Iraq Country Handbook
1. This handbook provides basic reference information on Iraq, including its
geography, history, government, military forces, and communications and
transportation networks. This information is intended to familiarize military
personnel with local customs and area knowledge to assist them during their
assignment to Iraq.
2. This product is published under the auspices of the U.S. Department of
Defense Intelligence Production Program (DoDIPP) with the Marine Corps
Intelligence Activity designated as the community coordinator for the Country
Handbook Program. This product reflects the coordinated U.S. Defense
Intelligence Community position on Iraq.
3. Dissemination and use of this publication is restricted to official military and
government personnel from the United States of America, United Kingdom,
Canada, Australia, NATO member countries, and other countries as required
and designated for support of coalition operations.
4. The photos and text reproduced herein have been extracted solely for
research, comment, and information reporting, and are intended for fair use by
designated personnel in their official duties, including local reproduction for
training. Further dissemination of copyrighted material contained in this
document, to include excerpts and graphics, is strictly prohibited under Title 17,
KEY FACTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
U.S. MISSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
U.S. Embassy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Travel Advisories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Entry Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Passport and Visa Requirements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Geography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Boundaries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Cities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Topography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Provinces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Climate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Hydrology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATION . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Transportation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Roads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Rail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Air . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Maritime . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Communication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
Radio and Television. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
Telephone and Telegraph . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Newspapers and Magazines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Satellites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Internet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
CULTURE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Arabs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Cultural History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Hussein’s Tribal Policies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Religious Identity of Ethnic Groups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Language. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Islam and the Arab Culture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Sunni Arabs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Shi’a Arabs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Role of Tribes in Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
Tribes and the Iraqi State . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
Religious Identity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
Alliances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
Arab Identity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
The Ba’ath Party . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
Customs and Courtesies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
Family . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
Cultural Economy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
Marsh Arabs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
Warfare . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
Kurds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
Ethnic Description . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
Religious Identity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
Role of Tribes in Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
Rule of Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
Family . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
Customs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
Attitudes Toward Others . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
Turkmen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
Ethnic Description . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
Cultural History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
Religious Identity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
Social Hierarchy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
Family . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
Modern Nation State . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
State And Tribal Roles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103
Customs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104
Attitudes Toward Others . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107
Cultural Economy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
Cultural Geography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
Chaldeans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
Ethnic Description . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
Cultural History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
Christianity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
Religious Identity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
Role of Tribes in Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
Significant Alliances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
Modern Nation-state . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113
State and Tribal Roles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
Other Centers of Authority . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
Family . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115
Culture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116
Attitudes Toward Others . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119
Cultural Economy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121
Cultural Geography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122
Assyrians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
Ethnic Description . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
Cultural History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
Language. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124
Role of Tribes in Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124
Significant Alliances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125
Family . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126
Customs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127
Attitudes Toward Others . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130
Cultural Economy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132
Cultural Geography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
Shi’a Muslims . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134
Religious Practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137
Differences Within Shi’a . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140
Proselytizing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
Religious Hierarchy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
Shi’a Politics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143
Attitude Toward Others . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144
Religious-Ethnic Interaction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146
Militant Subgroups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147
Sunni Muslims . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149
Differences between Sunni and Shi’a Islam . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149
Proselytizing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152
Religious Hierarchy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152
Significant Historical Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153
Islam and Arabs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154
Militant Subgroups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155
MEDICAL ASSESSMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
Disease Risks to Deployed Personnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
Food- or Water-borne Diseases. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
Vector-borne Diseases. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158
Sexually Transmitted Diseases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158
Water Contact Diseases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158
Animal Contact Diseases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159
Medical Capabilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159
Key Medical Facilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160
HISTORY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161
Chronology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173
ECONOMY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175
Economic Statistics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176
Resources. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176
Oil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176
Natural Gas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176
Minerals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177
Industry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178
Non-Oil Industries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
Agriculture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
Utilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182
Electricity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182
Water . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
Foreign Investment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
Outlook . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
Government . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance . . . . 185
The Coalition Provisional Authority . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186
Political Dynamics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186
Iraqi Governing Council . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187
Iraqi Government Ministries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 194
Politics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200
Role of Islam in the Political History of Iraq . . . . . . . . . . . . 200
Religious Justification for the Political Use of Violence . . . 202
Religious/Ethnic Identity and Politics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204
ARMED FORCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207
New Iraqi Army. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207
Recruiting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 209
Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 210
Organization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211
A. Equipment Recognition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A-1
B. Improvised Explosive Devices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B-1
C. International Time Zones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C-1
D. Conversion Charts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D-1
E. Holidays . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . E-1
F. Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . F-1
G.International Road Signs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . G-1
H. Arabic Road Signs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H-1
I. Deployed Personnel’s Guide to Health Maintenance . . . . . . . . . I-1
J. Individual Protective Measures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . J-1
K. Dangerous Animals and Plants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . K-1
L. International Telephone Codes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . L-1
M. Identification Card Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . M-1
N. Political Groups, Religious Groups, and Tribes . . . . . . . . . . . . N-1
O. Developing Effective Relationships . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . O-1
Iraq . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . x
National Flag . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Topography and Drainage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Provinces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Population Density . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Swords at Baghdad Entrance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Urban Neighborhood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Baghdad and Al Basrah Weather . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Mosul and As Sulaymaniyah Weather . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Water Catchment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Irrigation Pump . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Barrage at Al Kut . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Bus Service in Iraq . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Transportation Network . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Railroad Station Re-opening Ceremony at Umm Qasr, 2003 . . . . 29
Baghdad Airport . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Iraqi Arab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Shepherds in Al Kut . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
Tribes in Iraq . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Street in Baghdad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
Iraqi Marketplace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
Bedouin Family . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
Iraqi Farm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
Shi’a Pilgrimage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139
Mosque in Baghdad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150
Presidential Palace, Baghdad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 164
Oil Fields . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177
Natural Salt Bed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178
Major Industries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179
Land Use . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181
Coalition Provisional Authority Organization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 188
Coalition Provisional Authority Organization Directorship. . . . . . 189
Coalition Provisional Authority Organization Directorship, Cont. 190
Squad Tactics Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207
Officer Candidate Training. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 208
SYRIA Sulaymaniyah Nahr
JORDAN Al Kut
Najaf Diwaniyah Al
An Nasiriyah Al
WASHINGTON ARABIA KUWAIT Arabian
Lexington D.C. Boundary representations are
not necessarily authoritative.
Conventional short form: Iraq
Conventional long form: Republic of Iraq
Local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Iraqiyah
Local short form: Al Iraq
Flag. Three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black with
three green stars in a horizontal line centered in the white band; the
phrase “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great) in green Arabic script was added
in January 1991 during the 1990-91 Gulf War; similar to the flag of
Syria that has two stars but no script and the flag of Yemen that has a
plain white band; also similar to the flag of Egypt that has a symbolic
eagle centered in the white band.
Chief of State. No current chief of state
Time Zone. UTC (Formerly GMT) +3 hrs; EST+8
Language. Arabic (81 percent); also Kurdish, Assyrian, Armenian
Currency. As of 15 October 2003 new bank notes are being used. Cur-
rent bank notes will be accepted at full value until the exchange is com-
plete. One former Iraqi dinar can be exchanged for one new Iraqi dinar;
one former national dinar ("Swiss dinar" as used in some of the northern
areas) can be exchanged for 150 new Iraqi dinars.
Exchange rates. There is no current data for the exchange rate between
the U.S. dollar and the Iraqi dinar.
The U.S. interest section at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in
Baghdad is closed. No consular services are available for U.S. citizens
in Iraq at this time. Because police and civil structures are in the process
of being rebuilt, U.S. citizens may have little recourse to these entities in
The Office of the Coalition Provisional Authority is responsible of the
governance of Iraq and the overall administration of reconstruction
efforts. They can be reached at the following address:
Office of the Coalition Provisional Authority
2000 Defense Pentagon (Room 2C148)
Washington D.C. 20301
Additional contact information for the reconstruction of Iraq may be
obtained from the following points of contact:
U.S. Department of Commerce, Iraq Business Outreach Hotline
Tel: 1-866-352-4727; Fax: 1-202-482-0980
U.S. Foreign Commercial Service, American Embassy, Kuwait
Tel: 965-539-5307/8, ext. 2392
U.S. Foreign Commercial Service, American Embassy, Jordan
Tel: 962-6-592-0101, ext. 2632
U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security
Export Counseling Division
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Department of Defense Iraq contract hotline
Iraq remains a dangerous place and the security conditions remain
unstable. There is a new category of exemptions to restrictions on the
use of U.S. passports for travel to Iraq. The U.S. government urges all
U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Iraq. While Coalition forces are working
with the Iraqi people to provide security and restore basic services, and
conditions are stabilizing, some areas remain unsettled.
Passport and Visa Requirements
U.S. passports are not valid for travel to, in or through Iraq, unless they
are validated by the Department of State. There are limited exceptions
for American professional reporters and journalists on assignment in
Iraq, certain persons providing humanitarian and other critical services
in support of the Iraqi people, or U.S. Government personnel and con-
tractors on official assignment in Iraq. There are also limited exceptions
for U.S. citizens residing in Iraq since 1 February 1991. For further
information, please contact:
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Passport Services
U.S. Department of State
2401 E St., NW, 9th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20522-0907
Attention: Office of Passport Policy and Advisory Services
Telephone: (202) 663-2662
Fax: (202) 633-2654
Updated information on travel and security in Iraq may be obtained
from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the
United States, and, from overseas, 1-317-472-2328. U.S. citizens who
plan to travel to or remain in Iraq despite this travel warning should con-
tact the Department of State’s latest consular information sheet for Iraq
and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, which are available
on the Department’s Internet site at http://travel.state.gov.
GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
Iraq’s 435,292 square kilometers (168,023 square miles), is slightly
larger than California. It has 56 kilometers (36 miles) of coastline.
Iraq is bordered to the north by Turkey (331 kilometers), to the east by
Iran (1,458 kilometers), the south by Kuwait (240 kilometers) and the
Arabian Gulf (58 kilometers), and to the west by Saudi Arabia
(686 kilometers), Jordan (134 kilometers), and Syria (605 kilometers).
The following is a list of Iraq’s largest cities and their populations. The
spellings of some cities may vary slightly in other publications due to
different translations and dialects.
City Region Governate Population
Al Basrah South East Al Basrah 1,337,000
Umm Qasr South East Al Basrah 45,000
Safwan South East Al Basrah 40,000
Az Zubayr South East Al Basrah 174,200
As Samawah South East Al Muthanna 128,000
An Nasiriyah South East Dhi Qar 560,200
Al Amarah South East Maysan 351,100
An Najaf South Central An Najaf 585,600
Al Kufah South Central An Najaf 119,100
Al Hillah South Central Babil 548,000
Karbala South Central Karbala 572,300
Al Kut South Central Wassit 400,300
Ad Diwaniyah South Central Al Qadisuyah 443,500
Baqubah Central Diyala 295,600
Al Qaim Central Al Anbar 80,000
Ar Rutbah Central Al Anbar 18,000
Ar Ramadi Central Al Anbar 445,800
Fallujah Central Al Anbar 269,500
Baghdad Central Baghdad 5,772,000
Samarra North Salah ad Din 207,700
Tikrit North Salah ad Din 28,000
Irbil North Irbil 864,900
Sulaymaniyah North Sulaymaniyah 662,600
Kirkuk North At Ta min 755,700
Dahuk North Dahuk 48,800
Mosul North Ninawa 1,739,800
Tallafar North Ninawa 161,400
The delta lowland region of the Nahr Dijlah (Tigris River) and Euphrates
river basin extends southeasterly from north of Baghdad to the Arabian
Gulf. The area is flat and encompasses 19,425 square kilometers (7,500
square miles) of marshland. There are lakes in southeastern Iraq.
The southwest desert region is an extension of the Arabian Peninsula. It
comprises half of Iraq’s total area but is home to only 1 percent of the
ELEVATION IN METERS
SYRIA Kirkuk Rivers
JORDAN DESERT Hillah
AL An Nasiriyah
JAR Hawr al
AH Hammar Al Basrah
Boundary representations are not necessarily authoritative.
Topography and Drainage
population. This arid steppe region extends into Syria, Jordan, and Saudi
Arabia. Sparsely inhabited by nomads, the region consists of a wide,
stony plain interspersed with a few sandy stretches. A wide pattern of
wadis runs from the border to the Euphrates. Some wadis are more than
400 kilometers-long; they flood during the winter rains.
The northeastern region borders Turkey to the north and elevation
increases toward Iran. The region transitions from rolling plateaus nearest
Turkey to irregular hills and then to mountain ridges (the Zagros Moun-
tains), where summits average 2,440 meters (8,000 feet) elevation. Except
for a few valleys, the mountain area is used only for livestock grazing in
the foothills and steppes. The soil and rainfall, however, make cultivation
possible. The oil fields near Mosul and Kirkuk are in the northeast region.
An uplands region between the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers is
known as Al Jazirah. It extends westward into Syria, between the two
rivers, and into Turkey. Water in the area flows in deep valleys, and irri-
gation is more difficult than in the lower plain. Much of this zone may
be classified as desert.
There are 18 Provinces in Iraq. The following briefly describes each.
The capital of al-Anbar is Ar-Ramadi. The province lies on the Euph-
rates River just northwest of Hawr (Lake) al-Habbaniyah. Ancient set-
tlements existed in the vicinity, but Ar-Ramadi was founded in 1869 to
encourage settlement by the nomadic Dulaym tribes, a goal that has
been partially fulfilled. The town prospered after becoming the depar-
ture point of a trade route. Population 818,000.
With 1.3 million people, Basrah is the second largest city in Iraq.
Located on the Shatt Al-Arab River and close to the Persian Gulf, Bas-
SYRIA AT TA MIN SULAYMANIYAH Nahr
Euphrates AD DIN IRAN
JORDAN KARBALA An Al Kut
Najaf AL QADISIYAH Al
NAJAF An Nasiriyah
AL BASRAH Al
National Capital KUWAIT
Province Boundary SAUDI KUWAIT Arabian
Province Capital ARABIA Gulf
Boundary representations not necessarily authoritative.
rah is Iraq’s primary port. It was founded on the site of a great military
camp of the second Caliph Omar Bin al-Khatab and grew to be a center
of maritime commerce and trade. The city prospered between the 9th
and 13th centuries under the Abbasids, becoming a famous cultural cen-
ter. Basrah continued to be an important trade center during the Ottoman
period, and was one of the provincial capitals in Iraq. Because of its cos-
mopolitan nature, Basrah was home to significant Iraqi nationalist oppo-
sition to Ottoman rule in the early 20th century. Basrah Province is
predominantly Shi’a, and was the initial site of Shi’a rebellion immedi-
ately following the 1991 Gulf War.
Samawah is the major city of Muthana Province (the smallest province
in terms of population). Muthana is located in the Euphrates River val-
ley between Baghdad and Nasiriyah. The people of this region are
mostly Shiite Muslims. The major industry is agriculture, but there are
also several cement factories in Samawah. Muthana is home to the
ancient Sumerian city of Uruk (Warka) located 20 kilometers east of
Samawah. The city has been inhabited since 4,000 B.C. and is said to
have developed the first system of writing. The population of Samawah
is approximately 125,000.
Diwaniyah, a city some 180 kilometers south of Baghdad, is the admin-
istrative center of Al-Qadisiyah governate. Located in central Iraq, on a
branch of the Euphrates River and on the Baghdad-Basrah railroad, it is
a marketplace for dates and grains. Nippur lies 35 kilometers to the
northeast of Diwaniyah, Nippur has yielded antiquities that span the
Sumerian and Babylonian periods, up to Abbasid times. It was a large
city, neatly divided by the Euphrates. On the east side is the temple area,
which held the ziggurat (palacial home of the gods) and the temple of
Inlil, considered the God of the wind and creator of the universe. Popu-
lation is 421,000.
An Najaf city and market center in southern Iraq is the capital of An
Najaf governate, situated on the western branch of the Euphrates River.
The caliph Harun al-Rashid founded the city in the 8th century. His
tomb is now a principal shrine of Shi’a Muslims. An Islamic holy city,
Najaf is home to the shrine of Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the Prophet
Mohammad’s cousin and son-in-law and fourth caliph. Najaf also con-
tains one of the largest cemeteries in the world. According to Imam Ali,
any Muslim buried here will enter paradise; as a result, the tombs of sev-
eral prophets are found in Najaf. Shi’a Muslims especially consider it a
privilege to be buried here. Like Karbala, Najaf became an important
center of Islamic scholarship and theology. During his exile from Iran,
Ayatollah Khomeini lived here for 12 years prior to the 1979 revolution
in Iran. In 1999, the Iraqi Shi’a leader Ayatollah Mohammad Sadiq al-
Sadr was assassinated in Najaf, sparking clashes between Shi’a and the
Iraqi government. Nearby is the city of Al Kûfah (founded 638), for-
merly a great cultural center and a capital of the Abbasid caliphate. An
Najaf governate was created in 1976 from parts of two others: Al Qadis-
iyah and Karbala’. Population 563,000.
Located in northeastern Iraq, Sulaymaniyah is the capital of the gover-
nate with the same name, and is part of the Kurdish Autonomous
Region. Sulaymaniyah is predominantly a Kurdish city, and has been a
center for Kurdish nationalism. The economy of Sulaymaniyah is based
on regional farming, for which Sulaymaniyah is the trade and adminis-
trative center. Produce includes tobacco, fruit, cereals and livestock.
There is a tobacco-processing plant in town. Products are sold to other
parts of Iraq, as well as to Iran. Sulaymaniyah has long been a popular
tourist destination among Iraqis, because of the fresh and cool mountain
air in the summer. Population 640,000
Located in northern Iraq, the capital city of the At Ta’min province is
Kirkuk, the center of Iraq's oil industry, which is connected by pipelines
to ports on the Mediterranean Sea. There is a small textile industry in
the province. Kirkuk is built on the remains of a settlement from 3,000
B.C. The majority of the inhabitants are Turkmen with Kurds, Arabs,
Assyrians and Armenians also represented. The At Ta’min region, rich
in oil fields and farmlands, has been one of the principal obstacles to
finding a peaceful solution to Kurdish hopes for autonomy in Iraq. To
ensure Arab control of the oil fields, successive governments in Bagh-
dad have implemented a policy of deliberate Arabization of the city. The
Kurdish Democratic Party (KUP), the more powerful of the two Kurd-
ish groups that control parts of northern Iraq, is determined to make
Kirkuk the political capital of a Kurdish federal state in a post-Hussein
Iraq. The KDP has drafted an Iraqi constitution outlining such a state,
with Kirkuk as its most important city. Turkey opposes Kurdish control
of Kirkuk, fearing it would strengthen regional moves toward Kurdish
autonomy. Claiming to be the oldest site of continuous occupation in
Ar Ramadi BAGHDAD
POPULATED PLACES An Nasiriyah
250,000 - 650,000 Hawr al
125,000 - 250,000 Hammar Al Basrah
0 25 50 75 175 5,238
0 65 129 194 453 13,566
Persons per square mile
Based on 1987 census data, by first-level administrative division.
For comparison, the population density for the Washington, D.C.
metropolitan area is 920 persons per square mile.
Boundary representations are not necessarily authoritative.
Iraq, Kirkuk sits on archaeological remains that are 5,000 years old. It
reached great importance under the Assyrians in the 10th and 11th cen-
turies B.C. Because Kirkuk is one of the centers of Kurdish national
identity, both the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)
claim it as their regional capital. The area around Kirkuk and south to
Khanaqin is the preserve of the Faili Kurds, who, unlike the majority of
Kurds, are Shi’a. Many of the Faili Kurds belong to the PUK.
The Babil governate is located south of Baghdad with the city of Al Hil-
lah as its capital. Al Hillah has about 520,000 inhabitants. Al Hillah is
situated in the center of a large irrigated area in which dates, barley, rice,
wheat, millet, sesame, and beans are grown. It lies on the Al Hillah
stream, the eastern branch of the Euphrates River about 100 kilometers
south of Baghdad. The economy of Al Hillah is based on its river port
and grain market. Al Hillah lies in an area that has been most significant
in Iraqi and Mesopotamian history. The city was built in 1101, partly
from the bricks from the nearby ruins of Babylon. Kush and Borsippa
are other cities of ancient ruins in the nearby area.
Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, was founded in the 8th century following an
Arab victory over a larger Persian army in 762 AD. Baghdad was the seat
of the Abbasid caliphate from the 9th to the 13th centuries. During this
era, it became the center of Islamic learning and international trade.
Modern Iraqis proudly look back to this period as the golden age of
Islamic civilization. Baghdad was one of the three seats of provincial
Ottoman rule, and was maintained as a Sunni buffer against the Shi’a
Safavid Empire in Iran. With more than 5 million people, Baghdad is the
largest and most diverse city in Iraq. It is approximately 70 percent Shi’a.
It is home to many significant religious and cultural sites dating to the
Abbasid period, including shrines of Imams such as Sheikh al-Ghailani,
who established the Sufi order al-Qadiriya, and Imam al-A'dham, who
developed Islamic jurisprudence. As the leading manufacturing city of
Swords at Baghdad Entrance
Iraq, the city has numerous oil refineries, food-processing plants, tanner-
ies, and textile mills. The oil boom of the 1970s brought wealth to Bagh-
dad, and the city was developed on an impressive scale. The city
stretches along both banks of the Tigris, with the district of Rusafah on
the east and the district of Karkh on the west. Eleven bridges connect the
two halves of the city. There are many old mosques in the city, such as
the Al Khulafa Mosque and Liberty Memorial Fountain Mosque.
The capital city of Dahuk province is Dahuk, also spelled Dohuk, or
Dhok, town, northern Iraq, in the Kurdish Autonomous Region. The
town lies near the northern end of the Tigris River Valley. The area in
which the town is situated is unsuitable for cultivation but is good for
fruit orchards and pasturage. Dahuk has a fruit-canning plant and a tex-
tile mill. There has been recent building of new tourist resorts and
improvement to existing ones.
Traditionally a farm market center, An Nasiriyah, the capital of Dhi Qar
governate, is between Al Basrah and Al Kut and marks the western point
of a 16,000-square-kilometer- (6,000-square-mile-) triangle of marsh-
lands between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. The population is 560,000.
The capital city in the Diyala Province is Baquaba. Located in east-central
Iraq, on the Diyala River and on a road and a rail line between Baghdad
and Iran, it is a regional trade center for agricultural produce and live-
stock. The name comes from the Aramaic Baya ‘quba, meaning “Jacob's
house.” The town is located on the site of a settlement dating back to pre-
Islamic times. Under the ‘Abbasid caliphate, it was a prosperous town.
The capital city of Irbil province is Irbil, also spelled as Erbil and Arbil.
It is located in northern Iraq, 77 kilometers (48 miles) east of Mosul in
the foothills of the mountains that rise to the east. It is a trade center for
agricultural produce. A rail terminus, it is also linked by roads to Tur-
key, Syria, and Iran. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited towns
in the world. With a population of 743,000 people, Irbil encompasses a
land area of 14,471 square kilometers.
Karbala is a city in central Iraq and is the capital of the Karbala Prov-
ince, on the edge of the Syrian Desert. It is connected to the Hindiyah
branch of the Euphrates River by canal. The chief industries include the
manufacture of religious goods, textiles, shoes, cement and food pro-
cessing. Karbala is a holy city for Iraqi Shi’a because it holds the shrine
of the martyred Imam Husayn ibn Ali, whose death here in 680 and the
subsequent conflict over succession of the caliphate distinguished the
Shi’a from the Sunni sects of Islam. Karbala is also the site of the holy
shrine to Husayn’s brother, Abbas, who was martyred in the same battle.
Shi’a make pilgrimages (called the Ashura) to Karbala twice a year to
commemorate Husayn’s death’ on the 10th day of the Muslim month of
Muharram and 40 days later in the month of Safar. Hussein’s regime
attempted to prevent Shi’a pilgrims from entering the city, causing ten-
sion. Because of its shrines, Karbala became an significant center of
Islamic learning and theology. Population 563,000.
The capital of Maysan province is Al Amarah, the 14th largest city in
Iraq. It is located in southeastern Iraq approximately 290 kilometers
east-southeast of Baghdad and 155 kilometers north-northwest of Al
Basrah. Al Amarah is bisected by the Tigris River and has developed
along (and outward) from the riverbanks. Agriculture is the primary
industry in the region. The estimated 1998 population within 10 kilome-
ters of Al Amarah is 225,800. It is believed the majority (approximately
60 percent) of the population is Shi’a Arab. There also may be two
minority groups who have lived in the study area: the Marsh Arabs
(Maadan) and Mandeans.
The capital city of Ninawa province is Mosul (Arabic, Al-mawsil) in
northwestern Iraq. It lies on the right bank of the Tigris River across
from the ruins of the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh, 362 kilometers
(225 miles) northwest of Baghdad. Mosul is Iraq’s third largest city and
constitutes the chief commercial center of the northwestern portion of
the country. The largest city in the Iraqi Kurdish region, Mosul is pre-
dominantly Kurdish with a sizeable Turkmen minority. The Yazidi sect
is most numerous in the surrounding mountainous area. Mosul also has
the largest number of Iraqi Christians of any Iraqi city, including Nesto-
rians, Jacobites, Catholics and Chaldeans. There are churches in Mosul
that are historically and culturally significant for several of these Chris-
tian sects. With a rich ancient Assyrian history, Mosul is a historically
important trade center linking Persia and the Mediterranean. In the 8th
century, Mosul became the principal city of northern Mesopotamia
under the early Muslim Abbasid dynasty. In the Ottoman period, it was
one of the provincial seats of administration. Population 1,700,000.
Salah Ad Din
Tikrit is the capital city of this province, with about 100,000 inhabitants,
about 160 kilometers northwest of Baghdad, on the Tigris River. Tikrit
is the hometown of Saddam Hussein, and its significance in his regime
has been substantial, as Hussein has recruited many of his closest allies
and leaders of the national bureaucracy from the Tikriti clan. Moreover,
the city contains many prominent schools and official buildings. This
area is the site of concentrated anti-Coalition activity, given its close ties
to Hussein’s regime.
The capital city of Wasit province is Al Kut, located in southeastern
Iraq, approximately 190 kilometers east-southeast of Baghdad and 240
kilometers northwest of Al Basrah. Al Kut is bisected by the Tigris, with
the majority of the town on a bend on the north side of the river. Agri-
culture is the primary industry in the region. It is believed the majority
(approximately 60 percent) of the population is Shi’a Arab. There also
may be a minority of Sunni Arabs concentrated in the urban areas.
The extremely hot, dry, clear summer months last from May through
October, and produce maximum daytime temperatures that reach
40° C (100° F), usually varying between 31° C (88° F) and 34° C
(93° F). Temperatures are cooler in the northeast highlands. The sum-
mer months also feature strong winds and sandstorms. Baghdad aver-
ages five dust storms each month during July. During the winter, the
mean daily maximum temperature is 17° C (64° F); however, tempera-
tures are colder in the highlands.
Ninety percent of Iraq’s rain falls between November and April. Most of
that falls between December and March. The remaining 6 months, par-
ticularly June through August, are dry. Precipitation is highest in the
northeast highlands. The area receives 760 to 1,000 millimeters (30 to
40 inches) of rain annually and snow up to 3 months per year in some
places. Mean annual rainfall ranges between 100 and 170 millimeters
elsewhere in the country.
The summer months also feature two types of wind. The southerly and
southeasterly sharqi is a dry, dusty wind with occasional gusts of
80 kilometers per hour that occurs from April to early June and again from
late September through November. From mid-June to mid-September, the
prevailing wind is called the shamal; it is a steady wind that blows from the
north and northeast. The arid air brought by the shamal allows the sun to
heat the land surface, but the constant breeze has some cooling effect.
Iraq's infrastructure, greatly damaged during the 1990-91 Gulf War
and to a lesser extent, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF) in
2003, fails to meet basic sanitation and environmental health needs.
More than half the population obtains water from polluted sources.
F ELEVATION: 112 FT
30 Extreme High
J F M A M J J A S O N D J F M A M J J A S O N D
ELEVATION: 7 FT
F TEMPERATURE PRECIPITATION
30 Extreme High
J F M A M J J A S O N D J F M A M J J A S O N D
Baghdad and Al Basrah Weather
F ELEVATION: 732 FT
30 Extreme High
J F M A M J J A S O N D J F M A M J J A S O N D
ELEVATION: 2,799 FT
F TEMPERATURE PRECIPITATION
20 Average Low
J F M A M J J A S O N D J F M A M J J A S O N D
Mosul and As Sulaymaniyah Weather
Many people are displaced due to housing shortages in Baghdad,
Basrah and Mosul. There is also a significant risk of exposure to
extreme heat, intense sunlight, blowing dust, scarce water, and large
quantities of unexploded ordnance in the desert. Summer tempera-
tures exceeding 43° C (109° F) contribute to heat stress in unaccli-
mated individuals. Dust storms occur in all but the mountainous
regions in the northeast. Severe cold and low barometric pressures in
the northeast mountains present risks of cold injuries and mountain
sickness. Air, water, and soil pollution from industrial and domestic
sources also present risk.
Iraqi hydrology, which examines how water is managed in the country,
is a critical issue that received much attention during OIF. The Tigris
and Euphrates Rivers are the life-blood of Iraq, providing the necessary
water to sustain the urban population and support agriculture in a pre-
dominantly arid climate.
During OIF, coalition leaders were concerned that Hussein’s regime
might purposefully flood areas of the country to deny avenues of
approach to Baghdad from the south. Though the regime did not pursue
this course of action, the significance of the Iraqi hydrologic system was
highlighted because of the potentially disastrous consequences of this
course of action or the system’s failure.
A comprehensive engineering plan was initiated in the 1950s to better
regulate spring floods and maximize the irrigated arable lands along
both rivers. This successful effort (completed in 1984) provided a
sophisticated hydrologic network of man-made structures and channels
that stored and distributed water.
Since that time, two major initiatives have had a dramatic impact on the
hydrologic network in Iraq. First, a number of dams have been con-
structed in Turkey to store water for irrigation. This has significantly
reduced the flow of water entering Iraq, especially from the Euphrates.
Second, following the Gulf War in 1991 and the ensuing civil unrest of
the Shiites, Saddam Hussein’s regime implemented an aggressive plan
to drain the Mesopotamian marshlands (an area larger than the Florida
Everglades). As a result, 90 percent of the original wetlands were elimi-
nated, leaving a barren salty crust.
While an Iraqi inundation plan was never executed during OIF, the full
understanding of Iraq’s water system proved instrumental during all
phases of the military operation and for post-war planning both short
and long term. The following provides specific information on each
river and potential hydrologic issues that may require further review and
action in the future.
Of the twin rivers (the Tigris and Euphrates), Iraq exercises the greatest
control over the Tigris. More than 1,500 of its 1,900 kilometers (80 per-
cent) run through Iraq. Of even greater significance, nearly 60 percent of
the fresh water inflow enters the Tigris through tributaries that collect
runoff within Iraq from the Zagros Mountain range.
Crossing the Turkish border, the Tigris maintains a fairly constant slope
(36 kilometers) and stable course through soft bedrock for approxi-
mately 500 kilometers. Mosul and Tikrit lie along this segment. At the
city of Balad near the confluence with the Adhaim River, the slope
decreases significantly (6-8 kilometers) and extends into a relatively flat
terrain characterized by large meanders. The cities of Baghdad and Al
Kut lie within this natural alluvial floodplain of the river. The average
flow rate of the Tigris is approximately 1,500 cumecs.
Beyond Al Kut, the Tigris joins the Euphrates at Al Qurnah. Beyond Al
Qurnah, the combined flow of the twin rivers forms the Shatt al Arab
that flows through Al Basrah and into the Persian Gulf at Al Faw.
Rainfall from December through March, combined with the ensuing snow-
melt from March through May, has resulted in significant flooding in the
past. For example, from 1945 to 1954 the Tigris overflowed its banks near
Baghdad 8 of the 10 years. In 1955, the completion of the Tharthar project
allowed floodwaters to be diverted at Samarra, thus greatly reducing the
flood vulnerability of Baghdad. The diverted flood waters are directed into
the Tharthar Reservoir, built over a natural land depression, with an enor-
mous total storage capacity of 85 billion cubic meters (BCM).
Dams were added to further control and store water along the Tigris
River and its tributaries. These dams are listed in order from the Turkish
border downstream, and include the gross storage capacity:
I The Mosul Dam, completed in 1986, storage of 11.1 BCM;
I Dokan, located along the Lesser Zab River tributary (completed in
1961; storage 6.8 BCM);
I The Al Azim, located along the Adhaim River (completed in 1998;
storage 3.5 BCM);
I The Derbendikhan, located along the Diyala River tributary (com-
pleted in 1962; storage 3.0 BCM); and
I The Hamrin, also located along the Diyala River tributary (completed
in 1980; storage 3.9 BCM).
The combined storage of 28 BCM from these dams, combined with the
water diversion capability of Tharthar, has all but eliminated spring
flooding along the Tigris. The controlled release of the spring water
storage is used for irrigation during the dry season from June through
mid-October. In addition, all these dams provide hydroelectric power.
The Euphrates extends 2,700 kilometers from its headwaters in Turkey.
Only 1,000 kilometers of the river lie within Iraq’s borders. In stark con-
trast to the Tigris, there is no natural fresh water inflow into the Euph-
rates within Iraq. Approximately 85 percent of the inflow occurs within
Turkey, and the remaining 15 percent within Syria.
The Euphrates maintains a constant slope (30 cm/km) and course over
400 kilometers from the Syrian border to the City of Ramadi. There is a
dramatic slope change (3-6 cm/km) into a flat alluvial plain for the
remaining 600 kilometers. Downstream of this break, the slope is even
smaller than the Tigris, and south of Al Hillah (elevation 32 meters
MSL), the river is characterized by a braided structure of several chan-
nels that rejoin to form a main channel at Samawah.
The construction of dams within Turkey has greatly reduced the threat
of flooding along the Euphrates within Iraq. However, these upstream
structures outside Iraqi control have also reduced the available water
required to support agriculture. In fact, the flow of the Euphrates was
reduced to a trickle in Iraq for 30 days in the early 1990s, in order for
Turkey to accelerate the filling of a new high storage capacity reservoir
(49 BCM) formed by the Ataturk Dam completed in 1990.
Similar to the Tharthar diversion, water can be diverted if necessary
from the Euphrates into two reservoirs, both constructed over natural
land depressions. Through a control structure at Ramadi, water can be
diverted into the Habbiniyah Reservoir. Upon reaching its fill capacity
of 3.3 BCM, water can then be directed into the larger Milh Reservoir
(capacity of 25 BCM) located just west of Karbala.
Only one major dam exists along the Euphrates within Iraq. The
Haditha Dam (completed in 1984) provides a storage capacity of 8.2
BCM in the Qadisiyah Reservoir. Located 120 kilometers from the Syr-
ian border, this dam provides hydroelectric power to western Iraq.
Other Hydrologic Control Features
Two historic water control structures remain in place and are still func-
tioning as designed. The Hindiya Barrage was constructed in 1911-1914
to raise the water level for irrigating upstream areas of land in the vicin-
ity of Hillah and Greater Mussaiyab. Another major barrage was added
in 1939 at Al Kut along the Tigris River. This structure continues to pro-
vide a means to regulate flow through the Shatt al Gharraf and Dujailah
channels to support major agricultural areas south and east of Al Kut.
Construction of a major drainage canal known as the Main Outfall Drain
(MOD), between the Euphrates and Tigris, was started in 1953. This
Barrage at Al Kut
project was initially designed to drain the high saline content from irri-
gated agricultural lands in the Mesopotamian valley. Finally completed
in 1992 and renamed the Saddam River, the canal not only was used for
irrigation drainage, but also as a means to divert the Euphrates River in
order to drain the Central and Hammar Marshlands. In the early 1990’s,
The Fifth River, (Qadissiyah River) was also completed, which diverted
water from the Euphrates River into the Sulaybiyat Depression. With a
storage capacity of 2.7 BCM, this natural storage depression provided a
means to reduce flow rates in the Euphrates during the required inter-
connection construction with the Saddam River east of An Nasiriyah.
Furthermore, it provided a means to create a dry working environment
for the construction of a levee system along the banks of the Euphrates,
ultimately sealing the fate of the marshlands by completely halting any
water exchange from the river.
To accelerate the marsh drainage, a second canal, named the Mother of
Battles (MOB) River, was completed in 1994. The marsh diversion
effort was completed in 1997 with the Loyality to the Leader canal,
extending the MOB to Al Basrah.
Future Hydrologic Issues
The restoration of the drained marshlands represents a humanitarian act
of goodwill to re-establish a major ecologic system and perhaps re-
establish a lost homeland to thousands of Shiites. However, it is unclear
whether the dried salty crust can be returned to the dense reed grasses.
Simply diverting water back to the marsh by removing the lower Euph-
rates levee system and stopping the flow along the MOB is not suffi-
cient. The Hussein regime also constructed numerous levees within the
marsh itself to accelerate the evaporation process. A significant amount
of earthwork will be required to re-establish the free flow of water
through the original marshlands.
Of more immediate concern is the state of the hydrologic infrastructure.
Following the 1991 Gulf War and subsequent trade sanctions, equip-
ment was difficult to maintain and repair due to the scarcity of spare
parts. The freshwater and wastewater treatment facilities designed in the
mid 1980s within Baghdad are incapable of supporting the growing
population and must be updated.
The dams must be maintained to ensure the safety, and to ensure suffi-
cient water is available for irrigation. The structure of greatest concern
is the Mosul Dam on the Tigris River, which requires daily grouting
within the dam core to mitigate a documented leakage problem. Failure
of this dam would result in significant flooding within hours at Mosul,
with impacts extending as far downstream as Baghdad.
The upstream water control by Turkey, and to a lesser degree, Syria,
represents a potentially significant negative hydrologic impact on Iraq.
The cumulative impact of the construction of more than 30 large dams,
particularly those recently built in Turkey under the Southeast Anatolia
Project, have been enormous. The storage capacity of dams on the
Euphrates is five times greater than the river’s annual flow. The trend of
more human control is evident as at least 20 more dams are planned or
under construction. Iraq and its neighbors must address water manage-
ment and control issues to avoid potential conflicts.
TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATION
A major highway network consisting of 45,550 kilometers (38,400 kilo-
meters paved and 7,150 kilometers unpaved) was constructed to allow
troop and supply movement during the Iran-Iraq war. After the conclu-
sion of the first Gulf War, the Hussein regime largely neglected mainte-
nance of the network, resulting in slight degradation of the highway
infrastructure. OIF did not inflict substantial damage on the overall road
network. Some overpasses were damaged, but repairs are underway.
Bus Service in Iraq
SYRIA Sulaymaniyah Nahr
Ar Ramadi r BAGHDAD
JORDAN Al Kut
An Diwaniyah Al
An Nasiriyah Basrah
International Boundary Zubayr
Major roads Qasr
Major airports SAUDI
Major ports KUWAIT Arabian
Boundary representations not necessarily authoritative.
Iraq has an extensive highway network is to link Baghdad with other
major cities in Iraq and neighboring countries. The road from Baghdad
extends 560 kilometers south to Al Basrah, near the Kuwaiti border.
Iraq’s primary international expressway (Highway 1) runs 1,264 kilo-
meters from Safwan near the Kuwaiti border northwest to the Syrian
and Turkish borders, with most sections being six-lanes-wide. All these
roads pass through or near major towns.
Due to production shortfalls, gasoline (benzene) production cannot meet
demand however, as a result of a fixed-price economy, prices are very
low (the price of benzene ranges from 5 to10 U.S. cents per liter). Buses
run less frequently and to fewer destinations than before OIF. Fares for
buses and taxis have gone up in relation to the price of gas.
Maintenance and development of the railway system was severely dis-
rupted by the 1980-88 and 1990-91 wars. Damage inflicted on the rail
system during OIF was minimal. The rail routes originate in Baghdad
and link to most main cities, including Mosul, Irbil, Husaibah, Akashat,
in the north and An Nasiriyah, Al Basrah, and Umm Qasr in the south.
There are also routes that serve major industrial centers. As of 1988 436
diesel-electric locomotives, 654 passenger cars, and 12,836 freight wag-
ons ran on the network. The rail network was reactivated by the Coali-
tion Provisional Authority with the reopening of the port of Umm Qasr.
Railroad Station Re-opening Ceremony at Umm Qasr, 2003
Iraq has only two major international airports; they are at Baghdad and
Al Basrah. OIF caused little damage to the major civilian airfields of
Iraq and most are now operational in support of coalition rebuilding
efforts. As of early August 2003, five airlines (Northwest Airlines,
World Airways, Kalitta Air, North American Airlines and Continental
Airlines) have been approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation
for passenger and cargo air service. Five airlines (Air Transport Interna-
tional, Gemini Air Cargo, Evergreen International Airlines, Atlas Air
and Polar Air Cargo) have been approved for air cargo operations only.
Other than the two international airports, there are more than 100 other
airports throughout the country. Of these, nearly 40 are related to the
military; 74 are paved; and 61 have runways longer than 8,000 feet.
The ports of Al Basrah and Umm Qasr are the most used commer-
cial ports for Iraq. Umm Qasr was damaged by fighting early in the
war, but has been largely repaired and began receiving cargo on
23 May 2003.
Al Basrah can accommodate 12 vessels at the Maqal wharves and 7 ves-
sels at buoys with a usual water depth of up to 10 meters. The port
reportedly has a 40-ton gantry crane, 7 front loaders, and some tractors
and trailers, all in a 30-acre area.
Umm Qasr has space for eight vessels. Container and roll-on vessels can
use three general cargo berths, which can accommodate vessels up to
183 meters-long. It is the primary port for coalition sealift to Iraq.
Iraq’s communication infrastructure is gradually recovering from years
of neglect from Hussein’s regime and more than a decade of United
Nations sanctions. The system was further damaged during offensive
operations against Hussein’s regime. However, the various media in Iraq
are clearly taking advantage or their new-found freedom under the Coa-
lition Provisional Authority.
Radio and Television
Radio is the most widespread and effective means of mass communica-
tion in Iraq. The current status of Iraq’s radio communication infrastruc-
ture is unknown – the U.S.-led coalition attempted to avoid targeting as
much infrastructure as possible but, because Iraqi radio was state-con-
trolled, it did not remain undamaged. Radio broadcasts are limited to
regional broadcasts provided by coalition forces (CJTF V Corps/2nd
Armored Cavalry Regiment broadcasts in Baghdad, 101st Air Assault
Division broadcasts in Mosul and the 4th Infantry Division broadcasts in
Tikrit). Additionally, Iran has been broadcasting at 3980 KHz (AM) the
“Voice of Teheran” in Arabic across the border in effort to influence the
Iraqi Shiite population. According to a 1998 estimate, there are 4.85
million radios in Iraq and while Saddam Hussein was in power, the gov-
ernment transmitted on 16 AM, 51 FM, and 4 shortwave radio stations.
Prior to OIF, it was estimated that there were almost two million televi-
sions in Iraq. Power is still an issue in Iraq, but some households have
portable generators that can be used to keep televisions running. Iraqis
have access to several Arab-language satellite television stations that are
generally transmitted from outside the country, including al-Jazeerah,
al-Alam, al-Arabia, and the Arab News Network from Dubai, UAE. Ira-
qis also have access to Western media broadcasts including CNN, FOX
news and BBC Arabic language programming.
Telephone and Telegraph
The fixed-line telephone service was so severely damaged during the
war that the Coalition Provisional Authority has decided to switch tele-
phone service to a cellular system. An American company, MCI/World-
com, has setup a cellular network limited to the Baghdad area that is
reserved for coalition forces and the agencies and organizations
involved in the rebuilding of Iraq. The Coalition Provisional Authority
(CPA) announced 12 June 2003 that it planned to award a bid for the
construction and operation of a nation-wide GSM system. Until then,
U.S. military, development specialists, foreign journalists and those few
Iraqis affluent enough to afford it must depend on satellite phones (Thu-
riya, IRIDIUM and Inmarsat) for telecommunications.
Newspapers and Magazines
Following a temporary printed media void after Baghdad fell to coali-
tion troops, newspapers are back in circulation in Iraq. By July 2003,
more than 100 newspapers and magazines were estimated to be in circu-
lation in Baghdad and other major cities in Iraq. Many printed media are
taking advantage of the new freedom of the press available since the fall
of the Hussein regime. Some newspapers, such as Azzaman Arabic
Daily, are actually printed in the United Kingdom and distributed
throughout the Arab community. Various political factions sponsor other
newspapers – the Kurdish Democratic Party publishes al-Ta’akhi and
the Shi’a Council sponsors the al-Tadamum newspaper. Several inde-
pendent newspapers have also been established, such as the satirical
weekly, Habez Bouz, one of the first Iraqi print journals founded and
edited by a woman.
