 2001- State of the Union address- Bush annoucnes that the obejct of US policy in iraq is Regime Change. baghdad part of Axis of Evil along with iran and North Korea.

-half million Shia marsh arabs of theMadan tribes -armers and fishermen- use swamps for underground hit and run tactics against Baathists. Organized by the Iraqi hezbollah with some help from iran. And coordinated with the badr corps. Baathists drain the swamps By 2000 only 10 percent mof swamps remain. Marsh arabs scattered and impoverished.

2002- US begins to consider invading iraq.

US gears up for invasion.

-Jan. 2003- Bush gov't split from SCIRI because of links with iran. "Attemots were made by US national Security Adviser Zalmay Khalilzad, reportedly in cordination with the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, to dilute SCIRI influence on the INC." Then at meetings with oppositon groups in Turkey Khalilzad said US would administer Iraq by itself.

Shiites decide on neutrality.

-SCIRI urged neutrality on its members during US Invasion- favoured a UN administration.

-Hezbollah leader in Beiruit, Syed Hassan Nasrallah asked Iraqi Shiites begore the war to stay on the side-lines in order to present a unifoied front to US occupying ofrces. Nasrallah has prestige for having drivne Israelis from Lebanon. Feels if Shiites side withthe US it would open up an even wider scism with the Sunnis. Fear of sectarioan fighting between Sunnis and Shiites as in iraq. He also does not trust the US to treat the Shiites or Hebollah well in any alliance

-Baqr al-Hakima nd SCIRI instruct Shiites neither to help nor hinmder US invasion.

US invasion of Iraq. Siites show theior power.

-Sistani Believed to have issued an edict (not a fatwa) during US invasion, not to resist coalition forces.

-march 7- 250 delgates of the Sgiite oppisition met a a conferecne in iran to oppose military rule by the US.

-late march- Bakr Hakim holds news conferecne in Iran saying that if the US invation turns into an occupation, Iraqis will resist using force.

-March, 2003- 800 heavily armed fighters of Badr Corps made a show of force in Darbandihkan.

-March- durign US invasion- Sadrists expelled Baath party from from Saddam City and renamed it Sadr City.

Fall of Baghdad and Saddam to US forces.

-April 9, 2003- Fall of Saddam's regime and baghdad. -huge explosion of Shia ritual and public expression -chest-beating in sadr city- held date palm leaves, green banners and clay tablets above their heads. This was not the modern seculr iraq the world knew. Chest beating for alleigiance to the Imam Hussein- gesture of catharsis and purification. Green plam leaves for ecstasy. Green banners for the Imam Ali. Clay prayer tablets made from the soil of najaf. To touch the tablet with thehead is to touchthe burial place of the first Shai Imam. No political slogans. (Jabar, Middle east Report, Summer 2003)

-in April with the fall of Saddam, Iraqis seemed paralysed; not knowing quite what to do and having no idea who was in charge. Having assumed the US was in charge having overthrown Saddam so quiclkly they realized no one was in control after the US failed to stop the looting. Americans tel the Iraqis- to the latter's bewilderment that the Iraqis tjemselves are in charge.

2003: The Shia move into power vacuum.

-in the week after the fall of baghdad- 3 million Shia pilgrims -in response to request by exiled SCIRI in iran- marched to the Imam Hussein shrine in karbala to comemorate the arabi'a- the 40 day point after the martyrdom.

-about 400 Baathist buildings and offices thoughout Baghdad taken over by Shiites and converted into mosques, religious schools, Islamic social service agencies, clinics. In otherwords a dense baathist nbetwork has been replaced by a dense Shiite netowrk.

Sistani: Don;t attack US troops.

-Sistani issues injunction (not a fatwa) not to attack US troops.

May, 2003- US Civilian Administrator Paul Bremer abolishes the Iraqi Army, the Baath party and much of the Iraqi administration.

July, 2003- Bremer inaugurates the Iraqi Giverining Council- handpicked from Iraq’s ethnic groups.

August- Al Qaeda in Iraq begins a campaign of suicide bombing.

December- US capture of Saddam Hussein.

-2003- after the US invasion, the Kurds move to include the Yazidis to increase their numbers, though Yazidis do not consider themselves Kurds. The Yezidis, protected by US troops from Sunni Islamists as well as Kurds, consider them to be liberators.


2004- March- Beginning of the Sunni Islamist bombing campaign against the Shia.

2004- March. Sunni Islamists kill almost 200 in suidice bombings of the Shia festivial of Ashura in Karbala and in Baghdad.

The Shia Uprisings of Moqtada al Sadr against the US Occupation.

April-August- The Mahdi militia of Moqtada al Sadr stages two uprisings against US forces in the Shia south of Iraq.

