The birthplace of civilization
FROM THE MONGOLS TO INDEPENDENCE
Christian knights from Europe launch three Crusades, attacking Islam in the Holy Land and Middle East. Baghdad is largely ignored, although Turks recruit soldiers there.
Mongols led by Genghis Khan storm from the steppes of central Asia into what is now Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. Irrigation systems in place since the Sumerians are demolished and lush fields along the Tigris and Euphrates revert to desert.
Mongols leave after looting Baghdad.
Timur the Lame (Tamerlane), believing himself a direct descendant of Genghis Khan, returns to conquer Mesopotamia; the region lapses into decay.
Ottoman Turks rise to power and conquer Constantinople, the last Christian stronghold in the East.
Shia Islam is declared the official faith of Persia (Iran). Shiites briefly seize part of Mesopotamia, hoping to control two Shia holy cities, Najaf and Karbala. Ottomans maintain the region as a Sunni-controlled buffer state for the empire. But Sunni religious sites are desecrated, and violence begins.
A Sunni, Suleyman the Magnificent, gains firm control of Mesopotamia.
Muhammad bin Abdel-Wahhab, a fundamentalist Muslim, joins the court of Mohammed ibn Saud, ruler of what is now Saudi Arabia. The Wahhabis move on Mesopotamia, converting desert Arabs to Shiism. Ottomans retain power, relying on Sunnis in Baghdad and other cities.
Bubonic plague and floods devastate Baghdad. Water surges over banks of the Tigris, disintegrating hundreds of public buildings and mosques made of mud brick.
During a period of Ottoman decline, Baghdad has more than 10 governors.
Suez Canal opens; Britain gains a major share in order to protect sea routes to India.
World War I begins.
Damascus Protocol would form an Arab state after the war, encompassing the Arabian Peninsula, Palestine and what is now Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. But secret Sykes-Picot Agreement between Britain and France puts Ottoman lands under joint control, with Iraq going to Britain.
British Maj. Gen. Sir Stanley Maude marches toward Baghdad, promising Arab allies in the countryside control over their own affairs.
World War I ends.
League of Nations makes Iraq and Palestine mandates entrusted to Britain. Syria goes to France.
Arabs, including nationalists in Baghdad and Kurdish minorities, stage violent demonstrations and strikes against British rule.
Cairo Conference names the country Iraq, which it sometimes was called in antiquity. Faisal, son of the Sharif of Mecca, is declared king, with Britain maintaining administrative control.
Wahhabis from the Arabian Peninsula periodically raid tribesmen in the south of Iraq. The British chase them back into Arabia with Model T Fords mounted with machine guns.
London includes Kurds in oil-rich northern Mosul Province in the Iraqi state with proviso they hold government positions in Kurdish areas and the Kurdish language be preserved.
Elections are held for a representative assembly under the monarchy.
League of Nations extends Iraqi treaty with Britain to 25 years to protect Kurds. Reza Shah Pahlavi ascends the Peacock Throne in Iran. Urged on by Britain, Iraq and Iran negotiate a boundary agreement.
Oct. 3, 1932
Iraq gains independence.
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