Satellite dishes and receivers were banned under the Hussein regime.
Now there is a booming business in satellite dishes – including some
hand-made with scrap metal. Generally, few Iraqis can afford satellite
television but, in some cases, communities have pooled their finances
and bought satellite dishes and receivers to gain access to information
originating beyond Iraq’s borders.
Internet service is primarily limited to the major cities of Iraq. As with
other media, the internet was tightly controlled during the Hussein
regime. Iraqi citizens are capitalizing on their new, online freedom and
are expanding internet service. Recognizing this growing demand and
capability, some Iraqi news publications, such as Azzaman Arabic Daily
and al-Ta’akhi, publish online. Additionally, some coalition forces, such
as the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, post news and information on
their civil affairs websites.
Due to the ongoing unrest following the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s
regime and the continued U.S./Coalition presence and efforts in nation-
building, this section of the handbook has been expanded. Coalition
forces need to understand as much as possible about the background of
Iraq and its people to aid in attempts to rebuild their infrastructure and
help them establish a new government.
There are five major ethnic groups in the country: Arab, Kurd, Turkoman,
Chaldean, and Assyrian. The cultural history, religious identity, language,
tribal considerations, and customs of each group will be discussed in
detail. Also, a section on the two major religions is included, in an attempt
to explain the different beliefs and ways of Sunni and Shi’a Muslims.
Iraq occupies what was once known as Mesopotamia, the territory
that historians and anthropologists consider the site of the earliest
civilizations. The fertile lands of the Tigris and Euphrates river val-
leys attracted migrations of neighboring peoples and made possible,
for the first time in history, the growing of surplus food. As food pro-
duction increased, a process of urbanization evolved and Sumerian
civilization (which produced writing, irrigation, the wheel, astron-
omy, religion, and literature) took root. Over the next 1,000 years,
Babylonian rule encompassed a huge area covering most of the
Tigris-Euphrates river valley from Sumer and the Arabian Gulf in the
south to Assyria in the north.
Mesopotamian culture left many legacies, including basic scientific
principles, legal codes, and advances in warfighting technology, such
as the wheeled chariot and the composite bow. It was also one of the
first regions of the world to experience centralized authority with the
rise of the Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian empires.
After the collapse of one empire or another, a multitude of small states
emerged and survived a few decades or centuries before being
absorbed into new empires. Iraqis take great pride in their ancestors
and historical legacies.
The Ottoman Period
During the Ottoman period, nomadic tribes formed the bulk of Iraq’s
Arab population. Throughout most of Iraq, direct Ottoman control was
weak. Loose tribal confederations prevailed, with each tribe acting as a
sort of mobile mini-state. In the absence of a strong central authority, the
tribal framework fulfilled the primary functions of resolving or engag-
ing in conflict and managing resources. The history of Iraq through the
19th century is a chronicle of tribal migration and of conflict between
tribal groups, as the nomadic population swelled with the influx of
Bedouins from Najd in the Arabian Peninsula.
Beginning the mid-19th century, the Ottoman Empire increased its con-
trol over Iraqi Arab tribes through settlement policies and land reform
measures. The result was an erosion of the sheikhs’ traditional source of
power and a disintegration of the traditional tribal system.
Following World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the
British decided to unite the three Ottoman provinces of Baghdad,
Mosul, and Basrah into one nation-state called Iraq (a name borrowed
from the medieval past of the region) despite the significant religious,
linguistic, ethnic, and tribal divisions running through Iraqi society.
Under the mandate, British policies restored power to the tribal sheikhs,
thereby helping to preserve and reinforce Iraq’s tribal structure.
The Iraqi monarchy tried to integrate the various fragments of its
society through military conscription and national education. For the
Sunnis, building a strong army compensated for weak social, politi-
cal, and national bonds. These integrationist policies achieved some
success during the last two decades of the monarchy. Substantial
Shi’a immigration to Baghdad and improved education contributed
to growing Sunni-Shi’a integration. Overall, however, the Sunnis
remained dominant. Shi’a had almost no representation in the high-
est echelons of government and military, and remained the poor
majority. Following the 1958 coup that toppled the monarchy, a
decade of Sunni Arab republican rule brought mixed results for the
Shi’a. Economically, Shi’a fared better than they had under the mon-
archy. Iraqi Arab tribes continued to lose power under both the mod-
ernizing monarchy and the republican regime. The republican
regime enacted and began to implement agrarian reform. At the same
time, a new wave of emigration from countryside to city weakened
the remaining tribal units and ties.
The Ba’athist Period
Following the 1968 Ba’athist coup, close family, clan, and tribal ties
bound Iraq’s ruling Sunni elite. Most notable in this regard was the
emergence of Tikritis, Sunni Arabs from the town of Tikrit related to
President Ahmad Hasan al Bakr. Saddam Hussein, a key leader behind
the scenes, was a Tikriti and a relative of al Bakr.
When the Ba’athists came to power, there were few Shi’a in the party’s
leadership. The Sunni Arab minority monopolized power. After early
1969, the regime embarked on a policy of intimidation and attraction to
integrate and control the Shi’a community. Efforts to bring the Shi’a
religious establishment under government control signaled the begin-
ning of a long and violent clash between the regime and the activist
Shi’a mujtahids and their followers. Because Shi’a Iran was nearby,
larger and more powerful, it became convenient for the ruling Sunni
elite to deny rights to the Shi’a majority, claiming that they were a Per-
sian “fifth column” of Iran. Based on the large number of Persians in the
Shi’a holy cities in southern Iraq and the ties between Arab and Persian
Shi’a clergy, the regime accused the Shi’a (and those Shi’a clergy whom
they failed to win over) of serving Iranian interests.
Sunni-Shi’a tensions remained high during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-
1988). During the war with Iran, the regime’s rhetoric began to shift.
The Islamic challenge posed by the Iranian revolution and the perceived
need to assuage Iraq’s Shi’a population helped inject a new religious
element into the regime’s discourse. Saddam Hussein regularly and con-
spicuously attended mosques, ordered the establishment of two Islamic
universities and other schools for teaching Islamic subjects, and pro-
moted Islamic values.
In March 1991, following Iraq’s defeat in the Gulf War, Arab Shi’a in
southern Iraq (as well as the Kurds in northern Iraq) revolted against the
Ba’athist regime. The first sparks of the rebellion were in the towns of
Abul Khasib and Zubair, about 60-70 kilometers south of Basrah. The
revolt gained momentum and spread to the major cities of southern Iraq,
including Basrah, Najaf, and Karbala. Masses — including retreating
soldiers and exiles infiltrated through Iran — gathered in the streets and
seized government and administrative offices. The Arab Shi’a who
revolted mobilized around a longstanding sense of injustice regarding
political and socio-economic deprivation. This spontaneous rebellion
did not have a clear leadership, integrated organization, or political pro-
gram, however. In addition, the Sunni-dominated central region of Iraq
remained quiet. At the end of March, the government brutally crushed
the uprisings. The rebels were captured, fled to Iran, or fled into the
southern marshes. The government then drained the marshes, leading to
the forcible relocation of the local Marsh Arab population.
Hussein’s Tribal Policies
During the 1980s and 1990s, Hussein’s regime also increased its control
by relying on tribal loyalties among both Sunni and Shi’a Arabs. The
majority of the former ruling elite came from Saddam Hussein’s Albu
Nasir tribe and its allies in the Tikrit region. Sunni tribes that closely
supported the regime included: the Dulaim, Jubbur, Ukaydat, Mulla,
Sa’idat, and Shammar. Other supporting tribes residing in and around
Tikrit include al-Hadithiyyun, al-Shaya’isha, Albu Khishman, and Albu
Bazun. The regime’s rationale for increasingly relying on the tribes dur-
ing this period was two-fold. First, tribal Arabs, although they had
become settled, were still considered Bedouin, and thus the most genu-
inely Arab, and therefore the most trustworthy in the war against Iran.
Second, they were believed to have retained tribal values such as loyalty,
honor, courage, and manliness.
The success of the regime’s tribal policy was demonstrated when several
Shi’a tribes remained on the sidelines or supported the regime during
the 1991 uprising in the south. These tribes had been receiving benefits
from Baghdad. Some of their members had become fairly prominent in
the government and could distribute perks and advance the interests of
the tribe. In addition, even tribes that stayed on the sidelines saw them-
selves as Arab, retaining their old Arab cultural traits. This Arab pedi-
gree and culture was as important to them as their Shi’a affiliation.
Tribal alliances are notoriously volatile and allegiances may differ even
among groups within a particular tribe. Some of the major tribal part-
ners that supported the regime — the Jubbur, Ubaid, and Dulaim —
were no longer in full alliance with the regime before its collapse. There
are other sources of tribal dissent. In 1994, for example, the al-Duri
experienced several purges. (Duri is a city name not a tribal name.)
Religious Identity of Ethnic Groups
The Iraqi Arab population is predominantly Muslim. They are divided
between Shi’a (55-60 percent) and Sunni (15-17 percent). Although the
Shi’a are a minority among the world’s Muslim population, there are
about four times as many Shi’a Arabs in Iraq as Sunni. Prior to the com-
ing of Islam in the 7th century, there were thriving Jewish Arab settle-
ments, Christian Arab tribes, and Arabs worshipping local and seasonal
gods. Iraq still has a small Christian Arab community as well as a small
The Arabic language — a Semitic tongue spoken by about 200 million
people — exists in three forms: the classical Arabic of the Qur’an; mod-
ern standard Arabic, used in books, newspapers, television, and radio;
and the spoken language, which in Iraq is Iraqi Arabic. Educated Arabs
tend to be bilingual — in modern standard Arabic and in their own dia-
lect of spoken Arabic. Even uneducated Arabic speakers can usually
comprehend the meaning of something said in modern standard Arabic,
although they are unable to speak it. Apart from Qur’anic texts, classical
Arabic is known chiefly to scholarly specialists. Language is a major
facet of Iraqi Arab identity. The Arabic language embodies an entire
culture. Within a century of Islam’s revelation, Arabic replaced Aramaic
as the language of the region. In many regions, populations were becom-
ing Arabic faster than they were becoming Muslim.
Linguistic differences reflect different aspects of Iraqi identity. Histori-
cally, these linguistic differences were most pronounced among the
Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities. Linguistic differences in
Iraq are also associated with factors such as gender, education, geogra-
phy, nomadic lifestyles, and urbanization. The historical divide between
the nomadic and settled populations in Iraq created distinct dialects that
persist in Iraqi Arabic.
Islam and the Arab Culture
Islam, as it is practiced in Iraq, is closely tied to Arab culture. The two
entities have functioned in Iraq as the preeminent political paradigms
for more than 1,300 years. Despite Islam’s emphasis on community, an
Arab versus non-Arab distinction insinuated itself soon after Islam’s
founding. Arabs assert special rights and privileges in Islam for several
reasons: the birthplace of Islam and its holiest sites are in the Arab coun-
tries; Arabic is the language in which God’s message was revealed and
transmitted; and Arabs were the first to receive this message and were
entrusted to carry it to other populations.
There is a close association between Arab nationalism and Sunni Islam.
Islamic heritage and achievement serve as an essential component of
pan-Arabism. In addition, Arab Sunni Islam’s reliance on genealogy
tends to affirm the Sunni community’s perception of primacy. Sunnis
regard themselves as descendants of and heirs to the Arab Muslim rule
of the 7th to 12th centuries.
Shi’ism in Iraq is heavily influenced by Arab identity, and thus differs
from the version followed in Persian Iran. Many of Iraq’s tribes con-
verted to Shi’ism in the 19th century, partly in response to Ottoman set-
tlement policies that disrupted the tribal order. Shi’a rituals and laws
helped tribesmen cope with their more complex daily life. The rapid
conversion of the tribes of southern Iraq to Shi’ism did not permeate the
former social and moral values of the tribesmen. The Shi’a have pointed
to their Arab tribal attributes and values to distinguish themselves from
the Shi’a of Iran. During the Iran-Iraq War, Iraqi Shi’a, under significant
pressure from the regime, for the most part chose their Arab identity
over their religious one.
The Sunni Arabs, historically acting as the ruling elite, have tried to bal-
ance and reconcile Iraqi-ness and a broader pan-Arabism. By its nature,
however, a pan-Arab ideology precludes a separate Shi’a identity. In
addition to benefiting from Hussein’s political hierarchy in Iraq, Sunni
Arabs tended to support the regime because it represented a bulwark
against possible Shi’a power and influence. Beyond the regime’s Tikriti
core was a broader system of Sunni support based on socioeconomic
enticements, patronage, and cliental relationships. The Sunni network of
patronage and association numbers nearly 500,000 Iraqis (including
dependents). With the decline of the Arab nationalist parties, Sunnis
considered the military as their only potential protector against Shi’a
domination. Today, Sunnis fear the loss of power and influence that is
likely to accompany a more representative regime in the post-Hussein
Iraq. Part of Hussein’s response to the 1991 uprising was to appeal to
Sunni loyalty and solidarity, playing on their feelings of vulnerability. In
particular, the government warned that the uprisings were a prelude to
Shi’a revenge, which could potentially produce civil strife and mass
killings. To date, there is little evidence of the Shi’a backlash that was
expected by many experts once Hussein’s regime fell.
Iraq is the heartland of the global Shi’a community. Iraq served as the
battleground for many of the seminal events defining the Sunni-Shi’a
division. Eight of the 12 revered holy Imams are buried in Iraq. Millions
of Shi’a pilgrims from throughout the world strive to visit the shrines of
the Imams in Karbala, Najaf, Samara, and Kazimiyya. Theological
schools and centers of learning have been established around many
shrines. In Iraq, the Shi’a religious leadership and institutions were con-
centrated in the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf and Kazimiyya (a few
miles up the Tigris, northwest of Baghdad). A small center of learning
was also in Samarra, north of Baghdad, where the 12th Imam is believed
to have disappeared. Until the 1980s, when the Iranian city of Qom rose
to pre-eminence, Najaf was the most prominent Shi’a city.
The establishment of modern Iraq posed a dilemma for the Shi’a and
enhanced the issue of their identity. Unlike the Kurds, who constitute a
distinct ethnic group, the Shi’a are Arab. In coping with their identity
crisis, the Shi’a explicitly stressed their Arab culture as compared with
their Iranian co-religionists. Shi’a Arabs have generally made attempts
to accommodate their religious identity to the framework of the Iraqi
state. Although Shi’a resented the ruling Sunni minority’s repeated
questioning of their loyalty, the Shi’a community has never unified
behind a Shi’a cause. Many Shi’a have chosen not to participate in the
governing of Iraq. In the last 75 years there have been only two serious
initiatives by the Shi’a seeking political change: the “Great Iraqi Revo-
lution” of 1920, and the uprisings following Desert Storm in 1991. Both
attempts failed and further weakened Shi’a political status.
In addition to religious differences, the rift between Sunni and Shi’a is
rooted in a struggle for political and economic power and representa-
tion. Iraqi Shi’a have protested their inferior status in various ways to
include: tribal uprisings in the 1930s, advocating communism in the
1950s, and the Islamic movement that appeared in the 1960s. There are
several reasons for their failure to assert themselves as the political
majority. The most serious drawback has been their inability to articu-
late a common goal that would unify and guide them as a group. They
have been unwilling explicitly to identify themselves as Shi’a (as
opposed to Arab or Iraqi) and to articulate their demands in Shi’a terms.
The few Shi’a political groupings that did emerge failed to attract the
support of either the secular or religious Shi’a. Moreover, these group-
ings were weak and fragmented. The Shi’a lacked a strong, leading per-
sonality, unified leadership, and a well-developed organization.
Sunni-dominated regimes have systematically attacked the Shi’a reli-
gious establishment, a traditional source of leadership. In Najaf, Ayatol-
lah Muhammad Sadiq Al-Sadr, the highest-ranking Arab Shi’a
Ayatollah, became a spokesman for Shi’a demands and a symbol of
Shi’a frustration. His assassination in 1999 triggered significant demon-
strations throughout the south. Although this incident demonstrates that
there is a potential for Shi’a mobilization around central clerical figures,
the Shi’a have never seriously challenged the Iraqi state (as opposed to
the regime of Saddam Hussein) and have not considered secession an
option. As the majority population of Iraq, Shi’a have a vested interest
in its independence and statehood. Moreover, because they consider
themselves the demographic, geographic, and historic heart of Iraq,
Shi’a have sought to preserve an Iraqi identity distinct from other Arabs.
Many views about politics and religion contradict the image of Iraqi Shi’a
as monolithic, radical, and pro-Iranian. The 1991 uprising against the
regime illustrated the essentially diffused and decentralized character of
Shi’a identity and the religious leadership’s inability to control it. There
are religious Shi’a, secular Shi’a, and Shi’a whose allegiance is to tribe, or
in some instances, the regime. The political dispersion is further enhanced
by the practice of allowing believers to choose the religious figure (a liv-
ing mujtahid) whose teachings they want to follow. Finally, Shi’a loyalty
to Iraq during the war with Iran provided strong evidence of independence
from Tehran. Although there are strong cultural and familial links
between Iraqi and Iranian Shi’a, Arab identity and national sentiment
remain more powerful influences within the community. Iraqi Shi’a bal-
ance their religious and Arab identities, rejecting both Iranian-domination
and pan-Arabism. Overall, the Shi’a blend Iraqi nationalism with Arab
cultural content. They consider themselves indigenous Iraqis. They want a
say in Iraq’s politics and economy commensurate with their numbers.
Role of Tribes in Society
At least three-quarters of the Iraqi people belong to one of the country’s
150 tribes. Social relationships in Iraqi Arab culture require individuals
to merge identity and personality within the framework of the commu-
nal group. Instead of asserting their separateness and privacy as individ-
uals, Iraqi Arabs tend to interact as members of a group — family, clan,
village, neighborhood, tribe, etc. Iraqi Arabs display a high need for
social approval and group norms. Shaming is the primary instrument
with which Iraqi Arab society enforces conformity. The group often
determines a person’s identity, status, and prospects for success in life.
Conformity is related to and reinforced by a reverence for tradition.
Within Arab culture, therefore, the group takes precedence over the indi-
vidual. Loyalty to the group is highly valued, and responsibility is gener-
ally considered to fall upon the group in its entirety rather than on any
particular individual. Cousins, neighbors, and friends can develop bonds
Shepherds in Al Kut
as strong as any between close family members. Kinship ties are fabri-
cated, denied, and manipulated. Because of the primacy of the group,
obligations of group members to one another are wide, varied, and pow-
erfully compelling. The extended family is the fundamental unit of polit-
ical and social action. Related kin groups may be allies or enemies,
depending upon the existing economic and political conditions.
Iraqi tribes are characterized by solidarity, hospitality, and independence.
Tribal values also include loyalty, courage, gallantry, manliness, and mas-
tery of arms. In general, the degree of hierarchy and centralization in a
tribe correlates with the length of time it had been sedentary. Tribal mem-
bership did not impose a rigid structure on behavior. The tribe provided its
members with an identity, a sense of security, and conflict resolution, but
everyday behavior was pragmatic and adaptive to specific situations.
Tribes and the Iraqi State
When it came to power in 1968, the Ba’ath party officially rejected trib-
alism, defining it as a remnant of colonialism and the epitome of back-
wardness. The party regarded tribalism as an obstacle to the socialist
transformation of Iraq. The regime also believed tribalism to be contrary
to transnational-Arab unity and Iraqi patriotism. The government
severely curtailed the sheikhs’ power over their tribesmen, and enacted
agrarian reforms that further separated tribal peasants from their leaders.
While reducing the influence of tribes, the regime implicitly promoted
tribal values, relied on tribal loyalties to stay in power, and implemented
policies that increased the individuals’ reliance on their tribes. Saddam
Hussein’s rise was linked to the tribal factor. His leading role in the
i International Boundary
Dahuk Zibari zan rados
Mizun a National Capital
Surchi B Balik
Rib Sinjar Herki Ako
at Girdi Kushnao
Sinjar Mosul Pizhdar
Aqaydat Irbil Ch
Shuan As ingini
Kirkuk aw a
SYRIA Jabbari and Jaf Nahr
Albu Nasir rat )
ka riti h
Tikrit Ta (Tik fisa
Akashat Atighi IRAN
Dulaym Ar Ramadi Jibur
JORDAN Karbala a shimAl Kut bayd Saway id
Haw Jabur U Banu
An Nukhayb Laith Rai ah Bayat
An Najaf Fatla Albu
Banu Lam Tamim
Yasir Khaza l Bani Rikab Albu Al Amarah
Agra Bani Hijaymi
Majority Groups Ghalal Ribat
Kurd Unizah Nasiriyah
Sunni Arab Hassan Basrah
Sunni Arab/Kurd Mix
Shia Arab As Busayyah
Shia/Sunni Arab Mix Mutayrat Kindi
Sunni Turkoman SAUDI KUWAIT
Sparsely Populated ARABIA KUWAIT Arabian
Boundary representations are
Tribe Name Hassan not necessarily authoritative.
Tribes in Iraq
Ba’ath Party stemmed from the relationship between President Ahamd
Hasan al-Bakr and Khayr Allah Talfah, who was also Hussein’s mater-
nal uncle and in whose home Hussein was raised. Bakr, Saddam Hus-
sein, and most of the new Ba’athist elite that controlled the party after
the 1968 coup came from provincial, semi-Bedouin small towns and vil-
lages, where tribal and family loyalties were and still are strongest.
Tribalism re-emerged, along with Arab cultural identity and Islam, as
major facets of Iraqi identity. Reverting to an old practice, many Iraqis
(toward the end of Hussein’s reign) attached their tribal or regional affil-
iations to their names. (In 1976, the government had banned this prac-
tice, masking how many Tikritis and others close to Saddam Hussein’s
clan and tribe held key positions.) Tribes have also played something of
a unifying role in the past 10 years.
The relatively late (19th century) conversion of many Iraqi tribes to
Shi’ism resulted in a mixed religious identity for many of the larger
tribes. This split usually follows a north-south pattern. For example, the
northern Shammar Jarba are Sunni and the southern Shammar Toqa are
Shi’a; the Dulaim on the Euphrates north of Baghdad are Sunni and the
southern Fatla of the Dulaim are Shi’a; and the Jubbur are split between
southern Shi’a and northern Sunni branches. The Albu Nasir (Saddam
Hussein’s tribe) has a Shi’a branch in the Najaf area.
Generally speaking, the Diyala river and the area between Falluja and
Baghdad mark the northern limit of the Shi’a population. The broad
geographical divide between Shi’a and Sunni areas is by no means
clear-cut, however, and there are mixed areas and enclaves throughout
Iraq. Shi’a tribes tend to be organized into fewer confederations than
their Sunni counterparts, and the tribal system in general is more com-
plex. Government policies since the early 1900s had a significant bear-
Street in Baghdad
ing on this, successfully breaking up many large confederations and
aggravating existing tribal conflicts.
Anti-regime activity just before OIF tended to not involve entire tribes;
rather, it primarily involved disaffected individuals (occasionally tribal
sheikhs) leading groups of tribesmen in small-scale guerrilla operations.
However, the 1991 Shi’a uprising, although not encompassing all major
Shi’a tribes, demonstrated the possibility of a significant pan-Shi’a col-
lective action against Baghdad. The disaffection felt by most Shi’a
toward Hussein’s Sunni-dominated regime represented a strong binding
force across the population. This longstanding sentiment remains
among Iraq’s southern tribes.
Despite living in the historical center of Shi’a culture, religious adher-
ence among the Iraqi Shi’a is somewhat ambiguous. Most of the south-
ern tribes are of Bedouin origin, an ethnic group not noted for religious
observance, and most of the Shi’a are only relatively recent converts to
Shi’ism. The forced transformation of many formerly nomadic tribes
into sedentary agriculturalists led to a partial breakdown in tribal struc-
tures and autonomy (which was probably the regime’s intention), and
prompted a re-evaluation of their identity in response to their changed
political and economic circumstances. Interaction with urban Shi’a,
most of whom had been converted in the 17th and 18th centuries was
more likely a greater cause of conversion. Shi’ism provided the rural
populace with a mechanism for improving their socio-economic status
through increased opportunities for social inclusion and mobility in their
dealings with city dwellers.
Despite the rapid growth of Islam in the Middle East, conversion to
Shi’ism among the southern Iraqi population took many decades, and
some tribes remained secular until the early years of the 20th century.
As a result the southern tribes retained important aspects of their Arab
identity, and developed an ambiguous relationship between the tribal
and religious elements of their social organization. Moreover, the con-
version cut across the boundaries of some tribes and confederations,
resulting in an imperfect correspondence between tribal and religious
allegiances that prevails today.
The constituent elements of Iraqi Shi’a identity are therefore more
complex than those of the Sunni population. Although the Shi’a
view themselves as Iraqis first and foremost, this does not translate
into support for the state itself, at least in its Sunni-dominated guise.
This is tempered, however, by the strong Arab traditions of Iraq
Shi’a, that not only serve to blur boundaries between the two confes-
sional groups, but also separate the Shi’a population from their
counterparts in Iran.
Shi’ism in Iraq and Iran differ in several significant respects.
I Iranian Shi’a religious practices are far more integrated with social
and political values of the society than the Iraqi Shi’a. In many ways,
Shi’ism in Iran evolved from the socio-political system, rather than
being imposed upon it, as was the case in Iraq. Iraqi Shi’ism incorpo-
rates many elements of Arab rituals and practices that pre-date con-
version, a characteristic that is absent from the Iranian religion.
I Conversion to Shi’ism in Iran was completed by the beginning of the
18th century, well before Iraq, and it encompassed a far greater pro-
portion of the country’s population.
I Shi’ism has been the state religion in Iran since 1501. The rise of the
modern Sunni state in Iraq, in contrast, restricted the development of
Shi’ism in the country. During the 20th century, the decline of Shi’a
religious and intellectual institutions in Iraq accelerated, further
polarizing Iraqi Shi’a from their Iranian counterparts.
I Iraqi Shi’a identified with the Iraqi state from late Ottoman times
onwards. This also slowed the development of Shi’a religious iden-
tity. The Shi’a formed the bulk of the Iraqi armed forces during the
Iran-Iraq war, and the population’s self-identification as Iraqis, first
and foremost, is at least as strong as that of the Sunni population.
All this is not to suggest, however, that Iraqi Shi’a clerics do not have
considerable influence within the population. The widespread unrest
that followed the murder of Iraq’s Shi’a religious leader Grand Ayatol-
lah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr in 1999 demonstrated the significance of
Shi’a Tribes and Confederations
Albu Muhammad. The Albu Muhammad confederation is one of Iraq’s
oldest Shi’a confederations, and is located mainly on the west bank of
the Tigris south of Al Amarah. It broke off from the Zubayd confedera-
tion in the late 17th century, its constituent tribes settling around the
marsh region from Qal’at Salih to Al Qurnah and converting almost
completely to Shi’ism by the late 18th century. The Albu Muhammad
tribesman have traditionally been regarded as inferiors by neighboring
tribes, due to their association with the Marsh Arabs, and is often
described (incorrectly) as being made up of Marsh Arab tribes. A his-
tory of inter-marriage with Persian groups has also led to them being
labeled derogatorily as Persians with mixed blood. Albu Muhammad
customs — particularly the practices of temporary marriage and wide-
spread polygamy among tribal sheikhs — are also regarded as being of
Persian origin and contrary to Qur’anic teachings.
Albu Salih. This is a formerly nomadic tribe located on the north bank
of the Euphrates in the Hawr Al-Hammar marshland near Fuhud. The
Albu Salih is a member of the Bani Malik confederation, with its sheikh
traditionally regarded as holding rights to the confederate leadership.
The tribe was antagonistic toward Hussein’s regime, which had confis-
cated much of its land and killed many of its tribesmen.
Bani-Hujaym. The Bani-Hajaym is a confederation of about 12 tribes
located around the city of Al- Samawah, and is affiliated to the Mun-
tafiq. It apparently has little internal coherency, and traditionally does
not recognize a paramount sheikh. The confederation had a long history
of anti-regime activity dating to before the British Mandate, and its con-
stituent tribes were particularly active in the southern insurgency. Sev-
eral members were executed by the regime.
Bani Lam. Located in the Al Amarah region and in greater Baghdad,
the Bani Lam is one of the largest and most influential Shi’a confedera-
tions. Most Bani Lam tribes were settled agriculturalists, and the con-
federation also has a reputation as cattle and horse-breeders. Although
the Bani Lam has no clear political profile, a number of its tribes were
involved in anti-regime activity. A branch of the confederation is located
in Saudi Arabia.
Bani Malik. Bani Malik tribes reside in Al Basrah city, the Al Azir and
Al Qurnah areas to the north and in central Suq Ash Sukukh. Although
the confederation was mostly anti-Hussein, it included some pro-regime
elements and has little internal cohesion. It is affiliated to the Muntafiq.
Bani Rikab. The Bani Rikab reside throughout southern Iraq. Although
generally anti-regime, its tribes were not heavily involved in anti-regime
activity. The confederation may also be a constituent section of another
loose confederation, the Ajwad, which is part of the Muntafiq.
Halluf. Halluf is generally an anti-regime confederation located in and
around Al Basrah City. The Halluf is one of the four largest confedera-
tions in the region, with an estimated 50,000 members.
Janabi. Most of the Janabi tribes are concentrated on the western bank
of the Euphrates between Falluja and Musaiyab, but others are distrib-
uted throughout the south, to include a small Sunni branch located near
Tikrit, the Albu Qasr. The confederation maintained generally good
relations with the regime, and held some high-ranking positions,
although there are certain sections that are anti-Hussein.
Khaza’il. The Khaza’il confederation was once the most dominant
group in the Middle Euphrates valley. Its dominion was dissolved during
the mid-19th century, and it now has little internal coherence, consisting
of a number of largely autonomous tribes and tribal groupings. One of
the most significant is the Al Aqra. Traditionally shepherds, some sec-
tions of the Khaza’il are linked with tribes in Iran.
Muntafiq. Although the term Muntafiq means “confederated,” the Mun-
tafiq is not strictly a confederation, but represents a loose collection of
southern Iraqi confederations that includes the Bani Malik, the Bani
Huajaym, the Bani Asad and the Bani Sa’id. The Muntafiq formed from
a group of tribes on the lower Euphrates by the Al Shabib-Sa’dun, a
Sunni clan. The Sa’dun have lost all authority over the confederation
and its constituent groups, but the clan remains one of the most signifi-
cant Sunni components in the south and maintained close relations with
the regime. The Muntafiq and its confederations have not acted collec-
tively together for many generations. The extent to which southern
tribes identify with the Muntafiq today is unclear, but, given the anti-
regime stance of most of its constituent confederations, it may form a
symbolic axis for Shi’a collective action.
Sunni tribal organization incorporates a stronger confederate element
than the Shi’a. This has been attributed to a longer history of inter-con-
federate enmity in Sunni regions, resulting in a greater need for tribes to
engage in collective political and, especially, military action in co-oper-
ation with neighboring tribes. Sunni tribes are unlikely to organize en
bloc against a common enemy, tribal allegiance being a far greater moti-
vational basis for collective action than shared ethnicity. Hussein’s
regime had been effective at suppressing opposition by exploiting tribal
divisions and manipulating the allegiances of tribal leaders.
For these reasons, those Sunni tribes opposed to the regime have had
difficulty organizing as a united front within the wider Iraqi opposition
movement. Many Sunni tribal confederations are transnational, with
branches in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait. Only the Shammar
and Zubayd confederations appear to have retained strong links with
brethren in other countries.
Albu Nasir. The Albu Nasir, located in and around Tikrit, has about
25,000 members, and is the confederation from which most of the
regime’s inner circle was drawn. Its status as a true tribal entity is in
some doubt. A number of commentators speculate that it is actually an
off-shoot of the Dulaym, while others have argued that it is not, in fact, a
tribe at all, but an invented grouping that provided Hussein and select
Tikritis with a tribal ancestry. Besides al-Nasiri and al-Tikriti, a number
of other surnames denote membership in the confederation. These
include Khattab, Haza‘, Najam, Qahir, ‘Abbas, ‘Abd al-Ghafur, ‘Abd al-
Qadir, Nadar and Faraj.
Dulaym. Tribes belonging to the Dulaym confederation occupy a large
area of western Iraq from the Jordanian border to the Euphrates. The
Dulaym were nomadic shepherds, and there remain some isolated sec-
tions that have retained a semi-nomadic lifestyle. The confederation
apparently lacks coherence — probably as a result of assimilation by
other groups that are not Dulaym by origin (most notably the Zuba).
The Dulaym did not have close relations with Hussein’s regime, and
included significant anti-Hussein sections within it. Of these, the most
prominent is the Albu Nimr tribe from Anbar that attacked regime
forces in 1995 and in August 1999. The incident also involved the Albu
Alwan and the Albu Fahd tribes. Dulaymis were implicated in the assas-
sination attempt on Hussein’s son Uday in 1996, in retaliation for the
arrest and execution of the confederation’s paramount sheikh. The con-
federation has also been involved in several rebellions, most notably in
1995, when Dulaymis rioted throughout western Iraq in response to the
execution of a senior Dulaymi air force officer, MajGen Muhammad
Mazlum al-Dulaymi. Tribesmen reportedly attacked government offices
and branches of the Ba’ath party, and took control of the provincial cap-
ital, Ramadi. The confederation was also involved in less serious rioting
in February 2002.
Hussein had been careful to cultivate senior Dulaymis, however, proba-
bly because of the numerical and social importance of confederation in
the key governorate of Anbar. Among other strategies, this involved
arranging marriages between Dulaymis and members of the Albu Nasir.
Duri. Located between Baghdad and Tikrit, the Duri is one of the con-
federations closest to Hussein’s regime, with members holding many
senior positions in the regime. These include the vice chairmanship of
the Ba’ath Party’s Revolutionary Command Council, nominally the sec-
ond most important political post in the country. Iraq’s last permanent
representative to the UN in New York, Dr. Muhammad al-Duri, is also a
member of the confederation, as was the governor of Baghdad and a
former intelligence chief, Saber Abdulaziz al-Duri.
Jibur. The Jibur is Iraq’s largest confederation, with more than 2 million
members (representing almost 10 percent of the country’s population)
and incorporating more than 50 tribes. It has both Sunni and Shi’a sec-
tions, the former located in the governorate of Salahuddin, in Ninawa
governorate around Mosul and in Baghdad itself, and the latter residing
south of Baghdad.
Traditionally pro-regime, a number of tribes of the Jibur fell out of favor
with Hussein toward the end of the regime. The confederation incorpo-
rated significant anti-regime elements and, although some Jiburis con-
tinued to hold prominent positions in the state’s military and security
organs, many senior Jiburis had been dismissed from the Republican
Guard leadership before the regime fell. In May 2002, clashes took
places between Republican Guard and Jiburi tribesmen in the Salah Ad
Din governorate, during which several Jiburis were killed and injured.
These clashes were apparently sparked by the recent purges and the con-
tinued detention of a number of Jiburi women by the regime, and also
involved fighting between members of Hussein’s own tribe and Jiburis
around Tikrit. In response, Jibur leaders distributed leaflets among
members of other tribes in the Samarra and Falluja areas denouncing the
campaign against the confederation.
Khazraj. The Khazraj is one of Iraq’s oldest confederations, apparently
pre-dating the Islamic period. The majority of tribal members are
located in the Diyala governorate and west of the Tigris between Bagh-
dad and Samarra, with a minority Shi’a section to the south of Al Bas-
rah. The tribe had close relations with the regime.
Shammar. The Shammar is one of the largest transnational tribal group-
ings in the region, with branches in western Syria and north-central
Saudi Arabia, as well as in Iraq. During the 19th century and until their
defeat by Ibn Saud in 1921, the confederation controlled much of the
Arabian Peninsula. The Iraqi Shammar has Sunni and Shi’a branches.
The Sunni branches of the Iraqi Shammar, known as the Northern
Shammar or Shammar Jarba, live along the Syrian border west of
Mosul, mainly around Balad Sinjar, Tal Afar, Qala Sharqat and Mosul.
The Shammar Jarba was thought to be close to Hussein’s regime. The
traditional enemies of the Shammar are the Dulaym, whose territory is
adjacent to the south, and the Dharfir. There is a history of violent con-
flict between Shammar tribes and tribes of these confederations. The
Shammar traditionally consider themselves superior and of ‘purer
blood’ than the tribes around them, and have strict restrictions prohibit-
ing marriage with members of other tribes, with execution the ultimate
sanction for violators. The Shi’a branch of the Shammar, the Shammar
Toqa, is on the east bank of the Tigris from Baghdad to Bughaila.
Ubayd. The Ubayd inhabit lands east of the Tigris between Kirkuk and
Samarra, and in the area north of Baghdad. Although the confederation
supported Hussein, relations began waning in 1993, when a number of
prominent tribesmen were dismissed from senior security positions for
allegedly plotting an attempted coup.
Unizah. A large confederation located around central and western Iraq.
The Unizah also has a branch in Kuwait. The Unizah were thought to be
generally pro-Hussein, but the confederation also contains a number of
Zubayd. The Zubayd inhabit the area between the Euphrates and the
Tigris northeast of Musaiyib. The confederation lost much of its coher-
ence in the first half of the last century, as pressure over resources in this
region and the loss of its control of the west bank of the Tigris from
Baghdad to Bughaila led to prolonged tribal-infighting. Most of its con-
stituent tribes now operate independently. Zubayd members were
reportedly involved in a plot to overthrow the regime during the 1990s.
Tribal alliances are notoriously volatile, and allegiances differ even
among groups within a particular tribe. The history of Iraqi tribes has
been marked by shifts in allegiances, betrayals, and conditional alli-
ances. Often tribes have looked out for their own interests, regardless of
who controlled the state. Confederations warred with one another. The
Dulaim, for example, are traditional enemies of the Shammar Jarba.
Conflict has also occurred within several of the larger confederations.
State versus Tribe
The geographic shorthand used to describe Iraq — Shi’a south, Sunni
center — masks more complex patterns of social and cultural identity.
An Iraqi could simultaneously profess a strong Shi’a or Sunni loyalty,
identify with a particular tribe, and have a sense of being an Arab. The
existence of such overlapping loyalties has allowed past Iraqi ruling
elites to define and redefine the country’s identity in accordance with
their interests and the dictates of current policy.
The Iraqi state has in the past created institutions that have effectively
mixed communities and diluted their sense of separateness. The net
result has been an ethnic and sectarian mixing that has created some
sense of Iraqi-ness, particularly among a segment of the middle and
upper classes. Since the late 1960s, moreover, voluntary and forced
migration has altered the demographic balance. In urban areas, many
Iraqis live in mixed communities, in which class and social status can
have as much significance as ethnic and religious affiliation. However,
Hussein’s tendency to rule along regional, tribal, and religious lines
has created tensions.
The two main groups that make up Iraq’s Arab population are torn
between Iraqi and religious affiliations. Because the Iraqi state is a rela-
tively recent creation, the Iraqi identity is the least rooted. The religious
affiliation has deeper roots, greater historical weight, and a transnational
character. Historically, an Arab’s identity has been based primarily on
language and a collective memory of his place and role in history. The
religious differences between Sunnis and Shi’a have slowed the emer-
gence of an Iraqi nationalism, created self-identification issues, and
made relations between the two groups difficult.
As an ethnic-cultural nationalist movement, Arab identity received
much of its inspiration from 19th century European nationalism, espe-
cially from the German and Italian examples. Until the late 19th century,
Iraqis lived within a variety of overlapping authority and political struc-
tures. The Ottoman Empire, Islam, and local tribal and village structures
affected various factors of peoples’ lives and gave shape to their identi-
ties. Some Arab intellectuals argued that all those who spoke Arabic had
a common identity and a shared past. However, most individuals identi-
fied themselves by religion, familial and tribal affiliations, and local res-
idence. Arab nationalism first became part of the language of political
protest and cultural renaissance in response to a series of reforms
planned by the Ottoman Empire to promote Turkish culture. Elites
called for instruction in the Arabic language, greater local autonomy,
and the protection of Arab rights within the Ottoman Empire. Overall,
the episode stimulated greater interest in Arab history and culture and a
common identity based on language and ethnicity. The fall of the Otto-
man Empire following World War I nurtured Arab identity and bolstered
the Arab movement. Without the political structure in which Arabs had
lived for centuries, they were forced to reconsider their identity.
Arab culture was intertwined with Islam in many respects. Although
many of its early champions were Christian, Arab symbols often drew
from Islam and the culture’s rapid rise can partially be attributed to its
links with an Islamic identity. Over time, however, the religious content of
Arab identity lost out to its secular and state tenets. Moreover, once the
caliphate disappeared after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, no religious
figure could claim allegiance outside his own country’s boundaries.
Arab leaders who ignored the tenets of the Arab beliefs have their cre-
dentials and character questioned. In Iraq, the popularity of Arab nation-
alism was closely connected to the problems of governance in an
ethnically and religiously divided society whose people had little identi-
fication with a British-imposed state. As residents of a country created
by foreigners, they found it difficult to see themselves as Iraqis. Nation-
alists believed that it was necessary to have a state strongly committed
to Arab unification and headed by a powerful leader. In the late 1970s
Saddam Hussein took up the Arab cause in Iraq’s name. The regime
gradually abandoned the party’s traditional approach that the Arab states
were all equally illegitimate entities arbitrarily created by Western
imperialism and destined to disappear within an integrative pan-Arab
union. Instead, it argued that by virtue of its illustrious history and cen-
trality to the Arab cause, Iraq deserves to lead the Arabs.
The Ba’ath Party
Established in 1940 in Syria, the Ba’ath — which means “resurrection” —
is the only party not confined to one Arab state. Its ideology conceives of
only one Arab nation-state, regarding other existing ones as artificial cre-
ations of the old colonial powers. The party is explicitly secular. Its founder
and chief ideologue, Syrian intellectual Michel Aflaq, was a Greek Ortho-
dox Christian. The party’s leading principle is that of Arab unity, which
envisions the political unification of all Arab lands. It perceives Arab
nationalism in terms of language, culture, and history. Ba’athists also sup-
port the struggle against Western imperialism and its influence upon the
Arabs, and their idealology also incorporates a mild form of socialism.
Ba’athists also support separating religion from politics. Ba’athist ideology
accepts the moral and spiritual aspects of Islam but rejects it as a political
and legal system. Ba’athists avoid rifts with the more traditional masses by
paying lip service to religion while simultaneously striving to defuse Islam
as a political and social force.
The Ba’ath Party seized power in Iraq in 1968. For the next 2 decades,
the Iraqi leadership underwent gradual but significant change in terms
of regional, ethnic, and denominational origin. In 1968 all the members
of the highest political bodies came from the small Sunni Arab triangle
lying between Baghdad, Mosul, and the Syrian border; by 1986, the
leadership came from throughout Iraq. Although Sunni Arabs still dom-
inated the senior positions, Shi’a Arabs gained a perceptible foothold. In
1968 Iraq was ruled by people from the urban lower-middle class; by
1988 it was ruled essentially by people from the rural lower classes.
Customs and Courtesies
Iraqi Arabs often greet each other with a number of ritual phrases and
fixed responses. Elaborate greetings and inquiries about health and well-
being are often lengthy, but are important in establishing friendly rela-
tions. Inquiring about a female member of a person’s family, however, is
considered offensive. These elaborate greetings originate from Bedouin
tradition, in which the nomadic lifestyle led to frequent encounters with
strangers. The Bedouins, among the original inhabitants of Iraq, made
their living as camel breeders and traders who roamed the deserts sur-
rounding the Tigris and Euphrates. There were several groups of
Bedouins, and they relied on other Bedouins’ hospitality and protection
from enemy tribes. Iraqis generally shake hands every time they meet
and every time they depart. Iraqi Arabs stand to shake hands, and when
an esteemed person enters a room. Handshakes are lengthy and may
involve grasping the elbow. Handshakes, though regarded as important,
are usually not as firm as those of Americans.
Upon entering a room full of people, greet those present — especially the
elderly — before sitting down. When meeting a group, shake the hand of
the person approaching you, or the most senior person, and expect to
greet the entire party. Eye contact signals respect to the person greeted. If
meeting a female, do not attempt to shake her hand unless she extends it.
In addition, never greet a woman with an embrace or kiss. Arabs find
public displays of affection between the opposite sexes offensive.
Arabs typically stand close when greeting and talking. Arabs will
stand close enough to breathe on and smell the other person. Stepping
back and away from someone indicates a desire not to interact with
them and may be offensive. Arabs are comfortable when surrounded
by people in open spaces, but can feel uncomfortable or threatened
when enclosed in small physical spaces. Hugging and embracing
between men is common. A full-body embrace or hug should not be
attempted until one has become close friends with another. Touching
noses together three times when greeting is a Bedouin gesture of
friendship and respect. Two men kissing quickly on the lips when
greeting is also an expression of friendship.
