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Iraq

 
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Iraq

The West

Iraq's disappointment in its relations with the Soviet Union gradually led to a tilt toward the West. This process began as early as 1974 when prominent Baathists such as Bakr, Saddam Husayn, and Aziz expressed the need for a more pragmatic, less ideological approach to relations with "the Western capitalist world." For example, the government stated in January 1974 that the West was not composed "totally of enemies and imperialists," that some countries were relatively moderate, and that there were contradictions among the principal Western nations. These views became the basis on which the regime established generally cordial relations with Britain, Italy, France, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), and Japan.

Iraq's closest ties were with France, which came to rank second to the Soviet Union as a source of foreign weapons. Iraq imported billions of dollars worth of French capital and consumer goods during the 1970s and signed several agreements with French companies for technical assistance on development projects. A major project was the Osiraq (Osiris-Iraq) nuclear reactor, which French engineers were helping to construct at Tuwaitha near Baghdad before it was bombed by Israel in June 1981. Because Iraq was a signatory to the nuclear weapons Nonproliferation Treaty and had previously agreed to permit on-site inspections of its nuclear energy facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency and because France expected to reap considerable economic benefits from Iraqi goodwill, France agreed to assist in the reconstruction of the nuclear power station; however, as of early 1988 no major reconstruction work had been undertaken.

Economic links with France became especially important after the war with Iran had begun. Arms purchases from France, for example, continued in the 1980 to 1982 period when the Soviet Union was withholding weapons supplies. France also provided Iraq generous credits, estimated at US$7 billion, during 1980 to 1983 when oil revenues were severely reduced on account of the warrelated decline in exports. To demonstrate its support further, in 1983 France provided Iraq with advanced weapons, including Exocet missiles and Super Etendard jets, which Iraq subsequently used for attacks on Iranian oil loading facilities and on tankers carrying Iranian oil.

Iraq's ties with the United States developed more slowly, primarily because the Baathists were antagonistic to the close United States-Israeli relationship. Relations had been severed following the June 1967 Arab-Israeli War, before the Baath came to power, but after 1968 the government became interested in acquiring American technology for its development programs. State organizations were therefore permitted to negotiate economic contracts, primarily with private American firms. In discussing the United States during the 1970s, the government emphasized, however, that its ties were economic, not political, and that these economic relations involving the United States were with "companies," not between the two countries.

Even though Iraqi interest in American technical expertise was strong, prior to 1980 the government did not seem to be seriously interested in reestablishing diplomatic relations with the United States. The Baath Party viewed the efforts by the United States to achieve "step-by-step" interim agreements between Israel and the Arab countries and the diplomatic process that led to the Camp David Accords as calculated attempts to perpetuate Arab disunity. Consequently, Iraq took a leading role in organizing Arab opposition to the diplomatic initiatives of the United States. After Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, Iraq succeeded in getting members of the League of Arab States (Arab League) to vote unanimously for Egypt's expulsion from the organization.

Concern about the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan prompted Iraq to reexamine seriously the nature of its relationship with the United States. This process led to a gradual warming of relations between the two countries. In 1981 Iraq and the United States engaged in lowlevel , official talks on matters of mutual interest such as trade and regional security. The following year the United States extended credits to Iraq for the purchase of American agricultural commodities, the first time this had been done since 1967. More significant, in 1983 the Baathist government hosted a United States special Middle East envoy, the highest-ranking American official to visit Baghdad in more than sixteen years. In 1984, when the United States inaugurated "Operation Staunch" to halt shipment of arms to Iran by third countries, no similar embargo was attempted against Iraq because Saddam Husayn's government had expressed its desire to negotiate an end to the war. All of these initiatives prepared the ground for Iraq and the United States to reestablish diplomatic relations in November 1984.

In early 1988, Iraq's relations with the United States were generally cordial. The relationship had been strained at the end of 1986 when it was revealed that the United States had secretly sold arms to Iran during 1985 and 1986, and a crisis occurred in May 1987 when an Iraqi pilot bombed an American naval ship in the Persian Gulf, a ship he mistakenly thought to be involved in Iran-related commerce. Nevertheless, the two countries had weathered these problems by mid-1987. Although lingering suspicions about the United States remained, Iraq welcomed greater, even if indirect, American diplomatic and military pressure in trying to end the war with Iran. For the most part, the government of Saddam Husayn believed the United States supported its position that the war was being prolonged only because of Iranian intransigence.

Data as of May 1988

 

Iraq - TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Government and Politics
  • National Security

  • Go Up - Top of Page






    GENERAL FACTS & LINKS

    Country name
    Iraq
    conventional long form
    Republic of Iraq
    conventional short form
    Iraq
    local long form
    Al Jumhuriyah al Iraqiyah
    local short form
    Al Iraq

    Area -
    total: 437,072 sq km
    land: 432,162 sq km
    water: 4,910 sq km

    Geographic Location - Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iran and Kuwait

    Map references - Middle East

    Capital - Baghdad

    Border Countries - Iran 1,458 km, Jordan 181 km, Kuwait 242 km, Saudi Arabia 814 km, Syria 605 km, Turkey 331 km

    Major Cities - Baghdad

    Independence -
    3 October 1932 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration)

    National holiday - Revolution Day, 17 July (1968)

    ISD CODE
    Iraq 964

    Languages Spoken - Arabic (official) and Kurdish

    Weather Forecast -  Baghdad  Mosul  Saddam Irq-Afb / Civ  Shaibah / Basrah

    Major Airports - Baghdad

    Ports - Umm Qasr, Khawr az Zubayr, and Al Basrah have limited functionality

    Population -24,001,816 (July 2002 est.)

    Religion - Muslim 97% (Shi'a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian or other 3%

    Nationality - Iraqi(s)

    Currency - Iraqi dinar

    Currency Code - IQD

    National Bird - "Kew" (Chukar)

    Lakes - Hammer

    Rivers - Euphrates, Tigris

    Terrain - Mostly broad plains; reedy marshes along Iranian border in south with large flooded areas; mountains along borders with Iran and Turkey

    Climate - Mostly desert; mild to cool winters with dry, hot, cloudless summers; northern mountainous regions along Iranian and Turkish borders experience cold winters with occasionally heavy snows that melt in early spring, sometimes causing extensive flooding in central and southern Iraq

    Geography - Strategic location on Shatt al Arab waterway and at the head of the Persian Gulf

    Waterways - 1,015 km
    note: Shatt al Arab is usually navigable by maritime traffic for about 130 km; channel has been dredged to 3 m and is in use; Tigris and Euphrates Rivers have navigable sections for shallow-draft boats; Shatt al Basrah canal was navigable by shallow-draft craft before closing in 1991 because of the Gulf war

    Natural hazards - Dust storms, sandstorms, floods

    Natural Resources - petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, sulphur


    More Iraq related links from
    1Up Info

     Iraq Country Facts

     Middle Eastern Political Geography

     Iraq Political Geography

     Middle Eastern Physical Geography

     Iraq Towns & Cities

     Iraq History


    Iraq related links from
    1Up Travel

     Iraq Country Guide

     Iraq Detailed Maps

     Iraq Flag

     More Iraqi Flags

     Iraq Geography

     Iraq Travel Warnings

     Iraq Cities Weather

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    Information Courtesy: The Library of Congress - Country Studies


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