The History of Modern Iraq, 1916-1991


King Faisal II, 1939-1958

Abdul Qassim, 1958-1963

Saddam Hussein, 1968/79-2003


Š     How did the modern state of Iraq come into being?

Š     What political problems and conflicts faced Iraq from 1932 to 1968?

Š     What is Ba’athism and Ba’ath Party? 

Š     What was the nature of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship from 1979 to 1991?


Key Terms

1) The Pottery Barn Rule (Bob Woodward)

2) “Iraq” and “Iraqi”

3) Sunni, Shia, Kurds

4) The Iraqi Monarchy

5) Revolution of 1958

6) Ba’athism and Ba’ath Party

7) Saddam Hussein

8) Iran-Iraq War

9) War on the Kurds – Halajba



I.  The Founding of Modern Iraq, 1918-1932


World War I:  The British, French, and the Ottoman Empire


1920              League of Nations "Mandate" under British Control 

                      The State of Iraq:  Kurds, Sunnis, Shia


1920-22                 Nationalist Revolt against the British Mandate


1921              King Faisal ibn Husayn I  (Sunni Hashemite)


1922              The “Treaty of Alliance”:  British Tutelage and “Preparing”

Iraq for Statehood in 20 Years (or, the Mandate continues)


1922-1932    Constitutional Monarchy, Elections, and Political Instability

Š     50 cabinets in 30 years

Š     Nationalists want real independence.


1932              The Treaty of Independence with Britain and the New Iraqi State



II.  The Monarchy:  Independence, Unrest, and Development, 1932-1957


Š     Continued British Influence, 1932-1950s

o  Faisal II, 1939-1958


Š     Political Intrigues, Tribal Uprisings, and Military Politics


Š     The Army's Political Power


Š     Attempts at Greater Independence:  Negotiating with the British, Controlling the Oil


o  Oil and Economic Modernization (1950s – 1970s)



III.  The Republic: The Revolution of 1958 and the Rise of the Ba’ath Party, 1958-1979


Š     Generational Revolt:  The Revolution of July 1958 and the New Iraqi Republic


Š     The Move toward Dictatorship, 1958-1963: President Abdul Qassim's Rule


Š     Ba’athism (1947):  “Renaissance”

o  Secular Arab Nationalism + Socialism (with fascist qualities)



Š     The Military Coup of 1963 and the Emergence of the Ba’athists (February – November 1963)


Š     Jul 1968 Second Ba’athist Coup, Establishment of Ba'ath Rule in Iraq until 2003



IV.  The Dictatorship:  Saddam Hussein, 1979-1991


Š     1979 Saddam Hussein becomes President:  The Tribal Dictator

           Cult of Personality

Saddam the Novelist

Š     The Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988)


Š     The United States and Iraq, 1979-1990

o  Saddam and Rumsfeld  (1983)

o  The USS Stark  (1987)


Š     The War with the Kurds and Shia, 1979-1991

o  “Arabization” of Kurdish Areas

o  Mass Murder:  Halajba, 1988  2 

o  Repression of the Shia


Š     Ethnic Map of Iraq


Š     The First Gulf War, 1990-1991:  Kuwait and US Policy in the Gulf