It has been said that “To tie an Arab’s hands while he is speaking is tan-
tamount to tying his tongue.” However, Arab gestures differ a great deal
from American ones. Iraqis/Arabs commonly make the following ges-
tures and hand signs:
I Placing the right hand or its forefinger on the tip of the nose, on the
right lower eyelid, on top of the head, or on the mustache or beard
means “it’s in front of me,” “I see it,” or “it’s my obligation.”
I Placing the palm of the right hand on the chest immediately after
shaking hands with another man shows respect or thanks.
I Touching the tips of the right fingertips to the forehead while bowing
the head slightly also connotes respect.
I Holding the fingers in a pear shaped configuration with the tips
pointing up at about waist level and moving the hand slightly up and
down signals “be patient” or “be careful.”
I Biting the right forefinger, which has been placed sideways in the
mouth, is an expression of regret.
I The “OK” sign, if shaken at another person, symbolizes the evil eye.
I Hitting the right fist into the open the left palm is and expression of
obscenity or contempt.
I Placing the palm of the right hand on the chest, bowing the head a lit-
tle and closing one’s eyes means “thank you” (in the name of Allah).
I A quick snap of the head upwards with an accompanying click of the
tongue signals: “No” or “perhaps.”
I Flipping the hand near the mouth and simultaneously making a click-
ing sound with the tongue and teeth indicates, “don’t worry.”
I Holding the right palm in front of the face and then flipping the hand
so that the palm is up means that the person asked for is not present.
I Placing a half-closed hand in front of the stomach, and then turning it
slightly connotes that the person to whom the gesture is made is a liar
I Touching the tip of the right forefinger on the tongue and then plac-
ing it on the tip of the nose, means “hurry up.”
I Pointing a finger or writing utensil at anyone is considered threaten-
ing and is reserved for animals.
Iraqi Arabs are, in general, hospitable and generous. Their hospitality is
often expressed with food. This practice stems from the culture of the
desert, where traveling nomads depended on the graciousness and gen-
erosity of others to survive. Generosity and hospitality are considered
expressions of personal honor. When Arabs visit, whether in homes or
businesses, they expect the same level of generosity and attention.
Privacy is important in Arab and Iraqi culture. It is considered rude to
look into someone’s house and can be equated with trespassing. When
visiting a house, it is customary to take a position next to the door to
prevent being able to see inside the home. Do not enter the home unless
invited by the host. It is expected that guests will remove their shoes
before entering the home; this shows respect for the host. Arabs in vil-
lages or the countryside are less likely to have couches or chairs; instead
they will have pillows on the floor or ground to sit against. When sitting,
it is considered insulting to point the soles of one’s feet in the direction
of anyone; sit cross-legged if possible. It is also considered to be offen-
sive to put one’s feet on any furniture. In an Arab house, the typical
gathering place is called a Dewaniah, which is for male visitors only.
Females generally meet in separate rooms; meetings involving the
opposite sex are generally forbidden.
Arab culture stresses the importance of honoring and pampering guests.
If a guest praises something that an Arab possesses, he may insist that
the guest take it. It is assumed that the guest will refuse this offer. This
pattern could manifest itself over and over, as at least one offer and
refusal is typically expected. Arabs will expect the same offer of gener-
osity if they praise something that belongs to another. As a general rule,
praise is directed at items of personal belonging. Coffee or tea is typi-
cally offered upon entering a home or office. It is considered rude to
refuse, but just as rude to drink more than three cups. The server will
keep refilling the cup unless the guest shakes the cup from side to side to
indicate that he is finished. The host is typically the last to begin eating,
and will pretend to continue eating if he finishes first.
Politeness, socially correct behavior, and preserving honor are para-
mount. When faced with criticism, Arabs will try to protect their status
and avoid incurring negative judgments. This concept can manifest
itself in creative descriptions of facts or in the dismissal of conclusions,
in order to protect one’s reputation. This cultural trait will generally take
precedence over the accurate transmission of information.
The desire to avoid shame and maintain respect can also contribute
to the tendency to compartmentalize information. One common
manifestation of this behavior comes in the form of saying “yes”
when one really means “no.” Arabs try to take the personalization
out of contentious conversations, which can lead to vagueness and
efforts to not speak in absolutes. Fear of shame also leads to
secrecy and compartmentalization of knowledge. It is also consid-
ered disrespectful to contradict or disagree with a person of a supe-
rior rank or age.
In Iraqi Arab society, community and tribal affiliation is given priority
over individual rights. This emphasis on community helps explain the
dominance of informal over contractual commitments and the use of
mediation to solve conflicts. Many disputes are resolved informally.
This has especially been the case in recent decades, as many Iraqis have
reverted to tribal customs and traditions. There are several overarching
principles that tend to guide conflict resolution.
First are the four Qur’anic influences that govern interaction between
parties during conflict resolution.
I Civility and respect: most actions are condoned if they are civilized
and show respect to others, especially those of a higher status.
I Tolerance: Be considerate of others, and tolerate differences.
I Humility: It is offensive to speak loudly or harshly to others or to
contradict or disagree with superiors.
I Moderation: A high value is placed on moderation and deliberation.
Avoid becoming angry, accusing or arrogant.
Second is protecting and recognizing the status of individuals. Disre-
spect toward elders or superiors can jeopardize negotiations.
There are two accepted methods to resolve conflicts: mediation or delib-
eration in council. Both are typically time consuming. However, Arabs
do not feel as pressed as Western cultures to finish tasks quickly. Unless
the matter is urgent, there will be a casual approach to solving it. Arabs
often convene a conference to study, deliberate and address problems of
a grave or complex nature. Conferences are announced in advance and
the issues are declared. When no resolution can be achieved, the media-
tors announce and convene another conference.
Rituals play an important role in tribal conflict resolution. The sulh (set-
tlement) ritual recognizes that injuries between individuals and groups
will fester and grow if not acknowledged and repaired. Given the sever-
ity of life in the desert, competing tribes realized that sulh is a better
alternative to endless cycles of vengeance. Following a conflict, tribes
take stock of losses in human and material terms. The tribe with the few-
est losses compensates the tribe that suffered most. Stringent conditions
are set to settle the conflict definitively. The parties then pledge to forget
everything that happened and initiate new and friendly relations.
There are two types of sulh: total and partial. The former ends all con-
flict between the two parties; the latter ends conflict according to condi-
tions agreed upon during the settlement process. The mediator of a sulh
is a Wasit, who is perceived as having all the answers and solutions. He
therefore has a great deal of power and responsibility. In Southern Iraq
the mediator is always from the Sada class, who derive their status from
being the descendants of Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Muhammad.
A sulh works as follows: after a murder or crime, the family of the vic-
tim, in an attempt to prevent blood revenge, calls on a delegation of
mediators consisting of village elders or notables (usually called muslihs
or jaha). As soon as mediators are called in, a hodna (truce) is declared.
The mediators initiate a fact-finding process. The role of the mediators
is not to punish the offending party bur to preserve the honor of both
families involved. A blood price (diya) is then paid to the family of the
victim. This diya, or an exchange of goods, substitutes for the exchange
of death. The process ends with a public ceremony of reconciliation
(musalaha) performed in the village square. The families of both the
victim and the guilty party exchange greetings and accept apologies.
The family of the offending party visits the home of the victim to drink a
cup of bitter coffee and the ritual concludes with a meal hosted by the
family of the offender. The ritual varies at times. In all cases it takes
place within a communal, not a one-on-one, environment.
A key to establishing good working relations with an Arab is to estab-
lish a good personal relationship. In professional business, Arabs are
driven more by the personal relationship than time constraints, mission
requirements, or professional skills. In business meetings formal, cour-
tesies are expected. Cards — which should be printed in both English
and Arabic — are regularly exchanged. Initial business meetings are
usually social and rarely include objective analysis, pragmatic applica-
tion, or frank exchange. Protocol is emphasized through polite conversa-
tion and refreshments. Business may be addressed at a subsequent
meeting or at a dinner. Many topics may be discussed in order to assess
the character of potential business partners.
Arab business moves at a slow pace. It is also common to avoid saying
“no” outright to a proposed business deal. Frequently, Arab business-
men will indicate that they want to deliberate about the deal in order to
allow the salesman to avoid the shame of a negative response.
Criticism, even if offered constructively, can threaten or damage an Arab’s
honor and may be taken as a personal insult. To protect himself and his
honor from criticism, an Arab may flatly deny facts or re-interpret them.
Westerners should obscure corrective remarks and praise good points.
In general, time is much less rigidly scheduled than in Western culture.
However, it is considered rude to be late to an appointment, as is looking
at one’s watch or acting pressed for time. Arabs can be very offended by
this. Additionally, Arabs believe that future plans may interfere with the
will of God. Commitments a week or more into the future are less com-
mon than in Western culture.
Friendship is defined differently by Arabs than by Americans. Arabs
adhere to strict, formal rules of behavior and politeness. For an Arab,
good manners require that one never flatly refuse a request from a
friend. This does not mean that the favor must actually be done, but
rather that the response must not be stated as a definitive “no.” If an
Arab friend asks for a favor, it should be done if possible. If the favor is
unreasonable, illegal, or too difficult, listening carefully, expressing
doubt about the outcome, and promising to help is appropriate. Later, an
expression of regret and an offer to do another favor is advisable.
Many Arabs like to discuss money and may ask the cost of items or
about salaries. As it is unusual in Arab society for an adult to be unmar-
ried and for married couples to have no children, Arabs do not feel it
improper to address such issues. Arabs consider questions about women
in their families too personal. It is best to ask about the family, not spe-
cifically about an Arab’s wife, sister, or grown daughter.
Personal hygiene is extremely important to Iraqi Arabs for both spiritual
and practical reasons. Because meals are frequently eaten by hand, it is typ-
ical to wash the hands before and after eating. Formal washing of the face,
hands, and forearms, called wudhu, and general cleanliness of the body and
clothing is required before daily prayers or fasting. A formal head-to-toe
washing, called ghusi, is recommended following contact with substances
considered unclean, including alcohol, pigs, dogs, or non-believers.
Small gifts and candies are appropriate gifts for those invited to Iraqi
homes. It is customary that gifts are not opened in front of people.
Unlike Westerners, Arabs do not feel it necessary to bring gifts when
visiting someone’s home; it is the responsibility of the host to provide
for a guest in Arab culture.
Other Cultural Considerations
Often, an Arab’s view of the world is based on one of five concepts:
atomism, fatalism, wish-versus-reality, extremism, and paranoia.
Atomism. Arabs tend to perceive events as isolated incidents. Emphasis
on the part rather than the whole is a key psychological feature of Arab
culture. Arabs do not generally subscribe to the Western concept of
cause and effect; they often dismiss causal chains of events. These
thought processes could cause Arabs and Arab rhetoric to seem illogical
or irrational to Westerners who look for a unifying concept.
Fatalism. Most Arabs believe human beings do not control life, but
God’s will, or fate does. Contentment with the blessings of the day, tran-
quility, and acceptance in the face of hardship are part of the Islamic tra-
dition. Fatalism complicates planning with Arabs to change what they
consider to be a natural, unchangeable chain of events.
Wish-versus-Reality. Arabs often use forceful and appealing rheto-
ric that tends toward exaggeration. In their hyperbole, wish blends
with reality; the ideal becomes more real than fact until the Arab is
forced to accept reality. Even then, the reality is merely God’s will,
unalterable by human beings. The tendency to blend ideals with real-
ity makes Arab behavior seem illogical to Westerners. The ability to
blend wish and reality into a psychologically acceptable concept
explains how Arabs can live in an atmosphere of seeming contradic-
tion; their desire for modernity is contradicted by a desire for Islamic
tradition free of Western influence.
Extremism. Many Arabs perceive the world in extremes, perhaps due
to the harsh, desert environment that Arabs have lived in for thousands
of years. Either there was water or no water; it was either hot or cold.
Surrounded by an environment of extremes, Arabs perceive the world in
those terms, and this attitude remains prevalent in Arabic society. As a
result, Arabs do not address challenges the way Americans would; if a
plan, project, or piece of equipment has a problem, then it means the
entire plan, project, or piece of equipment is a problem.
Paranoia. Arabs appear paranoid by Western standards. Many perceive
problems as part of a plot to foil their attempts to make life more pleas-
ant. Arab history of foreign domination and totalitarian governments
may be the root of this concept. It often means that Middle Easterners
view Americans living in the Middle East as secret operatives. Family
members may be suspected of plotting against other family members for
opportunities. The government is often viewed as plotting against the
people for its own gain.
The following are some actions that may offend an Arab.
I Don’t stare at women on the street or initiate conversation with them.
I Avoid pointing a finger at an Arab or beckoning with a finger.
I Use the right hand to eat, touch, and present gifts; the left is generally
regarded as unclean.
I Avoid putting feet on tables or furniture.
I Refrain from leaning against walls, slouching in chairs, and keeping
hands in pockets.
I Do not show the soles of the feet, as they are the lowest and dirtiest
part of the body.
The family is the central unit of social organization in Iraqi society. It
also is a relatively cohesive institution at the center of economic activi-
ties. The family provides protection, food, shelter, income, reputation,
and honor. The Iraqi Arab family is not extended in the strict sense. It is
rare for three or more generations to live together. However, relatives
generally remain tied in a web of intimate relationships. They continue
to live in the same neighborhood, to intermarry, and to group together on
a kinship basis. Although the family is losing ground where social
change is occurring most rapidly (such as in cities), family loyalty still
dominates all aspects of Iraqi Arab life. Economic motivation and con-
siderations of prestige and family strength all contribute to the high
value Iraqis place on large families. Family members may be held
responsible for the acts of every other member.
Iraqi families are patriarchal and hierarchal. The father has authority and
responsibility. He expects respect and unquestioning compliance, and
shows little tolerance for dissent. Fathers generally distance themselves
from their children while the children are young. The same patriarchal
and hierarchical relations and values prevail at work and in religious,
political, and social associations.
Arab men and women continue to place a high value on their family
affiliations in general and their roles as generators of new families in
particular, and not on their own personal achievements. Young people in
Arab society are not considered truly adult until they have completed the
important rites of passage of marriage and parenthood.
Men are privileged in Iraqi Arab society, wielding almost all authority.
Valued masculine attributes include personal bravery, a willingness to
bear hardships and to come to the aid of family and friends regardless of
the circumstances, and fathering children (preferably sons). Tradition-
ally, a man’s overarching responsibility has been to lead, protect, and
provide for his family.
Men and women have complementary and integrated roles, but are not
equal in Iraqi Arab society. The majority of women occupy the private
domain of the household, where their primary role is to make a comfort-
able home and bear and nurture children. Wives are expected to obey
and serve their husbands and to defer to them, especially in public.
Behind the scenes, women exercise more power than is immediately
apparent. Supported by religious ideology and teachings, the prevailing
standards of morality stress values and norms associated with traditional
ideas of femininity, motherhood, and sexuality. A family’s honor is tied
to a woman’s modesty and faithfulness. In recent years, gender roles in
Iraq have undergone some slight changes as a result of increased educa-
tion, rapid urbanization, and the employment of women. In addition, the
Ba’ath Party supported more equality for women. For 30 years, Iraqi
Arab women have participated in the government.
Age and marital status determine a woman’s position. A young wife is
at a disadvantage compared to an older one, especially a mother-in-law,
and unmarried women generally have less authority than married ones.
The number of children a woman bears, especially sons, also gives her
status. In Arab-Islamic societies, a woman owes her allegiance to her
father rather than to her husband.
Dating and Marriage
Traditionally, an Iraqi Arab marriage is more a family and communal
affair than an individual one. It has been used to reinforce family ties
and interests. Iraqi Arabs still arrange marriages and permit endogamy
(marriage within the same lineage, village, or community). Most com-
mon is the parallel cousin marriage — marriage between a man and his
father’s brother’s daughter — which serves to enhance and strengthen
group solidarity. It is a strategy for retaining an individual’s loyalty and
commitment, and wealth within the family circle. Endogamy is more an
ideological preference than an actual practice in modern Iraq. However,
families still prefer their children marry individuals whose social and
religious backgrounds and kinships networks are familiar.
Traditionally, girls marry at a substantially earlier age than boys. Great
emphasis is placed on premarital chastity. Polygamy in Iraq is condi-
tional upon approval of a judge. It is relatively easy for a husband to
divorce his wife, but difficult for a wife to divorce her husband against
his will. The traditional codes governing marriage, divorce, custody, and
inheritance differ in Iraqi Arab society according to religious sect.
The hierarchical structure of the Arab family requires children to obey
their elders and meet expectations. Reflecting nomadic tradition, sons
are especially welcome in Arab families because they are the carriers of
the family line, and because their economic contribution is usually
greater than that of daughters. Sons are usually taught to be protectors of
their sisters and to help the father with his duties inside and outside the
house, while daughters are taught to defer to their brothers, and to help
the mother with household chores. During adolescence, there is tradi-
tionally a separation of sexes. Boys have greater freedom than girls and
are drawn into the social circles of their fathers during this time.
The cornerstone of educating a child in Arab families is teaching com-
plete obedience to authority. Arab families also teach their children to
attach tremendous importance to blood ties and bonds of loyalty. They
are taught that their identity comes from belonging to a particular pri-
mary group: their family, their friends, and perhaps their place of work.
Group affiliation is important and acceptance is achieved by conforming
to accepted behavioral norms. Arab children are taught to feel shame as
an excruciating punishment and to avoid it in any way possible. There is
no real prohibition against distortion or fabrication to avoid shame.
Iraqi Arab men (especially tribal men) often wear a three-piece head
cover. The bottom piece of this head covering is a white cap that is
sometimes filled with holes. This cap, called keffiya, is used to hold the
hair in place. On top of it is a square cloth called a ghutra. On top of it is
the agal, which is a thick black cord woven into two rings surrounding
the top of the head to hold everything else in place. For male children,
wearing the head covering is a sign of entering manhood. Inside the
house, the head covering is not needed, although when a man has guests
in his house he often wears it as a sign of respect.
When this headwear is forcibly removed, one’s honor is tainted and
blood has to be shed to remove the shame. But if the agal is removed
voluntarily, the wearer is signifying allegiance.
Iraqi women typically are less traditional than women in other Arab
states, but there are still many Iraqi women who cover their hair in pub-
lic. The hair covering can range from a gauzy veil draped around the
head and neck to a thick kerchief folded so that the front lies low on the
forehead and the rest of the head is securely swathed. Some women
wear a scarf-like cover called Hejab that covers the hair but not the face.
In urban areas, it is unusual to see women who cover their hair and wear
a veil, but the Hejab has become more common in rural areas.
The majority of Iraqis incorporate Western clothes into their daily attire.
It is more common to see traditional Arab attire in less urbanized areas.
Traditional attire consists of a long-sleeved, one piece dress — called a
Dishdashah or Thoub — that covers the whole body. This garment
allows the air to circulate, which helps cool the body. During summer, it
is usually made of cotton; in winter, it is made from heavier fabric such
as wool and comes in darker colors.
Most Iraqi women dress conservatively, although many don’t cover
their face or hair. In the rural areas, many women wear the abaya, a
long-sleeved, coat-like over-garment that covers one from neck to
ankles. Beneath a robe, a woman may be wearing a traditional dress or
casual Western clothes.
In urban environments, it is typical to see men and women wear contem-
porary Western clothes. Suits and sport coats are common for men,
while women wear dresses. Most people will wear manufactured shoes
and use contemporary accessories such as purses, briefcases and back-
packs. However, very little skin is ever shown even when wearing West-
ern fashions, which might expose their legs or arms. Frequently,
progressive middle-class women still wear scarves to cover their necks.
The quality and style of the clothes is directly related to the status one
has within Iraqi society. In keeping with the values of appearance and
prestige, it is common to see workers dress up to go to work and
change when they get to their jobs. Also, within medical, scientific
and technical fields lab coats often have insignias that delineate posi-
tions within the workplace.
The staple of the Arab Iraqi diet is bread called Aish, which is dark pita
bread. Fava beans are also a staple. Lamb is the most popular meat, and
is often combined with vegetables and rice. Because of religious restric-
tions, Arabs do not eat pork, rabbit, or shellfish.
Lunch is the main meal. Popular Iraqi Arab dishes include kubba
(cracked wheat mixed with minced meat, nuts, spices, parsley and
onion); dolma (vine leaves or other vegetables stuffed with rice, meat
and spices); tikka (shish-kebab); quozi (small lamb stuffed with rice,
minced meat and spices and served on rice); and masuf (fish from the
Tigris cooked on the river bank).
Religious feasts and national celebrations have special significance in
Iraq. They often include the extended family. During feasts, people greet
each other with the words “Ayamak Sa’eeda” (happy days). Since
Islamic law prohibits alcohol, some Iraqis do not drink it. Alcohol con-
sumption varies with the degree of an individual’s religious faith.
Iraq has urbanized to a significant extent as approximately 60 percent of
the population lives in an urban environment. Previously, Arabs were
either nomads who lived in tent camps and moved their herds between
summer and winter pasturage, or settled agriculturists who lived in vil-
lages or cities. In the cities there are several types of structures for
dwelling, including houses, apartments and hotels.
Usually, Arab houses are constructed to maximize privacy. Walls are
thick and solid, while entrances and windows are positioned to prevent
occupants from invading the privacy of their neighbors and vice-versa.
In most major Iraqi cities there is some European influence, resulting
from many years of British control. There is usually a correlation
between the size and grandeur of a person’s house and their social posi-
tion within the community.
Most Iraqi houses are single or two-story structures without basements.
They typically have wood or tiled floors and fewer windows than West-
ern houses. There is little emphasis on furniture, but most rooms have
carpets and pillows. There is an aversion to partitions within the home.
Although many Iraqis cannot afford spacious homes, they have large
open spaces in the home to foster family togetherness. Iraqi houses are
frequently built around shared courtyards lined with trees, which pro-
vide shade and privacy. Since the Gulf War, most Iraqi residences expe-
rience problems with basic utility services, and there are periods of time
when electric power is shut off.
Village and rural settlements tend to be spartan and plain, a subtle rejec-
tion of many of the corrupt values that cities tend to represent to some
rural Arabs. Most rural settlements have only basic features that encom-
pass the necessities in life. These settlements are organized around the
markets that are the centers of trade and interaction. Some Iraqis who
have not settled in villages or towns live in heavy woolen tents, which
remain standing in winter pastures; they use lighter tents when traveling
to and from summer pastures. Camps may consist of an entire clan or of
a group of families who join to herd their flocks together. Southern
Marsh Arabs live in villages built on swamps; Hussein destroyed most
of these when he crushed the 1991 uprising. These Bedouins, although
migratory, tend to appreciate technology and the Western influences of
the cities. Their tents may be adorned with brighter colors and equipped
with modern appliances or equipment.
The Iraqi Arab economy has always been diverse, including pastoral
nomadism, settled agriculture, manufacturing, and commerce. Although
communities of nomads, village farmers, and city dwelling merchants
have always been distinct from one another, they were economically
interdependent, and their respective interests were often in conflict.
The shift from agriculture to oil production during the 20th century trans-
ferred economic power from the big landowners to a small urban elite.
More importantly, the influx of vast oil revenues strengthened the state.
The state spent huge sums on social services to reinforce political compli-
ance, providing education, supplying jobs, and subsidizing food. In addi-
tion, oil revenues were used to accommodate most of the displaced
agricultural workers who had migrated from the countryside to the cities.
By the 1970s, the majority of the workforce in the cities was employed by
the government. The regime achieved a monopoly over sources of wealth.
In the rural areas, goods continued to be produced largely under pre-
industrial conditions. Despite some commercial development, the eco-
nomic base was still agriculture and, to a lesser extent, animal husbandry.
The decade of economic sanctions that followed the Gulf War created
new economic dynamics in Iraq. Unemployment and diminishing sala-
ries deepened social divisions and inequalities. The sanctions had an
uneven impact on different regions and groups because of the regime’s
long-established method of distributing benefits to favored individuals
and groups. The increased competition for resources heightened ethnic
and tribal rivalries. A substantial parallel economy based on smuggling
developed. The networks controlling this parallel economy were closely
linked to Saddam Hussein’s clan and extended family. Most of the popu-
lation remains dependent on the state rationing system, which the gov-
ernment uses as a means to exert control. Crime, smuggling, and
reliance on family and clan networks to get ahead have increased.
Urban Versus Rural Culture
The disappearance of the nomadic population and the division of Iraqi
Arab society between urban and rural are relatively recent occurrences.
Previously, Iraqi Arab society was divided into three interdependent, yet
antagonistic groups: nomads, agriculturalists, and town-dwellers.
Despite the decline of the nomadic population, the Bedouin tribal mode
still profoundly influences the rural population and the newly settled
sections of small and medium-sized towns, especially in western and
southern Iraq. Generally, the tribes of the west and the mid-Euphrates
desert region have maintained (or recreated) their traditions more fully
than those of eastern Iraq.
Urban Arabs, particularly the educated ones, have been influenced by
Turkish and Iranian cultures. Tribal Arabs have not. The Ottoman
Empire championed the towns at the expense of the tribes. The British,
in contrast, tried to balance the tribes against the towns, and excluded
the countryside from national law. Until the fall of the monarchy in
1958, Iraq was legally subject to two norms: one for the city and one for
the tribal areas.
Until well into the 20th century, many urban residents were of relatively
recent tribal origin. These tribal immigrants were therefore a link
between the two disparate societies. Those who moved into Baghdad
and other urban centers from the same village tended to relocate in clus-
ters to ease the difficulties of transition and maintain traditional patterns
of mutual assistance. Neighborhoods formed on the basis of rural or
even tribal origin. Over the last 20 years, the divide between the rural
and urban communities has deteriorated. Large areas of the rural south
especially have been devastated by continuous fighting, triggering a
massive migration to the cities.
The Arabic word for city, medina, connotes the center of political or
economic power. Iraqi cities and towns are a mosaic of neighborhoods
based mainly on religious or ethnic composition. In general, Islamic cit-
ies are marked by a series of specific buildings and institutions such as
the Friday mosque and public bath. There is a strict separation between
markets and places of production and residential areas.
Rural Iraq retains aspects of the largely traditional mode of social orga-
nization, particularly in the more isolated areas, such as the marshes in
the south. Each household typically consists of one nuclear family,
although some may include an extended family. The division of labor
within the house is clear-cut and follows the traditional rural pattern of
men working the fields and women tending to the household chores.
The Ma’dan or Marsh Arabs are a distinct group of rural Shi’a Arabs. A
considerable number of them claim to be Sayyids, or descendants of the
Prophet, and differentiate themselves from the other tribesmen by wear-
ing green-and-black instead of black-and-white check headcloths. For
5,000 years, Marsh Arabs lived a very different life from other Iraqis.
Inhabiting the wetland region at the confluence of the Tigris and Euph-
rates Rivers in southern Iraq, they did very little farming, depending
instead on fishing and raising water buffalo. The Marsh Arabs kept
water buffalo primarily for milk, dung, and hides. Their quonset-hut-
shaped houses were built of reeds and could be moved if necessary.
Craftsmen created ornate canoes and barges, which the Ma’dan used to
travel around the marshes. The mudhif, a grand arched structure built
entirely of reeds by sheikhs, served as a guest house and dominated the
settlement. The Ma’dan comprise several different tribes and sections of
surrounding tribes. The main tribes are the Faraijat, Shaghanba, Fartus,
Shadda, Suai’diyin, Sua’id, Kauliba, and Chab.
Following the 1991 Shi’a uprising in the south, the regime drained the
marshlands, dispersing the Marsh Arabs and largely destroying their
way of life. Today the region is a massive network of man-made canals,
parched earth, and sunken fields.
Arab warfare stems directly from nomadic traditions and experiences.
Historically, nomadic tribes alternated between accommodating central
authority and defying it. In the first case, they were employed as frontier
defense forces or as auxiliary light cavalry. In the second case, they
posed a threat to settled populations by attacking small isolated garri-
sons and raiding poorly defended towns. Although the nomadic popula-
tion of Iraq has greatly decreased in the 20th century, the image of the
nomadic warrior has remained powerful. Because the extended family is
the fundamental unit of political and social action, a kin group tradition-
ally has looked first to its own fighting men, not to the state’s armed
forces, to ensure its protection and promotion of its interests. They
resort to arms for the sake of tribe and clan first, which remains a higher
ideal than military service to the state.
Past Iraqi regimes constantly emphasized threats from ever-present and
dangerous enemies, and simultaneously glorified force and violence.
The defeat of the Kurdish insurgency in 1974-75 taught the Ba’athists
that they could achieve policy goals with military force. Similarly, the
humiliation of having to agree to the conditions of the March 1975 Alg-
iers Accord in the face of Iranian military superiority convinced Bagh-
dad that only the strong prosper in the Middle East. Government
propaganda created an atmosphere of permanent crisis, enabling the
regime to mobilize greater support. Overall, martial virtues imbue Iraqi
Arab culture and society.
During the Iran-Iraq War and the Persian Gulf War, the regime glorified
and promoted ideals of honor and self-sacrifice. Hussein’s appeal to
Arab rulers during the Gulf War resembled the old tribal competitions in
which each tribe measured its strength, heroism, and honor against those
of others and prided itself on its exalted qualities. The conduct of a
struggle is considered just as important as its outcome. To show honor
during a military operation is praised, regardless of the outcome.
Cultural factors have made it difficult for Arab militaries to adopt West-
ern war-fighting doctrine. Western warfare emphasizes offensive action
and shock effect, whereas Arab warfare emphasizes standoff, attrition,
deception, and surprise. Martial traditions also influence which military
units are most prestigious. Fighter squadrons and commando units, for
example, perform raid-like missions, which have a high profile in Arab-
Islamic history. Elite guard formations, such as the Republican Guard,
also have historical precedent.
Arab militaries, including the Iraqi military, have not been effective in
the modern era. According to several observers, Arab culture encour-
ages patterns of behavior that are not conducive to modern military
operations. Arab officers (especially junior officers) are hesitant to exer-
cise independent judgment, frequently lack extensive technical training,
and are prone to selectively transmit information in order to avoid the
loss of face. These types of Arab cultural behavior patterns cause Arab
militaries to have weak information flows. Arab military personnel
often cannot take full advantage of their weaponry and equipment and
have difficulty maintaining it.
Arab armed forces training teaches that there is only one right answer to
a military problem and only one right way to handle a situation. This
approach is employed in battle regardless of other factors such as ter-
rain, mission, forces available, or the enemy’s strength or disposition.
Arab training exercises tend to be scripted and unrealistic. Training
manuals are treated as cookbooks, and are followed to the letter.
In the past, sedentary and nomadic units were skeptical of outside
groups, fearing competition for scarce resources. Protection of territory
and allegiance to the social unit were primary reactions against intru-
sion. It was common to engage in military forays to usurp and plunder
resources belonging to a weaker tribe or neighbor.
The glory of the raid, whether against another nomadic tribe, settled
enemy, or caravan, is a key aspect of Bedouin tribal warfare. In many
cases, the raids were carried out with minimal violence. However, they
could become a flash point for a larger tribal conflict. Tribes commemo-
rated their raids through poetry and song. Although it varied greatly as to
numbers involved and distances traveled, raiding followed certain norms.
Raiding tribes traveled light, avoided detection, moved quickly, mini-
mized bloodshed, and took camels only — no captives or other spoils.
When raiding led to a larger conflict, the objective usually was not to
force submission, but to restore the balance of honor or the balance of
livestock. Tribal warfare tended to become more intense and bloody when
central authorities tried to impose political control on a rural population.
Participation in a raid was considered a dramatic test of courage, skill,
and dedication to the goals of the tribal group. Combat usually bestowed
honor on both sides. For Iraqi Arab tribes, honor is the dominant value.
In the collective sense, honor means defense of the tribe, the group, or
the society as a whole against its challengers. Lost honor, according to
tribal tradition, must be retrieved by violence.
The Kurds live in the mountainous region of the Middle East where the
borders of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran meet. There are an estimated 20-
25 million Kurds in the Middle East. The Kurds have always been a
stateless people. Kurds in Iraq make up 15-20 percent of the Iraqi popu-
lation of 24 million, or about 4-5 million people. Kurds are distinct from
the Arabs, Turks and Iranians who live around them, but are ethnically
and linguistically closest to Iranians.
Most Kurds are Muslim, while the remainder follows heterodox (non
traditional, unorthodox) religions. Within the Kurdish ethnic group,
there are variations of Islamic practice. Nearly all Kurds in Iraq are
Sunni adherents, with the exception of the Faili Kurds, who are Shi’a
and live in and around Kirkuk and south to Khanaqin. Sunni Kurds fol-
low the Shafi’i school, which sets them apart from most of the other
Sunni adherents in Iraq who follow the Hanafi school. In addition to the
followers of orthodox Islamic practice, there is a strong Islamic Sufi
mystic following among the Kurds of Iraq. Small numbers of Kurds fol-
low Alevism, Yazidism, or are members of the Ahl-e Haqq/Kakai reli-
gion, all of which are heterodox and non-Islamic.
Religion has played a key role in the Kurdish national movement,
because it granted key leaders an added authority that transcended the
often-divisive boundaries of tribal loyalty. The most prominent leaders
of the Kurdish national movement — Mahmud Barzinji, Mullah Mus-
tafa Barzani, Massoud Barzani, and Jalal Talabani — are from sheikh
families, which gives them added influence as religious leaders in addi-
tion to their status as nationalist leaders. Unlike in cultures where the
church and state are separate, in Islamic society there is not conflict
between being both a secular and religious leader, but rather, holding
both positions is seen as a benefit because it grants the individual greater
authority and status.
There are approximately 13 million Kurdish speakers spread over Iraq,
Iran, Syria, Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia. Kurdish is an Indo-European
language belonging to the Iranian branch and, hence, is completely
unrelated to the Semitic language of Arabic spoken by the majority of
the population in Iraq. Kurdish is a member of the Western subgroup of
Iranian languages, which include Persian and Baluchi.
In Iraq, the Kurdish speakers are divided into two main dialects: Kur-
manji (Northern Kurdish) and Surani (Southern Kurdish, also referred to
as Sorani or Kurdi). Kurmanji and Surania are sometimes categorized as
separate languages because of difficulties with mutual intelligibility.
There are approximately 2.8 million Kurmanji speakers in Iraq and 4
million Kurmanji-speaking Kurds in Turkey. Kurmanji is also spoken
among Kurds in Armenia, Georgia, and Syria. There are approximately
2.8 million Surani-speaking Kurds in Iraq and 3 million Surani-speaking
Kurds in Iran.
The dialect of Surani Kurdish in the town of Sulaimaniya, Iraq is recog-
nized by most Kurds as a standardized literary version of the Kurdish
language. The Sulaimaniya version of Kurdish has attempted to exclude
all borrowed Arabic words from its vocabulary.
Other Kurdish dialects in Iraq include a heavily Persian version of Surani,
found in the southeast of Iraq. Gurani is spoken in enclaves in southern
Kurdistan and Zaza is spoken in northwestern Kurdistan. Gurani and Zaza
are related languages of the Indo-Iranian family of languages, but are only
distantly related to Kurdish. The language uses a modified Arabic script in
Iraq and Syria, however Kurds in Turkey use a Roman script.
Role of Tribes in Society
Kurdish identity is a series of levels of association that progress outward
from the individual to household to lineage to tribe to dialect group. The
bond that unites Kurdish tribesmen is a common tradition based on at
least the claim to common origin and has resulted in the creation of a
general body of tribal lore. This socially ascribed identity is reliant on it
being recognized by others and is usually associated with a claim to a
specific territory. Thus all the people who live in an area belong to the
tribe by virtue of their presence in its territory. This belonging carries
with it certain obligations, such as defense against external aggression.
Every tribe encompasses one or more prominent agha lineages. These
families historically wielded great power and in some cases still do.
Aghas are those families who have maintained their claim to territory, to
the extent of essentially owning their tribal villages. Aghas operate
within tribally defined networks and also serve as brokers with the state.
Aghas have shown great skill in forming alliances to play one neighbor-
ing power off another.
During the nineteenth century, the term Kurd, which had previously
meant simply ‘nomad,’ came to be defined as ‘tribal people who spoke
the Kurdish language.’ Tribalism has declined as a principle of social
organization in recent decades and most Kurds do not now consider
themselves ‘tribal.’ However, it remains a crucial component of Kurdish
ethnicity. Furthermore, the importance of kin-based relationships as a
means of social and political organization has also prevailed in both
urban and rural areas.
The rising influence of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and
Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) in northern Iraq during the past two
decades has had a pronounced impact on the relative strength of Kur-
dish tribalism. Most commentators view the two political parties as
now fulfilling the political roles that were formerly the preserve of
the tribes. To an extent, this trend has resulted from the relative weak-
ness of Kurdish tribal structures in comparison to those in the rest of
Iraq. Kurdish tribes tend to be smaller, there are fewer Kurdish con-
federations, and in some areas, tribal organization has been aban-
doned altogether. Non-tribal Kurds, usually tenants, sharecroppers or
landless laborers populate significant areas of the Kurdish region.
One study has suggested that in 1960 approximately 60 percent of
Kurds claimed a tribal affiliation; by the late 1980s, this figure had
fallen to about 20 percent.
Kurdish tribes retain significant social functions and there are close rela-
tionships between the tribes and political parties. Although the relation-
ship is less intimate in the case of the PUK - the KDP essentially being a
vehicle for the Barzani tribe and its leader Ma’asud Barzani - both par-
ties rely on the tribes for support. In many ways, the parties themselves
operate as neo-tribal entities. The relationships between the parties and
Kurdish tribes - and the Kurdish population in general - is mediated via
complex networks of patronage, through which tribal leaders are co-
opted into each party’s sphere of influence. In this way, the parties act in
the same way as tribal confederations.
Kurdish tribal leaders, then, are essentially non-ideological, mostly sec-
ular, and are motivated primarily by the need to augment their support
base against other tribes and non-tribal leaders. Many view themselves
as Kurdish Iraqis and, with only a weakly articulated nationalist out-
look, tend to be ambivalent at best with regards to Kurdish self-determi-
nation, borne out by their willingness to side with the regime during the
1980s. For these leaders, independent statehood is seen as less important
than - and probably inimical to - tribal autonomy (particularly the ability
to control trade routes passing through their areas). As far as Barzani
and Talabani are concerned, a federal Iraq that provided the parties with
the opportunity to retain control over their respective territories would
probably come close to their ideal.
Kurdish tribes, therefore, are socio-political, economic, and territorial units
that are the primary system of social organization within the Kurdish eth-
nic group. Kinship ties alone do not determine the membership of a tribe,
as the Kurds do not hold to their genealogies to the same extent as Arabs.
A tribe may have clients who, after several generations of cohabitation and
cooperation, especially in military defense of the tribe, are accepted into
the tribe as full members, regardless of their lack of kinship ties.
There is often competition within and between Kurdish tribes; they do
not consistently function as cohesive units, or as unified parts of a larger
Kurdish ethnic group. The same flexibility that allows non-blood rela-
tions to become part of a tribe after a certain period of cooperation also
allows for internal tribal divisions and transfers of loyalty based on
pragmatic assessments of personal and or tribal advancement.
Kurdish tribes are closely related to a particular territory. The name of a
tribe is often the same as that of the town or region where the tribal
members originate, for example the Barzani tribe is from Barzan.
Tribal loyalties continue to dominate Kurdish society, and the allegiance
of the majority of the Kurds has been to their extended families, clans,
and tribes. Kurdish tribal leaders have played key roles in galvanizing
and leading the Kurdish nationalist movement, but tribal ties under-
mined a more general and all-encompassing Kurdish nationalism.
Aware of the power of tribal leaders, both the KDP and the PUK have
attempted to gain their support.
Baradusti/Bardost/Baradost. The Bardost tribe lives near the inter-
section of the border of Iran, Iraq and Turkey. They speak the Northern
Kurmanji dialect. The Bardost are followers of the Naqshbandi Sufi
order. One of a number of independent tribes, opposed to both the PUK
and KDP, the Baradost were traditionally the leaders of the opposition
to Barzani hegemony over the Kurds, with whom they have been at war
for several years.
Barzani. The Barzani tribe is from the area around the town of Barzan
on the Greater Zab River. They speak the Northern Kurmanji dialect.
The Barzani tribe was part of the Zibari tribe until the 19th century
when it split into a separate tribal formation. Barzani tribal leaders have
been the most prominent Kurdish resistance fighters and political lead-
ers up to and during the post-1991 Gulf War period. The Barzani tribe
has engaged in sporadic conflicts with many other Kurdish tribes. The
network between the KDP and the Barzani tribe is of a similar order to
that between Hussein’s regime and the Abu Nasir tribe. The KDP has,
however, been careful to cultivate a broad support base among the tribes
resident in its stronghold in the north of the Kurdish region, home to
more than 2 million people.
Daudi. Centered in the south of the Kurdish region between the towns
of Tauq, Kifri and Tuz, Daudi tribesmen were heavily represented in the
Peshmerga Kurdish militant forces during the 1980s. They are a Surani
speaking tribe, and are affiliated with the PUK. A number of the tribe’s
villages were destroyed in the Anfal campaigns in the late 1980s.
Hamawand. The Hamawand tribe lives in the Sulaymaniyah area in the
vicinity of Chamchamel and speaks Surani (southern) Kurdish. Histori-
cally, the tribe sustained itself by raiding, rather than as nomadic shep-
herds as were most other Kurdish tribes. Hamawand tribe members
follow the Qadiri Sufi order.
Harki/Herki. The Herki are one of the few Kurdish tribes in Iraq to
maintain significant elements of their nomadic lifestyle as recently as
the 1980s. They live near the Greater Zab River in the area east of Raw-
anduz. Another grouping of the Herki tribe lives at the intersection of
the borders of Iran, Iraq and Turkey. The Harki in southern Iraqi Kurd
region speak Sorani Kurdish; members of the Herki tribe in the northern
Iraqi Kurd region, Iran and Turkey may speak either Sorani or Kumanji
Kurdish dialects. The Harki tribe has historically been an adversary of
the Barzani tribe, with a disagreement in 1994 sparking intertribal fight-
ing between the PUK and KDP.
Jaf. Historically one of the most powerful Kurdish confederations, the
Jaf claim a genealogical connection with Saladin, the great military
leader from the Crusades. The Jaf is the largest Kurdish confederation,
with 25 constituent tribes and more than a million members throughout
northern Iraq and Iran, but concentrated in the Iraqi governorates of
Sulaymaniyah, Diyala and At Ta’min. The Jaf tribe is located on the
Iran–Iraq border close to the city of Halabja, west to Kirkuk and north to
Sulaymaniyah. The confederation has strong ties with moderate ele-
ments and the opposition movement in Iran. They speak Sorani Kurdish.
The Jaf and the Talabani tribes worked together during the 1988 Iraqi
Anfal campaign and maintain good relations.
Pizhdar. The Pizhdar tribe lives along the Iraq-Iran border near the
Lesser Zab River in the vicinity of Qala Diza on the Iraqi side and Sar-
dasht in Iran. Members of the Pizhdar tribe speak Sorani Kurdish and
follow the Qadiri Sufi order. The social organization of the tribe is hier-
archical and stratified with distinctions between the ruling class and
their subjects, who are further subdivided into original tribal members
and those who have attached themselves to the tribe voluntarily or
through conquest. The Pizhdar tribe fought with the government against
the Kurdish nationalists in the 1970s, placing themselves in opposition
to the prominent Barzani tribe. More recently, however, the tribe was
known to be very hostile toward Hussein’s regime, and suffered heavy
losses during the Anfal campaigns. Some of the tribe’s land was confis-
cated by the regime under the Arabisation policies.
Surchi. The Surchi are a large tribe along the middle course of the
Greater Zab River, between the towns of Rawandiz and Akra. Its leaders
are closely involved with the Kurdish Conservative Party (KCP), which
the tribe founded. The Surchi collaborated with Hussein during the
1980s, and, because of this, the rest of the Kurdish population appar-
ently does not respect Surchi leaders. The tribe is strongly opposed to
the KDP, which is known to have attacked Surchi villages and is thought
to have killed the tribe’s leader in 1996. The tribe is currently aligned
with the PUK. The Surchi is one of the few Kurmanji-speaking tribes
affiliated with the PUK. The Surchi is also likely to be antagonistic
toward Turkey, due to the destruction of a Surchi village by Turkish air-
craft in summer 2000 that killed 32 tribesmen.
Talabani. The Talabani is a large tribe located to the south and south
east of Kirkuk and north of Khanaqin. The status of the Talabani as an
authentic tribe is in doubt, as it essentially represents an extension of the
land-owning Talabani family who dominated the eastern part of the Kur-
dish region until the early years of the 20th century. Talabani members
live throughout Iraqi Kurdistan, and the tribe is now virtually synony-
mous with the PUK, through the influence of its leader, Jalal Talabani.
