a pause for the sake of chronology:

As we began this blog, the information was flowing and we were posting away in no particular order. Now that we have a decent collection of posts and information, as well as more clear direction for the future of the blog, we thought it would be valuable to take a moment, because WordPress will not allow for the re-arranging of posts after they are posted (grr!), to list here a logical chronology of blog posts until this point. An executive summary of the various sections we have created until this point will also be helpful for future navigation and clarity of this blog. This is just as much for our sake as for our readers, this way we (and everyone) can easily see our ideal ordering of posts and titles right here. We will periodically edit this post if necessary, i.e., if we add a posting about the US invasion of Iraq, we will indicate its chronological place within this post.

Basic country statistics, economic indicators, timelines and maps:

The capital of Iraq is Baghdad and there are 18 governorates (muhafazat, singular – muhafazah) and 1 region* in Iraq: Al Anbar, Al Basrah, Al Muthanna, Al Qadisiyah (Ad Diwaniyah), An Najaf, Arbil (Erbil), As Sulaymaniyah, Babil, Baghdad, Dahuk, Dhi Qar, Diyala, Karbala’, Kirkuk, Kurdistan Regional Government*, Maysan, Ninawa, Salah ad Din, Wasit. The country’s legal system is a mix of civil and Islamic law, is a parliamentary democracy with a universal suffrage age of 18 and the constitution was ratified on October 15th 2005. Two main “political pressure” groups are the Sunni militias and the Shi’a militias; before the US invasion, the Sunni were the minority and in power. The US has shifted that balance of power and now the majority Shi’a are in power, but not without resistance from Sunnis. Notably, the GDP (the most broad economic indicator) of Iraq has plummeted since 1980, when it was above the world average–it is now far below the world average. This is probably a direct result of the Iran-Iraq war, followed by the Gulf War, then the US invasion. In 2010, 9.7% of the country’s GDP was attributable to agriculture, 60.5% to industry and 27.3% to services–of course, Iraq’s main industry is petroleum (crude oil makes up 84% of the country’s exports).

Iraq’s main export partners are the US, India, South Korea, Italy and China; main import partners are Turkey, Syria, China and the US. About 1/4 of the country is unemployed, and corruption ratings for Iraq (1.5, 175th in the world according to the CIA world factbook’s transparency index of corruption) are in fact far below its neighbors Iran (2.2, 146 in the world), Saudi Arabia (4.7, 50th in the world), Yemen (2.2), Syria (2.5) and Egypt (3.1). Arab and Kurdish are the two dominant ethnic groups in Iraq (75-80% Arab, 15-20% Kurdish). In Iraq, 66% of the country’s population lives in cities, and overall, the size of the population is 39th in the world. Literacy rates are decent, and 74% of the overall population can read and right–the school life expectancy for girls, however, is just 8 years while for boys it is 11. As of 2007, approximately 2 million refugees had fled Iraq due to the ongoing US-led war and ethno-sectarian violence.

A few historical turning points for Iraq can be identified as follows: in 1932, Iraq achieves independence from Britain. WWII was a little messy for Iraq; first, it sides with the Axis powers, is defeated by Britain, and then declares war against the axis powers. In 1945, Iraq becomes a charter member of the Arab League and in 1958, the monarchy is overthrown and Iraq is declared a republic. Beginning in 1961 (and continuing through current day), the Kurdish population in Iraq wants recognition as its own government–in 1970, they are granted some self rule. In the mean time, the Ba’ath party comes to power, and throughout the 1970s there is Kurdish unrest, involvement in the Arab-Israeli war, and Saddam Hussein comes to power in 1979, “swiftly executing his political opposition.” 1980 marks the beginning of the 8 year war between Iran and Iraq, ends in a stalemate, and in 1990, Iraq invades Kuwait (blaming Kuwait for rapidly falling oil prices), the US military arrives in Saudi Arabia and the UN imposes economic sanctions on Iraq. In 1991, the US initiates the Gulf War and air strikes on Iraq. In 1996, the UN allows Iraq to export oil for food as a humanitarian solution to previously imposed sanctions; it takes Iraq 1.5 years to accept. In the middle 1990s the US and the rest of the world continue to sniff around Iraq for chemical and biological weapons–in 1997 it is confirmed that Iraq could be producing them, and in 1999, full scale attacks by the US on Iraq resume beginning in January.

Iraq and the US invasion:

Iraq and the Arab Spring, until now:

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