-June, 2004- US Administrator Bremer formally hands over the reins of the Iraqi government to Interim Prime Minister Iyyad Allawi, inaugurating a pro-forma independence for Iraq.

-the Ayatollah Sistani, by uneashing immense Shia demonstrations, faces down US administrator Paul Bremer, demanding one-person-one-vote democracy and an Iraqi constitution written and approved by Iraqis alone.

Summer-fall- US troops lay siege to Sunni insurgents in the town of Fallujah.

2005: The Transitional Government.

2005- January 30. A Shia majority, supported by Kurds forms Iraq’s Transitional Government.

April- Iraqis choose a Kurd, Jalal Talabani, as President and the Sia Ibrahim Jafari as Prime Minister.

-violence escalates in Iraq, some of it sectarian, most of it still involving the US military campaign against allied Sunni, Baathist and Al Qaeda militants.

The Draft Constitution

August- Shia and Kurd deputies, but no Sunnis approve a draft constitution.

September- car bombings increase in Baghdad, much of it targeting the Shia.

October- commencement of Saddam Hussein’s trial for crimes against humanity.

October- Iraqis approve a new constitution which calls for a decentralized, federal Iraq- an idea favoured by Sunnis and Kurds but condemned by the Sunnis.

-15 December- Iraqis vote for their first formal, democratically elected government and parliament.

2005-2007- the perceived British wisdom of delegating much of the security in the south to a the patchwork of local Shia militias gradually begins to backfire. As more Shia become disenchanted with the Occupation, their militias begin to take over many of the local administrations despite British attempts to put in civilian, non-sectarian Iraqi governments and gradually hand over security to the Iraqi army.

-by 2006 most of southern Iraq has been brought under Sharia law by the militias of Moqtada al Sadr, the Badr Brigades of the Supreme Iraqi Isamic Council (foirmerly SCIRI) and the Fadhila or 'Virtue' party.

2006: Parliamentary Government by the Shia United Iraqi Alliance.

2006- January- when the counting is done, the large Shia coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance, emerges as the governing party.

2006-2007- Feuding between all the Shia parties and miltiasas well, as countless smaller outfits, many of them criminal gangs, makes Basra for a period less governable and more dangerous even than Baghdad. Meanwhile, Iran makes its presence felt, sending arms, supplies, agents and advisors into the British occupied south raising suspicions that Tehran intends to turn southern Iraq into an Iranian protectorate. The British, meanwhile, ae forced to stand by or go on the defensive as their military installations came increasingly under attack, in particular by the Mahdi Army.

Beginning of the Sunni-Shia Civil Conflict.

2006- February- Islamist Sunni commandos blow up the Sacred Shia Al Askariya Shrine in Samarra. Retribution against Sunnis by Shia death squads and militias like the Mahdi Army and the Bard Corps ignite a growing sectarian war.

-the parliament continues to be dead-locked by in-fighting.

April- Under US pressure, the indecisive Ibrahim Jafari resigns as prime minister in favour of a new Shia choice, Nuri Al Maliki.

-killings increase as Shia-Sunni sectarian fighting takes a path toward civil war.

-June- the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Musab al Zarqawi, is killed in a US bombing raid.

-fall- training of an Iraqi army to replace US forces lags far behind schedule.

November- Saddam Hussein is sentenced to death.

2007: George Bush’s ‘New’ plan for Iraq- a surge in US troop numbers.

2007- January- US President Bush announces his new plan for the failing situation in Iraq. Rejecting recommendations of open diplomacy and the assistance of Iraq’s neighbours as recommended by the Iraq Study Group, Bush announces a “surge” of 20,000 more US troops to control Baghdad.

- (circa February)- in the town of Bashika in the Kursih north, a Yazdi girl with a Muslim boyfriend converts to Islam. Yazdis from Bashika stone her to death.

February-March- sectarian killings of Sunnis and suicide and car bombings of Shia neighbourhoods occur weekly, sometimes daily as the death toll rises in a growing civil war.

April- A suicide bombing kills lawmakers in the Iraqi legislature in the heart of the Green Zone.

April 20- The US military begins building a wall around the Sunni neighbourhood of Adhamiya in Baghdad to prevent the entry and exit of suicide bombers into surrounding Shia neighbourhoods.

April 22- afterthe broadcast of a video tape of the stoning of a Yezidi girl by Yezidi men in Bashika, Islamist extremists take 23 Yazdi men off a bus and execute them near Mosul.

- August 14- four truck bombs kill over 200 in the Yazidi town of Qahatinya in Kurdish northern Iraq.

July-August- the Mahdi repeatedly shells the British base in Basra.

Sept 2, Formally handing over Basra to the Iraqi army, the British manage to coordinate their retreat from Basra with a plan for a phased withdrawal from Iraq.


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