The PUK controls an estimated 12,000 fighting personnel plus 6,000
support troops. The Talabani tribe is one of the southern-most of the
Kurdish tribes in Iraq. The tribe members speak Sorani Kurdish. The
Talabani tribe has been allied with the Jaf tribe. Relations between the
Talabani tribe and the Barzani tribe, to which the leader of the KDP
belongs, are strained by the divergent political goals and positions of the
two Kurdish parties.
Zibari. The Zibari tribe is a rival of the Barzani tribe because of their
close proximity to each other in northern Iraqi Kurdistan, and the
Zibaris have sided with the government against the Barzani tribe. How-
ever, the two tribes have also found common cause when the situation
required. The Zibari-Barzani rivalry began in the 19th century when the
Zibari tribe split and half supported the secular tribal leaders while the
others supported the Sheikh of the village of Barzan, creating the Bar-
zani tribe. Zibari tribe members speak Kurmanji Kurdish.
Rule of Law
Kurds value freedom/independence (azad). This independent spirit
helps explain the success of Kurdish resistance to imperial and Iraqi
attempts to rule them. Blood feuds occasionally occur throughout the
Iraqi Kurd region. Kurdish blood feuding appears to differ little from
that found in the surrounding Arab culture. An attack on an individual
group member is considered an attack on collective honor and thus
involves the entire group. Even if blood feuds do not occur frequently,
their potential is a powerful influence on behavior.
The Kurdish concept of serim (loosely translated as shame) powerfully
shapes Kurdish behavior. Under usual circumstances, it prevents overt,
face-to-face challenges to hierarchy and authority. Kurdish culture to
some extent valorizes wily or deceitful behavior. At the same time, peo-
ple who display integrity are highly admired.
The Kurdish term for household is mal, which usually includes the
nuclear family plus the husband’s parents. A Kurdish family is hierar-
chical. Status within the household is based mostly on age and gender.
The head of the household is the oldest adult male, and he exercises a
high degree of authority and responsibility. However, females wield
more behind the scenes power than do Arab women. The oldest female
in the household often has considerable say in what happens in the day-
to-day operations within the household and how the children are reared.
Marriages are significant events to Kurdish families. Traditionally, they
are arranged. Potential brides are expected to display shyness and reti-
cence to marry. To act otherwise would bring shame on the family.
Kurds practice endogamy. Ideally, a man will marry his father’s
brother’s daughter, to whom he has first rights. Marriage celebrations
can range from a day to a week. Gifts are exchanged between the wed-
ding families. The bride brings with her a dowry equal to the ceremonial
bride price and the agreed-upon alimony to be collected if the marriage
ends in divorce. On the 7th day of the marriage, the couple visits close
relatives, receiving more presents for their new lives. If the groom does
not pay the agreed-upon bride-wealth or does not support his wife
according to the standards of her own family, the bride has grounds for
divorce. The only other way she may obtain divorce is by repayment in
full of the bride-wealth, unless otherwise stipulated in the marriage set-
tlement. A man may divorce his wife by renouncing her three times.
When most Kurds meet they ask, “where are your people from?” The
answer may be general, naming a tribe or area, or it may be more spe-
cific noting the village, name of presiding agha and lineage. However,
urban Kurds may define themselves by their millet, or their religious
community. Kurds respect formality, and believe that only using first
names is a sign of disrespect. One must use titles and first and last
names when speaking to Kurds. Kurds typically adopt the name of the
father for the middle name and the tribal name for the last name and will
introduce themselves as such when greeting someone.
In some cases, Kurds will use a first name if it is preceded by a term of
formality. The most common terms are “Kak,” which is similar to mister
and “Mam,” which is similar to uncle. These terms are used among
Kurds with a strong level of familiarity. Adhere to strict protocol when
greeting Kurds; a break in formality is seen as disrespectful unless you
are good friends with the Kurd in question. Initially Kurds are suspi-
cious of strangers and strange things due to the betrayals that the Kurds
have endured throughout their history.
Most Kurds will extend their hand and when it is grasped, will grasp
with their second hand and shake vigorously. Kurds, like Arabs, will
look people in the eye when shaking hands. Kurds will use some of the
same hand signals as Arabs, but they do not place the same significance
on them. Two of the most important hand signals to avoid are, beckon-
ing to or pointing at someone with a finger and shaking the “ok” sign at
someone. In Iraq and parts of Iran these signs are seen as offensive.
In rural parts of the Kurdish homeland, it is customary to offer strangers
food and shelter. Shelter is usually provided by the agha, the highest-
ranking member of the community. Agha means landlord, and it is con-
sidered his duty to maintain the guest house. Since the guest house is the
dwelling for visitors to the village or town, it is often the focal point for
that community. When visiting the agha’s shelter, women remain out of
sight, except to make or serve food. Because Kurds take pride in being
good hosts, they will be disappointed by somber or uncooperative guests
who do not go along with the entertainment aspect of visiting, be it con-
versation or games. Kurds will refuse offers of food two or three times
before accepting, and similar behavior is expected of a visitor.
Kurds are wary of laws, regulations, and authority. Independence and
autonomy are influential in negotiation. Across the Kurdish homeland,
tribal confederacies are the highest form of social organization and
will usually govern the political processes. In rural settings, most
negotiations and discussions take place in a Diwan setting. This is a
community meeting place for discussion, storytelling and negotiation.
It is typically formal, with men only in attendance. Despite their
minority status and relatively small military forces, the Kurds have
always tried to negotiate from a position of equality. However, this
strategy has rarely worked in their favor.
Because of their history of being betrayed and their strong tribal inclina-
tions, independence and autonomy are essential to any binding resolu-
tion. It is in the Kurdish nature to try to skirt regulations or laws that
they see as not in their best interest, which can hamper resolution
efforts. Kurds tend to hold local political concerns above religion insofar
as religion does not counter the interests of the tribe or confederation.
Unlike Arabs, who attach many of their struggles and efforts to Islam,
the Kurds are predominantly concerned with political and tribal matters.
Tribal confederations and affiliations can be changed to accommodate
present interests. An example of this was demonstrated by the Kurdish
side-switching after the Gulf War when the Iraqi army attempted to
stamp out the KDP uprising. In resolving conflict, the manner in which
the Kurds or the opposition conducts themselves is significant. Kurds
consider valor to be the most valuable character trait of the individual; it
is the prerequisite of honor. Kurds believe that the result of a struggle is
not always as significant as the way in which it was conducted.
Kurds are forthright to a fault, from the Western perspective. Kurds will
voice their opinion positive or negative, which can at times be inter-
preted as being aggressive or rude. In business this can make people
uncomfortable and hesitant to embrace Kurds as partners. In addition,
the relationship between the Kurds and the countries that they occupy
has hampered outside investment in traditional Kurdish areas. However,
Kurds pride themselves on precision and attention to detail. They are
also more inclined to individual enterprise and a means of self-reliance.
Wealth and success are not seen as being excessive and are things to cel-
ebrate. Many Kurds feel that their business approach sets them apart
from their Arab neighbors.
Time and Space
Kurds see the concept of borders as restrictive and running counter to
their concept of homeland. Kurds associate their homeland with the
mountains. Kurds believe that they are the descendants of all who ever
came to settle in the Kurdish region and do not owe particular homage
to the Turks, Arabs or Iranians. Like Arabs, Kurds do not mind being in
crowds, but do not like to be confined indoors. Kurds also do not have
the same concept of personal space that westerners have. They do not
mind being close enough to smell someone and it is not considered a
personal privacy invasion. The Kurdish year is 365 days and based on
the Georgian calendar. Like westerners, they have 12 months, 24-hour
days and a leap year every fourth year.
Kurds believe that one must wash hands before and after eating. Like
other Muslims, Kurds believe in a formal washing of the face, hands,
and forearms, before daily prayers or fasting. Washing is also recom-
mended following contact with other substances considered unclean,
including alcohol, pigs, dogs, or non-believers.
Unlike Arabs, Kurds do not believe that they have to offer their posses-
sions as gifts to visitors. However, when visiting a Kurd in their home, it
is customary to bring a small gift; this practice is especially prevalent
when in rural areas. Acceptable gifts are sugar, tea, coffee, cloth,
matches, soap, tobacco or cigarette paper.
I Women are not to be stared at or given personal attention. Though
Kurdish women enjoy a much more progressive life than Arab
women, it is still an insult to the husband or father to have a woman
in his household commented on or approached. Do not extend a hand
to shake that of a female’s unless she approaches first.
I The household and family are private matters and not for discussion
I Western women should not assert their views (equality, sexuality or
opinion) to Kurdish women or men. Kurdish men will take this as an
insult and an attack on their privacy.
I Kurds are shy about undressing in front of other people; doctors
should be of the same sex.
I Kurds find public displays of affection between members of the
opposite sexes offensive. Same sex affection is acceptable.
The traditional male headdress is a turban worn over a skullcap or a fez,
wrapped so that the fez can be seen from the top. The headdress is sym-
bolic of tribal or political affiliation. The skullcap is typically white or
tan, while the turban can vary in color, pattern and style of wearing. In
the northern Kurdish areas the turban is typically anchored to the skull-
cap and wound tightly. In the southern Kurdish areas the turban is worn
loosely with a tail hanging to a side or covering an eyebrow.
The turban color usually represents tribal affiliations: Red and White
check or Red represents the Barzani tribe; Green represents Sayyaids
who are descendants of Muhammad; White is typically representative of
sheikhs or mullahs; Grey, black, grey checked with white and burgundy
are standards of the smaller tribes. Women seldom cover their faces, but
frequently wear scarves on their hair. Women’s scarves, sashes and
headdresses are also colored according to tribal and regional affiliations.
It is typical in the larger cities to see men in suits or sport jackets and
button down shirt with ties. Women have also adopted Western fashion
and will wear conservative dresses, but more frequently pantsuits. Chil-
dren in urban areas can be seen in baseball hats, T-shirts and jeans. It is
not uncommon for teenagers to mimic some conservative Western styles
such as athletic wear, sneakers, jeans and garments with western logos.
The move from traditional Kurdish dress is seen as an embrace of
modernity and a sign of progressiveness and education.
However, traditional male Kurdish dress has not been completely aban-
doned, and is not just used in festivities or for special occasions. Tradi-
tional costume varies by region and marks regional origins. Increased
contact with other ethnic groups and exposure to mass media has further
stimulated ideas for costume variations. Kurdish men differ from Arabs
in that they wear trousers. The traditional dress of a Kurdish man is
loose trousers and matching jacket, long sleeve shirt, cummerbund,
skullcap and turban. This combination can vary slightly from region to
region and tribe to tribe.
The southern Iraqi and Iranian dress is similar to that of the Kurdish sol-
diers. Traditionally, Kurdish soldiers (peshmergas) wore a loose shirt
under a tight jacket with matching baggy pants and colored cummer-
bund, turban or balaclava signifying their tribe. However recently, they
have begun to dress in camouflage or tan uniforms accented with a sash,
turban or balaclava and Western-style military boots.
Urban Kurdish women will wear Western clothing, but not styles that
are revealing. Kurdish women will also wear Western shoes that would
be considered conservative, such as sandals, low heels and boots.
Younger Kurdish women mimic the styles of their elders; modern West-
ern female styles are not considered acceptable. In rural areas middle-
aged to elderly women wear the traditional two-part Kurdish dress or
the dishdash, an all-purpose housedress. Women traditionally wear two
or three long dresses over trousers with jackets. The trousers are similar
to pantaloons and the dresses are long sleeve and made of a woven fab-
ric that varies with the season. Kurdish women frequently mix a variety
of colors in their clothing.
The daily diet of most Kurds includes bread, dairy products (especially
curdled milk), dates, tea, and meat. Popular vegetables include eggplant,
tomatoes, red beets, green beans, cucumbers and olives. Most of the tra-
ditional dishes incorporate mutton, beef or chicken.
Historically, Kurds were either nomads who lived in tent camps and
moved their herds between summer and winter pasturage, or settled
agriculturists who lived in villages on the plains or in mountain valleys.
Now most have settled. Those who have not live in heavy, black woolen
tents that remain standing at the winter pastures; they use lighter tents
when traveling to and from summer pastures higher in the mountains.
Camps may consist of an entire clan or of a group of families who join
to herd their flocks together.
The houses in most Kurdish villages are built from clay, mud or sun-
baked brick. They are often built on the sides of a slope so that the roof
of one house serves as a terrace for the house above it. Some villages
correspond to tribal lineages, but many are not organized along any kind
of kinship lines. Villages often own communal pastureland, and, in
some villages, private property may be sold only to fellow villagers.
In larger urban areas the streets are twisted and narrow while most
houses connect with each other to give them the look of a citadel. Where
stone is available, the richer Kurds will build their houses from it. In cit-
ies, the more affluent Kurds live higher in the hills away from the offices
and markets. Typically the richest furnishings in a Kurdish home are the
carpets and storage chests. In some urban areas, there may be modern
appliances that are decorated.
Attitudes Toward Others
Kurds are distrustful by nature. The Kurds’ experiences, both on an
interpersonal level and on an ethnic/national one, have taught them that
trust leads to victimization. As a nation, the Kurds have been betrayed
by all of the powers surrounding them.
U.S. Military. U.S. military personnel may be met with wariness and
suspicion on the part of Kurds. It is the role and conduct of military per-
sonnel that determines the reception they will receive from local inhabit-
ants. However, there are significant divisions within the Kurdish ethnic
group that prevent a precise assessment of Kurdish attitudes toward the
Arabs. Violent conflict between Arabs and Kurds has been a feature of
Iraqi society since the early 1920s. Over the decades, the Arab majority
succeeded in asserting its dominance and limiting Kurdish cultural and
linguistic rights. Kurdish frustration with this situation remains a source
of resentment and instability. Despite an initial improvement in relations
after the 1968 Ba’athist coup, a pattern developed of negotiations over
Kurdish autonomy followed by armed clashes. For the past 30 years,
Kurdish nationalism has been at odds with Iraqi Arab nationalism dis-
seminated from Baghdad. The 1991 uprisings in the Kurdish north
revealed the extent of their dissatisfaction with the regime. Significant
distrust continues between Iraqi Arabs and Kurds.
Turkmen. Kurdish-Turkmen relations have been tense and even violent
at times in the area of Kirkuk. In 1959, Iraqi President Qasim used the
Kurds to suppress the Turkmen in Kirkuk. It is a point of debate whether
the city of Kirkuk had a majority of Turkmen, or was always dominated
by a Kurdish population. The Kurdish claim to Kirkuk strains the Turk-
Assyrians. Assyrians from Turkey settled on lands belonging to the
Barzani family during the British mandate period and precipitated an
armed conflict between the Barzani tribe and the government. Since the
1991 Gulf War, Assyrian–Kurdish relations have been peaceful.
Iran: Iranian support was vital to Barzani’s resistance against Hussein’s
government. The resistance advanced the cause of a portion of Iraqi
Kurds, but had negative consequences for Iranian Kurds and damaged
trans-border relations between the Kurdish populations in the two coun-
tries. Iran was seen as a potential source of financial and military sup-
port for the Iraqi Kurds against Hussein’s government, but was not
considered a consistent and loyal friend of the Kurdish cause. The Kurd-
ish view of Iran is pragmatic, in that relations with Iran may be a useful
asset, but carry the risk of making the Iraqi Kurds the victim of changes
in Iranian policy. The Kurds recognize that Iranian support has always
been more “anti-Hussein” than “pro-Kurd,” and that the Iranians are just
as adamantly against the concept of a greater Kurdistan as the Turks.
Turkey. The Kurds perceive Turkey as an obstacle to Iraqi and interna-
tional recognition of Kurdish autonomy within a federal Iraq or an inde-
pendent Kurdish state. The Kurds also regard Turkey with a measure of
fear because of its treatment of its own Kurdish population, and for the
tactics Turkey has employed in pursuit of PKK members in northern
Iraq. Iraqi Kurds are wary of Turkey, as they believe Turkey is intent on
repressing their collective identity.
The Turkmen claim to be the third largest ethnic group in Iraq after the
Kurds and Arabs. Turkmen (also Turkmen, Turcoman) are of Turkic
ethnic descent, primarily from the Oghuz group, which is most closely
related to modern Turks, Azeris, and Turkmen of Turkmenistan. The
term “Turkmen” is used broadly, however, to designate any Iraqi with
some Turkish origins.
Turkmen began arriving in Iraq from Central Asia around the 7th cen-
tury A.D. The Ottoman Empire ruled Iraq from the 15th to the early
20th centuries, during which time many Turkic people migrated into
Iraq. These Ottoman Turks were separated from Turkey after the disso-
lution of the Ottoman Empire and the Treaty of Sevres, which created
the British Mandate that led to the modern nation-state of Iraq.
Most Turkmen living in Iraq are concentrated in the north and central
parts of the country in the provinces of Mosul, Irbil, Kirkuk, and Dey-
alah. There are 2-3 million Turkmen in Iraq, most of whom are Sunni
Muslims. There are some small Shi’a Turkmen groups, and up to 30,000
Christian Turkmen, known as kale gavuru.
Turkmen in Iraq are part of the broader group of Oghuz Turkic people
who migrated from Central Asia in successive waves, beginning in the
7th century A.D. These Turkic people were nomadic, but began to settle
as they encountered the agricultural-based societies of the Byzantium
and Abbasid empires. Many arrived during the Ottoman Empire, settling
with the Turkmen people who had already been living in the country.
Under the original Iraqi Constitution, Turkmen were permitted to use
their own languages in schools, government offices, and newspapers.
However, in 1972, the Iraqi Ba’athist government prohibited the study
of the Turkish language, banned Turkish media in Iraq, changed the
Turkish names of towns to Arabic names, and instituted an assimilation
policy designed to force Turkmen to adopt Arab culture and language.
Beginning during this period, Turkmen were targeted (because of their
ethnicity) for persecution, arrest, and imprisonment. Turkmen leaders
were tortured or assassinated.
In 1974, administrative boundaries were redrawn in a way that divided
Turkmen concentrations, and a new policy was launched to encourage
Arabs living in the south to move into Turkmen areas, especially the
oil-rich city of Kirkuk. The Iraqi government destroyed numerous
Turkmen villages and created new housing that was increasingly pop-
ulated with Arabs. In the 1980s, the Ba’ath party prohibited any public
use of the Turkish language and banned Turkmen political parties. The
1990 Constitution eliminated any reference to Turkmen, mentioning
only Kurds and Arabs.
In recent years, Turkmen leaders have taken advantage of the relative
autonomy in northern Iraq to develop representative political bodies that
can both advocate on behalf of the group and provide organizational
infrastructure for political activity in a post-Hussein Iraq. In 1995, the
Iraqi Turkmen Front was established, incorporating a number of parties
under an umbrella organization capable of speaking with one Turkmen
voice to both domestic and foreign audiences.
In October 1997, Turkmen organizations arranged the Turkmen Assem-
bly in northern Iraq. The assembly has secured unanimity among the
Turkmen organizations, and determined the cultural, educational, infor-
mation and social policies for the Turkmen people. The development of
these organizations reflects an understanding on the part of Turkmen
that their interests can only be articulated through political action, and
such action will take place within the state and in international venues
that can bring pressure on domestic actors. Thus, to a great degree, the
Turkmen have adopted a statist or national political approach, reflecting
their commitment to Iraq over any vestigial tribal commitments or cul-
tural affinities that may have been more prevalent in the past.
The Turkmen desire a strong and effective state, but one that protects
their cultural rights and freedoms and is restrained from arbitrary uses of
state power or extrajudicial violence by other groups (such as the
Kurds). In this way, the Turkmen position has evolved into a very West-
ern concept of the role and necessary institutionalized limitations upon
the state in a modern society.
Most Turkmen, more than two-thirds of the population, are Sunni Mus-
lims, predominantly of the Hanafi sect, which is known for its liberal
religious orientation that elevates belief over practice and is tolerant of
differences within Muslim communities. Nearly a third of the Turkmen
are Shi’a Muslims, and up to 30,000 are Christian. Sufism is also preva-
lent among the Turkmen of Iraq.
Generally, the Turkmen are not considered devout religious worship-
pers. Given their history of adapting and assimilating, religion seems
less critical to their individual identities than as an indicator or symbol
of their collective identity as a (predominantly) Sunni, Turkic people. To
most Turkmen, Islam represents a folk religion, reflecting Arabic
nomadic heritages, emphasizing sacred forces, the symbolic interpreta-
tion of texts, and worship at shrines. This type of folk religion has flour-
ished in the region of northern Iraq for centuries.
Turkmen language is a dialect of Turkish that is a part of the Western
Turkish language group spoken in Turkey, Cyprus, the Balkans, Azer-
baijan (North and South), Northern Syria, Iran, Turkmenistan, and
Northern Afghanistan. The Turkmen language, with its 5 major accents,
is closer to the Turkish spoken in Azerbaijan and Urfa in southeastern
Turkey than that spoken in Turkmenistan.
Many Turkmen also speak Arabic. However, they believe maintaining
and perpetuating their language is an important component of their cul-
ture. This created problems under the regime of Hussein and is also a
problem in the Kurd-dominated north. For instance, the Turkmen insist
on being taught in Turkish, using the Latin script, whereas the KDP
wants them to learn Kurdish and Arabic. The Turkmen will only support
a long-term political resolution of the political configuration of Iraq if it
includes state-guaranteed rights to teach their language.
The Turkmen, while generally considered egalitarian, distinguish two
social categories within each lineage. Individuals are either regarded as
descendants of ig or qul, free or slave. The distinction is made from
those who descended from non-Turkmen ancestors. While there is a
general reluctance to intermarry, it does happen. The most observable
outcome of this separational view is in the distribution of land and
resources, the ig tend to be better off than the qul.
Class divisions are observable in differences between dress, living,
education and jobs. However, modernization and the changing land-
scape in Iraq is breaking down many of these traditional divisions.
In many Turkmen communities, the basic unit of society is the albeit.
This term encompasses all of the inhabitants living in their dwelling and
those closely related persons living in the same compound who are
dependent on one another. Within the albeit, each person is assigned a
task and a set of responsibilities.
To overcome the feelings of “second-class status” and disenfranchise-
ment, the Turkmen have established social institutions within the family
unit to replace those not found in Iraqi society. Within each community,
there are individuals appointed to positions of decision and authority. In
many cases, these people replace teachers, counselors, religious figures,
lawyers and other advisors.
Turkmen define their circle of kin as “those to whom the blood reaches.”
This is usually traced through patrilineal relationships, and defined as
those sharing a common patrilineal ancestor in seven or fewer genera-
tions. The traditional Turkmen household consists of a male, his wife,
their sons and their wives and their children. Typically, a man leaves his
father’s household between the ages of 30-40, usually after he is married
and has his own children. Usually by the age of 40, the son’s children
will be old enough to be economically productive, and therefore able to
help support his household.
After establishing his own household, the father will marry off his
daughters, and prepare his sons to establish their households. The
exception is the youngest, who traditionally has remained in the father’s
household to care for his father and mother. Turkmen society places a
great amount of respect and loyalty on age and care for the elderly.
Once a girl has been married, she is expected to identify herself with her
new family. While not as secluded as women in other Islamic countries,
Turkmen women typically raise the children, cook, serve meals and
work in the fields or another manual labor positions.
In most Turkmen social groups, freedom of courtship and choosing
mates is accepted. The most formalized part of the process is the meet-
ing and agreement of the families. Traditionally, the families meet to
discuss the Mahr, or the bridal package. The Mahr is an agreed upon
sum of money that is transferred from the bridegroom’s family to the
bride’s family. The Mahr, although more a tradition, is accepted as part
of Islamic law. In some more rural areas in Iraq, there are instances
where marriages are arranged according to tribal affiliations.
Modern Nation State
Since World War I, and particularly during the regime of Saddam Hus-
sein, the Turkmen suffered at the hands of the Kurds and other ethnic
groups, as well as the state itself. Part of the reason for the vast differ-
ence in Turkmen population estimates is because during the 1970s and
1980s the government expelled Turkmen from their traditional lands in
Iraq. They were resettled in other areas and encouraged to register offi-
cially as Arabs. Arabs were then resettled onto lands once belonging to
Turkmen and Kurds after the latter two groups were forced out. While it
is clear that the Turkmen have been victimized and impoverished under
Iraqi state, it also seems clear that they identify themselves as Iraqi —
albeit of Turkish lineage — and they nonetheless remain committed to
the idea of a unified, multiethnic sovereign Iraqi state.
In the context of the modern Iraqi nation state, the Turkmen have pre-
dominantly supported the central authority of the state provided that it
guaranteed security. The regime of Saddam Hussein implemented
“assimilation” policies aimed at eradicating the cultural diversity of
Iraq, by banning the teaching of languages and other cultural rituals, and
persecuting cultural leaders. Nonetheless, unlike their Kurdish, neigh-
bors, the Turkmen have not engaged in violent opposition. The Turkmen
found themselves in the familiar position of being alone against other
unfriendly, if not openly hostile ethnic groups, and a regime that
despised their cultural commitments.
While they have strong desires to maintain their cultural heritage and
practice and perpetuate their language, they nonetheless understand the
importance of a strong state that can effectively safeguard their rights
against infringement by other groups. They are also well aware of the
dangers of an autocratic, totalitarian regime and thus desire the develop-
ment of representative and legal institutions that are capable of remov-
ing the dangers of arbitrary state power from society.
State and Tribal Roles
Turkmen generally desire autonomy, particularly in relation to the
Kurds. Turkmen resented the authority of the Hussein regime because of
its brutal and arbitrary use of state power against them. At the same
time, they want a strong and effective government that can provide them
protections against other groups. Turkmen served in Iraqi government
administrative positions during the early Republican period and gener-
ally supported the development of a strong, but responsive state.
Given the impact of the assimilation policies and their relative
numerical weakness, the Turkmen have attempted to support their
cause by developing political apparatuses such as the Iraqi Turkmen
Front (ITF) and various political parties. The ITF, established
24 April 1995, has managed to create an umbrella for all the Turk-
men political parties and organizations around the world to work
together for the unity of Iraq. Turkmen have also taken part in the
broad-based Iraqi National Congress, though at times they have been
excluded from active participation due to Kurdish efforts. In doing
so, they effectively acknowledge the centrality of the state to their
own future and thus can be seen as moving away from a tribal
response to the injustices imposed upon them.
Though it represents only part of the Turkmen community, the ITF has
been active in mobilizing public support and increasing international
attention to the plight of Turkmen in rump Iraq and in the Kurdish-con-
trolled northern region. Officially, it has never recognized the Kurdish
Regional Government and refused to take part in the 1992 elections held
in the autonomous region. There are reportedly 22 other Turkmen
groups outside Iraq that participate in ITF work.
In the past 2,000 years, two forces have shaped Turkmen culture. The
first major influence was that of the Turks, particularly the Ottomans.
The second was the Arabs and introduction of Islam. Most of the com-
mon Turkmen practices and customs evolved from these two cultures.
Turkmen have close cultural and linguistic ties with Anatolian Turkey,
but nonetheless identify themselves broadly as Iraqis. Most Turkmen are
characterized by their hospitality, trustworthiness and sincerity. Con-
versely, Turkmen are also renowned for being hot-tempered and venge-
ful. Their diverse history and character traits distinguish the Turkmen
from their Arab and Kurdish neighbors.
Turkmen tend to be very hospitable, offering food and tea to visitors.
When entertaining with a meal, Turkmen will spread food in bowls over
a tablecloth on the floor. Traditionally, the quantity of food reflects the
amount of respect the visitor commands.
Turkmen are gracious to their hosts and expect that visitors will pay par-
ticular homage to the male head of the household. It is essential that vis-
itors recognize the male primacy within the household. In more formal,
Islamic households the women remain separate from the men during
visitations and meals.
I Show respect to the male figure in charge; he will lead other males in
conversation and negotiation.
I Women should not be engaged unless they speak first. Like many
Muslims, the Turkmen believe that it is improper to direct attention
to a female in public.
I Refrain from discussing the dispute between the Kurds and the
Turks. Because of their connection to both groups, disagreement over
the Turk-Kurd situation can cause significant tension.
In most urban areas Turkmen men tend to wear Western fashions, with
men frequently dressing in suits, or pants matched with shirts and jack-
ets. Women tend to wear long colorful dresses. Western influences can
be seen particularly among the youth with t-shirts, jeans/pants and
sneakers. Young girls still wear dresses, but they are less traditional than
those of previous generations.
In rural areas the dress is somewhat more traditional. Men wear baggy
trousers, coarse shirts, boots and wool hats. Women wear long dresses
and have an affinity for jewelry.
The Turkmen were once known as the qizilbash, or Red Heads, for their
red felt caps. In rural areas and during formal engagements, such as
weddings, men still don the red caps. Women tend to wear fine cotton
scarves, wound to resemble turbans.
The diet of most Turkmen is similar to that of the Kurds, but retains
some specific delicacies. The main staples are vegetables, bread, dairy
products, and meat, particularly chicken and mutton. Popular vegetables
include peppers, onions, eggplant, tomatoes, red beets, green beans,
cucumbers, chickpeas and olives. The most common drinks are tea and
coffee, both of which are made strong.
The Turkmen were once nomadic herders who lived in tents and moved
around as the seasons changed. Over time, many Turkmen settled and
became farmers or took administrative positions in the towns and cities.
Those Turkmen who still herd live in the same type of dwellings as the
Kurds. They often live in heavy, black woolen tents, which they use
throughout the winter. In the summer or when traveling, they use lighter
tents. Camps may consist of an entire clan or of a group of families who
herd their flocks together.
Turkmen villages and communities have a history of poverty, overpopu-
lation, illiteracy, poor health, and in rural areas, isolation. This is partly
the result of forced resettlement campaigns directed by the Ba’ath
regime. Urban Turkmen dwellings are similar to lower class Arab and
Kurd dwellings. Kurd, Arab and Turkmen communities are generally
segregated. The main Turkmen settlements in Iraq are in the following
cities: Tall Afar, Mosul, Irbil, Tuz, Kifri, Karaghan, Kizlarbat, Kha-
naquin, Mendeli, Bedre and Kirkuk (the largest Turkmen city in Iraq).
The Turkmen view the areas around Mosul and Kirkuk as their cultural
and historical base.
Turkmen carpets are famous throughout the Middle East, but most out-
siders incorrectly call these rugs Afghan or Bukhran. Carpets are used
for seating, sleeping, dining, prayers, storage bags and doors and are the
primary furnishing in the Turkmen dwelling. The carpets were tradition-
ally made on horizontal looms in patterns that represent particular tribal
designs. Today, the tribal designs are still used, but the rugs are made in
factories and are a great source of Turkmen pride.
Attitudes Toward Others
United States. With a new regime in Baghdad, the Turkmen are
expected to work with the United States and other international actors to
secure protections and liberties for their people, ideally within the
framework of an effective state with strong representative institutions.
The Turkmen are guardedly optimistic. However, they will be suspi-
cious of measures that do not provide concrete guarantees, for fear that
they may be subjected to Kurdish violence or political domination.
As representatives of the United States, U.S. military personnel will be
welcomed by the Turkmen, but with a certain level of wariness. Turk-
men will attempt to discern the position of the U.S. military toward the
Kurds, and will be quick to interpret U.S. responses to potential Kurd
transgressions. If the United States is assessed as dealing fairly and
equally with the various groups then they are likely to receive strong
Turkmen support. However, if the United States is seen as merely rein-
forcing Kurd control of northern Iraq, the Turkmen will question their
motives and grow frustrated with the situation. It is unlikely that such
frustrations would be manifested through violence, but cooperation with
U.S. missions is likely to decline.
Iraqi Arabs. While the Turkmen had legitimate reasons to fear the
Ba’athist regime, there is no evidence that this has translated into a gen-
eral distrust of Iraqi Arabs. They are likely to reciprocate positively to
any attempts by Iraqi Arabs to develop new governmental institutions in
a post-Hussein environment. In the north, the mutual distrust of the
Kurds (shared by the Turkmen and the Iraqi Arabs) makes a political
alliance likely, particularly if Kurd groups are perceived as attempting to
assert control over the region.
Iraqi Kurds. The Turkmen fear the Kurds. From the memory of mass
Kurd violence against Turkmen in Kirkuk in July 1959 to more recent
Turkmen suffering as a result of intra-Kurd fighting after the first Gulf
War, there is a legitimate basis for those fears. Yet the Turkmen have not
responded violently, instead seeking protection from the state against
Kurdish transgressions. As long as a relative level of order is main-
tained, this is likely to continue. However, if Kurd violence toward
Turkmen escalates, Turkmen (or certain elements within the Turkmen
population) may feel that they must take measures to defend themselves.
Within the Iraqi Turkmen region, there are two main political parties.
One typically works with Kurdish authorities and the other is backed by
the Turkish state and vehemently opposes the creation of a Kurdish
state. This division plays itself out in political and social debates. Some
Turkmen feel that they have been punished in order to placate Kurdish
desires and aspirations. Because of these divisions, there are Turkmen
who will oppose most positions supported by the Kurds.
Iraqi Shi’a. Given their commitment to cultural freedoms, Turkmen are
likely to support Iraqi Shi’a initiatives for greater freedom and religious
rights. However, they are also likely to be wary of any initiatives by
Shi’a leaders to impose their own positions upon other groups within the
Iraq, or any attempts to break up the state.
Turkey. Turkey is the Turkmen’s only ally. Though the Turkmen share a
rich cultural history with their Anatolian relatives, this relationship does
not drive Turkmen behavior or policy. The Turkmen have been in Iraq for
hundreds of years, and they consider the cities like Kirkuk and Mosul, and
their surrounding areas, their home. At the same time, the Turkmen popu-
lation strongly opposes a Kurdish state in the north, as does Turkey.
Iran. Insofar as Iran supports the concept the territorial integrity and
sovereignty of Iraq, the Turkmen will see them as an ally in the context
of post-war regional negotiations on the future of the state. However, if
Iran is perceived as supporting secession of the south, the Turkmen are
likely to strongly oppose such interference.
The Turkmen of Iraq are mainly merchants and manual laborers. Most are
very poor, barely living at subsistence levels. Literacy rates are also low,
though precise information is difficult to obtain. During the Ottoman era,
they held positions of respect in the urban areas of northern Iraq, particu-
larly Mosul and Kirkuk. For much of Iraq’s history, they have served as a
middle class in these urban areas, which to some extent inspired envy and
ill feelings on the part of Kurds in the 1950s. Like many Iraqis, they have
seen their fortunes erode under the leadership of Saddam Hussein.
The Turkmen have lost much of their rural tribal nature over time. The
majority of Turkmen are concentrated in the north and central parts of
Iraq in the provinces of Mosul, Irbil, and Kirkuk. There is also a sizable
Turkmen population in Baghdad. In fact, the cultural ownership of
Iraq’s major northern cities shows that, in many ways, Turkmen have
moved beyond simple tribal notions of culture to attach themselves to
urban areas and the cultural and historical significance of those areas.
For example, the Turkmen and the Kurds passionately argue over the
cultural origins of Kirkuk, a city both claim as their own. However,
Kirkuk is an exception in Turkmen-Kurdish relations, as the two groups
long ago set a precedent of living in segregated villages, or neighbor-
hoods within cities that were either exclusively Turkmen or Kurdish.
Most villages remain fairly close to urban area, rather than being dis-
persed across a wide landscape.
Chaldeans are a Syriac-speaking people of Roman Catholic faith and of
mixed Semitic, Aramaean, Assyrian, Persian, Arab, and Kurdish descent.
There are an estimated 800,000 Chaldeans in Iraq. Most Chaldeans live in
and around Baghdad, in central Iraq. Others live in northern Iraq, espe-
cially the Mosul area, and another smaller group lives in southern Iraq.
Chaldeans acknowledge a common ethnic ancestry with Assyrians, with
whom they share the culture, language, and heritage of ancient Meso-
potamia. They consider themselves and the Assyrians descendants of
the ancient Babylonians (also called neo-Babylonians).
Despite this common ancestry, Chaldeans have considered themselves a
separate community from the Assyrians since their split with the Nesto-
rian Church of the East in the 16th century. Their communities are dis-
tinct from each other, based on ecclesiastical differences and variations
in cultural and social patterns.
Chaldeans see themselves as a distinct nation and ethnic group encom-
passing the Assyrians. Chaldeans believe the name “Chaldean” reflects
a more comprehensive, inclusive and generic name for the two groups of
people considered together. They consider themselves united by the Syr-
iac language, the Christian faith, the legacy of the Church of the East,
and a common ancestry. Conversely, many Assyrians believe the name
“Assyrian” includes the Chaldean community.
Compared to other Iraqi Christian communities, Chaldeans feel rela-
tively secure in Iraq, largely because they have kept a low profile and
not played a prominent political role. Today, Chaldeans claim to be the
largest group of Christians in Iraq, and they are most numerous in and
around Baghdad and other large cities.
Although Chaldea, the last ancient Mesopotamian state, collapsed more
than 2,500 years ago, Chaldeans have remained a cohesive group. They
have maintained linguistic and geographical continuity for as much as
four millennia, and religious continuity since at least the 5th century
when they widely accepted Christianity. Despite this cohesiveness and
the association with ancient Mesopotamia, the Chaldean group in Iraq
consists of people from many different ethnic groups, largely assimi-
lated through the religious missionary work of the Church of the East,
and the settling of many different peoples in the region over time.
In the first few centuries after Jesus’ death, Chaldeans and Assyrians
considered themselves the same people, unified by their language, Syr-
iac, and their common heritage as the descendants of the ancient Meso-
potamian civilizations. They were among the first groups of people to
adopt Christianity, and established the early Church of the East.
Chaldeans began migrating from rural villages in northern Iraq to
larger cities, including Mosul, Baghdad, Irbil, and Basrah in the
1880s. As Chaldeans migrated to the larger urban centers in Iraq,
differences between Chaldeans and other Iraqis, as with other
Christians, became less prevalent. Though they continued to use
Syriac, mostly in their liturgies, many also learned Arabic, and pat-
terns of speech and dress became less differentiated. The 1880s also
ushered in the beginning of Chaldean emigration from Iraq, mostly
to the United States
Though Chaldeans were wary of the pan-Arab movement of the Ba’ath
regime, they generally fared well and supported its secular ideology.
Support for the regime continued after Saddam Hussein came to power
in 1979 because Chaldeans fared better than other Iraqi groups, includ-
ing the Shi’a, Kurds, and Assyrians, under his persecutions. While Sad-
dam Hussein destroyed Assyrian churches, he spared Chaldean
churches and schools. Chaldeans saw this preferential treatment as an
acknowledgement of their small and unthreatening numbers, their use-
fulness as a buffer between the Kurds and the government, and the loyal
service of some Chaldeans in his government.
In the late 1990s, support for the government declined among
Chaldeans, as Saddam Hussein adopted more Islamic political rhetoric,
publicly elevated Islam over Christianity, and closed Chaldean schools.
Though many Chaldeans didn’t like the regime of Saddam Hussein, they
feared the chaos and anarchy, and the possible rise of more extreme
Islamic or Arabic ideologies that could develop in his absence.
From a doctrinal perspective, the Chaldean Church is indistinguishable
from other Catholic churches. In practice, their penitential customs, pat-
tern of prayers offered in Mass, sacraments and other ecclesiastical ritu-
als are virtually identical to those of the Nestorian Church of the East.
Chaldeans and Assyrians speak Syriac, a modern form of the ancient
Aramaic language. Aramaic and Syriac are Semitic languages related to
Hebrew and Arabic, but distinct from both. Aramaic was the language
spoken by Jesus Christ and his disciples, and it was adopted as the offi-
cial language of the Church of the East in the 5th century A.D. The fact
that modern Syriac is still based on 75 percent pure Aramaic is a mea-
sure of the cohesion of the Chaldean and Assyrian communities over the
last 1,500 years.
Among Chaldeans, Syriac is also called Old Chaldean, Chaldean, Syro-
Chaldaic, Neo-Aramaic, Aramaic, or “Jesus’ language.”
Role of Tribes in Society
Tribal affiliations do not play a significant role among Chaldeans. In
ancient Mesopotamia and in the early Christian era, Chaldeans were
organized as tribes. Beginning in the 16th century, however, religion
rather than tribal affiliations determined one’s identity as a Chaldean.
The Vatican. Chaldeans have nurtured a close alliance with the Vatican
since the 16th century, and they guard this connection jealously. This
alliance helped secure Chaldean communities within the hostile envi-
ronment of Muslim rule. In the 20th century, Roman Catholic clergy
were influential in persuading their congregations to avoid becoming
involved in the political and military struggles between Arabs, Kurds,
and the British. This action protected Chaldeans from some of the
enmity that was focused on the Assyrians, who were associated with
British imperial power. In the 1990s, the Chaldeans’ alliance with the
Vatican again helped to secure their position in the Iraqi state when
Chaldeans joined the Vatican in condemning the sanctions placed
against Iraq by the international community.
Assyrians. Chaldeans are wary of attempts by Assyrian nationalists to
speak for them and subsume their identity within an Assyrian ethno-
national group. Nevertheless, nationalist Chaldeans have attempted to
present a common front with Assyrians at conferences regarding the
future of Iraq. This common front is made in an effort to ensure that the
international community does not ignore the needs and desires of
Assyro-Chaldeans. Chaldeans and Assyrians fear a post-Hussein gov-
ernment will leave them under the authority of Kurds in a federalist
state, or worse, an extreme Muslim or Arabic regime.
Yezidis. Chaldeans have had a friendly relationship with Yezidis in
northern Iraq, occasionally living among them in mixed villages.
Chaldeans fleeing massacres by the Turks from 1914 to the 1920s found
shelter and aid among Yezidis in the Sinjar Mountains.
Since its independence, every Iraqi government has sought to forge a
common identity in a land that lacked a common religion, language, or
ethnicity. While the Kurds and Turkmen felt excluded ethnically and lin-
guistically from a pan-Arab identity, they could share appeals to Muslim
solidarity. Shi’a Arabs might disagree with the Sunni dominance of the
state, but they shared Islam, Arab ethnicity, and the Arabic language
with the Sunnis. As non-Arab, Syriac-speaking Christians, Chaldeans
are minorities in every respect within Iraq.
Nevertheless, Iraqi citizenship provided Chaldeans with an opportunity
to take advantage of economic and political opportunities broader than
those that were available within the Ottoman millet system. However,
the rise of the pan-Arab movement renewed Chaldean fears of persecu-
tion and led to the largest wave of Chaldean emigration from Iraq
between the 1960s and the 1980s.
State and Tribal Roles
Chaldeans fared better than other ethnic and religious groups, such as
the Shi’a Arabs, Kurds, and Assyrians, under the persecutions of Sad-
dam Hussein and the Ba’athist regime. Hussein spared Chaldean
churches while he destroyed Assyrian ones, and he interfered only
minimally in the Chaldean’s right to practice their faith. This rela-
tively better treatment was due to the small size of the Chaldean com-
munity, rendering it less threatening to Hussein than the Kurds or
Shi’a. The Chaldeans’ loyalty to Iraq and the Ba’athist regime also
helped to protect them.
Nevertheless, in the later 1990s, many Chaldeans turned against the
regime as Hussein increasingly emphasized Islamic and tribal identity.
Chaldean fears of religious persecution increased as the government
showed greater support for Islamic identity, whipping up anti-Christian
sentiment in the process. To shore up this new-found Islamic support,
Hussein began closing Chaldean schools and publicly elevated Islam
over Christianity. The government’s efforts to augment tribal identity
and associate the regime with tribal authority also alienated Chaldeans,
who are excluded from Arab tribes and tribal customs. Now, many
Chaldeans wish to rebuild a prosperous, democratic Iraq without Hus-
sein, though they fear his replacement by a radical Muslim regime.
Other Centers of Authority
The religious leader of the Chaldean community is called the Patriarch
of the Chaldeans, and he resides in Baghdad. Though Roman Catholic
clergy vow celibacy and cannot marry, the Chaldean Patriarch, under the
Chaldean Rite, was traditionally allowed to marry. The use of married
clergy among Chaldean communities have been declining in recent
years due to an increasing Western influence.
The family plays a central role in the Chaldean community. Until the
20th century, Chaldean families largely mirrored the traditional family
structure throughout much of the Middle East. Families were patrilineal,
and extended families were the norm. A family consisted of a husband
and wife, their sons, their sons’ wives and children, and their unmarried
daughters, as well as other kin who needed support. The father was the
unchallenged head of the family, holding an almost royal position.
Among Chaldeans, the patrilineal, extended family remains an ideal
widely held and valued, even among diaspora communities. Though
Chaldean families are usually nuclear, consisting of a husband, wife,
and their unmarried children, the extended family still occupies a central
role in their daily activities and social lives. Families are often expanded
for indefinite periods, as a nuclear household takes on the support of a
relative in need, or newly married couples live with the husband’s par-
ents until they set up their own household. Assuming the support of
other kin is a matter of great prestige in the village.
The extended family occupies a significant economic role for
Chaldeans, as family members help each other obtain jobs and form
business partnerships, as well as loan each other money.
Men are expected to exhibit strong, masculine characteristics in
Chaldean families, while women are expected to be feminine, nurturing,
and understanding. Though men enjoy greater social freedom than
women, both men and women are held responsible for putting the fam-
ily ahead of their personal needs, goals, and desires. Children are taught
early not to bring shame upon the family through their behavior. Chil-
dren are also taught to show deference and respect toward their elders.
Chaldean girls are not permitted to date. Boys are taught to look after
their sisters and prevent other boys from courting them. The parents of
both the young man and the young woman must give their blessings
before a couple can get engaged. Couples are usually engaged for at
least 6 months, a period during which they attend marriage classes at a
Chaldean church. Couples marry in a Chaldean church, and generally
the groom’s family pays all wedding expenses.
As a rule, rural Chaldeans marry people from the same village and reli-
gious community (in the case of mixed villages). Frequently, they marry
within the same family, as cousin marriages are common and preferred.
Women marry early, often between the ages of 17 and 22. Men usually
marry in their mid-20s. Marriages are usually arranged. Weddings are
exuberant community events that include singing, folk dancing, and
drinking. All relatives are invited, which in some villages, such as Tel-
kaif, includes nearly everybody in the village. Thus, wedding celebra-
tions can be as large as 1,000 people.
Divorce is virtually nonexistent. Chaldean widows almost never
remarry, and they wear black mourning clothes for the rest of their lives.
Widowers, on the other hand, frequently remarry.
Chaldean men and women usually greet each other with a handshake.
Close female friends usually kiss each other once on each cheek. Good
male friends may also kiss each other once on each cheek if they have
not seen each other in a long time. Children are expected to approach
and greet their elders. Elders will then kiss the children on each cheek
and wish them well. To pay special respect, children refer to their elders,
whether friends or relatives, as “uncle” or “aunt” followed by their first
names. Adults address each other informally by their first names. Men
may refer to each other as the father of their first-born son using the
name “Abbo” followed by the son’s first name.
Social visits among close friends and relatives are welcomed and impor-
tant to Chaldeans. Chaldeans often visit each other without invitation or
notice. If a person is invited to a Chaldean home, it is a sign of the trust
and regard of that family. Food is always offered. Daytime visits are
expected to last 1-2 hours. Evening guests are expected to stay at least 3
hours. They will be offered tea, desserts, drinks, and a large dinner.
Strongly influenced by Christian values and the Catholic Church,
Chaldeans emphasize honesty and trust in negotiations. These qualities
tend to help them succeed in business.
Strongly influenced by Christian values and the Catholic Church,
Chaldeans value peace and prefer to deal with conflicts in private, when
possible. Chaldeans emphasize humility and forgiveness in their attempts
to resolve conflicts. Thus, they tend to be forgiving of insults and discrim-
ination against them. As a group, Chaldeans prefer avoiding conflicts,
such as that between Iraqi Arabs and Kurds, rather than becoming
involved in them. Catholicism supports a general emphasis on community
and family over individuals among Chaldeans. Thus, the cohesion of the
family or community is a significant consideration in the process and out-
comes when resolving conflicts. Clergy may be consulted for advice or to
act as mediators. Since Chaldeans are no longer influenced by tribal iden-
tities, tribal councils have no place in negotiations or conflict resolution.
Chaldeans value entrepreneurial skills and quickly became an economic
force in their urban communities after they migrated to Iraq’s large cit-
ies in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Valuing education and known for
their honesty and strong work ethic, many Chaldeans have become suc-
cessful businessmen and professionals in Iraq.
As Christians, Chaldeans do not share the strict hygienic customs of
Muslims, such as ritual washing before prayer, or prohibitions against
certain acts considered unclean, such as eating pork.
On special occasions, guests bring gifts to be opened after dinner in the
presence of the host.
I Hands are kept above the table at all times during a meal. Elbows are
not placed on the table.
I After a meal, it is polite for a guest to bless the house and the host
family, asking that God continue to provide.
I If one enters a room while others are eating, the host family will usu-
ally extend an invitation to join the meal. It is polite to refuse the
invitation nicely, saying “alla yazeeda,” or “May God provide you
more.” If the host insists on the person joining the meal, the invita-
tion may be accepted. Compliments on the meal are welcomed.
I Rice and stew are eaten with a spoon in the right hand. A fork or
knife in the left hand can be used to push food onto the spoon. A
knife in the right hand can be used to cut food. Utensils are placed on
the plate after the meal.
I It is polite to accept refreshments, sweets, or baked goods.
Paying respect to the dead is a significant ritual in Chaldean families
and communities. Hundreds or thousands of relatives and friends may
attend a Chaldean funeral. The deceased is viewed for 2-3 days, and
men and women pray and pay their respects on separate sides of the cas-
ket. Expressions of grief may be overt; demonstrations of sorrow may
include family members hitting themselves in the head and face. A spe-
cial prayer and offering of food to the mourners is held on the “sev-
enth,” usually the Sunday following a person’s death. Another offering
of food and prayers is made on the 40th day after someone has died.
Chaldean women wear colorful dresses with waistbands and scarves
typical of their villages. Men wear cloaks and head coverings similar to
Iraqi Arabs, or jackets with baggy pants and head wraps. Older women
wear black lace head scarves with flowery dresses typical of rural
Chaldeans. Older men wear black and white head wraps and dress con-
servatively. In urban areas, most Chaldeans dress like other Iraqis.
Style and quality of clothing are considered important indications of a
person’s status in social situations. However, civic and religious leaders
criticize a focus on style as too materialistic.
The most traditional Chaldean dish is bushalla, a meat and vegetable
stew served with white steamed rice. Lamb, pork, or fish may be served
as a complement to bushalla. This dish is usually eaten as a late lunch
(1400), along with fresh fruit and tea, or as dinner. Breakfast consists of
a large meal of tea with milk, and bread with jam and gamer, a food sim-
ilar to cream cheese. A large dinner is eaten late (2100-2200) and
includes foods such as soup and salad, lamb stew, roasted vegetables,
bushalla, stuffed grape leaves, fish, and chicken.
Dinner is informal in Chaldean households, and guests, friends, and rel-
atives are welcomed. Rice and vegetable stew are eaten with a spoon in
the right hand, and a knife or fork in the left hand is used to push food
onto the spoon. A knife in the right hand can be used to cut food.
Chaldeans also commonly use their fingers to eat. Flatware is laid on the
plate when the meal is finished.
Most Chaldeans live in apartments or houses in Iraq’s large cities. In the
rural villages of northern Iraq, Chaldeans live in small stone houses.
Attitudes Toward Others
Assyrians. Relations between Chaldeans and Assyrians are multi-fac-
eted. On one hand, both communities believe they share a common eth-
nic heritage and language. They acknowledge a long period of shared
history under the Church of the East, and their religious rites and litur-
gies remain nearly identical. On the other hand, Chaldeans, as the larg-
est Christian community in Iraq, resent attempts by Assyrians to fold
Chaldeans into an Assyrian ethno-national identity. Chaldeans con-
versely believe their own ethno-national identity includes Assyrians
because it was the ancient Chaldeans who ruled the last independent
Kurds and Arabs. The Chaldean’s Christianity has made them a visi-
bly distinct community, with traditions and practices in stark contrast to
those of their Muslim Kurdish and Arab neighbors. Awareness of their
minority status, religious persecution and feelings of uncertainty regard-
ing religious freedom in Iraq, therefore, have led many Iraqi Chaldeans
to distrust their Kurdish and Arab neighbors and migrate to the West.
Shi’a Arabs. Chaldeans are occasionally at odds with Shi’a Arabs.
Since Shi’a Arabs participated in the uprisings of 1991 that were bru-
tally suppressed, many express frustration toward Chaldeans, whom
they perceive as having supported the Hussein regime.
Turkmen. Relations between Chaldeans and Turkmen tend to be quiet.
The Turkmen share a similar position with the Chaldeans and Assyrians
in northern Iraq with respect to the Kurds. As minorities among the
Kurds in northern Iraq, Turkmen, Chaldeans and Assyrians are all inter-
ested in greater political representation in a democratic, pluralistic gov-
ernment. Each group also seeks to secure greater cultural, linguistic, and
educational rights. The Turkmen, Chaldeans, and Assyrians, therefore,
would like to see northern Iraq, where they are all numerous, less domi-
nated by the Kurds.
Attitudes Toward Neighboring States
Turkey. Chaldeans have a strongly negative attitude toward Turks and
the Turkish government because they believe they suffered attempted
genocide at the hands of the Turks in 1914, along with Assyrians and
other Christians in Turkey. Chaldeans and Assyrians call the period
1914-15 the “Year of the Sword,” or Sayfo, to remember the 2.5 million
Christians who were killed, and the 2 million who subsequently fled
from Turkey, many of them into Iraq.
Syria. With a much higher population of Christians, Syria was consid-
ered a place of refuge for Chaldeans and Assyrians fleeing violence and
repression in Turkey and Iraq from 1915-1940s. This was particularly
true during the French Mandate period in Syria, from 1920-1932, since
the French had a history of protecting Christians under Ottoman rule.
Iran. Chaldeans fear Muslim fundamentalism even more than they
feared the persecution of the Hussein regime. As a result, they are wary
of the Shi’a fundamentalist Iranian state, which they perceive as
strongly encouraging fanatical Islam in the Middle East.
In urban areas, Chaldeans and Assyrians have long been associated with
entrepreneurship, commerce and business, including money lending,
money changing, importing and exporting — activities thought unsuit-
able for Muslims. In the large cities of Iraq, many shops, hotels and res-
taurants are run and staffed by contemporary Chaldeans and Assyrians,
a merchant and innkeeper tradition that extends back for centuries.
Chaldeans and Assyrians value education. Though they were considered
inferior under Muslim rule, Chaldeans and Assyrians have always been
considered skilled at building, navigation, agriculture, medicine, sci-
ence, and art. In the early centuries of Muslim rule, the Arab tribes who
assumed political leadership were careful to use learned Chaldeans and
Assyrians (both known as Suraya in that period) to perform these tasks.
The Chaldeans and Assyrians in the Mosul district of northern Iraq
were settled agriculturalists on lowland plains, most often in subor-
dinate serf-like economic relationships to other Kurdish and Arab
tribes. Though they lived in a rich, agricultural area, they lived in
relatively poor peasant villages due to the taxes and social discrimi-
nations levied on Christians. Nevertheless, compared to non-Mus-
lims in other Arab regions, the Chaldeans and Assyrians who lived
and worked on Mosul’s fertile plains were healthier and economi-
cally better off. They were also better educated, due to the presence
of church-run, Syriac-speaking schools.
Chaldeans have lived mainly in rural villages in the Mosul district of
northern Iraq, including Tel Kaif (Tel Keppe in Syriac), Alkosh, Araden,
and Batnaya. Most Chaldeans in the United States are emigrants from
these villages or their direct descendants. Chaldean villages stretched
across the Sapna Valley north of Mosul in a rich agricultural zone. Some
villages were mixed communities of Chaldeans, Assyrians, and some-
times Kurds and Arab Bedouins. Today, most Chaldeans have migrated
to the large urban centers of Iraq, especially Baghdad, Mosul, Basrah,
Irbil, and Kirkuk.
There are more than 75,000 Chaldeans in the United States, with more
than 60,000 in the Detroit area, approximately 15,000 in California, and
many in other areas of the United States, such as Washington D.C., Illi-
nois, Arizona, and Tennessee. Other Chaldean emigrant communities
can be found in Canada, Mexico, Britain, and Germany. Chaldeans also
live in Turkey, Syria and Lebanon.
The Chaldean community in Detroit has become the largest in the
world. Most can trace their roots to Tel Kaif (Tel Keppe in Syriac), a
small town outside of Mosul in northern Iraq. These Chaldeans also
refer to themselves as Tel Keppians. They are active in preserving and
promoting the Chaldean identity, through cultural activities, community
groups, Syriac language classes, and support of Chaldean churches.
There are four Chaldean churches in Detroit, and Syriac remains the pri-
mary language among Detroit Chaldeans.
Assyrians are a Syriac-speaking people of Eastern Christian faith and of
mixed Semitic, Aramaean, Assyrian, Persian, Arab and Kurdish
descent. There are an estimated 200,000 Assyrians in Iraq. Most live in
and around Baghdad, in central Iraq. Another sizeable community lives
in northern Iraq, particularly around Mosul, and a third, smaller group
lives in Basrah.
Assyrians acknowledge a common ethnic ancestry with Chaldeans, with
whom they share the culture, language, and heritage of ancient Meso-
potamia. Despite this, Assyrians acknowledge that their communities
are distinct from each other based on ecclesiastical differences and vari-
ations in cultural and social patterns since the Chaldeans split with the
Nestorian Church of the East in the 16th century.
Assyrians see themselves as a distinct nation and ethnic group encom-
passing Chaldeans and other Syriac-speakers. Assyrians believe the name
“Assyrian” reflects a more comprehensive, inclusive and generic name for
the two groups of people considered together. They consider themselves
united by the Syriac language, the Christian faith, the legacy of the
Church of the East, and common ancestry. Conversely, many Chaldeans
believe the name “Chaldean” includes the Assyrian community.
Assyrians believe they are the descendants of the ancient civilization of
Assyria, with its principal capital in Ninevah, a city located in northern
Iraq mentioned in the biblical story of Jonah. Although the ancient
Assyrian empire collapsed more than 2,500 years ago, Assyrians have
remained a remarkably cohesive group. They have maintained linguistic
and geographical continuity for as much as four millennia, and religious
continuity since at least the 5th century when they accepted Christianity.
Compared to other Iraqi Christian communities, Assyrians have been
far more politically insecure in Iraq. The connection to Iraq for many
Assyrians has existed only since the end of World War I. This led to a
much greater movement to emigrate west, and the tendency to stay
abroad permanently. Today, Assyrians are only 17 percent of the Chris-
tian population in Iraq, and they are most numerous in and around
Baghdad. Assyrian emigrants communities settled primarily in Chicago,
but also in New York, California, Canada, Europe, Australia and Brazil.
Assyrians and Chaldeans speak Syriac, a modern form of the ancient
Aramaic language. Aramaic and Syriac are Semitic languages related to
Hebrew and Arabic, but distinct from both. Among Assyrians, Syriac is
also called modern Assyrian, Neo-Aramaic, and Aramaic.
Role of Tribes in Society
Before World War I, the semi-nomadic Assyrians of the Hakkari Moun-
tains in southeast Turkey were notably more tribal than the rural Assyri-
ans of the Mosul and Urumiyan plains. These distinctions began to
disappear once the pastoral Assyrians joined their rural brethren to flee
massacres at the hands of Turks and Kurds during Ottoman rule. Thus,
while tribalism declined much earlier among Chaldeans, who first
moved to rural and urban settings nearly 400 years ago, some Assyrians
can still recall the tribal affiliations of their families.
The autonomous Assyrian tribes of Hakkari were called ashiras (ash-
irets in Turkish). Some of these were the Tiyari, Tkhuma, Jilu and Baz
tribes. Tribal affiliations have all but lost their significance in the urban
and rural communities in which contemporary Assyrians live.
British. Assyrians had a close alliance with the British during World
War I and the British Mandate period. Although this gave them tempo-
rary protection of the British, it ultimately led to recriminations from the
Arabs and Kurds, as well as abandonment by the British to the Arab-
dominated nation-state of Iraq. The British encouraged national aspira-
tions among the Assyrians, leading to Assyrian demands for autonomy
or a national homeland. Despite promises made in the Treaty of Sevres,
these demands were never met. Thus, Assyrians cynically remember
their alliance with the British as a time of betrayal.
Chaldeans. Though contemporary Assyrians and Chaldeans acknowl-
edge a common ethnic heritage, similar cultural traditions, and shared
history, there is tension between the two communities. Assyrians are
frustrated by Chaldeans’ insistence on a separate identity and their own
political representation, as well as Chaldean support of the Iraqi state
and Saddam Hussein’s regime throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s.
Chaldeans, on the other hand, are wary of attempts by Assyrian nation-
alists to speak for them. Nevertheless, nationalist Assyrians have
attempted to present a common front with Chaldeans at conferences
regarding the future of Iraq. This common front is an effort to ensure
that the international community does not ignore the needs and desires
of “Assyro-Chaldeans.” Assyrians and Chaldeans together fear that a
post-Hussein government will leave them under the authority of Kurds
in a federalist state, or worse, an extreme Muslim or Arabic regime.
Kurds. Though there is much tension between Assyrians and Kurds,
both groups share a history of conflict with the Iraqi state. When the
Kurdish nationalist struggle grew stronger in the 1960s, some Assyrians
(including Assyrian women) fought with the Kurdish peshmergas
against the Iraqi state. In the 1990-1991 Gulf War, Kurdish domination
of northern Iraq led Assyrians to fear Kurdish attempts to assimilate
them into Kurdish culture, language and political parties.
State versus Tribe
Assyrians, like Chaldeans, originally identified with state power, and
this cultural memory remains a part of Assyrian identity. However, since
the decline of the Assyrian Empire, Assyrians have been a minority
within other empires.
The Assyrians suffered persecution under the regime of Saddam Hus-
sein, having their churches and schools closed. Assyrians resist attempts
by the Iraqi government to label them as “ancient Iraqis” and “Iraqi
Christians.” They also oppose government policies that attempt to force
Arabic and Arab culture upon them. Likewise, the Assyrians in northern
Iraq resisted Kurdish attempts to assimilate them into Kurdish culture.
In the later 1990s, Hussein’s campaign to emphasize Islamic and tribal
identity increased Assyrian fears of religious persecution, as the govern-
ment showed greater support for Islamic identity, whipping up anti-
Christian sentiment in the process. The government’s efforts to augment
tribal identity and associate the regime with tribal authority further
alienated Assyrians, who are excluded from Arab tribes and tribal cus-
toms. Despite a fear of, and strong dislike for the Iraqi government and
Saddam Hussein, contemporary Assyrians nevertheless fear the install-
ment of a radical Muslim regime.
Similar to Chaldeans, the extended family is of major significance to
Assyrians. Mirroring the traditional family structure common in the
Middle East, a family usually consists of a husband, a wife, and their
unmarried children. Multigenerational and extended families living
together are quite common, especially relatives who need economic
support. The concept of family includes the nuclear family, and aunts,
uncles, and cousins, as well as relatives of aunts’ and uncles’ in-laws.
The patrilineal, extended family remains an ideal widely held and val-
ued, even among diaspora communities. Assuming the support of other
kin is traditionally a matter of great prestige in the village.
The extended family still occupies an important economic role for
Assyrians and Chaldeans, as family members help each other obtain
jobs and form business partnerships, as well as loan each other money.
Men are expected to exhibit strong, masculine characteristics in
Assyrian and Chaldean families, while women are expected to be
feminine, nurturing, and understanding. Though menhave greater
social freedom than women, both are held responsible for putting
the family ahead of their personal needs, goals, and desires. Chil-
dren are taught early not to bring shame upon the family through
their behavior. Children are also taught to show deference and
respect toward their elders.
Traditionally, marriage is considered a permanent union between fami-
lies, and not simply a partnership based on the personal affection of the
man and woman involved. Thus, marriage is viewed seriously, and
divorce, considered a disgrace, is rare.
Assyrians favor early marriages, with men marrying as early as 17, and
young women marrying even younger. The age at which couples marry
has been steadily rising. Marriage ceremonies are elaborate, commu-
nity-based affairs lasting a full week. Activities include a religious cere-
mony preceded and followed by feasts, drinking, singing, dancing, gift-
giving, firing of shots into the air, and ceremonial processions. Pagan
rituals to ward off evil and other mischief-making, and to promote fertil-
ity, are also part of the festivities.
Assyrians greet each other warmly, kissing each other on both cheeks.
They may also shake hands, particularly if they recognize someone as
being a Westerner.
Hospitality is very important to Assyrians. Showing hospitality and giv-
ing attention to guests is a mark of respect. Assyrians tend to be gregari-
ous and gracious hosts, and they will always offer their guests food.
Assyrians play music, dance to folk songs, drink tea, share sweets, and
eat meals together to celebrate festive occasions. Time spent with
friends and family is deeply valued.
Strongly influenced by Christian values and the Church of the East,
Assyrians emphasize honesty and trust in negotiations. These qualities
tend to help them succeed in business.
With a history more closely linked to the martial traditions of the
Hakkari tribes, and a tradition of fiercely defending their community’s
autonomy and independence, Assyrians are more likely to defend them-
selves than Chaldeans when it comes to conflict.
Assyrians are industrious and known for their entrepreneurial skills. As
small business owners, many Assyrians quickly became an economic
force in their urban communities after they migrated to Iraq’s large cit-
ies in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Assyrians, like Chaldeans, also
value education, and many Assyrians have become successful business-
men and college-educated professionals in Iraq.
As Christians, Assyrians and Chaldeans do not share the strict hygienic
customs of Muslims, such as ritual washing before prayer, or prohibi-
tions against certain acts considered unclean, such as eating pork. How-
ever, cleanliness is valued among Assyrians and Chaldeans.
On special occasions, guests bring gifts to be opened after dinner in the
presence of the host.
Assyrian women wear colorful blouses and skirts or dresses with head
scarves typical of their villages. Men wear shirts or jackets with baggy
trousers. Colorful scarves and feathered caps are worn for celebrations.
In large urban areas, most Assyrians dress like other Iraqis.
Assyrians value neatness and cleanliness, and a person’s appearance
may not reflect economic hardship even when the family is struggling to
make ends meet.
Assyrians avoid meat and/or dairy products on Wednesdays and Fridays
throughout the year, and when observing Lent and certain other reli-
gious holidays. All animal products are avoided during the 3-day obser-
vance of the Fast of the Ninevites, commemorating the Assyrians’
repentance at the behest of Jonah’s warning.
Assyrian diet consists of many chicken, lamb, beef, pork, white rice,
cracked wheat, and yogurt dishes. The most traditional Assyrian dish is
bushalla, a rich, creamy, meat and vegetable stew served with white
steamed rice. Lamb, pork, or fish may be served as a complement to
bushalla. Breakfast consists of a large meal of tea with milk, and bread
with jam and gamer, a food similar to cream cheese. A large dinner is
eaten late (9-10 pm) and includes foods such as soup and salad, lamb
stew, roasted vegetables, bushalla, stuffed grape leaves, fish, and
chicken. Kurush, a rich stew made with a tomato-based broth over rice,
is another popular dish. At weddings, a traditional feast of rice is given
called khalta-d rizza. Girdu is another meal prepared on special occa-
sions that consists of rice and yogurt topped with melted butter. On
saints’ days, a lamb is sacrificed, and the meal, called dukhrana, is dis-
tributed to all present.
Most Assyrians live in urban apartments or houses. In the rural villages
of northern Iraq, Assyrians live in small stone houses.
Attitudes Toward Others
Kurds and Arabs. Assyrian relations with their Kurdish and Arab
neighbors were largely hostile and violent throughout the 20th century.
This hostility was exacerbated during the British Mandate period in the
early years of Iraq’s independence, and is responsible for continuing
Assyrian insecurity in Iraq with regard to these ethnic groups.
Christianity has made the Assyrians a visibly distinct community, with
traditions and practices in stark contrast to those of their Muslim Kurd-
ish and Arab neighbors. Awareness of their many differences has led
Iraqi Assyrians to generally distrust their Kurdish and Arab neighbors.
Kurdish attempts to exercise hegemony in northern Iraq, as well as vio-
lence between Kurds and the Iraqi government near traditional Assyrian
villages, have driven most Assyrians to migrate to larger cities or emi-
grate to the West in search of physical safety. Assyrians in northern Iraq
resist attempts by Kurds to assimilate them into Kurdish culture, lan-
guage, and political parties. Assyrians, like Chaldeans, feel Arabs and
Kurds do not treat them as equal citizens. They claim that the Iraqi gov-
ernment has never prosecuted Kurdish violence against them.
Assyrians are particularly wary of a situation in which they might be
left, in the future, under the authority of Kurds in northern Iraq. Though
most Assyrians did not support Hussein, many fear that Kurdish pesh-
mergas will overrun Assyrian villages and towns near Mosul without a
strong central government in Iraq.
Chaldeans. The Chaldean break with the Nestorian Church of the East
arose out of, and exacerbated, a long history of factionalism within the
Suraya community. The struggles over the Catholic unity movement
were heated and at times violent up through the 19th century. As a
result, Nestorian Assyrians scornfully labeled Chaldeans Maghlobeen,
or “the conquered,” that is, those conquered by Rome.
Relations between Assyrians and Chaldeans are multi-faceted. Both
communities share a common ethnic heritage and language. They
acknowledge a long period of shared history under the Church of the
East, and their religious rites and liturgies remain nearly identical.
Assyrians, though a much smaller group than Chaldeans in Iraq, have a
more organized political representation and appear to receive more
attention and recognition from the international community. As a result,
Assyrians tend to be vocal in their belief that the term “Assyrian”
encompasses Chaldeans and other Syriac speakers, a position many
Chaldeans resent. Furthermore, Assyrians, who are more opposed to the
Iraqi regime and the Kurdish parties that dominate northern Iraq, resent
Chaldeans’ cooperation with these institutions.
Turkmen. Relations between Assyrians and Turkmen tend to be quiet.
The Turkmen share a similar position with the Assyrians and Chaldeans
in northern Iraq with respect to the Kurds. Turkmen, Assyrians and
Chaldeans are all interested in greater political representation in a demo-
cratic, pluralistic government. Each group also seeks to secure greater
cultural, linguistic, and educational rights. The Turkmen, Assyrians, and
Chaldeans would like to see northern Iraq less dominated by the Kurds.
Attitudes Toward Neighboring States
Turkey. Assyrian attitudes toward Turkey are particularly negative, as
Assyrians suffered their heaviest losses at the hands of Kurds and Turks
under the Ottoman government. In addition to the 2.5 million Christians
who were killed, and the 2 million who subsequently fled from Turkey
in 1914-1915 (the “Year of the Sword”), in 1924 more than 10,000
Christians were executed in the Hakkari region and its surrounding
Christian villages. Turkey also violently rebuffed all attempts by Assyr-
ians to return to their traditional villages in the Hakkari region of south-
eastern Turkey in period after World War I. Assyrians and Chaldeans
believe it is Turkey’s goal to completely eliminate the Assyrian and
Chaldean people, culture, history, and language from its territory.
Iran. Assyrian attitudes toward Iran improved after they were allowed
to enter Iran in the interwar period following World War I.
Syria. Syria, with its higher Christian population, was considered a
place of refuge for Assyrians and Chaldeans fleeing violence and
repression in Turkey and Iraq from 1915 through the 1940s. This was
particularly true during the French Mandate period in Syria, from 1920-
1932, since the French had a history of protecting Christians under Otto-
man rule. Many Assyrians and Chaldeans settled in the Syrian Jazira
region permanently, or on their way to North America and Europe.
Attitudes Toward Other States
Britain. Although the British favored Assyrians during the early part of
the 20th century, Assyrians feel they were abandoned by Britain to the
Iraqi Arab nation state. Assyrians, therefore, have a bitter attitude
toward Britain due to the massacres that followed this action.
United States. Assyrian Iraqis in the United States appear to have enthusi-
astically supported the United States in its drive to remove Saddam Hussein
from power. Assyrian attitudes toward the United States will depend on
how the United States deals with the formation of a new multi-ethnic state
in Iraq, and protection of Assyrian interests among the Arabs and Kurds.
In urban areas, Assyrians and Chaldeans have long been associated with
entrepreneurship, commerce and business, including money lending,
money changing, importing and exporting — activities that were
thought unsuitable for Muslims. Trading relationships with Europeans
and greater contact with Westerners during the Ottoman period facili-
tated this role. In the large cities of Iraq, many shops, hotels and restau-
rants are run and staffed by Assyrians and Chaldeans, a merchant and
innkeeper tradition that extends back for centuries.
Assyrians and Chaldeans value education. Though they lived with
severe discrimination and were considered inferior under Muslim rule,
Assyrians and Chaldeans have been considered skilled at building, navi-
gation, agriculture, medicine, science, and art. In the early centuries of
Muslim rule, the Arab tribes who assumed political leadership were
careful to use learned Assyrians and Chaldeans (both known as Suraya
in that period) to perform these tasks.
The Assyrians and Chaldeans in the Mosul district of northern Iraq were
settled agriculturalists on lowland plains, most often in subordinate, serf-
like economic relationships to other Kurdish and Arab tribes. Though
they lived in a rich agricultural area, they lived in relatively poor, peasant
villages due to the taxes and social discriminations levied upon them as
Christians. Nevertheless, compared to non-Muslims in other Arab
regions, the Assyrians and Chaldeans who lived and worked on Mosul’s
fertile plains were healthier and economically better off. They were also
better educated, due to the presence of church-run schools. These farmers
raised cattle, grew food, and the area was known for the quality of their
fine tobacco. Some Assyrians still live and farm on the Mosul plains.
There are an estimated 200,000 Assyrians in Iraq. Most live in and
around Baghdad. Another group of Assyrians live in northern Iraq, and
a smaller group of a few thousand live in southern Iraq.
There are approximately 80,000 Assyrians living in Chicago, the largest
population of Assyrians in the United States. Other Assyrian immigrant
communities were established in New York, California, Arizona, Can-
ada, Europe, Australia and Brazil.
Assyrians began emigrating to the West in the 1880s, particularly to the
United States, in search of jobs and higher education. Since Assyrians
place a great value on education, many Assyrians in the United States
have college degrees and pursue professional careers in medicine, law,
computer science, education, and the sciences. Many Assyrian immi-
grants in the United States also own small businesses.
Assyrians throughout the world continue to visit and financially support
relatives in Iraq. They are active, moreover, in contributing financial
assistance to Assyrian refugees through registered charities such as the
Assyrian Aid Society, which also provides food, medicine, and school
buildings, as well as help in rehabilitating Assyrian villages in northern
Iraq. The Assyrian diaspora actively promotes human rights for relatives
in Iraq. Political advocacy for Iraqi Assyrians is organized primarily in
the diaspora, as are efforts at bringing the Assyrian, Chaldean and other
Syriac Christian churches together. In general, Assyrians in the United
States supported measures to end the regime of Saddam Hussein, keep-
ing in mind the persecutions their relatives suffered in Iraq.
The Sunni-Shi’a division of Islam originated shortly after the death of
the founder of Islam, the prophet Muhammad, in 632 A.D. The differ-
ences between the Shi’a and the Sunni did not become a formal reli-
gious distinction until the traditions and doctrine of Shi’a Islam were set
out by Jafar al-Sadiq, the sixth Shi’a Imam, around 750 A.D. The word
Shi’a means “partisan (or faction) of Ali,” and was first used to desig-
nate those who believed that Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the
prophet, should have been designated the Imam (the political and reli-
gious leaders of the Muslim community) after the death of Muhammad.
After Muhammad’s death, there was disagreement as to who would
have authority over the Muslim community. Those who would later
become known as Sunnis believed that, based on specific provisions of
the Qur’an (Koran), Muslims are to be governed by an elected head of
state called the khalifa (caliph). Supporters of Ali, the early Shi’a,
believed that the Muslim leader, whom they designated as Imam, must
be a direct descendant of the prophet Muhammad and that Muhammad
had designated Ali as his successor. The title Imam in the Shi’a commu-
nity has come to mean more than the spiritual and political leader of
Islam, as the Shi’a believe that the Imam is infallible and possesses holi-
ness beyond that of a caliph.
At Muhammad’s death, three of his companions agreed among them-
selves that one of them, Abu Bakr, would take on the leadership of the
Muslim community in Medina. The townspeople swore allegiance to
Abu Bakr, and he took on the title of caliph. Umar, who was then suc-
ceeded by Uthman, succeeded Abu Bakr. Ali was ultimately elected to
be the fourth caliph, but was later overthrown and assassinated. Shi’a
Muslims believe that the first three caliphs — Abu Bakr, Umar and Uth-
man — were usurpers, and that Ali was the first true Imam.
Shi’a Muslims are divided into two groups, Ithna Asharia or “Twelvers”
and Ismailis or “Seveners.” Twelvers constitute the majority of Shi’a
adherents. Their name derives from their recognition of twelve Imams
beginning with Ali and ending with Muhammad al-Mahdi, who will one
day return. Seveners believe in only the first seven of the 12 Shi’a
Imams, because they disagree with the process of succession after the
death of the sixth Imam Jafar al-Sadiq, and believe that Ismail should
have inherited the Imamate.
The Shi’a have several practices and beliefs that distinguish them from
Sunni Muslims. First is the belief that they must follow a supreme
leader, or Imam who is descended from the prophet Muhammad and
who has spiritual and temporal authority over all Shi’a Muslims. Shi’a
Muslims believe that the Imam must possess ismah, or infallibility so
that he will always lead the umma (global Muslim community) on the
right path. The Imam must also have immunity from sin. God bestows
these critical characteristics upon the Imam; the Imam is not divine him-
self, but is infused with divine elements because of his piety and self-
discipline. This differs from the Sunni principle, which does not require
a singular supreme leader, nor require that he be a descendant of
Muhammad, but rather a member of Muhammad’s tribe. Shi’a Muslims
also hold the Imam Ali in as high regard as the prophet Muhammad.
The Shi’a practice of Islam is generally similar to that of the Sunnis.
However, there are several specific practices outlined in the Twelver
Jafari school of law that are distinct from, and rejected by the Sunnis.
Taqiyya is the practice of dissimulation or quietism, through which
Shi’a Muslims may deny their Shi’a identity to avoid threats to their life
or property by persecutors. Imam Ali is said to have performed taqiyya
by outwardly pledging his allegiance to the first three successors of
Muhammad, but inwardly rejecting their authority, seeking to protect
himself from those who opposed him. Shi’a also refer to the Qur’anic
verse that states: if anyone is compelled and professes unbelief with his
tongue while his heart contradicts him to escape his enemies, no blame
falls on him because God takes his servants as their hearts believe. Sun-
nis see the concealment of faith as cowardly and degrading to a true
believer and look down on the Shi’a as willing to lie about their faith.
The second practice is temporary marriage, called muta. In muta, a man
and a woman, who would be permitted to marry in permanent marriage,
may agree on a dowry and a specific period of time and enter into mar-
riage with the knowledge that their union will end on a specified date.
Temporary marriage is an alternative if one does not have adequate
financial means for permanent marriage, and is a way to avoid immoral
sexual behavior. Muta was permitted in early Islam, but was prohibited
by the second caliph Umar. The Shi’a, however, reject Umar, and con-
sider muta an acceptable practice.
A third practice rooted in the Jafari school of law is the payment of
khums. In addition to the practice of zakat (almsgiving), which is one of
the five pillars of Islam shared by Sunni and Shi’a, the Shi’a are also
expected to pay khums, equaling one fifth of one’s surplus income after
necessary expenses are paid. A portion of the khums is called the share
of the Imam and is paid directly to the Shi’a mujtahid or cleric in the
locality where the individual lives. This portion of the khums is used to
support the mujtahid and is distributed to other needy clerics, and for the
maintenance of Shi’a shrines. The money paid by the Shi’a to the mujta-
hids, many of whom are concentrated in the shrine cities, provides a
substantial economic base that the Shi’a clerics can use to maintain their
influence by distributing funds within the religious community.
The Shi’a further believe that the hadiths (traditional sayings and acts) of
the Twelve Imams and Fatima, Muhammad’s daughter and Ali’s wife, are
as authoritative as the hadith of Muhammad. They also reject Muham-
mad’s hadiths regarding the authority of Umar, Aisha (Muhammads wife
and Abu Bakr’s daughter) and Uthman within the Islamic community.
Like other Muslims, Shi’a say five prayers a day, but they have adapted
their practice to combine the recitation of two prayers and often pray
only three times a day. While it is considered preferable to pray the five
daily prayers separately, it is acceptable to pray the two prayers said
between noon and sunset together. The two prayers between noon and
sunset must be prayed in the appropriate order, and may be said at any
time during the prescribed period before the sun sets. The Shi’a add the
phrase “hasten to the best of works” in the call to prayer.
Muslims are directed to perform a ritual ablution or washing, before
prayer. Shi’a interpret the Qur’an as directing believers to wash their
faces and hands up to the elbows, but wipe the head and feet with water
rather than fully washing them.
During prayer, the Shi’a prostrate themselves on the ground. They
believe that they should only prostate on the bare earth or on any other
non-edible or non-wearable substance. Bare earth and stone are prefera-
ble. The Shi’a do not pray on cloth or woven prayer rugs, but may use
mats woven of reeds or straw.
Shi’a may place a piece of stone or clay on the ground and touch their
foreheads to the stone when they pray. The clay, disc-shaped turbas are
made from the sacred soil of Najaf where Imam Ali is buried. The pos-
session of such a disc is a sign of Shi’a identity.
Holy Cities (‘Atabat)
The shrines of Shi’a Imams are significant in Shi’a Islam. They are seen
as extensions of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and pilgrimage to
a Shi’a shrine may substitute for going on the hajj when travel to Mecca
is prohibitive, but a trip to Najaf, Karbala, or another shrine city is possi-
ble. Unlike the hajj to Mecca, which is a requirement for Muslims, visits
to shrines are voluntary. Many Shi’a visit shrines to petition for the help
of the saint or Imam buried there, for personal spiritual fulfillment, or to
commemorate a day of martyrdom.
The shrine cities of Karbala and Najaf are of particular significance for
the Shi’a of Iraq. The founding events of Shi’ism took place in Iraq in
these cities. Both cities draw Shi’a pilgrims from all over the world.
Karbala and Najaf emerged as strongholds of Shi’a Islam in Iraq during
the late Ottoman period because they were dominated by Iranian clerics
who were protected by the Iranian government.
The Shi’a commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Husayn in the Muslim
month of Muharram. Ashura marks the death of the third Shi’a Imam in
680 A.D. in battle along with 72 of his followers. After a 40-day period of
mourning, the Shi’a travel on foot from Najaf to Karbala where the shrine
of Imam Husayn is located, carrying banners and pictures of the martyred
Imam. Male participants in the Ashura rituals beat their chests and chant
in an action called lahtom. Some use swords to lacerate their heads to
symbolize the beheading of Husayn, or use chains to beat their backs to
evoke the suffering of Husayn. The commemoration of Ashura is a very
vocal and frenetic event, with some participants reaching a frenzied state
as they mourn Husayn. Most pilgrims to the shrine of Husayn at Ashura
are dressed in white robes and wear a black band around their heads in a
sign of mourning. Women wear the traditional long black robes to com-
pletely cover their hair and body and do not participate in the frenzied
activities of the chanting crowd, but pray quietly by themselves.
The martyrdom of Husayn and its reenactment every year has parallels to
the Christian commemoration of the crucifixion of Christ. The Shi’a
believe Husayn knew that death at the hands of his enemies was his fate,
and chose to accept the suffering. In doing so, he could stand up to the
political enemy that sought to destroy the family of the Prophet, as well as
to sacrifice himself on behalf of his followers. Husayn’s death is believed
to have redemptive power for the Shi’a, so that those who follow Husayn
will experience redemption when the 12th Imam returns on the Last Day.
Husayn’s death has taken on additional meaning as a symbol of the per-
secution and dispossession that the Shi’a community has endured in Iraq
and other countries. The Ba’ath Party banned the Ashura celebration,
not only because the ruling group was Sunni and disagreed with princi-
ples of Shi’ism, but also to preempt the mass expression of Shi’a politi-
cal dissent in the context of a Shi’a religious ritual. While the Shi’a
could visit the shrine of Husayn, they could not have a procession from
Najaf to Karbala, and could not show any outward symbols of the cele-
bration, such as beating one’s chest, displaying the ceremonial sword, or
flying banners with Imam Husayn’s name.
The fall of the Hussein regime has permitted a mass revival of the
Ashura commemoration among the Iraqi Shi’a. As it has been more than
3 decades since the last open celebration, this means many younger Iraqi
Shi’a are participating in the remembrance for the first time.
Differences Within Shi’a
The Shi’a population of Iraq includes Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, and Ira-
nians. Different cultural identities and practices serve to distinguish
each group from the others and prevent the development of a strong
Shi’a bond between them.
The Iraqi Arab Shi’a group is the largest of the four Shi’a subgroups in
Iraq. Shi’a followers did not make up the majority of the population in
Iraq until the 19th century when nomadic Arab tribesman living in Otto-
man-controlled Iraq converted to Shi’ism at the same time that they
adopted a settled lifestyle. The Shi’a of the 21st century are religiously
united by their Shi’a identity but are politically diverse, including secu-
larists, religious groups, urban and rural dwellers, each group having its
own perspective on government and the role of religion.
A sub-group of the Iraqi Arab Shi’a are the Madan, also called Marsh
Dwellers or Marsh Arabs. The tribes of the Madan live in southeastern
Iraq, where they have been fishermen and buffalo herders in the marsh-
lands for centuries. The Madan are Shi’a Muslims, but their lifestyle as
marsh dwellers sets them apart from the Shi’a who live in towns and cit-
ies. As a result, the religious practice of the Marsh Arabs is different,
specifically in their more lenient adherence to Islamic practices as
prayer and diet, in comparison to town dwellers. Other Arabs, both
Shi’a and Sunni, see the Madan as inferior because of their variations in
Islamic practice and their allegedly mixed Arab and Iranian heritage.
Some Iraqi Arabs believe that the Madan maintain close ties to Iran.
The Kurdish and Turkmen (Turkoman) Shi’a form a small portion of
their respective ethnic groups. They have been marginalized within their
own ethnic groups, in which the majority are Sunni adherents. The Faili
Kurds have been Muslims since Islam came to the territories of Iraq and
Iran. They converted to Shi’ism during the period of the Safavid Empire
in Iran because of their geographical proximity to the Persian Empire.
Faili Kurds constitute about ten percent of all Kurds in Iraq.
Since the 1950s, the Shi’a of Iraq have been unable to openly practice
all aspects of their faith. They have been forced to refrain from or hide
the most distinctive Shi’a practices, including the Ashura commemora-
tion of the death of Imam Husayn, and the display of clay disks used
during prayer. The repressive policy of the Iraqi state toward the Shi’a
population has prevented the Shi’a from proselytizing or otherwise pub-
licly displaying their religious practice.
Shi’a Muslims have a more structured religious hierarchy than the Sun-
nis. The Shi’a clergy is referred to collectively as ulema (a single cleric
is an alim). At the pinnacle of the Shi’a religious hierarchy is the Imam,
who is a direct descendant of the family of the prophet Muhammad. The
Shi’a believe in twelve Imams, each of whom were spiritual and politi-
cal leaders of the Shi’a community. The twelfth Shi’a Imam, Muham-
mad, is known as the Mahdi, who is presently in hiding, waiting for the
Last Day, when he will return and restore Islam and justice throughout
the world. Although the Twelfth Imam is presently absent from sight, he
nevertheless remains the Imam, and retains his infallibility and immu-
nity from sin. Unlike among the Sunni, who use the term Imam to desig-
nate the prayer leader in a mosque, Shi’a reserve the title of Imam for
Muhammad’s twelve successors.
Until the Imam’s return, Shi’a clerics act as deputies and interpret the
Islamic law and provide guidance to Shi’a followers. The ulema have
several levels of authority and status: marja al-taqlid, ayatollah, greater
and lesser mujtahids, and mullah. A member of the ulema attains a par-
ticular status in the Shi’a hierarchy by achieving both a certain level of
scholarly knowledge and a following among the public who acknowl-
edge his piety and learning and follow his legal rulings.
Mumins are itinerant preachers who may or may not have received for-
mal religious training and instruction. Some mumins have attended reli-
gious schools and are legitimate representatives of Shi’a religious
leaders, while others appeal to the folk superstitions of rural peasants.
A village mullah cannot interpret religion for others and must defer to a
more learned religious scholar. A mullah holds the lowest place in the
clerical hierarchy and functions as a low level preacher.
Mutadayyins are pious men who are addressed as Thiqat al-Islam (the
Trust of Islam) and may receive charity (khums payments made by the
faithful to support the clergy) and settle minor Shar’ia cases.
The title of mujtahid designates a certain level of learning and position
in the hierarchy rather than the cleric’s actual function. All levels of
clerics from mujtahid and above may issue fatwas or binding legal opin-
ions. The fatwas of a greater mujtahid are given greater consideration
than those of a lesser mujtahid because of their greater prominence and
larger number of followers.
A marja al-taqlid serves as a preeminent interpreter of divine law whose
learning and wisdom is considered superior to that of other Shi’a clerics,
and to whom other clerics look for guidance. A marja is supposed to
exhibit extreme piety and devotion combined with advanced learning
and superior reason. There are no fixed criteria for being a marja, and
there is no formal recognition or ceremony to mark that he has achieved
the position. A marja gains the title by being acknowledged as such by
some of his fellow ulema (clerics) and by being the recipient of khums,
which indicates his standing as an important cleric in one of the Shi’a
shrine cities. There may be more than one marja during the same time
period. For example, Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran was recognized as a
marja although he did not fulfill all of the traditional criteria, but his
high profile led to his recognition as a marja. At the same time that
Khomeini was considered a marja, there was another ayatollah in Iraq
(Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sidiq al-Sadr), who was also recognized
as a marja. Shi’a may chose which marja they will follow if there is
more than one simultaneously, but he must be a living marja.
The status of ayatollah is just below the marja al-taqlid. The use of the
title is a recent phenomenon, with a sharp increase in its use following
the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Ayatollah means “the sign of God,” and is
bestowed on a cleric through the recognition of his knowledge by other
ayatollahs. An ayatollah may be elevated to marja taqlid status, if his
peers consider him exemplary.
The Shi’a population rebelled against the regime after the 1991 Gulf
War in a spontaneous uprising that spread across southern Iraq. Shi’a of
all political affiliations participated in the uprising, but the majority
were Shi’a without links to political parties, who rose up out of anger
and resentment against the regime and were not motivated by a particu-
lar ideology. The uprising lacked a clear religious leadership that could
coordinate the insurrection and was limited to the countryside and the
cities of Najaf and Karbala. Hussein managed to prevent the spread of
the rebellion to the Shi’a residents of the Baghdad slum neighborhoods.
Shi’a rebels and opposition members repeatedly affirmed that the rebel-
lion was aimed at the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and was not
directed against the Iraqi state. The Shi’a did not seek to divide the state
but sought to fulfill their long-standing demand for political power and
representation in the government in proportion to their population.
The regime used military force to put down the rebellion, killing as
many as 300,000 citizens in a 3-week operation. The regime denounced
the dissidents as Iranian agents and forced the leading Shi’a cleric, Aya-
tollah al-Khoei, to denounce the uprising on television and appeal for
obedience to the regime. The brutal methods used by the government to
put down the resistance caused a mass flight of refugees, 33,000 of
whom sought protection from the Allied forces in Saudi Arabia, and an
equal number who fled to Iran. Since the uprising there has been a con-
tinuing exodus to Iran, Syria, Britain, and the United States. The regime
divided the religious and secular centers of authority by empowering the
tribal sheikhs with weapons and government support to enforce security
in the south of the country, while it continued to persecute prominent
Shi’a clergy. Many religious leaders, regardless of their level of political
participation, have been arrested and many were executed.
With the collapse of the secular government, the Shi’a are turning to
their clerics for political as well as spiritual leadership because they
have been the only authority figures for 30 years. Clerics were the pri-
mary source of trusted leadership under the anti-Shi’a regime. Since the
removal of Hussein, the people have turned to the clergy to expand the
leadership role that they have always held within the Shi’a community.
The Iraqi Shi’a are acutely aware of their status as a politically margin-
alized section of the population. The Iraqi Shi’a have been, since the
creation of the modern state of Iraq, under-represented relative to their
proportion of the population. In addition to the active discrimination
against the Shi’a by the Ba’ath government, there are other barriers to
Shi’a political participation that come from within the group: the Shi’a
rejection of Sunni political leaders, and reluctance on the part of the
Shi’a to participate in such a government.
Attitudes Toward Others
Despite the treatment the Shi’a experienced at the hands of the Iraqi
regime, relations between the Sunni and Shi’a populations in Iraq are
generally positive. This is particularly true in larger cities, where the
urban population is better educated and has a higher standard of living
than in the rural areas. The culture of the cities leads to greater integra-
tion and cooperation between the Sunni and Shi’a.
Ties with Foreign Believers
The issue of foreign ties is particularly sensitive in the case of the Iraqi
Shi’a. The Shi’a population of Iraq, regardless of ethnic identity, has
perennially faced allegations of having ties with Iran. From the perspec-
tive of Sunni Arabs, who are the ruling group in Iraq and the majority of
Muslims worldwide, Shi’ism is linked to the Iranians. The reality is
more nuanced and is based on a range of factors including domestic pol-
itics, the regional situation and the policies of Iran itself. The formative
events of Shi’a Islam occurred in Iraq, in particular the martyrdom of
Husayn at Karbala and the burial of the first Shi’a Imam Ali in Najaf.
Iran is the center of Shi’ism because Shi’ism was declared the state reli-
gion of the Persian Safavid Empire. The Sunni-dominated leadership
have gradually marginalized the influence of Shi’a clerics in Iraq since
the 1970s, when the most prominent Shi’a clerics were expelled to Iran.
The Iraqi Shi’a are caught in the middle of the tension between Iran
and Iraq by virtue of their religious and ethnic identity. For the major-
ity whose ethnic identity is Arab, they feel a deep connection to the
Arab identity of Iraq that outweighs any feelings toward Iran. Before
the large scale conversion to Shi’ism in the 1800s, most Iraqi Arab
Shi’a were nomadic tribesmen, and they have retained many of their
pre-Shi’ism Arab and tribal values. The Madan identify themselves as
Arabs, but feel a second level of group cohesiveness based on their
unique lifestyle as marsh dwellers. Kurdish and Turkmen Shi’a feel
connected to their respective ethnic groups first and foremost, before
any identification on the basis of religion.
The Iraqi Arab Shi’a feel particularly caught between Iraq and Iran
because, unlike Kurdish or Turkmen Shi’a, or even the culturally dis-
tinct Madan, the main difference between them and the rest of the Arab
population of Iraq is their religious identity. To agitate for rights solely
on the basis of religion only serves to highlight the sectarian division
between them and the Sunni Arabs, which is the primary division
between the two groups in the first place.
Several prominent Iraq Arab Shi’a political organizations have received
assistance from Iran. There are allegations that al-Dawa al-Islamiyah, the
first major Shi’a political organization (which became active in the
1960s), had ties to the Iranian Shah. The Supreme Council for Islamic
Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), an Iranian-based Iraqi exile group that aimed
to overthrow Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath regime, has received sub-
stantial Iranian assistance since its creation in the 1980s. The militia
branch of SCIRI, called the Badr Brigade (now Badr Corps), took part in
the Shi’a uprising against Hussein after the Gulf War in 1991. The head of
SCIRI, Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim, is the son of an early anti-
Ba’ath dissident, who was Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr’s mentor.
Although ties between the preeminent Iraqi Shi’a political leaders and
Iran can be discerned, it is unclear to what extent these relationships are
based on genuine affinities or pragmatic calculations; these interests do
diverge. Iranian and Arab Shi’a Muslims have a very distinct sense of
identity, and the Iraqi Shi’a attachment to Arab identity generally
appears to be stronger than to Shi’ism.
Islam and Arabs
Islam, as it is practiced in Iraq, is closely tied to Arab culture. Arabs and
Muslims have functioned in Iraq as the preeminent political paradigms
for more than 1,300 years. Just as the two groups have become synony-
mous, so has the notion of equating Arabs with Sunnis, with the result-
ing implication that Arab governments must necessarily be Sunni.
Equating Arab with Sunni presents a dilemma for the Shi’a, who, while
Arab, are designated as outsiders because of their religious identity.
Because of historical developments, which have resulted in Iran playing
the role of spiritual and political home of Shi’ism, the Arab Shi’a are
associated with Iran despite the contrasts in Arab and Iranian culture.
Ethnic versus Religious Identity
The Iraq Arab Shi’a dedication to their Arab identity is generally stron-
ger than to Shi’ism and Iraqi Shi’a generally feel that they are Arabs
first and foremost. Most of the Iraqi Shi’a converted to Shi’ism when
the Ottomans instituted a policy of tribal settlement in the 1830s. The
newly settled and recently converted Shi’a tribesmen retained their Arab
identity. The Shi’a in Iraq, who have been ruled by a succession of
Sunni governments since the 1920s, have developed a political con-
sciousness based on their religious identity. The consolidation of their
identity as Shi’a Arabs is the result of having been treated by the succes-
sive rulings groups as outsiders because of their religious affiliation.
The development of a distinct identity as a Shi’a does not override the
deeper Arab identity they have maintained since conversion.
Religion and Society
Shi’a clerics are the primary authorities for the Shi’a in Iraq. The Ba’ath gov-
ernment of Iraq has been seen as illegitimate since the party took power in
1968, and the Shi’a turned to the clerics to provide guidance and leadership.
The status of the Shi’a clerics has revived after the collapse of the Hus-
sein regime in 2003. In the vacuum of law and order, numerous clerics
have sought to establish themselves in positions of political authority.
The Shi’a population is turning to the clerics as political as well as reli-
gious leaders because they were the trusted authorities during the
decades of Ba’ath oppression. A younger generation of clerics has
emerged, many of whom are the sons or younger relatives of clerics
killed by the Hussein regime. The clerics of 2003 are competing for the
support of the Shi’a population in an uncertain environment that lacks
the structure that shaped the society of their predecessors.
Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq
The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) is
based in Iran with its main offices located in London and cells operating
in Iraq. The military wing of SCIRI is the Badr Corps. The Badr Corps
consists of Iraqi refugees in Iran as well as Iraqi military officers and
soldiers from the Iraqi army who defected and fled to Iran during the
Iran-Iraq war. The ranks of the Badr Corps increased after many Iraqi
Shi’a fled to Iran following the popular uprising of 1991. The Badr
Corps is named after the first battle fought in the name of Islam in 624
A.D., when Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law and the first Shi’a Imam,
defeated a band of infidels at Badr, south of Medina.
SCIRI was created in 1982 after Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim
fled Iraq and settled in Iran. Al-Hakim is part of a prominent Iraqi reli-
gious family. He is the son of the late Grand Ayatollah Muhsin al-
Hakim, who was the spiritual leader of the Shi’a in the world from 1955
to 1970 and a co-founder of the Islamic political movement in Iraq
(along with Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Sadr, who was executed by
the Iraqi regime in 1980). Al-Hakim moved his activities to Iran when
the regime increased its persecution of Shi’a political figures following
the Iranian Revolution. Although some Iraqis look on SCIRI with dis-
trust because they reportedly received weapons and funding from Iran,
many admire the leader of the organization, al-Hakim, and look favor-
ably on his credentials as an Iraqi with longstanding ties to the Shi’a
political movement in Iraq.
Al-Dawa al-Islamiyah (Islamic Call)
The al-Dawa party was formed in the late 1960s and was based on the
philosophy of Ayatollah Sayyid Baqir al-Sadr. The party launched gue-
rilla attacks against police stations, the Ba’ath party and the People’s
Army posts in the 1970s. The armed wing of the party- the Revolution-
ary Army for the Liberation of Iraq- almost succeeded in killing Presi-
dent Hussein’s son Uday in 1996. The party is presently split into
factions, some in Iran. Al-Dawa had been repressed under Ba’ath rule,
but is reappearing in post-Hussein Iraq. Al-Dawa is said to seek the for-
mation of an Islamic government with similarities to that in Iran; this
goal is not simply a replication of Iranian ideas but reflects a long-stand-
ing aim of the indigenous Iraqi Shi’a political movement.
The Arabic word Sunnah means “path” or “example,” and refers particu-
larly to the example of the Prophet Muhammad as found in the Hadith, a
collection of the Prophet’s sayings, and to the Qur’an, a collection of writ-
ings that Muslims believe were divinely revealed to Prophet Muhammad.
Sunnis are literally those “who follow the example of the prophet.” Sunni
Islam does not encourage a single over-arching interpretation of Islam by a
ruler, but is predicated on unity through recognition of differences of opin-
ion on how specific Islamic principles should govern life and be applied to
society. There are four orthodox schools of law — interpretations of Islamic
principles — within Sunni Islam: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali.
Sunni Arabs in Iraq follow the Hanafi school of Islamic Law. Founded
by Abu Hanifa, one of the earliest Muslim scholars to seek new ways of
applying Islamic tenets to everyday life, it is the oldest school (Hanifa
died in Iraq in 767). Hanifa’s interpretation of Muslim law was tolerant
of differences within Muslim communities and elevated belief over prac-
tice. As a result, this school is known for its liberal religious orientation.
It is the least conservative and dogmatic of the four schools. The Abbasid
caliphate — based in Baghdad from the mid-8th to the mid-13th centu-
ries — favored the Hanafi school. Under the Ottomans, the Hanafi
school became the only authoritative code of law in the public life and
official administration of justice in all the provinces of the empire.
Differences between Sunni and Shi’a Islam
In the mid-7th century, soon after the death of the Prophet Muhammad,
Sunni Muslims and Shi’a Muslims split over his rightful spiritual and
secular successor (known as the caliph). In terms of doctrine and belief
Shi’a and Sunni Muslims are similar. Both follow the Five Pillars of
Islam: profession of faith; praying five times a day; almsgiving to the
poor and the mosque (house of worship); fasting during daylight hours
in the month of Ramadan; and pilgrimage to Mecca (the hajj). However,
there are significant differences between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims.
Mosque in Baghdad
Of the several areas of controversy between Sunnis and Shi’a beliefs,
the two most significant are historical memory and political theory.
In terms of historical memory, Shi’a and Sunni view Islam’s formative
period very differently. The source of the Sunni-Shi’a breach is the
struggle for power between the followers of Ali (Muhammad’s cousin
and son-in-law) and the supporters of the first three caliphs. At first
political, the struggle gradually became religious. The events in the
years between Muhammad’s death in 632 A.D. and the death of Ali’s
son Husayn in 680 A.D. have developed into a foundational myth of
the Shi’a. The central feeling of Shi’a since then has been that they
suffered a historic injustice when Ali’s right to the caliphate was
usurped. In particular, Shi’a see the 3rd caliph, Uthman, a member of
the Umayyad clan, as a mortal enemy of Ali. In addition to the Ali-
Uthman struggle, the martyrdom of Ali’s son Husayn in 680 A.D.
forms the core of the Shi’a historical vision. The anniversary of this
event has become a central Shi’a holiday. During the nine days pre-
ceding it, the story of the assassination is related at public and private
gatherings. On the anniversary itself, (Ashura) performances re-enact-
ing the events are followed by mournful marches. Ashura provides
annual reinforcement for the Shi’a feeling of injustice. It heightens
their sense of being the oppressed, persecuted, and stigmatized part of
the Muslim community. It has also become a symbol of the right to
rise up against tyrannical rule.
The interpretation of this decisive half-century is much less central to
the historic vision of Sunni Islam. According to Sunnis, the first three
caliphs, along with Ali, are the “rightly guided” caliphs who form the
golden age of Islam. In the Sunni world, Ashura is merely a voluntary
fast day. Because of its symbolism, the Sunni Ottomans completely
banned Ashura gatherings in Shi’a communities.
Sunni and Shi’a also differ significantly in terms of political theory.
According to Shi’a teachings, a state not ruled by the descendants of Ali
is illegitimate. In contrast, Sunnis believe that not only members of the
Prophet Muhammad’s family, but all descendants of the Arabian
Quraysh tribe, have the right to be chosen as caliphs.
Sunni tradition views a Muslim regime as legitimate as long as it does not
publicly reject Islam. To Sunnis, even a bad Muslim ruler is preferable to
chaos and anarchy. Sunnis, therefore, in contrast to Shi’a, have a very lim-
ited right to rebel within their religious tradition. In addition, Sunni religious
leaders (ulema) — who have never enjoyed the spiritual status of their Shi’a
counterparts — have generally been subservient to the state government.
Historically, piety (or lack thereof) has had political significance in Sunni
Islam. The degree of one’s piety was associated with the degree of one’s
opposition to or support for the government. Antagonists tended to define
one another as unbelievers or corrupters of true Islam to justify armed oppo-
sition. The opposition often insisted that the ruling authorities failed to live
according to the Shar’ia and therefore were insincere in their belief.
However, since its founding as a state, Iraq has been a secular society.
The Ba’athist party was originally a secular socialist party. Muslim sec-
ularism does not involve a separation of mosque and state on the pattern
of the American separation of church and state. Instead, Muslim secu-
larism is characterized by state domination or appropriation of religion.
The government in Iraq has largely controlled religious teaching and
institutions in order to further political goals, while expressing an appre-
ciation of Islam’s cultural heritage and of the role of this Islamic heri-
tage in Iraqi national identity.
Over the past decade, there has been no sign of a return to secularism.
Rather, the Iraqi regime has continued to expand Islamic law within the
Iraq legal system and has introduced compulsory study of the Qur’an at
all educational levels. It is not clear to what extent these steps helped
legitimize the government or strengthen its popularity. However, the
regime remains essentially secular in many respects. Although the Iraqi
society is also secular, it is not irreligious. Individual Sunnis in Iraq may
follow Islamic rituals and live an Islamic lifestyle. There are indications
that many people have turned to religion over the past decade in
response to hardship. Overall, however, Islam remains subordinate to
other identities, primarily ethnicity, for the majority of Iraqi Sunnis.
Central to Islam is the belief that Islam constitutes one single commu-
nity (umma) and that it is the duty of the umma to invite more people to
Islam and to expand its abode.
Sunni Islam is a faith largely without clerical hierarchies and centralized
institutions. The different classifications for Sunni clerics are the qadi,
the mufti, and the mullah. The qadis develop the law; the muftis apply
and enforce it by issuing fatwas. During the Ottoman period, the
supreme mufti of the empire normally issued fatwas of political import.
The authority of both the qadi and the mufti was heavily dependent on
the Ottoman state apparatus or powerful local rulers. Moreover,
although fatwas are in theory binding on all Sunni Muslims, the force of
any individual edict is related to the stature of the cleric who issued it.
The mullah leads religious ceremonies at the communal level.
The absence of a hierarchy in Sunni Islam has been a source of strength
that has permitted the faith to adapt to local conditions. However, it also
has been a weakness that makes it difficult for Sunni Muslims to
achieve any significant degree of solidarity.
Significant Historical Events
In the mid-7th century, soon after the death of Muhammad, Shi’a and
Sunni Muslims split over his rightful spiritual and secular successor
(known as the caliph). The Shi’a favored Muhammad’s cousin and son-
in-law Ali, advancing his candidacy on the basis of heredity. The Sun-
nis, believing that the Muslim people should be governed by consensus,
elected Abu Bakr as caliph. Ali ultimately became the fourth caliph, but
was overthrown by the rebellion of Yazid bin Mu’awiya, the governor
of Syria. Mu’awiya established the Umayyad caliphate. During the Bat-
tle of Karbala (680), between Ali’s son Husayn and his followers and
the Umayyad army, Husayn was killed. This 50-year period, from 632
to 680, marks the beginning of Shi’a Islam.
Between the mid-10th and mid-11th centuries, Shi’a scholars put Shi’a
hadith, law, and theology into written form, and new, uniquely Shi’a
communal rituals were established. These included the annual public
mourning for Husayn at Karbala (the ashura), the public cursing of the
first two caliphs, and pilgrimages to the tombs of Ali's family. These acts
cemented the Sunni perception of themselves as a distinct community.
The Sunnis and the Ba’ath Party
Following the 1968 Ba’athist coup, close family, clan, and tribal ties
bound Iraq’s ruling Sunni elite. Most notable in this regard was the
emergence of Tikritis — Sunni Arabs from the town of Tikrit — related
to President Ahmad Hasan al Bakr. Saddam Hussein, a key leader
behind the scenes, was a Tikriti and a relative of al Bakr.
The Ba’athist regime was strongly secular, and efforts to bring the Shi’a
religious establishment under government control signaled the begin-
ning of a long and violent clash between the regime and the activist
Shi’a mujtahids and their followers. Because Shi’a Iran was nearby,
larger and more powerful, it became convenient for the ruling Sunni
elite to disenfranchise the Shi’a majority, repeating the long-standing
charge that they were an Iranian fifth column. Pointing to the large num-
ber of Iranians in the Shi’a shrine cities in southern Iraq and the ties
between Arab and Iranian Shi’a clergy, the regime accused the Shi’a
whom they failed to win over, of serving Iranian interests.
The 1979 Iranian Revolution brought religious and ethnic identity to the
center of regional politics. The Islamic challenge posed by the war and
the perceived need to assuage Iraq’s Shi’a population caused a new reli-
gious element to enter the Iraqi regime’s discourse. Islam became a sig-
nificant part of the regime’s identity and propaganda against Iran.
Specifically, the rhetoric of the Sunni Arab elite began to emphasize
Arab and Sunni identity as synonymous with Iraqi national identity.
Saddam Hussein regularly and conspicuously attended mosques,
ordered the establishment of two Islamic universities and other schools
for teaching Islamic subjects, and generally promoted Islamic values.
Islam and Arabs
Islam, as it is practiced in Iraq, is closely tied to Arab culture. For Sunni
Arabs especially, Arab values and Islam are often synonymous. Islam
and Arab values have functioned in Iraq as the preeminent political par-
adigms for more than 1,300 years. Despite Islam’s emphasis on commu-
nity, an Arab versus non-Arab distinction insinuated itself within the
early Islamic community. Arabs assert special rights and privileges in
Islam for several reasons: the birthplace of Islam and its holiest sites are
in the Arab region; Arabic is the language in which God’s message was
revealed and transmitted; an Arab prophet was the first to receive this
message; and its initial spread resulted from conquest by Arab armies.
There is an especially close association between Sunni Islam and Arab
nationalism. Islamic heritage and achievement serve as an essential
component of transnational Arab unity. In addition, Arab Sunni Islam’s
reliance on genealogy has tended to affirm the Sunni community’s per-
ception of primacy. Sunnis regard themselves as descendants of and
heirs to the Arab Muslim rule of the 7th to 12th centuries.
Sunni Arab Islamist Groups in Iraq
There are no prominent or influential Sunni Arab Islamist groups in
Iraq. The regime severely persecuted groups like the Muslim Brother-
hood. Wahhabism from neighboring Saudi Arabia has not managed to
establish a foothold, although there is recent evidence of it being pro-
moted within Iraq. However, militant Sunni Islamists in other Arab
regions have forced the Iraqi regime to make rhetorical and material
concessions to its demands. For example, this was partially responsible
for the regime making Islamic law more prominent in Iraq’s legal sys-
tem and for introducing Islamic teachings to the schools’ curriculum.
Sunni Kurdish Islamist Groups
For the most part, militant Islam has failed to insinuate itself in the
Iraqi Kurdish population. In general, the KDP and PUK forces have
kept in check or suppressed the radical groups. The origins of Kurdish
followers of Islam date to the 19th century, when the Kurdish national
movement came to be led by Kurdish sheikhs. Modern Kurdish
Islamic fundamentalism began in the 1950s with the spread of Egyp-
tian-based Muslim Brotherhood. However, Kurds soon became disen-
chanted with the Muslim Brotherhood because it was not concerned
with Kurdish nationalist aspirations. During the 1980s, the Iraqi gov-
ernment encouraged the emergence of Sunni religious movements
among Kurds as a barrier to the penetration of Iranian Shi’a influence.
It also viewed these movements as useful counterweights to the Kurd-
ish nationalist movement, which it accused of cooperating with
Tehran. However, the Kurdish Islamists soon directed their energies
against the regime.
The Iraqi regime’s intensifying repression of Kurds spurred the
growth of militant Islam. The radicals exploited the chemical attacks
and the economic difficulties that followed the Gulf War. The town of
Halabje — which suffered a chemical weapons attack — had been a
center of Kurdish Islamic cadres. This region is home to the Islamic
Movement of Iraqi Kurdistan (IMIK), founded in 1986 by Mullah
Uthman Abd al-Aziz. The IMIK inherited some the organizational
structures of the Muslim Brotherhood existing in among Kurds since
the 1950s. Although this group commands little popular support, its
social and charitable work has increased its appeal. As Sunni Islam-
ists, it represents a new trend in Iraq, one that may attract Sunni Arabs
as well as Kurds.
Among the Iraqi Kurds there are some relatively weak and organization-
ally disparate Islamic groups. The Islamist Movement of Iraqi Kurdistan
is among the largest Kurdish-Islamic organizations. It has been able to
form alliances with groups in both Saudi Arabia and Iran. In addition, it
maintains close links with Arab Islamists. Jihad for this group does not
imply action against Western interests, but was focused on overthrowing
the Ba’athist regime. Other Kurds Islamic groups include: the Kurdish
Islamic Association (concentrated outside of Iraq, it forms a Kurdish
arm of the Iraqi Muslim Brotherhood); the Kurdistan Hizbullah (com-
posed primarily of Barzanis who took refuge in Iran in the 1970s, it has
limited influence among Iraq’s Kurds); and the Association of Muslim
Students in Kurdistan (concentrated outside of Iraq, it lacks an effective
presence among the Kurds).
Ansar al-Islam (Supporters of Islam), a group of 400-700 Islamic
militants of various ethnicities, controls several villages in the Kur-
dish region of Iraq beneath the Shinerwe Mountains near the Iranian
border. In each village it has established fundamentalist Islamic
rule, banning music, alcohol, photographs, etc. The group prevents
girls from studying, requires men to grow beards, and enforces
prayer five times daily. Ansar al-Islam formed in 2001 when several
splintered parties in the region merged into one. It is suspected to
have collaborated with Al Qaida and to provide refuge to Al Qaida
members who have fled Afghanistan. The group is believed to be
responsible for the recent assassinations of officials in the Kurdish
regional government, and is suspected of inciting anti-Coalition
activities since the fall of Baghdad.
Disease Risks to Deployed Personnel
Iraq is assessed as high risk for infectious diseases. Without force health
protection measures, mission effectiveness will be seriously jeopardized.
Food- or Water-borne Diseases
Sanitation is poor throughout the country, including major urban areas.
Local food and water sources (including ice) are contaminated with
pathogenic bacteria, parasites, and viruses to which most U.S. service
members have little or no natural immunity.
If local food, water, or ice from unapproved sources is consumed, diar-
rheal diseases can be expected to temporarily incapacitate a very high
percentage of personnel within days. Hepatitis A and typhoid fever can
cause prolonged illness in a smaller percentage. In addition, viral gastro-
enteritis (Norovirus) and food poisoning (Bacillus cereus, Clostridium
perfringens, Staphylococcus) may cause significant outbreaks.
During warmer months (April through November), the climate and eco-
logical habitat support large populations of arthropod vectors, including
mosquitoes, ticks, and sand flies. Significant disease transmission is
sustained countrywide, included urban areas. Up to one percent of per-
sonnel exposed to sand flies could develop cutaneous leishmaniasis, and
sporadic cases of visceral leishmaniasis could occur. Personnel exposed
to mosquitoes in northern southern and eastern arease could develop
malaria in the absence of countermeasures.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Gonorrhea, chlamydia and other infections are common among high-
risk populations, and may affect a high percentage of personnel who
have sexual contact, particularly amoung prostitutes and intervenous
drug users. HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B also occur. Though the immedi-
ate impact of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B on an operation is limited, the
long-term health impact on individuals is substantial.
Water Contact Diseases
Lakes, rivers, streams, or other surface water may be contaminated with
organisms that cause schistosomiasis and leptospirosis. Operations or
activities that involve extensive fresh water contact may result in per-
sonnel being temporarily debilitated.
Bodies of surface water are likely to be contaminated with human and
animal waste. Activities such as wading or swimming may result in
exposures to enteric diseases such as diarrhea and hepatitus through
incindental ingestion of water. Prolonged water contact may also lead to
the development of a variety of potentially debilitating skin conditions
such as bacterial or fungal dermatitis.
Animal Contact Diseases
Rabies is a major public health problem primarily in rural areas of Iraq.
Rabies-infected dogs and wildlife are common.
Iraq’s inadequate health care system is slowly recovering from more than
a decade of neglect and from the looting that followed Operation Iraqi
Freedom. Local medical care is limited and available only in major urban
areas. Although inadequate, the Iraqi health care system can provide basic
health care services. Limited amounts of medical materiel and the gener-
ally poor quality of the medical infrastructure greatly limit Iraq’s ability to
handle mass casualty incidents effectively.
Ambulance services are extremely limited, lack coordination, and are
restricted to large cities; patient care is not provided during transit. Most
city hospitals use small vans or conscripted private vechicles for patient
transport. Some private hospitals in Baghdad offer better medical care
than their government counterparts, but care is still below U.S. standards.
All Iraqi medical facilities experience frequent and extreme supply short-
ages. The quality of all Iraqi-made medical products is substandard.
Blood banks are understaffed, lack sufficient supplies, and are unable to
provide an adequate supply of safe blood products.
Arabic and Kurdish are the main languages spoken in most of Iraq. Some
medical personnel, especially physicians, can communicate in English.
The Ministry of Health-Coalition Provisional Authority (MOH-CPA) is
overseeing the reconstruction of the Iraqi government medical infra-
structure and is an excellent point of contact for infrastructure informa-
tion. The MOH-CPA is in the 12-story, S-shaped Ministry of Health
building on the northeast corner of Baghdad Medical City in Baghdad
(33-20-50N/044-22-53E). The MOH-CPA is headed by a U.S. senior
general officer-equivalent civilian medical advisor, who is assisting the
Iraqi Minister of Health. U.S. and Coalition medical assets are the best
source of quality medical care in Iraq.
Key Medical Facilities
Saddam Husayn Cardiac Center
Coordinates 33-19-37N 044-23-17E
Location Adjacent to Baghdad’s central radio/television
Type Private, 200 beds.
Capabilities Medical: general, cardiology; surgery: general, plastic,
ear/nose/throat, urology, renal lithotripsy; ancillary: well-
equipped emergency room, ICU, 6 operating rooms.
Comments Second best surgical facility in Iraq. Referral facility for
Iraqi and foreign diplomats. Emergency generator.
Ibn Sina Hospital
Coordinates 33-18-42N 044-24-23E
Location Haifa Street, 500 meters before palace gates
Type Private, 100 beds.
Capabilities Medical: general, cardiology; surgical: general, cardiac,
plastic, ENT, renal lithotripsy; ancillary: well-equipped
emergency room, ICU, MRI, operating room.
Comments Best private surgical care facility in Iraq, but its use is
limited to Saddam Hussein’s family and high-ranking
military and political officials. Emergency generator.
Rashid Military Hospital
Coordinates 33-16-53N 044-27-27E
Location Mu'askar ar-Rashid (Rashid Military Camp)
Type Military, 800 beds.
Capabilities Medical: general; surgery: general.
Comments Primary military medical facility.
Baghdad Medical City Complex
Coordinates 33-20-50N 044-22-45E
Location Ar Razi and Al Asharit Streets (North Gate)
Telephone 4168611, 4169004
Type Civilian, 1,270 beds.
Capabilities Medical: general, pediatrics; surgery: general;
ancillary: 2 CT scanners.
Comments Approximately 1,000 employees. Compound includes
650-bed surgical hospital; 220-bed pediatric hospital;
Baghdad Medical College; and 11-story, 400-bed subspe-
cialty hospital with 6 operating rooms. Nurses’ residence,
physicians’ residence, nursing home, and conference cen-
ter. Underground parking garage 220 meters south of
main hospital building. Probably used to treat military
casualties. Several emergency generators.
Many believe that Iraq’s history began with the Garden of Eden, which
was situated near Al Basrah, where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers con-
verge. Known for centuries as Mesopotamia, Sumerians, Babylonians,
Assyrians, and then later, Arabs lived in Iraq. Iraq became part of the
Turkish Ottoman empire in the 16th century until that empire disinte-
grated after World War I. In the peace settlement following the war, the
Allies divided the Ottoman lands among them. Britain gained control of
the territory that became Iraq. Britain retained control of the country
until 1958, when a group of army officers killed the British-imposed
king and proclaimed a republic.
In 1961, Kuwait, another British protectorate, gained its independence
from Britain. Iraq immediately claimed sovereignty over it, largely
because of Kuwait’s oil wealth. However, Britain reacted very strongly
to the threat to its ex-protectorate and dispatched a brigade to deter the
Iraqi aggression. Iraq was forced to back down and, in 1963, officially
recognized the sovereignty and borders of Kuwait.
The Ba’ath Party came to power during a coup in 1968, and Prime Min-
ister Hasan al-Bakr became president and prime minister. The Revolu-
tionary Command Council (RCC) was put in place as the center of
governmental power. Saddam Hussein was the key deputy to President
al-Bakr. Hussein officially assumed power from al-Bakr in 1979. Hus-
sein asserted his authority by personally executing key members of the
RCC opposed to his assuming power.
The 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran threatened Iraq. The rise of a
strong Shi’a government in Iran concerned Hussein; he was afraid a
Shi’a opposition movement might gain momentum in southeast Iraq. In
early 1980, Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini called for Iraqi Shi’a to over-
throw the secular Iraqi government. Hussein invaded Iran in September
1980, using as pretext a historic dispute over the Shatt al-Arab water-
Hussein underestimated the will of the Iranian people, and may have
overestimated the power of his armed forces. After the Iranian govern-
ment’s purging of those in the Iranian military perceived to retain loyalty
to the Shah, Hussein may have believed an opportunity existed to chal-
lenge a weakened Iranian force. Iran, however, remained strong enough to
halt the Iraqi invasion. By 1982, Iran had reestablished its border and
began advancing into Iraqi territory. In 1986, the war reached a stalemate.
From the beginning of the war, the West and the conservative monar-
chies in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia supported Iraq in its effort to quell
fundamentalist Islamic movement in Iran. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia
loaned vast sums of money to Iraq. The Gulf Cooperation Council
increased production of oil to force the price down, thus damaging
Iran’s oil-dependent economy. The economic hardship became too
great; financing a war was impossible. The war ended in July 1988
when the Iranian leadership accepted the UN ceasefire resolution.
The cost of the war to Iraq and Iran was staggering; several hundred
thousand Iraqis had been killed or wounded. The war had also cost Iraq
US$450 billion. Hussein purposely delayed progress on negotiations
after the war to avoid any admission that he’d been the aggressor. He
also wanted to claim victory.
Despite the accumulated debts and continued negotiations after the 8-
year war, Hussein began a large military expansion. Many believe that
demobilizing his huge army at a time of economic crises might have
jeopardized the regime’s stability.
Hussein lodged a series of complaints against Kuwait over oil reserves
on the countries’ border to justify his attempts at expansion. He also
accused Kuwait of leading an oil-pricing conspiracy designed to limit
Iraqi oil revenues. He also demanded that Kuwait reclassify US$12 bil-
lion in war loans as gifts, becoming irate when they did not comply.
Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 to acquire oil, gain access to Arabian Gulf
ports, and perhaps to divert Iraqis’ attention from their domestic hard-
ship. To ensure that Iran would not oppose Iraq’s offensive, Hussein
afforded Iran a generous peace settlement.
In late July 1990, 100,000 Iraqi troops massed on the Kuwaiti border.
On 2 August 1990, 350 Iraqi Republican Guard tanks rolled into
Kuwait, secured the country in 3 days, and provoked international eco-
nomic and military reprisals. To consolidate its gains, Iraq formally
annexed Kuwait on 8 August 1990, incorporating it as the 19th prov-
ince, and ordered all foreign ministries and government functions to
relocate to Baghdad.
UN condemnation was swift. Plans were laid to assemble a multina-
tional force to isolate and ultimately remove Iraq from Kuwait. The UN
leveled economic sanctions and a trade embargo on Iraq. On 29 August
1990, the UN Security Council set 15 January 1991 as the deadline for
Iraq to withdraw unconditionally from Kuwait or face retaliation.
Presidential Palace, Baghdad
American, British, and French naval forces assembled in the Arabian
Gulf and the Red Sea as part of the first contingent of an international
force that would eventually total nearly 750,000 personnel drawn from
31 countries. Following Iraq’s refusal to meet the 15 January 1991 dead-
line, a massive air assault was launched. After seriously diminishing
Iraq’s army, navy, and air force capabilities, multinational forces
launched a ground offensive to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait and
destroy Iraqi army assets in southern Iraq. After 100 hours of ground
warfare, a temporary cease-fire was declared on 28 February 1991. Iraq
disavowed the annexation of Kuwait and formally accepted all UN reso-
lutions. The United States presented Iraq with several conditions under
which the cease-fire would remain permanent, including the swift and
complete return of all coalition prisoners of war and full compliance
with UN resolutions. On 11 April 1991, an official cease-fire was
signed, effectively ending hostilities.
On 24 April 1991, UN observation forces began to replace U.S. troops
on the Iraq-Kuwait border. Domestic unrest characterized post-Gulf War
Iraq. Regular Iraqi army troops, disgruntled by the inhumane conditions
under which they were sent to the front — in stark comparison to the
well-equipped Republican Guard units — rebelled upon their return to
Iraq. Dissident army troops, backed by other Iraqi opposition groups
such as the Shi’a of the marsh areas and Al Basrah, mounted a strong
but short attack on Republican Guard, local Ba’ath Party headquarters,
and other loyalist positions in southern Iraq. Intense fighting continued
for several weeks but, by the middle of March 1991, most armed opposi-
tion ceased. A southern no-fly zone was initiated by the coalition to pro-
tect Shi’a Muslim rebels from air attacks. The zone initially extended
from the 32d parallel to the border of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
In northern Iraq, Kurdish rebels (peshmerga) consolidated control over
the region by capturing several prominent towns. However, these
advances ended quickly as Hussein brought the air and ground assets
that were not destroyed in the Gulf War, most notably helicopter gun-
ships, to bear in the north. One million Kurds and other Iraqis fled to the
more remote, mountainous northern region on the Iraq-Turkey border.
By April 1991, Kurdish and Iraqi leaders reached an agreement allow-
ing Kurds to return to their towns without Iraqi interference.
The UN further ensured the safety of Kurds by establishing a no-fly
zone in northern Iraq, and a security zone for Kurdish refugees that was
patrolled by Allied forces. Hussein sought to consolidate his control
over the military by executing, purging, or reassigning several corps and
divisional commanders, as well as many senior and mid-level officers.
Hussein’s relatives, family members, and other Sunni Arabs from Tikrit,
Hussein’s hometown, were featured prominently as replacements.
The two Coalition-enforced no-fly zones highlighted Iraq’s weakened
defenses. Hussein rejected the no-fly zones in late 1992 and continued to
stage air attacks against Shi’a rebels in the south. On 27 December 1992,
a U.S. F-16 shot down an Iraqi MiG-25; in January 1993, Coalition forces
shot down a MiG-29. In January 1993, Iraq moved surface-to-air missiles
(SAMs) into the no-fly zones and rejected the U.S./Allied ultimatum to
remove them, prompting a Coalition response. In January, the United
States, Britain, and France staged air strikes against four missile/radar
sites and two concentrations of mobile antiaircraft missile batteries inside
the southern no-fly zone, rendering Iraqi air defenses there inoperable. In
June 1993, in response to an Iraqi attempt to assassinate former U.S. Pres-
ident George Bush while on a visit to Kuwait, 23 U.S. cruise missiles
destroyed Iraq’s principal intelligence facility in downtown Baghdad.
The U.N. economic embargo had its intended effect. As domestic condi-
tions worsened, Hussein complied nominally with the conditions of the
cease-fire. In October 1994, however, Hussein moved two divisions of
the Republican Guard Force Command to the Kuwaiti border to pres-
sure the Coalition into removing sanctions.
The United States deployed a carrier battle group, more than 28,000
troops, and 200 additional aircraft into the region. The Iraqi regime
backed down. As a result of Iraq’s confrontational stance, the UN
imposed a “no-drive zone” in southern Iraq. The imposition prohibited
the reinforcement of Iraqi troops and armor south of the 32d parallel. In
November and December 1994, Iraq gave the appearance of conciliation
by formally recognizing the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and politi-
cal independence of Kuwait, and the international border demarcated by
the UN in 1993.
In March 1995, the Iraqi National Congress, an umbrella Iraqi opposi-
tion group, planned an attack on the northern Iraqi cities of Kirkuk and
Mosul, hoping to instigate a rebellion among Iraqi troops. However,
without international support, the action quickly fell apart. The Patriotic
Union of Kurdistan (PUK) was the only opposition group to actually
engage the Iraqi forces in combat. Also in May 1995, several military
officers of the al-Dulaymi tribe from western Iraq staged a coup attempt.
Hussein tortured and executed the participants, then returned their muti-
lated bodies to their kinsmen. In response, a Republican Guard battal-
ion, led by angry al-Dulaymi military officers, attacked the Iraqi prison
at Abu Gharayb. Two Republican Guard brigades defeated the rebels,
but Hussein was irate that elements of his loyal Republican Guards had
turned against him. A purge of the Republican Guards followed in July.
In August 1995, Hussein Kamil Hassan al-Majid, Hussein’s brother Sad-
dam Kamil, and their families fled Baghdad to Jordan. The significance
of this defection was acute; the wives of the men were Hussein’s daugh-
ters, and both men held significant posts in Hussein’s power structure.
Hussein Kamil had been Minister of Industry and Military Industrializa-
tion and in charge of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) pro-
grams. Saddam Kamil was an officer in Hussein’s Presidential Guard.
The defection resulted less from disloyalty than fear; Saddam Hussein’s
son, Uday, had threatened the lives of the men. Once in Jordan, however,
Hussein Kamil denounced the Iraqi regime and divulged numerous
secrets about Iraq’s WMD programs, forcing the Iraqis to attempt dam-
age control and release thousands of documents pertaining to WMD to
UNSCOM. Hussein Kamil expected to be accepted by the West as a via-
ble leader to replace Saddam Hussein; when such assistance was not
forthcoming, Hussein Kamil began to chafe under his exile in Jordan. In
February 1996, the Kamil brothers and their families eagerly returned to
Baghdad, accepting Saddam Hussein’s offer of amnesty and expecting
to return to their positions of power. Once back in Iraq, the brothers
were promptly executed by Hussein, who announced to the world that
vengeful kinsmen had killed them for their betrayal of Iraq.
Despite these troubles, Hussein was able to maintain control throughout
the mid 1990s. He bought the loyalty of supporters and security forces,
and maintained his military forces to the extent possible. The Iraqi peo-
ple, however, continued to suffer. Living standards further deteriorated
in 1995. Prices more than doubled, and necessities such as infant for-
mula and medicines became unavailable. In January 1996, Hussein
decreed economic austerity measures to counter soaring inflation and
widespread shortages caused by UN sanctions. To alleviate some of the
Iraqi people’s hardship, the UN allowed Iraq to sell US$2 billion worth
of oil every 6 months. All the proceeds of this limited oil sale had to be
deposited in a UN escrow account and used to purchase food, medicine,
and other essential materials and supplies for Iraqi citizens.
This plan was nearly derailed in August 1996 when Iraqi forces, assisted
by Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) fighters, assaulted the PUK-held
northern city of Irbil, the headquarters of the Iraqi opposition. The sei-
zure of Irbil severely damaged Kurdish and Iraqi opposition unity, and
strengthened Hussein’s power. U.S. cruise missile strikes in retaliation
for the attack, and the extension of the no-fly zone from the 32nd to the
33rd parallel, had the unintended consequene of strengthening Hus-
sein’s image abroad as an unjustly persecuted Arab leader. The UN oil-
for-food (OFF) plan was implemented in January 1997, and large sums
of money from the program were used by Hussein to support his loyal-
ists and military. The situation for Iraqi citizens nominally improved as
a result of the OFF program, although not to the extent possible if Hus-
sein had provided more of the available support to his people. Iraqi
smuggling of petroleum products to Turkey and through Iranian waters
in the Arabian Gulf, in violation of UN sanctions, also brought in
US$300-$400 million a year for Hussein. However, proceeds supported
the Iraqi regime at the expense of the Iraqis.
In October 1997, as UNSCOM weapons inspectors closed in on key
information regarding Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons pro-
grams, Hussein again became confrontational. He expelled the U.S.
members of the UNSCOM team from the country, hoping to achieve
concessions from the UN in return for renewed cooperation. UNSCOM
chairman Richard Butler suspended all UNSCOM activities in Iraq, and
the UNSC unanimously condemned Iraq for its actions.
Baghdad again balked at cooperating with UN inspections in February
1998, again raising the likelihood of U.S. military strikes against Iraq.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan secured a last-minute accord with the
Iraqi regime that allowed UN inspectors to continue their efforts and
forestalled a U.S. attack on 23 February 1998. This agreement proved
ineffective when Iraq demanded relief from sanctions, suspended coop-
eration with UNSCOM, and expelled the weapons inspectors in August
1998. This Iraqi intransigence helped fuel the passage of the Iraq Liber-
ation Act in October 1998, which allocated U.S. government funding to
Iraqi opposition organizations dedicated to replacing Hussein’s regime.
The UN responded to Iraq’s actions by suspending regular sanction
reviews, thereby ensuring sanctions would continue indefinitely unless
Iraq renewed cooperation with the UN. On 15 December 1998, Butler
delivered his annual report to the UNSC on the status of UN inspections.
In this report, Butler accused Iraq of implementing a campaign to
obstruct UNSCOM access to WMD-related records and sites. On 16
December, the United States and the United Kingdom began a 3-day air
campaign named Operation DESERT FOX against key WMD and mili-
tary targets in Iraq. The air strikes heavily damaged a number of military
and suspected WMD production facilities. However, the air strikes did
not cause Hussein to renew cooperation with the UN. Instead, the Iraqi
regime claimed itself a victim, told the U.S. press that UNSCOM
inspectors had turned over information to U.S. intelligence agencies,
and asked the UN to remove American and British personnel from fur-
ther UN missions in Iraq.
In February 1999 Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammed Sadiq al Sadr, a
Shi’a spiritual leader, and his two sons were assassinated in southern
Iraq. Various anti-regime groups blamed Hussein for these murders,
triggering 3 days of unrest and protests against Hussein’s tactics by
Shi’a in Baghdad and southern Iraq. The regime responded by suppress-
ing the protests and killing many protestors. Discontent continued
through 1999, but Hussein eventually strengthened his hold on power
through effective security operations.
In December 1999, the UN attempted to restart its inspection effort. On
17 December, the UN Security Council passed a resolution creating the
UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC)
to replace UNSCOM. Iraq, however, rejected this resolution and
announced its refusal to cooperate with further inspections. UN
appointed Hans Blix, former head of IAEA inspections in Iraq, to lead
UNMOVIC. Despite the setbacks, the IAEA conducted an inspection of
Iraq’s nuclear material in January 2000. The IAEA report indicated Iraq
complied with the inspection team and had not disturbed the uranium
locked away by the IAEA years earlier.
In 2000, Iraq attempted to reduce its political and economic isolation. Its
increased diplomatic effort was rewarded during August 2000 when
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez became the first elected head of
state to visit Iraq in a decade. Relations between Syria and Iraq also
improved when Iraq began pumping crude oil to Syria, despite UN sanc-
tions, through a pipeline that had been closed since 1982. In 2002, Izzat
Ibrahim, vice-chairman of the Iraqi RCC, visited Syria and held talks
with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad on 9 November.
The renewed conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians in Septem-
ber 2000 provided Hussein with a propaganda opportunity. Hussein
deployed a number of Republican Guard and Army units to western Iraq,
claiming that he was prepared to support the Palestinians militarily in their
struggle against Israel and encouraging other Arab leaders to do the same.
Hussein then held Baghdad’s largest military parade since 1990, showcas-
ing Iraq’s military might and support for the Palestinians. The Iraqi regime
also provided free medical care to Palestinians wounded in the intifadah
and paid money to the families of those killed. These efforts appealed to
Arabs angered by Israeli actions, but they directly challenged the moderate
Middle Eastern leaders who argued for diplomacy and peace.
After the terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001,
U.S. intelligence determined that the Al Qaida terrorist network, led by
Usama bin Ladin was responsible. Some speculated that Iraq assisted in
the effort. When anthrax was found in the U.S. mail system in autumn
2001, more speculation focused on Iraq as a possible culprit.
Hussein went to great lengths to not provoke the U.S. during this time,
and hoped to avoid being included in the War on Terrorism. Challenges
to no-fly zone enforcement abated, and Hussein even offered some sym-
pathetic statements to the people of the United States. However, in Janu-
ary 2002, President Bush stated in his State of the Union address that
Iraq was a member of an axis of evil (which included Iran and North
Korea) that threatened the world with its weapons of mass destruction.
In frequent public appearances over the following months, top presiden-
tial administration officials repeated the theme of “regime change” and
threatened military action if Iraq did not comply with weapons inspec-
tions and the mandated destruction of all weapons of mass destruction
and development programs.
In September 2002, President Bush urged the UN to encourage Hussein
to comply with appropriate UN resolutions to avoid military action. In
November, the U.N Security Council passed another resolution that
gave Hussein’s regime 30 days to provide the security Council an accu-
rate declaration of all aspects of its military programs, and demanded
that Iraq allow U.N. arms inspectors unhindered access to any site sus-
pected of WMD. The resolution further warned that Iraq would face
serious consequences if it continued to violate UN resolutions.
Iraq allowed inspectors to return on 26 November. However, the Iraqi
government continued to deny having weapons of mass destruction, and
issued statements saying the UN resolution was a result of the U.S and
British governments desire to launch attacks against Iraq.
On 17 March 2003, President Bush gave Hussein and his sons 48 hours
to depart Iraq, threatening that his refusal to do so would result in mili-
tary action. Hussein responded with a statement released through his
Revolutionary Command Council saying that the Iraqi people
denounced the reckless ultimatum, and that Iraq was ready to confront
any U.S.-led attack.
On the morning of 20 March 2003, 40 guided Tomahawk cruise missiles
were launched at Baghdad from U.S warships in the Red Sea and Per-
sian Gulf. This launch was later characterized as a target of opportunity
(many believe the United States acted on information regarding Hus-
sein’s whereabouts). Later that evening President Bush announced that
he had ordered the coalition to attack Iraq.
On the first full day of the war, U.S and British ground forces advanced
into southern Iraq, entering the port city of Umm Qasr, near the Basrah,
while a second wave of air attacks hit Baghdad.
By March 23, Coalition forces had seized the H-2 and H-3 airfields in
western Iraq, and controlled parts of Umm Qasr, Basrah, and Nasiriyah.
Armored and mechanized forces had advanced to within 100 miles of
Baghdad and forced a crossing of the Euphrates River at Nasiriyah. In
northern Iraq, the United States launched an attack with 40 to 50 cruise
missiles on elements Ansar al Islam (AI), a terrorist group believed to be
associated with Usama Bin Ladin’s al-Qaida. Also on 23 March, U.S.
forces began airlifting into Kurdish controlled northern Iraq, which sig-
naled the opening move of the so-called “second front.” Within days,
Kurdish Peshmerga troops of the PUK and with U.S. Special Forces
units assaulted another stronghold along the Iranian border.
In the last week of March, difficult fighting erupted in the city of
Samawah, where U.S forces faced up to 1500 Iraqi irregulars at a critical
bridge over the Euphrates River. U.S forces would eventually overcome
the Iraqi irregulars, take control of the bridge, and advance to Baghdad.
U.S forces had also advanced as far north as Karbala, where large battles
with Iraqi forces had taken place. Major combat actions were ongoing in
the cities of Najaf, Nasiriyah, Basrah and other locations as Iraqi guer-
rilla forces proved to be formidable for the coalition to overcome.
Bombing raids continued on Baghdad, as did the Iraqi attempts to hit
Kuwait-based targets. With the exception of one surface-to-surface mis-
sile hitting a shopping mall, these attacks were unsuccessful.
By the first week of April, U.S forces had reached the Saddam Interna-
tional Airport on the southern side of Baghdad. On 5 April, U.S.
armored forces entered Baghdad. They secured the city quickly, but
increasing vandalism and looting adversely affected the mission.
In mid-April, Kurdish fighters seized Kirkuk and Mosul and U.S.
Marines seized Hussein’s home town of Tikrit, effectively ending major
1899 Britain signs treaty with the al-Sabah family putting
Kuwait under British protection.
1920 Mandate for Iraq awarded to UK by the League of Nations.
1921 Britain installs Emir Faisal as King of Iraq.
1932 Saudi Arabia proclaimed by Abd al Aziz;
Iraq declares independence.
1958 Iraqi monarchy overthrown in coup by General Abdul
1961 Kuwait established as independent nation.
1963 Coup overthrows Qasim; Gen. Abdul Salam Aref installed
1966 Abdul Rahman Aref succeeds his brother as leader of Iraq.
1968 Ba’ath party coup; Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr installed, Sad-
dam Hussein becomes chief deputy.
1979 Saddam Hussein succeeds Bakr as president of Iraq.
22 Sep 80 Iraq invades Iran, starting 8-year war.
7 Jun 81 Israel launches air attack against Iraqi nuclear facilities.
Apr 84 Attacks begin on tankers in the Arabian Gulf.
17 May 87 Iraq attacks USS Stark, killing 37 U.S. sailors.
1988 Saddam Hussein orders use of chemical weapons on Kurds.
Aug 88 Iran-Iraq War ends.
2 Aug 90 Iraq invades Kuwait; President Bush freezes Iraqi and
Kuwaiti assets; UN calls on Saddam Hussein to withdraw.
16 Jan 91 U.S. attacks Baghdad, Kuwait, and military targets in Iraq.
23 Feb 91 Ground war begins.
27 Feb 91 President Bush orders a cease-fire.
2 Mar 91 Shi’a Muslims in southern Iraq and Kurds in north, rebel
against Hussein’s rule. Iraqi army crushes both revolts.
3 Mar 91 Iraqi military leaders formally accept cease-fire terms.
23 Sep 91 UN inspectors find documents detailing Iraq’s nuclear
weapons program; say Iraq was close to building a bomb.
27 Aug 92 No-fly zone imposed over southern Iraq to stop air attacks
on Shi’a Muslim rebels. Allies begin air patrols.
13 Apr 93 One day before President George Bush was to arrive in
Kuwait, 14 arrests made for plotting to assassinate him;
Washington says plot organized by Iraqi intelligence.
27 Jun 93 U.S. warships fire 24 Tomahawk cruise missiles at intelli-
gence headquarters in Baghdad in retaliation for Iraqi
Oct 94 Two Iraqi Republican Guard armor divisions deploy south
to the Kuwait border. President Clinton dispatches carrier
group, 28,000 troops, and more than 200 warplanes to Gulf.
The Iraqis pull back.
Dec 94 Iraq formally recognizes Kuwait’s sovereignty and borders.
Mar 95 An attempted coalition offensive of Iraqi opposition groups
falls apart due to lack of international support. The PUK
conducts offensive operations against the Iraqi army in the
vicinity of Irbil, but no gains are made.
May-Jun Twenty Iraq military officers are tortured and killed for
95 plotting a coup. A Republican Guard battalion, led by al-
Dulaymi officers, rebel at Abu Gharayb.
8 Aug 95 Hussein Kamil al-Majid and his brother Hussein Kamil defect.
6 Jan 96 Saddam Hussein decrees economic austerity measures for
Iraq to cope with soaring inflation and widespread short-
ages caused by UN sanctions.
20 Feb 96 Hussein Kamil and his brother return to Iraq, accepting Hus-
sein’s pledge of amnesty; both are executed.
31 Aug 96 Hussein sends forces to capture Irbil, a key Kurdish safe-
haven protected by U.S.-led forces.
2 Sep 96 U.S. ships and planes fire missiles at military targets in Iraq.
Jan-Jun 97 Food-for-oil program implemented.
29 Oct 97 U.S. weapons inspectors banned from Iraq; UNSCOM sus-
31 Oct 98 President Clinton signs the Iraqi Liberation Act to provide
U.S. aid to the Iraqi opposition.
16-19 The U.S. and UK conduct airstrikes (Operation DESERT
Dec 98 FOX) to force Baghdad to cooperate with the UN.
19 Feb 99 The assassination of a Shi’a spiritual leader results in Shi’a
unrest in Baghdad and in southern Iraq.
17 Dec 99 UNMOVIC replaces UNSCOM to carry out inspections.
Oct 00 Iraq deploys military forces to western Iraq to show support
for the Palestinian intifadah.
20 Mar 03 U.S. launches initial salvo in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
15 April 03 Baghdad Falls.
1 May 03 President Bush declares end of major combat operations.
The Iraqi economy and its infrastructure are under transition, and will
require a significant international commitment to rebuild. Under Hus-
sein’s regime, the middle class virtually disappeared, and the country’s
24 million people are now struggling to subsist in an economy based
largely on cash, barter, and international handouts.
The country is plagued by high unemployment, poverty, spiraling infla-
tion and rampant corruption. The economy depends almost wholly on
revenues from oil exports that in the past have come from primarily the
southern oil fields. In July 2003 Iraq exported approximately 258,000
barrels a day, compared to 2 million barrels a day in March 2003.
According to the Iraqi Oil ministry, the country must boost export pro-
duction to at least 400,000 barrels a day to start securing long-term con-
tracts for selling fixed quantities of oil, a measure that would produce
the necessary income to start reviving the Iraqi economy.
One of the key missions of the CPA is to gather basic information about
Iraq’s full economic condition. Immediate tasks include paying govern-
ment salaries, including the armed forces, establishing oversight of
Iraq’s Central Bank, the Finance Ministry, and the other government
agencies necessary for public health and safety.
GDP US$4.4 billion (2002)
Growth Rate NA
Per Capita US$170 (2002)
Exports US$1.2 billion
Imports US$1.3 billion
External Debt US$100 billion (2000 est.)
Iraq has an estimated 112 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, the
world’s second largest endowment. The U.S. Department of Energy
indicates that Iraq’s reserves may be as high as 220 billion barrels. Pro-
vided this is an accurate estimate, Iraq would possess more than 20 per-
cent of the world's proven reserves. Greater reserves could result from
re-evaluation of known oil fields, and there is a possibility of further
new discoveries in the unexplored Western desert region.
Iraq is believed to have approximately 110 trillion cubic feet (Tcf)
of proven natural gas reserves, with probable reserves estimated at
150 Tcf. Most of its natural gas production is liquid propane gas
(LPG) for household use. About 70 percent of Iraq’s natural gas
reserves are associated gas (produced in conjunction with oil).
Main sources of natural gas are the Kirkuk, Al Zalah, Butma and
Bai Hassan oil fields in northern Iraq, as well as the North and
South Rumaylah and Zubayr fields in southern Iraq. Iraq’s only
non-associated natural gas reserves are from the al-Anfal field in
northern Iraq. In the past, Iraq has used its natural gas production
primarily for domestic energy needs.
Ayn Zalah Other Oilfield Al Kifl
Gusair Alan Atshan Oil Pipeline
Sasan Mosul Demir Dagh
Adalyah Kirkuk Taqtaq
IT-2 Qasab Operational Refinery
Jawan Qara Bay Hasan Tanker Terminal
Najmah Chauq Chamchamal
Al Qayyarah Khubbuz Kirkuk
Iraq-Turkey Saddam Kar Mor
Pipeline IT-1A Jambur
Bayji Hamrin Palkhanah Chia
K-2 Ajil Qamarm
Injana Duman Khanaqin
Kashm Jaria Pika
Akkas al Ahmar
Hadithah K-3 Mansuriya Naft Khaneh
Pipeline (Closed) BAGHDAD
PS-4 Ad Dawrah
Ahdab Amara Kumait
Marjan Al Kifl Jabal Fauqi
PS-3 West Rafidain Huwaiza
As Gharraf Noor
As Samawah PS-2 West Qurnah
Rumaylah Nahr Umar
Iraq Strategic Diwan Subba North
Pipeline Ar Ratawi Al Basrah
Al Luhays Tubah
Ar Raki Az Zubayr
Iraq-Saudi Arabia Jerishan Rumaylah
Pipeline (PSA) South
0 100 200 Kilometers (Closed) Mina al
Abu IPSA-2 Bakr
0 100 200 Miles Khalma
Boundary representations are not necessarily authoritative. Khawr al Amaya
Mineral deposits in Iraq are limited to phosphates, sulfur, salt and gyp-
sum. Phosphate deposits are found at Akashat (near the Syrian border)
and it is primarily used in the production of fertilizer. Phosphate
reserves are estimated at 10 billion tons. The Mishraq sulfur deposits
attracted several Western European companies in the 1970s, but subse-
quent development was hampered by the Iran-Iraq war. The Mishraq
complex has a design capacity of 1.25 million tons a year. Sulfur is also
produced as a by-product of refining oil, especially Kirkuk crude.
Oil is the mainstay of the Iraqi economy. Despite its importance, the oil
industry and its infrastructure has been subject to chronic under funding
for more than 30 years. The oil industry is only capable of producing
about 50 percent of Iraq’s domestic consumption requirements. Prior to
the liberation of Iraq, oil wells were pumping more than 2.5 million bar-
rels a day under the auspices of the UN-Oil for Food Program. In June
2003, the Iraqi Oil Ministry predicted output would be restored to pre-
war levels by mid-2004. Equipment looting at oil facilities, compounded
by sabotage of pipelines, has contributed to reconstruction efforts.
Iraq’s oil deposits lie in two general regions — the north, in and around
Kirkuk, and in the south, in around Basrah and Umm Qasr, near the Per-
sian Gulf Port of Mina al-Bakr. Iraq has over 75 discovered oil fields.
The two largest producing fields are Kirkuk and Rumaylah, which have
combined reserves of some 22 billion barrels. Other major fields are
Natural Salt Bed
IRAQ An Nasiriyah
Az Zubayr Al
Food processing Basrah
Iron and steel
SAUDI KUWAIT Arabian
Boundary representations not necessarily authoritative.
East Baghdad (11 billion barrels), Zubayr (4.5 billion barrels), Bai Has-
san (2 billion barrels), Buzurgan (2 billion barrels) and Abu Ghirab (1.5
billion barrels). Iraq has three main oil refineries, located in Bayji,
Baghdad and Al Basrah.
The port facilities in southern Iraq were severely damaged during the
first Persian Gulf War but were sufficiently repaired to handle the 1
million barrels a day under the UN-sponsored Oil for Food Program.
Oil from Kirkuk and nearby fields can be exported via the 600-mile
pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. The 40-inch pipeline — which
appears operable — has a capacity of 1.1 million barrels a day. A sec-
ond, parallel pipeline with 500,000 million barrels a day capacity
exists but is currently inoperable.
The non-oil industry sector includes such industries as petrochemicals,
phosphate, sulfur, fertilizers, minerals, cement, paper, consumer goods,
light manufacturing, electronics, machinery and transport equipment,
textiles, leather and shoes, and food processing. Specific details about
these industries are unknown, and the Coalition Provisional Authority is
conducting a country assessment in these areas.
Under the Hussein regime, all farming was subsidized and all products
purchased by the central government. Coalition Provisional Authorities
and representatives of the Iraqi Agriculture Ministry are supporting less
government subsistence and a greater dependency on market forces.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts Iraq’s agricultural output
could double over the next several years with market reform and agro-
nomic training and assistance.
Agriculture comprises approximately 30 percent of the Iraqi economy.
Despite the importance of agriculture in Iraq’s economy, approximately
60 percent of the Iraqi population is receiving foodstuff assistance
through reconstruction efforts. Barley and wheat are the chief cereal
grains, and rice is grown in the south where water for irrigation is abun-
dant. Iraq is the largest producer of dates, its chief export crop. Cotton,
sugarcane and sugar beets also have significant commercial value.
Livestock is a significant contributor to Iraq’s agricultural economy.
Camels, sheep, goats and chickens are raised in most parts of the coun-
try. Cattle graze in irrigated areas, particularity in the south. Wool and
animal hides are exported, and milk and meat are produced for local
consumption. About one-fifth of Iraq consists of farmland; about half of
this is in the northeastern plains and mountain valleys. The remainder of
the cultivated land is in the valleys of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.
Current agriculture problems include overcoming the cultural mindset
of government subsistence farming, and the lack of instructions from a
central government on when to harvest and where to bring the crops.
Without instructions from the Coalition Provisional Authority, many
Iraqi farmers are reluctant to begin their harvest.
Ar Ramadi BAGHDAD
Karbala Al Kut
Meadows and pastures
(sheep and cattle) Hawr al
Hammar Al Basrah
Barley Rice Dates
Cotton Vegetables Wheat
The most critical infrastructures in Iraq are fuel, electricity, and water;
the infrastructure baselines vary widely across the country. In the south-
ern and central part of the country, there is sporadic electricity, a condi-
tion that directly affects the operability of the water and sewage
systems. The pumps necessary to transport the water supply and operate
the water sanitation equipment and wastewater treatment plants are all
run by electricity.
As of June 2003, military reverse osmosis water purification units and
wells were being used to supply Iraq with approximately 300,000 liters
of potable water daily.
Almost all of Iraq’s power production uses fossil fuels (97.89 percent),
with the remainder provided by hydroelectric power. In early 2003, elec-
tricity output was roughly 4.5-giga watts and was derived from the Bayji
and Mosul thermal plants and the Saddam hydroelectric dam on the
Tigris River. Demand for electricity is approximately 6.6 giga watts, and
the resulting 2.1-giga watt power deficit has caused power outages.
Most of the electrical problems reside in the central and southern part of
the country, as the infrastructure in previously Kurdish controlled north-
ern Iraq remains largely intact. While some of the disruption is due to
allied bombing during OIF, most are the result of sabotage, and post war
looting. Along the Al Basrah–Baghdad network, saboteurs destroyed
many power line towers by cutting the towers with torches.
To supplement the power grid system, the Coalition Provisional Author-
ity has imported generators that provide some relief to the situation.
Most of the electricity is going to the commercial and residential com-
munities, with very little electricity going toward the industrial sector. In
addition, there is a serious lack of spare parts for the water systems and
substations. As of June 2003, electricity in Baghdad was being provided
3-hours-on and 3-hours-off.
Half of Iraq’s population obtains water directly from surface sources
such as rivers, reservoirs, irrigation canals, drainage ditches, and
open wells. The remaining half depends on piped and bottled water.
Although OIF severely disrupted the supply of fresh water, especially
in the south, there now appears to be adequate drinking water
throughout the country.
The Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers provide Iraq with most of its water.
However, both Turkey and Syria have built dams that reduce the river
flow, and in the past water rights from the two rivers has been a source
of cross-border tension. In the south, Iraq has diverted many streams
that feed into the southern marshes for agriculture purposes. In addition,
it is believed that some of the projects were undertaken to deny dissi-
dents in the south refuge in the marshes, as well as make the southern oil
fields more attractive to international oil companies.
Both irrigation and agricultural infrastructure projects have been a major
feature of past Iraqi development spending. Due to irrigation drainage
and dam construction, the marshes have shrunk from 20,000 square
kilometers of fertile waterway to less than 2,000 square kilometers.The
flow from these marshes previously provided nutrients to fish-spawning
grounds in the northern Gulf.
Under Hussein, Iraqi law prohibited non-Arab foreign investment in
Iraqi companies, and the Iraqi constitution prohibited private ownership
of natural resources and the basic means of production, as well as for-
eign ownership of real estate. In June 2003, Iraqi Industry Ministry offi-
cials met with the Coalition Provisional Authority to discuss the
eventual privatization of the country’s 48 state-owned companies
(excluding oil companies). The Coalition Provisional Authority has
indicated that it would like to begin the process of privatizing state-
owned countries in 2004 to spur foreign investment.
All money coming into the country is being applied to humanitarian and
reconstruction needs. In June 2003, the Coalition Provision Authority
announced a US$100 million construction fund - US$45 million for
urgent construction projects, US$20 million to refurbish government
ministries damaged by bombs and looting, and US$25 million to com-
plete public works projects. In the future, money flowing into Iraq for
reconstruction will be bankrolled by US$1.7 billion in previously frozen
Iraqi assets in the United States as well as US$1.2 billion seized in other
countries, US$900 million in cash discovered by U.S. forces, and
US$350 million in currency and gold located at Iraq’s central bank.
Other sources of funding will include US$1 billion from the oil-for-food
program, US$2 billion pledged by other countries and US$2.5 billion
earmarked for relief and construction by the United States.
Many key issues will need to be addressed to stabilize the Iraqi econ-
omy. The security situation will remain at the forefront of improving all
aspects of the economy. It will also be necessary to establish a legitimate
Iraqi government and the necessary governmental institutions to regu-
late economic activity and commerce. As part of this process, recon-
struction efforts will focus on reviving the non-oil economy,
establishing a new monetary system, rebuilding the financial infrastruc-
ture to facilitate transactions, and transitioning the country from a state-
run to a market-based economy.
Another international legal hurdle contributing to the economic uncer-
tainty is the disposition of its foreign debts and war claims against the
country. It is unclear whether Iraq will be able to honor its foreign debt.
Further, the exact nature of Iraq’s indebtedness is unknown — estimates
range from US$60 to US$110 billion. Western sources provided Iraq
with approximately US$35 billion in military assistance during the
1980s, and the former Soviet Union and other eastern European states
provided approximately US$8 billion in assistance. Approximately
US$30-40 billion in assistance came from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the
United Arab Emirates during the 8-year Iran-Iraq War.
War damage claims and reparations for Kuwait are not included in these
estimates, and could increase Iraq’s debt by another US$43 billion for
individual and family compensations connected with its 1991 invasion
of Kuwait. In addition, Iran is still seeking US$97 billion for war dam-
age from the Iran-Iraq war.
For the remainder of 2003, it is expected that Iraq’s GDP will contract
by 7.5 percent as a result of declining oil production caused by OIF.
Continued international humanitarian and financial aid and money from
Iraqi oil exports will be the principal source of income for the country.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance
With major combat operations drawing to a close by late April 2003,
focus shifted to establishing a democratic government within Iraq.
Retired U.S. Lieutenant General Jay Garner was selected to lead the
effort as head of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assis-
tance (ORHA). Instability prohibited LtGen. Garner and his staff from
moving easily through the country; their efforts to evaluate what
resources would be required to commence reconstruction were therefore
hindered greatly by security concerns.
Adding to the country’s state of disarray was the Iraqi population’s dis-
trust of the United States (and authority in general) after enduring Hus-
sein’s regime for more than 2 decades. Many formerly exiled Iraqis
returned to the country seeking positions in a new government, thus
exacerbating the population’s uncertainty regarding who would deter-
mine their future.
The Coalition Provisional Authority
Concerns about a lack of progress prompted the appointment of Paul
Bremer to head the reconstruction effort, replacing LtGen. Garner.
ORHA was renamed the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).
As his first task, Bremer initiated the slow process of gaining the popu-
lace’s trust while working to reconstruct Iraq’s infrastructure. Gradually,
public services are being restored, citizens are beginning to return to
work, government and military personnel are being paid, and shops and
stores have opened.
Shiite Muslims, long oppressed by Hussein's Sunni-dominated govern-
ment, will likely have significant influence on any new governing
authority. A governing council of 25 was formed in July 2003 as the first
step in a 12-to-15 month governing process. The process will likely
involve a constitutional referendum, followed by the first free Iraqi elec-
tions in decades. The governing council will gradually return control to
Iraqis as elections at all levels occur.
While the Shiite majority seeks prominence, Sunni leaders as well as
other groups’ fear that a Shiite theocracy, like that in Iran, could take
hold. A Shiite-dominated government would cause an enormous shift in
Iraq, which has been ruled by Sunni minority since the days of Ottoman
Turkish rule. Shiites comprise at least 60 percent of Iraq's population of
24 million; they also have a history of rebelling against Sunni rulers.
Based on the transition plan, Iraqis who left the country during Hus-
sein’s reign will be represented in the new government, but the majority
of the council will be composed of those who remained during Hus-
sein’s reign. Shiite leaders have been among the most vocal critics of the
proposed governing council; some state that a council made up of privi-
leged people, apparently hand-picked by the United States, would have
no more legitimacy than the current provisional administration. Of more
concern is the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, one of Iraq's most influen-
tial Shiite leaders, who issued a fatwa, or religious edict, denouncing
plans for any council picked by the Americans.
Iraqi Governing Council
The Coalition Provisional Authority installed a governing council of 25
Iraqis from a variety of religious, political, and ethnic backgrounds on 13
July 2003. The membership includes an array of backgrounds, including
physicians, former exiles, lawyers, tribal leaders, social activists, Muslim
clerics, and politicians. The Council will serve with the CPA to adminis-
ter the nation until elections are held, and be responsible for the appoint-
ment of diplomats, the operation of ministries, the approval of an annual
budget and the establishment of a commission to draft a constitution.
Membership includes: 13 Shiites, 11 Sunnis and an Assyrian Christian
(who could, with their assent, represent Chaldean Christians as well).
Among the Sunnis, five are ethnic Kurds, five are Arab, and one is an
ethnic Turkoman. Three of the council members are women.
A separate committee is set to begin forming a 200-to-250-strong con-
stitutional convention. This group will decide what form of government
Iraq should have. With little infrastructure and no accurate Iraqi voter
records, a popular vote for the convention would be a challenge. One
option being studied is to establish an electoral college that would allow
regions and groups to nominate representatives.
The council has the authority to appoint and supervise the cabinet and to
manage sovereign affairs, such as the diplomatic corps abroad, issuing
new currency, and putting in place a financial budget. It also has a sig-
nificant role in developing and managing national security affairs. The
Council will undertake the country’s affairs until an interim government
can be elected. The new constitution will also be implemented. The
council includes the following representatives:
Iyad Allawi is a Shiite, former Iraqi intelligence officer from the Iraqi
National Accord Movement. He is a surgeon, whose uncle was health
minister under the ousted monarchy. He was a member of the Bá’ath
Counselors Chairman, Council for
JTF-7 Administrator International Cooperation (CIC)
Military Aides/ Executive NGOs
Personal Staff Secretariat General
Operational Financial UN Specialized
Support Group Oversight Agencies
Steering Office of
Group Policy Planning
Director Director Director of Operations Director Office of Director of Economic Director of Private
Oil Policy Governance and Infrastructure Management & Budget Development Sector Development
Director Director Director Director Director Strategic
AID Civil Affairs Interior Affairs Security Affairs Communications
Coalition Provisional Authority Organization
Director Director Director of Operations Director Office of Director of Economic Director of Private
Oil Policy Governance and Infrastructure Management & Budget Development Sector Development
Marketing Electricity Comptroller Central Bank Industry &
Oil Operations Infrastructure & Program Economic
Utility Policy Review Board Policy SOEs
Security Public Works Planning & Finance Trade
Tiger Team Debt Private Sector
Management Restructuring Initiatives
Transport & Financial Commercial
Communication Institutions Attache/Business
Policy Guidance Center
(Governor Level) Irrigation Corporate
Coalition Provisional Authority Directorship
Director Director Director Director Director Strategic
AID Civil Affairs Interior Affairs Security Affairs Communications
DART Culture NIA Civil Affairs
Reconstruction Education Immigration
Foreign Affairs Police
Higher Education Spokesman
Coalition Provisional Authority Directorship, Continued
party from 1961 until 1971 before fleeing the country. He helped to set
up the National Accord Movement in 1991.
Ahmad Chalabi is a secular Shiite who is the leading figure in the Pen-
tagon-backed Iraqi National Congress (INC). A doctor in mathematics
from the University of Chicago, he comes from a wealthy family and
founded the INC in 1992. Considered close to U.S. Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld, he fled Iraq in 1958. He was found guilty of embez-
zlement in a Jordanian court in the 1990s -- a conviction he says was
politically motivated under pressure from Hussein’s regime.
Akila Hashemi was a Shiite member of the committee advising the
interim foreign ministry under the U.S.-led coalition. She held a doctor-
ate in French literature and advised on international relations under the
former regime. Hashemi was assassinated in August 2003; her replace-
ment has not been selected.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Hakim is a high-ranking member of the
Supreme Assembly of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI), the main
Shiite Muslim group. He lived in exile in Iran for 23 years until May
2003. He heads the armed Badr brigades.
Ibrahim Jafari is a spokesman for the fundamentalist Shiite Dawa
party. A medic, he joined the Dawa movement in 1966. The group, the
oldest Islamist movement in Iraq, was founded in 1957 and is based on
the ideology of reforming Islamic thought and modernizing religious
institutions. When the party was banned in 1980, Jafari fled the country.
Wahel Abdul Latif is governor of the southern city of Basrah. He
served as a judge beginning in1982 and is currently deputy head of the
Basrah court. He was imprisoned for a year by the secret police under
Karim Mahud Hattab al-Mahamadawi, also known as Abu Hatem,
was born in 1958 and is a tribal chief from the southern marshlands
near Amarah. He spent most of his life leading guerrilla resistance
against Hussein’s regime from secret hideouts across the southern
marshlands. He spent 7 years in jail before 1986, when he disap-
peared into the marshlands and began launching sporadic and spec-
tacular resistance attacks. He is a member of one of the region’s
largest Arab Shiite Muslim tribes.
Hamid Majid Mussa is a Shiite head of the Iraqi communist party and
trained as an economist. Originally from Babylon, south of Baghdad, he
lived for several years in Iraqi Kurdistan, largely free of Hussein’s con-
trol since the 1991 Gulf War.
Wasfat al-Rubai is a doctor previously exiled in London who recently
returned to Iraq. His political allegiance is unknown.
Ezzedine Salim is head of the Islamic Dawa movement in the southern
city of Basrah.
Samir Mahmud is a businessman. His political allegiance is unknown.
Sheikh Barak Abu Sultan is head of union of lawyers and human rights
league in the central city of Babylon. His political allegiance is unknown.
Mohammed Barhul Uloom is a liberal ayatollah who ran the Islamic
Ahl ul-Bayt center in London. He fled Iraq in 1991 after some of his
family were killed by Hussein’s regime and returned to Iraq with the fall
of the Bá’ath Party.
Rajiha Habib Kurzai is a Shiite, a maternity doctor who lived in Lon-
don in the 1960s. Her political allegiance unknown.
Adnan Pachachi is a Sunni who served as foreign minister from 1965
to 1967, before the Báath Party came into power. A liberal, he heads a
group called Independent Iraqis for Democracy (IID) and lived for 23
years in the United Arab Emirates and in London.
Nasseer al-Shadershi is a Sunni Muslim lawyer who heads the Iraqi
Democratic Current. He became a lawyer in 1959 after studying in
Cairo and Baghdad, and lived in Iraq throughout Hussein's regime.
Mohsen Abdul Hamid is a Sunni secretary general of the Islamic Party,
the Iraqi branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1960 and
banned the following year.
Ghazi al-Yawar is a businessman originally from Mosul. He is the
nephew of Sheikh Mohsen Adil al-Yawar, head of the powerful Shamar
tribe, unusual in that is encompasses both Sunnis and Shiites. He lived
for 15 years in Saudi Arabia where he worked in business, returning to
Iraq in June 2003.
Salahedin Bahaeddin is an Islamist close to the Muslim Brotherhood.
He was born into a religious family in the Kurdish north and studied
religion. He founded the Islamist Union Party after 1991 when the
region shook off Baghdad’s control and became its secretary general in
1994. The party is the third Kurdish grouping after the Patriotic Union
of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
Massud Barzani is the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party
(KDP), established by his father. He became a Peshmerga fighter in
1963, taking over the party helm after his father’s death in 1979. He is
fiercely opposed to Hussein, who had three of his brothers killed and
repeatedly had his village razed. He has shared power in the autono-
mous Kurdish region of Iraq since 1991 along with rival Jalal Talabani.
Jalal Talabani is a lawyer by training and heads the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan (PUK). He was born near Irbil and during the 1960s was a
member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party under Barzani’s control. He
split from the party in 1975 to form the PUK, which controls the south-
east Kurdish region, while the KDP controls the northwest.
Mahmud Ali Osman is a medic originally from Sulaymaniyah. He held
various posts in the Kurdistan Democratic Party before leaving the
group and moving to London, where he founded the Kurdish Socialist
Party in 1975. He later moved to Irbil.
Dahran Nurredin was a Kurdish judge in his 50s, originally from
Kirkuk. He served 3 years in jail under Hussein for criticizing a decision
of the Revolutionary Command Council, the highest authority in the
Báath party regime. He was granted amnesty after a year. He served as
head of one of Baghdad's courts.
Yonnadam Yussef Kanna is a Christian engineer who heads the Assyr-
ian Democratic Movement. He served as a transport minister in the first
Kurdish regional assembly then as trade minister in the Kurdish regional
government set up in Irbil.
Shangul Shapuk is a teacher and grass roots activist. She is an artist
who teaches at the academy of fine arts in the northern city of Mosul.
The council membership reflects the population structure of each Iraqi group,
with 13 Shi’a, 5 Kurds, 5 Sunni, a Turkoman and a Christian. The Communist
Party will have a representative but it isn’t known who will be the general sec-
retary of the party or who will represent it in the Ruling Council.
The Ruling Council is the first step forward to sovereignty and indepen-
dence. After long negotiations between the leadership of the Islamic
National Party and the occupation authority, the first decision issued by
the council was the cancellation of all official days and all official cele-
brations that belong to the old regime. The day Hussein’s regime was
defeated, 9 April 2003, was declared an official Iraqi national day.
The council announced that the most important task of the council is
security and stability in Iraq and all of its efforts should be directed
toward this goal. They also must refresh the national economy and reac-
tivate the state and civilian societal foundations and seek to end the
interim period by drafting a permanent constitution.
Iraqi Government Ministries
The following is a list of the various ministries of the government and
Ministry of Agriculture
This ministry provides agricultural inputs and services to farmers.
According to The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, there
are more than 600,000 farmers in Iraq. There are both individual and
family farms (located mostly in the south), as well as large plantations
(located mostly in the north).
Ministry of Atomic Energy
The Ministry of Atomic Energy is being transferred to a Science and
Technology Commission. This is an organization with much broader
objectives that includes transforming the Weapons of Mass Destruction
group into a technology infrastructure group that will help rebuild Iraq
and transfer technology to its various sectors.
Ministry of Culture
The Ministry of Culture oversees many areas concerning entertainment
and the heritage of the Iraqi people. Along with archeological sites and
museums, the ministry oversees cinema, theater, fine arts, fashion, pub-
lishing and dance. An interim steering committee is overseeing the min-
istry. The committee is made up of a six-person board of respected
academics and cultural experts. This interim body is working with a
number of sub-committees to address the areas of rebuilding, personnel,
finance, legal issues, and tasking.
Ministry of Education
The Ministry of Education oversees primary and secondary education, as
well as educational reform, to include setting curricula, assessing and
auditing schools, opening schools and revising textbooks. Its goal is to
create a modern education system that will provide quality education for
all Iraqi children. Many of the Ministry of Education concerns are focused
on attendance and school infrastructure. Prior to the war, only 75 percent
of all school-age children attended school, and only 33 percent attended
secondary school. School buildings were in a state of disrepair due to
regime neglect, and numerous schools were used as arsenals. There are
16,000 primary and secondary schools in Iraq serving 8 million students;
it is estimated that only 30 percent of students are attending school.
Ministry of Electricity
The Ministry is being reestablished under the authority of CPA. The
nation’s electric grid suffered damage both during the war and, more
recently, by sabotage. CPA expects to have electricity supplies back to
pre-war conditions soon.
Ministry of Finance and Banking
The banking system centers around two large banks, Al Rasheed and
Rafadine and the Central Bank. Other smaller banks are the Industry
and Real Estate Banks. Rasheed Street in Baghdad is considered the
Iraqi equivalent of Wall Street. The Ministry of Finance establishes bud-
gets, manages debt, and establishes economic policy. It pays Iraq’s 1.8
million pensioners and 1.4 million state employees, and collects taxes
and customs revenues. The U.S. has announced that all assets frozen in
the U.S. during the first Gulf War will be returned to the Iraqi people.
These funds will partially be used to pay salaries, emergency payments,
and basic costs of the Iraqi government.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Ministry is working to create policies to build a new Iraqi relation-
ship with the U.S. and its allies, and will inform host nations how to
treat the new Iraqi embassies. They plan to open embassies in Jordan,
Syria and Iran first.
Ministry of Health
The Ministry of Health (MOH) is headquartered in Baghdad. The
MOH is staffed with industry leaders in health care from the
United States and other countries representing the civilian and mil-
itary coalitions supporting the effort to rebuild the Iraqi health care
system. The MOH works closely with its Iraqi MOH counterparts
in the MOH Baghdad offices and other non-governmental and
The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research
The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MHESR)
oversees the administration of 15 major public universities in Iraq, two
post-graduate commissions, and 37 technical institutes and colleges.
The MHESR has assumed basic administrative oversight of some higher
educational institutions previously tied to the office of the president and
other dissolved organizations (e.g., Al Nahrain University). At the start
of the 2002-2003 academic year, these institutions had more than
210,000 undergraduates attending classes taught by roughly 14,700 full-
time faculty members. Approximately 500 staff members serve in the
MHESR headquarters in Baghdad.
Ministry of Housing and Construction
The ministry is responsible for many of the construction projects in Iraq,
to include the national housing program, roads and bridges, and con-
struction of public buildings. It has three main components: engineering
and design, research and development related to construction of infra-
structure, and construction. The ministry has 12 state-owned general
construction companies with offices across the nation. The construction
program is carried out by the state-owned companies, as well as many
private Iraqi and international companies.
Ministry of Industry and Minerals
The Ministry of Industry and Minerals oversees 52 enterprises, which
are categorized by six sectors to include: food, pharmaceuticals, chemi-
cals for water purification and oil refining. The headquarters for the
ministry has 550 employees, and the state run enterprise employs
approximately 96,000 people.
Ministry of Information
This ministry is now referred to as Iraqi Media Network, due to the war-
time reputation of the past ministry. A network has been formed from
professional journalists who envision carrying the information to the
public in the same manner as broadcasting stations in the United States.
Ministry of the Interior
The Ministry of Interior consists of two government institutions: the
police and the municipal branches. The Ministry is vital to reestablish-
ing order in the postwar period, and is working to reemploy Iraqis who
worked there before the war. Law enforcement in Iraq has been one of
the CPA priorities since the initial looting following the collapse of the
government. In regard to fire protection, the interim supervisor reported
more than 900 fire brigade staff workers in Baghdad, where 23 out of 25
fire stations are staffed and 12 stations are operational.
Ministry of Irrigation
The Ministry of irrigation is responsible for water resources develop-
ment and management in Iraq. It is the bulk water supplier for irrigation
and municipal and industrial water uses. Water intake and distribution
are the responsibility of other ministries and individual farmers. The
new Public Works ministry, for example, treats and delivers water to
homes and businesses.
Ministry of Justice
This ministry’s mission is to institute the rule of law in Iraq and restore
non-judicial Ministry functions. It oversees courts, prosecutors, judicial
and prosecutorial training, publishing the Legal Gazette (all laws and
CPA proclamations), notaries, public deeds, records, and prisons. It has
12,000 employees, 130 courthouses (approximately 48 in operation),
and 400 courts (100 in operation).
Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs provides services and benefits
to Iraq’s most vulnerable citizens. The Ministry’s 3,800 career profes-
sionals administer the private social security pension fund and welfare
program – giving the nation’s children, elderly, widows and disabled the
financial means to survive. Services and benefits in the Kurdish regions
mirror those offered by the national Ministry in Baghdad.
Ministry of Oil
The Ministry of Oil oversees exploration, production, distribution and
marketing of crude oil, as well as the refining and distribution of petro-
leum products. Iraqi oil management, engineers and workers have been
working with U.S. advisors to assess damage and make repairs to criti-
cal nodes in the system.
Ministry of Planning
The Ministry of Planning oversees central data collection and analysis
for the Iraqi government and its various ministries. The Planning Minis-
try is also responsible for the census, telecommunications, economic
and agriculture measurements, international standards, contract bid pro-
posals and project planning.
Ministry Public Works
The reestablishment of a functional public works program is key to
rebuilding Iraq’s dilapidated public infrastructure. The CPA is consider-
ing employing former members of the Iraqi military as a pool of talent
to staff the rebuilding effort.
Ministry of Religious Affairs
The vision of the ministry is to enable the people of Iraq to realize the
benefits of tolerant, moderate, ecumenical religious practices by sup-
porting respected religious and political leaders in the establishment of
religious institutions and processes that reinforce these practices.
Ministry of Trade
The Ministry of Trade oversees national and international distribution of
Iraqi goods. The headquarters for the ministry employs 1,400 Iraqi citi-
zens and has eight satellite offices. The ministry is partially responsible
for the distribution of food, personal hygiene products and other basic
necessities to the 24 million people of Iraq.
Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications
The Ministry’s main responsibilities include constructing, maintaining
and improving Iraq’s surface transport infrastructure (including water-
ways), and restoring its civil aviation and telecommunications branches.
Ministry of Youth
When the Hussein regime was in power, the Ministry of Youth was used
as a tool to oppress the youth of Iraq. The former Olympic Village was
the site of an underground prison, and it housed the offices of Uday
Hussein. Now that the war is over, almost nothing remains of the Minis-
try. Unlike some of the other ministries, none of the former members
will be asked to return.
Role of Islam in the Political History of Iraq
The idea of the nation-state has no historical antecedents in the political
culture of Islam. The traditional term for a state in Muslim political cul-
ture is Dawla. Not a political concept, the term is best described as a
wielding of power. Other terms used by Muslims to denote a state are
Saltana and Mamlaka. Like Dawla, neither term has a territorial conno-
tation. Since Muslims believe that sovereignty is the exclusive preserve
of God, the Islamic notions of the caliphate have no territorial limits.
Rather, they adhere to a concept of rule by person or dynasty.
Since World War II, the religious bond among members of the Islamic
community — the Umma — has been often overshadowed by national-
ist affiliation, but it has not been completely abandoned or replaced.
Groups of fundamentalist Muslims still seek the fusion of religion and
state to attain the Islamic ideal of a just and righteous society where the
word of God is law.
Islam therefore has the potential to serve as a source of legitimacy for
Iraqi rulers. However, from 1920 to the late 1970s, Iraqi governments,
dominated by the Sunni Arab minority, were more or less secular. From
the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s, some Islamic movements began to
form in Iraq. The Iraqi branch of the Muslim Brotherhood was orga-
nized in 1945 in Baghdad and Mosul. Similarly, Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami
(HT) appeared in 1952 in Baghdad. The members of both groups were
predominantly Sunni Arabs from Sunni areas and towns in central Iraq.
However, HT included many Shi’a in its ranks.
For a decade after it took power in 1968, the ruling Ba’ath Party avoided
rifts with the more traditional masses by making a pretense of support-
ing religion, while simultaneously striving to defuse Islam as a political
and social force. The 1979 Iranian Revolution brought religious and eth-
nic identity to the center of regional politics. The surge in Islamic radi-
calism among Iraqi Shi’a during this period was less a result of Shi’a
radicalism in Iran and more a response to the martyrdom of Shi’a cleri-
cal leader Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr. It also reflected the changing rhet-
oric of the Sunni Arab elite, which began to emphasize Arab and Sunni
identity as synonymous with Iraqi national identity. Finally, as the Iraqi
regime increasingly controlled all aspects of Iraqi life, a growing num-
ber of Shi’a began to look to Islamic ideology as a vehicle for political
change. However, the Iraqi Shi’a never became genuinely revolutionary
like their Iranian counterparts.
Saddam Hussein took great pains to be viewed as religiously correct,
and therefore legitimate. While always emphasizing the Arab character
of Iraq rather than the regime’s Islamic zeal, the regime nevertheless
increasingly alluded to the religious nature of the state (especially after
the eruption of hostilities between Iran and Iraq). By the end of the
1980s, largely in response to the pressures generated by the Iran-Iraq
War, the Iraqi government infused much of its rhetoric with Islamic
terms and values, and introduced Islamic principles into its legal system.
In January 1991, just before the Gulf War, Iraq’s flag was changed to
include the Islamic slogan “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great).
During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the regime initially appealed to
trans-national Arab unity to generate support for Iraq. However, Iraq’s
invasion of an Arab country, and the hostile response of a substantial
segment of the Arab populations, undermined the effectiveness of Arab
unity against the West as a motivational symbol. The American pres-
ence in Saudi Arabia — the home of Islam’s holiest cities and shrines —
afforded the regime the opportunity also to invoke Islamic symbolism in
its effort to enlist popular support. As the crisis deepened, Iraqi rhetoric
relied heavily on Islam to enlist support, and resorted to unabashedly
Islamic appeals and symbols. References to the United States as infidels
replaced old epithets such as imperialists and colonialists.
In the decade after the Gulf War there was no sign of a return to secular-
ism. Rather, the Iraqi regime continued to expand Islamic law within the
Iraqi legal system, and introduced compulsory study of the Qur’an at all
educational levels. In an apparent appeal to Muslim sensibilities, Hus-
sein cultivated his image as a pious Muslim ruler. It was not clear to
what extent these steps helped legitimize the government or strengthen
its popularity. However, the regime remained secular in many respects.
As for the population, there were indications that many people turned to
religion in response to hardship.
Religious Justification for the Political Use of Violence
According to prevailing Islamic doctrine, Muslims reside either in the
House of Peace (territory under Islamic leadership) or the House of War
(its converse). The Prophet Muhammad fought offensive and defensive
battles as the early Muslim community left Mecca and sought to estab-
lish itself in the neighboring city of Medina. After his death, emerging
Islamic tradition began to formally sanction the use of force to achieve
what they termed a righteous society.
Islam possesses an elaborate body of rules about the collective duty of
the Muslim believers to wage holy war (jihad) for the sake of Allah
against infidels, or, in the words of the Prophet Muhammad, “until all
men say ‘There is no god but God.’” The ultimate aim of jihad is to
establish an Islamic state, for unless an Islamic government rules Mus-
lims, they will remain oppressed by infidel leadership.
By the 11th century, Muslim jurists had developed the principle of jihad
into concepts of defensive and offensive war, conduct of diplomatic
relations, conditions of and parameters for peace, division of spoils,
treatment of prisoners, political violence, and martyrdom. Islamic schol-
ars have differentiated three situations: war against non-Muslims
(jihad), war between Muslims (fitna), and war as a condition of the
human experience (harb). Jihad was permissible, if not obligatory; fitna
was objectionable. Nevertheless, Muslim Arabs often engage in conflict
with one another. In these cases one side usually declares the other to be
apostates from true Islam.
Muslim jurists have historically disagreed on the legal causes that justify
fighting non-Muslims. Some contend that all non-Muslims should be
fought because they are infidels; others argue that non-Muslims should be
fought only if they pose a danger to Muslims. Generally accepted interpre-
tations of jihad include principles of proportionality, redress, limitations on
combat, and the need to exhaust other methods before resorting to vio-
lence. Early Muslim jurists based these rules on Muhammad’s conduct in
battle, defined by 1) non-combatant immunity; 2) no destruction of reli-
gious buildings; 3) no destruction of crops or trees; 4) humane treatment of
prisoners; 5) no acts of reprisal, retribution, or victimization. In this sense,
Islam has concepts similar to the Western concept of “just war.”
Injunctions regarding jihad and the House of War have been tempered
over the centuries, since it is impractical to be constantly waging war.
Nevertheless, the concept of jihad remains a potent force, whether in
gathering political support to fight other Muslims or to fight against for-
eign powers. It assures Muslims that God stands by them in armed con-
flict and that sometimes God even requires them to engage in armed
conflict. However, in most instances, jihad has been a tool for secular
governments attempting to validate politically expedient warfare.
The Qur’an also deals with the concept of shahadat (martyrdom). Some
verses imply that those who become shahid do not really die, and that
they receive rewards in the afterlife. Husayn provided a prominent
example of shahadat. He was killed when he refused to accept the
authority of the Umayyad dynasty. Husayn’s example, which only
involved injury and death to combatants, has been used to legitimize
martyrdom that has inflicted death and injury on noncombatants. His
example especially resonates with Shi’a.
Saddam Hussein’s regime used Islam to motivate its soldiers during the
Iran-Iraq War. The prolonged fighting against religiously motivated Ira-
nian Shi’a made it necessary to address the Iraqi soldiers, who were
mostly Shi’a, in the same terms. Units and weapons were given Islamic
names, as were military operations and offensives. The regime also
labeled the war a jihad. This characterization served several purposes: it
deprived the opposite side of the conflict any moral legitimacy, it aug-
mented the fighters’ motivation, and it made it easier to win Muslim
states as allies, since joining a jihad was acting in defense of the faith.
To generate both internal and external support, Iraq similarly presented
the Gulf War as a jihad against the “infidel Christian.” One of Iraq’s war
aims was the liberation of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi
Arabia, which Hussein claimed had fallen into the hands of Christians
with the help of Muslim collaborators, the Saudi government.
Religious/Ethnic Identity and Politics
Iraq’s Sunni Arabs inhabit the valleys of the Euphrates above Baghdad,
and of the Tigris between Baghdad and Mosul. This region forms a tri-
angle between Baghdad, Mosul, and the Syrian and Jordanian borders.
Sunni Arabs in Iraq comprised the country’s ruling elite under the Hus-
sein regime. It is difficult, however, to speak of a strict or cohesive
Sunni political identity. Sunnis subscribe to a broad spectrum of ideolo-
gies and affiliations, many of which have little to do with religion.
Historically, Sunni Arabs have supported the Hussein regime because it
represented a bulwark against possible Shi’a and Kurdish power.
Beyond the regime’s Tikriti core, there was a broader system of Sunni
support based on socioeconomic enticements, patronage, and cliental
relationships. Sunni networks of patronage and association numbered
nearly 500,000 Iraqis if dependents were included. The military was
particularly vital to Sunni cohesiveness because, with the decline of the
Arab nationalist parties, many Sunnis considered the military their only
potential protector against Shi’a domination. In short, many Sunnis
were bound together by their desire to avoid the loss of power and influ-
ence that would accompany a more representative regime in Iraq. Part of
the regime’s response to the 1991 uprising was to appeal to this Sunni
solidarity, playing on their feelings of vulnerability. In particular, it
warned that the uprisings were a prelude to Shi’a revenge, producing
civil strife and mass killings.
As with the Shi’a, evidence is appearing that outsiders are taking an
interest in the Iraqi Sunnis, to include the introduction of Wahabism, a
conservative sect of Islam most prevalent in Saudi Arabia.
In the decade following the Gulf War, Iraq’s Sunni rulers succeeded in
eradicating much of the power traditionally held by the Shi’a religious
establishment based in Najaf and Karbala. There was some religiously
motivated Shi’a opposition, although it had to contend with a strong
apolitical tradition among Shi’a clergy. The prominent mujtahids in the
two Iraqi cities distanced themselves from preaching, an activity that
they considered detrimental to a mujtahid’s academic standing. As a
result, Shi’ism in Iraq lost much of its potential influence over the popu-
lation, as well as its power within the state.
As a group, the Iraqi Shi’a were acutely aware of their status as a politi-
cally marginalized section of the population. Since the creation of the
modern state of Iraq, the Iraqi Shi’a have been under-represented rela-
tive to their proportion of the population. In addition to the active dis-
crimination against the Shi’a by the Ba’ath government, there was
another barrier to Shi’a political participation that came from within the
group: the Shi’a rejection of Sunni political leaders as illegitimate, and
reluctance on the part of the Shi’a to participate in such a government.
With the toppling of the Hussein regime, the Shi’a are becoming more
active in political matters, encouraged in some cases by outside parties
such as Iran. However, the Shi’a are not monolithic in their outlook; there
are differences in terms of the degree of religious devotion that may be
affected by one’s socioeconomic status or even location (for example,
proximity to the holy cities of An Nejaf or Karbala). There are various
Islamist movements within the Shi’a, including the Supreme Council of
the Islamic Movement in Iraq (SCIRI), the Dawa Party, and others (see
the Shi’a portion of the Cultural Section of this handbook for more detail).
Many of these movements have armed militias associated with them. It
expected, however, that, given the majority status and the history of
abuses of the Shi’a, they intend to play a large role in any future govern-
ment in Iraq. In fact, the 25-person membership of the Iraq Governing
Council contains 13 Shi’a members. This will not necessarily satisfy the
more conservative members of the Shi’a religious leadership, many of
whom believe that a non-secular government is the correct path for Iraq.
After decades of fighting against various Iraqi regimes, Sunni Kurds are
extremely political. However, Sunni Kurds are not cohesive. In particu-
lar, the split between the two major Kurdish groups- the Kurdistan Dem-
ocratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)- has
severely undermined Kurdish solidarity. Conflict between the PUK and
the KDP led to violence between the two groups in 1994. The Kurdish
area in northern Iraq is divided into two zones of influence; the KDP con-
trols the northwestern section and the PUK administers in the southeast.
In the past, the Christian groups (Chaldeans, Assyrians, and others) have
experienced repression by the government, although they were at times
viewed as useful societal buffers by various regimes. They have not nec-
essarily been politically active (although former Minister of Foreign
Affairs Tariq Aziz was a Chaldean Christian with strong ties to Hus-
sein). They are accustomed to living under the dominance of those
adhering to the Islamic faith, and will not likely be seen as a threat by
their Islamic countrymen. However, their role in Iraqi society and their
importance to any new government is recognized by the appointment of
a Christian to Iraq’s Governing Council.
New Iraqi Army
Paul Bremer, Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) administrator,
announced in May 2003 the dissolution of the defense forces and other
security structures of the ousted regime. The order also did away with
the Ministry of Defense and Hussein's elite Republican Guard corps.
The CPA plans to create a new Iraqi corps, the first step in forming a
national self-defense capability for a free Iraq. The goal is for the new
Squad Tactics Training
force to be under civilian control; the corps will be professional, non-
political, militarily effective, and representative of all Iraqis.
The first battalion of 700 soldiers graduated from Kirkush Military
Training Base in early October 2003, following a 2-month basic training
course. The new battalion is another step toward Iraqi self-rule, and will
form the core of an army ultimately to be commanded by Iraqis. As the
force grows, they will assume some of the security details from Coali-
tion forces, putting an Iraqi face on the postwar administration of the
country. CPA goals are for the force to grow to between 35,000-40,000
troops by October 2004, organized into 27 battalions. It will then be up
to the new Iraqi government to see how it will build on that foundation.
The New Iraqi Army (NIA) will be established in four stages. Stage one
will focus on infrastructure repair/preparation and recruitment. The sec-
ond stage will highlight the organizing, training and equipping of the
new recruits. The third phase will concentrate on progressive training to
initial operations. The final phase will be the transition to the Iraqi
National Army. The NIA will initially be attached to the Commander,
Officer Candidate Training
Combined Joint Task Force-7 (CJTF-7). The end result will be three
motorized infantry divisions located near Mosul (Northern), Baghdad
(Central), and Basrah (Southern). As respective battalions are formed
and trained, they will be employed for the following missions: providing
point security (to include sensitive sites); convoy security; route secu-
rity; patrolling; border security; and de-mining.
An immediate priority for standing up a modern Iraqi military will be
to overhaul and update the present infrastructure. Following decades
of conflict, the military bases and the equipment associated with Sad-
dam’s army are in failing condition, unable to support a modern armed
force. Much of the military equipment purchased in the 1980s to sup-
port the war effort against Iran has been destroyed; maintenance short-
falls have rendered much of the remaining equipment unusable, and
much of what is left is obsolete. United Nations-imposed sanctions in
the post-Gulf War era forced Iraq to neglect improvements upon most
of their infrastructure, and severely restricted major end item improve-
ments for their equipment inventories. The U.S.-led coalition is help-
ing Iraq rebuild bases, fix logistics shortfalls, and rebuild command/
The CPA did not include a defense ministry when it reconstituted the
interim Cabinet. However, a defense support agency, the beginning of a
department of the army, is being created to deal with the daily bureau-
cratic demands of an emerging army. This work will focus on establish-
ing a Personnel Command, Doctrine and Training Command, and a
Logistics Support Command. The Bush administration has proposed
spending US$2 billion in 2004 to rebuild the army. Initially, most of the
equipment used to rebuild the NIA will be salvaged Iraqi equipment.
Recruiting is being conducted at centers in Mosul, Baghdad, and Bas-
rah. Satellite recruiting stations will eventually be established, and will
feed the larger recruiting sites. Initially, the recruiting is to be a joint
operation between the coalition and the Iraqis. The goal is to construct a
military that is representative of the Iraqi population, regarding both eth-
nicity and religious factors. A fair and proportionate distribution of all
ranks, both officer and enlisted, will be made available to Arabs, Kurds,
Turkmen, Chaldeans, and Assyrians, as well as Shi’a and Sunni Mus-
lims and Christians. A memorandum made available to all applicants
reiterates that leadership assignments and promotions will be based on
capabilities and merit, not tribal affiliations, ethnicity, or religion.
All potential recruits will be screened. The process will evaluate various
criteria, some of which may be waiverable, and some will disqualify
individuals from joining the military. There will also be special consid-
eration for individuals with desired or special skills. Former military
members with prior affiliation with regime security organizations, such
as the Special Republican Guard, will be automatically disqualified.
Past senior Ba’ath party members, anyone affiliated with terrorist orga-
nizations, or those with a known history of human rights violations will
also be disqualified. The names of recruits will be compared to a mani-
fest of the former military to ensure unwanted elements are screened
out. People with criminal history, close relationships to former regime
officials, and extremist organizational contacts are all waiverable. Non-
Iraqi citizenship is also waiverable. Candidates will be measured using a
“whole man” approach, taking into account criteria such as intellectual
ability, education, physical fitness, prior military service, and more.
About two-thirds of the first training class had prior military experience
in the old army. For the Second Battalion, all non-commissioned offic-
ers and officer candidates will have different tracts of training for
approximately the first 5 weeks. They will then be placed in to their
respective training company for collective training. An opportunity for a
delayed entry program is available if the volume of acceptable candi-
dates outnumbers the billets available.
Recruiting, training and equipping the three motorized infantry divisions
will be conducted over a period of 30 months. All enlistment terms of ser-
vice will be for 26 months- basic training plus 2 years of service. The goal
is for all NIA soldiers to qualify with their weapons, to understand their
individual jobs, and to work as a team member upon graduation from
basic training. The model for a battalion calls for 41 officers and 649
enlisted. This includes a headquarters company with 17 officers and 201
enlisted, and four line companies, each with 6 officers and 112 enlisted.
The first battalion will be used in the central region. As more battalions
complete training, they will be placed in one of the three regions, until
each region has three battalions forming one brigade. The goal is to have a
brigade in each region by the summer of 2004. After the 4th battalion
graduates (late February 2004) the Kirkush training base will stand up as
an “NCO Academy.” At that point, 400-500 NCOs will receive a 4-week
training package. The officer candidates will be trained by and in Jordan.
When the NCOs are finished with their training in Kirkush, and the offic-
ers have completed their training, they will combine and be responsible
for training the new enlisted soldiers. Sites around the country (much like
Kirkush) are being improved and made ready for the training of the
enlisted troops of the NIA. The first brigade to become a division will be
in the central region, and it is projected to be operational in January 2005.
The increase in strength from brigade to division for the North and South
regions should be complete in January 2006.
The plan is to create a professional, capable military that can ensure the
integrity of Iraq and add stability to the nation and region. One priority
is to demonstrate that the new army is not a continuation of the old
regime, that it is not a militia to be used as a political enforcement appa-
ratus, but is instead a component of a new security strategy for Iraq. A
close association with the defense support agency and the NIA will help
to make the eventual succession of military authority to civilian author-
ity over the NIA seamless.
The average salary of an Iraqi private under Hussein’s rule was US$11
per month, while an officer candidate made about US$44. Today, OCS
candidates receive $100 a month, while an E-1 will receive $60 a
month. There are seven enlisted pay grades, with Jundi being the lowest,
to Sergeant Major. There are two warrant officer ranks. The officer
ranks range from the second lieutenant to the lieutenant general, who
receives $240 a month. There will likely be a stipend provided to any-
one involved in the Delayed Entry Program. Other recommendations for
compensation include enlistment bonuses, completion of training
bonuses, transportation allowances, and equipment buy-back.
Deployed Personnel’s Guide to Health Maintenance
DoD-prescribed immunizations and medications, including birth control
pills, should be brought in sufficient quantity for deployment’s duration.
Only food, water, and ice from approved U.S. military sources should
be consumed. Consuming food or water from unapproved sources may
cause illness. Food should be thoroughly cooked and served hot.
Thorough hand-washing before eating and after using the latrine is
highly recommended, as is regular bathing. Feet should be kept dry and
treated with antifungal powder. Socks and underwear should be changed
daily; underwear should fit loosely and be made of cotton fiber.
Excessive heat and sunlight exposure should be minimized. Maintaining
hydration is important, as are following work-rest cycles and wearing
uniforms properly. Sunglasses, sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher), and lip
balm are recommended. Drinking alcohol should be avoided. Personnel
with previous heat injuries should be closely monitored.
Uniforms should be worn properly (blouse boots). DEET should be
applied to exposed skin and uniforms treated with permethrin; per-
methrin is not intended for use on skin. Proper treatment and wear of
uniform, plus application of DEET to exposed skin, decreases the risk of
diseases transmitted by biting insects.
Overcrowded living areas should be avoided. Ventilated living areas and
avoiding coughing or sneezing toward others will reduce colds and
other respiratory infections. Cots or sleeping bags should be arranged
“head to toe” to avoid the face-to-face contact that spreads germs.
Contact with animals is not recommended. Animals should not be kept
as mascots. Cats, dogs, and other animals can transmit disease. Food
should not be kept in living areas as it attracts rodents and insects, and
trash should be disposed of properly.
Hazardous snakes, plants, spiders, and other insects and arthropods such
as scorpions, centipedes, ants, bees, wasps, and flies should be avoided.
Those bitten or stung should contact U.S. medical personnel.
All sexual contact should be avoided. Properly used condoms offer some
protection from sexually transmitted diseases but not full protection.
Stress and fatigue can be minimized by maintaining physical fitness,
staying informed, and sleeping when the mission and safety permits.
Alcohol should be avoided as it causes dehydration, contributes to jet
lag, can lead to depression, and decreases physical and mental readi-
ness. Separation anxiety, continuous operations, changing conditions,
and the observation of human suffering will intensify stress. Assistance
from medical personnel or chaplains is available.
If unapproved water, as found in many lakes, rivers, streams, and city
water supplies must be used in an emergency, the water may be disin-
I Adding calcium hypochlorite at 5.0 ppm for 30 minutes;
I Adding Chlor-Floc or iodine tablets according to label instructions;
I Heating water to a rolling boil for 5 to 10 minutes; or
I Adding 2 to 4 drops of ordinary chlorine bleach per quart of water
and waiting 30 minutes before using it.
Either U.S. military preventive medicine or veterinary personnel should
inspect bottled water supplies. Bottled water does not guarantee purity;
direct sunlight on bottled water supplies may promote bacterial growth.
Water in canals, lakes, rivers, and streams is likely contaminated; unnec-
essary bathing, swimming, and wading should be avoided. If the tactical
situation requires entering bodies of water, all exposed skin should be
covered to protect from parasites. Following exposure, it is important to
dry vigorously and change clothing.
Rodents should not be tolerated in the unit area; they can spread serious
illness. Diseases may be contracted through rodent bites or scratches,
transmitted by insects carried on rodents (such as fleas, ticks, or mites),
or by contamination of food from rodent nesting or feeding. Personnel
can minimize the risk of disease caused by rodents by:
I Maintaining a high state of sanitation throughout the unit area;
I Sealing openings 1/4 inch or greater to prevent rodents from entering
I Avoiding inhalation of dust when cleaning previously unoccupied
areas (mist these areas with water prior to sweeping; when possible,
disinfect area using 3 ounces of liquid bleach per 1 gallon of water).
I Promptly removing dead rodents. Personnel should use disposable
gloves or plastic bags over the hands when handling any dead animal
and place the dead rodent/animal into a plastic bag prior to disposal.
I Seeking immediate attention if bitten or scratched by a rodent or if
experiencing difficulty breathing or flu-like symptoms.
Exposure to harmful insects, ticks, and other pests is a year-round,
worldwide risk. The following protective measures reduce the risk of
insect and tick bites:
I Use DoD-approved insect repellents properly;
I Apply DEET on all exposed skin;
I Apply permethrin on clothing and bed nets;
I Tuck bed net under bedding; use bed net pole;
I Avoid exposure to living or dead animals;
I Regularly check for ticks;
I Discourage pests by disposing of trash properly; eliminate food stor-
age in living areas; and
I Cover exposed skin by keeping sleeves rolled down when possible,
especially during peak periods of mosquito biting (dusk and dawn);
keep undershirts tucked into pants; tuck pant legs into boots.
Uniforms correctly treated with permethrin, using either the aerosol spray-
can method (reapply after sixth laundering) or with the Individual Dynamic
Absorption (IDA) impregnation kit (good for 6 months or the life of the uni-
form) will help minimize risks posed by insects. The date of treatment
should be labeled on the uniform.
Bed nets should be treated with permethrin for protection against biting
insects using either the single aerosol spray can method (treating two bed
nets) or the unit’s 2-gallon sprayer. All personnel should sleep under
mosquito nets, regardless of time of day, ensure netting is tucked under
bedding, and use poles to prevent bed nets from draping on the skin.
DoD-approved insect repellents are:
IDA KIT: NSN 6840-01-345-0237
Permethrin Aerosol Spray: NSN 6840-01-278-1336
DEET Insect Repellent: NSN 6840-01-284-3982
If heat is a threat in the area, personnel should:
I Stay hydrated by drinking water frequently;
I Follow work-rest cycles;
I Monitor others who may have heat-related problems;
I Wear uniforms properly;
I Use a sun block (SPF 15 or higher), sunglasses, and lip balm;
I During hot weather, wear natural fiber clothing (such as cotton) next
to the skin for increased ventilation;
I Seek immediate medical attention for heat injuries such as cramps,
exhaustion, or stroke. Heat injuries can also occur in cold weather;
I Avoid standing in direct sunlight for long periods; be prepared for
sudden drops in temperature at night, and construct wind screens if
necessary to avoid blowing dust or sand.
Sunscreen lotion: NSN 6505-01-121-2336
Non-alcohol lotion base sunscreen: NSN 6505-01-267-1486
EASY MODERATE HARD
WORK WORK WORK
WBGT Water Water Water
Heat Index Work / Intake Work / Intake Work / Intake
Cat (o F) Rest (Qt/Hr) Rest (Qt/Hr) Rest (Qt/Hr)
1 78 – 81.9 NL 1/2 NL 3/4 40/20 min 3/4
2 82 – 84.9 NL 1/2 50/10 min 3/4 30/30 min 1
3 85 – 87.9 NL 3/4 40/20 min 3/4 30/30 min 1
4 88 – 89.9 NL 3/4 30/30 min 3/4 20/40 min 1
5 > 90 50/10 min 1 20/40 min 1 10/50 min 1
The work/rest times and fluid replacement volumes will sustain per-
formance and hydration for at least 4 hours of work in the specific heat
category. Individual water needs will vary +/- (plus/minus) 1/4 qt/hr.
NL = no limit to work time per hour. Rest means minimal physical
activity (sitting or standing) and should be done in shade if possible.
Caution: Hourly fluid intake should not exceed 1 ½ quarts. Daily
intake should not exceed 12 quarts. Note: MOPP gear adds 10o to
High risk food items such as fresh eggs, unpasteurized dairy products,
lettuce or other uncooked vegetables, and raw or undercooked meats
should be avoided unless they are from U.S. military approved sources.
Those who must consume unapproved foods should choose low risk
foods such as bread and other baked goods, fruits that have thick peels
(washed with safe water), and boiled foods such as rice and vegetables.
Military-approved latrines should be used when possible. If no latrines
are available, personnel should bury all human waste in pits or trenches.
If cold weather injuries are a threat in the area, personnel should:
I Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water or other decaffeinated beverages;
I Closely monitor others who have had previous cold injuries;
I Use well-ventilated warming tents and hot liquids for relief from the
cold. Watch for shivering and increase rations to the equivalent of
four MREs per day;
I Not rest or sleep in tents or vehicles unless well ventilated; tempera-
tures can drop drastically at night;
I Dress in layers, wear polypropylene long underwear, and use sun-
glasses, scarf, unscented lip balm, sunscreen, and skin moisturizers;
I Insulate themselves from the ground with tree boughs or sleeping
mats and construct windscreens to avoid unnecessary heat loss; and
I Remember that loss of sensitivity in any body part requires immediate
Those caring for injured persons should immediately:
I Establish an open airway,
I Ensure the victim is breathing,
I Stop bleeding to support circulation,
I Prevent further disability,
I Place dressing over open wounds,
I Immobilize neck injuries,
I Splint obvious limb deformities, and
I Minimize further exposure to adverse weather.
Injuries and Care
❏ Cold, clammy skin
❏ Shallow, labored, and rapid breathing
❏ Rapid pulse
❏ An open airway should be maintained.
❏ Unconscious victims should be placed on their side.
❏ Victims should be kept calm, warm, and comfortable.
❏ Lower extremities should be elevated.
❏ Medical attention should be sought as soon as possible.
❏ Exposed organs should be covered with moist, clean dressing.
❏ Wound should be secured with bandages.
❏ Displaced organs should never be reintroduced to the body.
❏ Direct pressure with hand should be applied; a dressing should be
used if available.
❏ Injured extremity should be elevated if no fractures are suspected.
❏ Pressure points may be used to control bleeding.
❏ Dressings should not be removed; additional dressings may be
applied over old dressings.
❏ NOTE: Tourniquets should only be used when an injury is life
❏ A 1-inch band should be tied between the injury and the heart, 2 to
4 inches from the injury, to stop severe bleeding; wire or shoe
strings should not be used.
❏ Band should be tight enough to stop bleeding and no tighter.
❏ Once the tourniquet is tied, it should not be loosened.
❏ The tourniquet should be left exposed for quick visual reference.
❏ The time that the tourniquet is tied and the letter “T” should be
written on the casualty’s forehead.
I Embedded objects should not be removed; dressings should secure
objects to prohibit movement.
I Bandages should be applied lightly to both eyes.
I Patients should be continuously attended.
I Sucking noise from chest
I Frothy red blood from wound
I Entry and exit wounds should be identified; wounds should be cov-
ered (aluminum foil, ID card).
I Three sides of the material covering the wound should be taped, leav-
ing the bottom untaped.
I Victim should be positioned to facilitate easiest breathing.
I Deformity, bruising
I Swelling and discoloration
I Fractured limb should not be straightened.
I Injury should be splinted with minimal movement of injured person.
I Joints above and below the injury should be splinted.
I If not in a chemical environment, remove clothing from injured area.
I Rings should be removed from fingers.
I Check pulse below injury to determine blood flow restrictions.
Spinal, Neck, Head Injury
I Lack of feeling and/or control below neck
I Conscious victims should be cautioned to remain still.
I Airway should be checked without moving injured person’s head.
I Victims who must be moved should be placed, without bending or
rotating victim’s head and neck, on a hard surface that would act as a
litter (door, cut lumber).
I Head and neck should be immobilized.
I Spasms, usually in muscles or arms
I Results from strenuous work or exercise
I Loss of salt in the body
I Normal body temperature
I Cramps in abdomen or limbs
I Pale skin
I Dizziness, faintness, weakness
I Nausea or vomiting
I Profuse sweating or moist, cool skin
I Weak pulse
I Normal body temperature
I Headache, dizziness
I Red face/skin
I Hot, dry skin (no sweating)
I Strong, rapid pulse
I High body temperature (hot to touch)
I Victim should be treated for shock.
I Victim should be laid in a cool area with clothing loosened.
I Victim can be cooled by sprinkling with cool water or fanning
(though not to the point of shivering).
I If conscious, victim may drink cool water (2 teaspoons of salt to one
canteen may be added).
I Seek medical attention immediately; heat stroke can result in death.
Burns may be caused by heat (thermal), electricity, chemicals, or radia-
tion. Treatment is based on depth, size, and severity (degree of burn). All
burn victims should be treated for shock and seen by medical personnel.
I Skin reddens
I Source of burn should be removed.
I Cool water should be applied to the affected area.
I Skin reddens and blisters
I Very painful
I Source of burn should be removed.
I Cool water should be applied to the affected area.
I Blisters should not be broken.
I A dry dressing should cover the affected area.
I Charred or whitish looking skin
I May burn to the bone
I Burned area not painful; surrounding area very painful
I Source of burn should be removed.
I Clothing that adheres to burned area should not be removed.
I A dry dressing should cover the affected area.
I Power source must be off.
I Entry and exit wounds should be identified.
I Burned area should be treated in accordance with its severity.
I Skin should be flushed with a large amount of water; eyes should be
flushed for at least 20 minutes.
I Visible contaminants should be removed.
I Phosphorus burns should be covered with a wet dressing (prevents
air from activating the phosphorous)
I Body is cold under clothing
I Victim may appear confused or dead
I Victim should be moved to a warm place.
I Wet clothing should be removed; victim should be dressed in warm
clothing or wrapped in a dry blanket.
I Body parts should not be rubbed.
I Victims must not consume alcoholic beverages.
I Skin appears white or waxy
I Skin is hard to the touch
I Victim should be moved to a warm place.
I Affected area should be warmed in 104 to 108° F (40° C) water for
15 to 30 minutes (NOT hot water).
I Affected area should be covered with several layers of clothing.
I Affected area must not be rubbed.
I Victim must seek medical attention.
Emergency Life-Saving Equipment
Equipment may be improvised when necessary. Following is a list of
possible uses for commonly found items.
Shirts = Dressings/Bandages
Belts, Ties = Tourniquets, Bandages
Towels, Sheets = Dressings/Bandages
Socks, Panty Hose, Flight cap = Dressings/Bandages
Sticks or Tree Limbs = Splints
Blankets = Litters, Splints
Field Jackets = Litters
BDU Shirts = Litters/Splints
Ponchos = Litters/Bandages
Rifle Sling = Bandages
M-16 Heat Guards = Splints
IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICES
Terrorist use of explosives to attack U.S. and coalition forces worldwide
remains a primary concern based on successful employment and
increased sophistication of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Sev-
eral terrorist groups have demonstrated technological advances in
bomb-making, combining high-tech firing systems, timers, and anti-
tampering devices with low-cost explosives (for example, TNT, ammo-
nium nitrate/fuel oil, and military-grade high explosives) to produce
increasingly larger and more devastating bombs. IED deployment often
involves using people, aircraft, boats, and vehicles as delivery platforms.
The term ‘improvised explosive device’ describes devices that have
been creatively constructed from available material, and incorporate
explosives, pyrotechnic, or incendiary chemicals in their design. IEDs
are generally handmade, and consist of an energetic material and an ini-
tiation fuse or initiation system. IEDs may be placed or delivered with
the intent to destroy, disfigure, distract, harass personnel, or to disperse
a toxic material to expose a target population. They range in design from
crude to sophisticated, depending on the ingenuity of the designer and
the availability of tools and materials. IEDs are extremely diverse and
may contain any type of firing device or initiator, plus various military,
commercial, or handmade fillers.
The word ‘improvised’ is the key to IED design. Most IEDs are unique
because the builder must use whatever materials are at hand. Most IEDs
are designed to defeat a specific target or type of target. They generally
become more difficult to detect and protect against as they become more
sophisticated. The diversity of IED designs, electronic components,
methods of concealment, and standoff initiation technologies all con-
tribute to the difficulty in detection and protection. Generally, each of
Typical IED Components
the following component classes can be found in military/commercial
systems, or in handmade systems:
I Initiation Systems. Also known as fuzes, triggers, or switches, initi-
ation systems can take on many forms. These can be electrical,
mechanical, or pyrotechnic systems, ranging from simple burning
time (safety) fuzes to advanced electronic integrated circuits.
I Filler Materials. Filler materials can include explosives, incendiary
materials, chemicals or chemical agents, biological materials, or
radioactive materials. Filler varies with the intended target and avail-
I Detonators. Detonators can be electric or non-electric, depending on
the firing system used. Electric detonators, or blasting caps, are most
commonly used because they are more widely available, and are eas-
ier to control.
I Power Sources. Power sources are commonly batteries (normally
standard 9-volt batteries) that have sufficient power to initiate an
electric detonator. In rare cases, IEDs have been powered by wall
current or solar-powered cells.
I Containers. Containers are the most widely differing components of
IEDs. Almost any type of container can be used to conceal an IED.
Generally, the container is chosen to blend with the target environ-
ment. Some containers may have an additional fragmentation hazard
(such as propane tanks), or may simply be a concealment device with
no added hazard (for example, a backpack).
Commonly Used Explosives
Terrorists obtain explosive material from many sources. Some are man-
ufactured for commercial and military use; however, when military and
commercial explosives are unavailable, explosive material can be made
from common substances. Examples of commonly used explosives that
terrorists worldwide have effectively used in IEDs are as follows:
Handmade Military Grade
Alulminized fomulations Alulminized formulations
ANFO Black powder
Chlorate mixtures C-4
Flammable gases Comb B
Gasoline Metal azide salts
Hydrogen peroxide/cellulose Nitrolycerine, Nitrocellulose
Nitrate mixtures PETN
Paint mixtures Picric acid
Perchlorate mixtures RDX
Sugar mixtures Semtex
Sulfuric acid mixtures Tetryl
Triacetone-triperoxide (TATP) TNT
Blast and Fragmentation Threat from IEDs
Threat posted to personnel, structures, and vehicles by IEDs is gener-
ated by blast overpressure, and fragmentation. The threat distances from
fragments and debris are almost always much greater than those posted
by blast overpressure. The threat severity is heavily dependent on the
type and amount of explosive used, and the nature of the container.
IEDs encased in heavy (usually metal) containers are designed to frac-
ture the container and throw the fragments of the container for long dis-
tances. Metal objects such as nuts, bolts, ball bearings, screws, and nails
can also be imbedded into the explosive to increase fragmentation
effects. For heavily cased IEDs, up to half of the detonation energy is
consumed fracturing the container. IEDs with heavy cases are ideal for
attacking unprotected personnel and thin-skinned vehicles.
Lightly cased IEDs generally pose a low fragmentation threat, but a high
threat due to blast overpressure. The human body has pressure-sensitive
organs (e.g., ears, lungs), but overpressures of an atmosphere ore greater
are required to cause serious injuries to these tissues. The greatest threat
posed by lightly cased IEDs is to non-reinforced structures, where over-
pressures of about half an atmosphere (7.3 psi) or less can damage com-
mon structural materials such as glass, concrete, wood, and brick. The
IED concealed in a Cocoa Can
threat to personnel from these types of IEDs is therefore generated by
the partial or total collapse of buildings, dwellings, or other structures.
Blast Overpressure Effects on Personnel and Structure
Peak overpressure (psi) Effect
0.4-1.0 Window glass breaks
1.5-5.5 Concrete shatters; wood splinters
2.9-8.7 Bricks shear
13.0-18.9 50 percent ear drum rupture
30.0-40.0 Lung damage
100-120 1 percent lethality
130-180 50 percent lethality
200-250 99 percent lethality
Example Blast/Fragmentation Threats from IEDs.
Frag threat Blast threat
Explosive Explosive mass distance distance
Device (TNT equivalent, kg) (meters) (meters)
Pipe bomb 2.5 250 8.5
Briefcase bomb 25.0 500 23.0
Car bomb 400.0 500 58.0
Truck bomb 4,000.0 1,000 125.0
IED Threat to Armored Vehicles
Common IED threats to armored vehicles are stationary mines (buried
for belly attacks or mounted for side attacks), and small, portable IEDs
used for close attack, or attached to the vehicle.
As military forces often use armored assets in counter-terrorist operations,
these vehicles have become prime targets for terrorist operatives. The
most notable of such attacks is the destruction of Israeli Merkava Mark III
main battle tanks by Palestinian operatives on at least two occasions in
2002. The IEDs used in these operations were exceptionally large charges
at 50-100 kilograms (110-220 pounds) of handmade explosives buried in
the roadway. Charges of this magnitude can generate blast overpressures
of up to 200 atmospheres, which is the equivalent of 10 large anti-tank
mines. There is virtually no defense against IEDs of this size.
Terrorist operatives have been known to construct and employ shaped
and hollow-charge IEDs in various levels of sophistication against
armored vehicles. The IEDs typically achieve armor penetration of less
than 300 millimeters, which is the minimum a military-class high-
explosive antitank (HEAT) warhead is capable of achieving.
Flammable Gas Explosives
Over the past century, thousands of people have been killed by explo-
sions of flammable gases. Most incidents are accidental, or the result of
negligence, but deliberately set explosives are not uncommon. Occa-
sionally, an explosion causes hundreds of deaths. In 1992, a sewer
explosion in Guadalajara, Mexico killed more than 200 people, and the
1989 explosion of gases leaking from a pipeline in Russia killed nearly
600 people. The highest profile terrorist use of flammable gases may
have been the April 2002 attack on a Tunisian synagogue that killed
more than 20 people and injured dozens.
Most organic liquid and gaseous materials cannot burn or detonate until
they are mixed with air in the proper concentrations. When a mixture is
initiated, there are four possible outcomes: ignition failure, flash fire,
deflagration, or detonation.
in air (vol. %)
Gas Transport Method
Acetylene Non-liquefied/ 2.5 100.0
Butane Liquefied 1.8 8.4
Ethylene Oxide Liquefied 3.0 100.0
Gasoline Liquefied 1.3 6.0
Methane Nonliquefied/ 5.0 15.0
Propane Liquefied 2.1 9.5
Propylene Oxide Liquid 2.8 37.0
n-Propyl Nitrate Liquid 2.0 100.0
Vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) have killed
more than 300 and injured more than 1,000 U.S. citizens in the past 20
years. VBIEDs may be fabricated from any type of vehicle, are simple
to construct, and are capable of causing massive amounts of damage.
VBIEDs are effective for several reasons. They are built into or based
on vehicles, making them inherently mobile and difficult to locate or
track. Vehicles are also easy to conceal, and therefore easy to place near
the intended target. VBIEDs are usually large and are therefore capable
of concealing large amounts of explosives. Likewise, VBIEDs carry
such a large payload, they may not need to penetrate perimeter security
obstacles to be effective. The addition of a suicide driver significantly
increases the probability that a VBIED attack will be successful.
Historically, most VBIEDs have used ammonium nitrate/fuel oil
(ANFO) as the main explosive charge. However, VBIED charges could
use almost any explosive, as long as large quantities are available.
Vehicles used in VBIED Operations
ANFO, TNT, C-4, and urea nitrate, as well as flammable gases, are just
a few of the many explosives that have been used in VBIED attacks. As
with all terrorist activities, the terrorist organizations are likely to use
the material that is most readily available. VBIEDs may contain any-
where from 500 to 60,000 pounds of high explosive.
VBIEDs tend to be simple in construction. All that is required is a vehi-
cle, a large amount of explosive material, and an initiation system.
Remotely controlled vehicles have been used on occasion. Another
innovative technique is the use of directed-blast VBIEDs. These devices
make use of sand or other dense filler materials placed on the side of the
main charge, facing away from the intended target. This dense material
serves to concentrate the blast wave toward the direction of the target,
which in turn pushes more explosive energy toward structures, and
causes more damage.
Explosives Building Outdoor
capacity (TNT evacuation evacuation
equivalent) distance distance
Pipe bomb 2.3 kg / 5 lb 21 m / 71 ft 259 m / 850 ft
Briefcase/ 23 kg / 46 m / 564 m /
Suitcase bomb 50 lb 150 ft 1,850 ft
Compact sedan 227 kg / 98 m / 457 m /
500 lb 320 ft 1,500 ft
Sedan 454 kg / 122 m / 534 m /
1,000 lb 400 ft 1,750 ft
Passenger/ 1,814 kg / 195 m / 838 m /
cargo van 4,000 lb 640 ft 2,750 ft
Small moving van/ 4,536 kg / 262 m / 1,143 m /
Delivery truck 10,000 lb 860 ft 3,750 ft
Moving van/ 13,608 kg / 375 m / 1,143 m /
Water truck 30,000 lb 1,240 ft 6,500 ft
Semi-trailer 2,7216 kg / 475 m / 2,134 m /
60,000 lb 1570 ft 7,000 ft
Suicide attacks constitute an escalation of terrorist activity, and the
intent of these attacks is to cause maximum casualties and damage, and
to strike a blow to public morale. Over the past two decades, several
countries have been forced to contend with suicide attacks. Radical
activists from Turkey, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, and Palestine have used sui-
cide tactics as a weapon in terrorist attacks, with the goal of producing a
negative psychological effect on an entire population rather than just the
victims of the attack. Historically viewed as a problem affecting the
Middle East and South Asia, the threat posed by suicide terrorism is
spreading around the globe.
A suicide attack is an operational tactic whereby the act of violence
results in the voluntary death of the attacker. The attacker is fully aware
that if he does not kill himself, the planned attack will not be success-
ful.Such attacks are carried out by activating explosive material con-
cealed on the body or carried by a vehicle, usually a car, truck, or boat.
Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia, 1996 VBIED Damage
The individual suicide
bomber attack is one of
the easiest and cheapest
terrorist operations to
execute. It is the ulti-
bomb. Not only does the
bomber decide exactly
when and where to
attack for optimum
results, he can sponta-
neously move to a sec-
ondary target or target
of opportunity if neces-
sary. Recent trends
show the suicide body
suit or belt has evolved
to improve conceal-
ment, and is becoming
increasingly small. Ini-
tially, the device was a
square block of explo- Suicide Belt
sives worn in the chest and belly area. Gradually, it evolved into a small
block of explosives placed just above the navel. With the exception of
the malleable plastic explosives and detonator, all the other components
can be purchased from fabric and auto shops (ball bearings, wires, bat-
teries, and switches). Because they contain few or no electronic compo-
nents, it is difficult for security agencies to develop counter technologies
to detect these devices. To increase lethality, fragmentation devices are
used, incorporating small objects such as screws, nails, or ball bearings.
There is no consistent characterization of a suicide bomber. The keys to
a successful suicide bombing operation are pre-operational surveillance
and the attacker’s ability to blend into the target environment. As coun-
tries adopt countermeasures, terrorist groups will adopt new methods of
attack that contradict known profiles that security forces are following
to uncover potential bombers.
Simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and relatively high success all contribute
to the high threat posed by suicide bombing attacks. Suicide terrorism
will continue to spread. New tactics, delivery methods, and explosive
combinations are evolving and becoming more effective. Terrorist
groups are setting a dangerous trend of using suicide bombers to destroy
targets far removed from their theaters of war. The 11 September 2001
attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon underscore how ter-
rorists’ imagination, ingenuity, and will to succeed can expand the
options for conducting such attacks.
Explosives detection in airports typically relies on dogs trained to sniff
out nitrogen-based explosives, or chemical swipe tests designed to
detect the same compounds. Explosive materials that contain no nitro-
gen have been developed commercially and by terrorist groups.
Although detectable by other means, these non-nitrogen-based explo-
sives are much less likely to trigger alarms at most airports.
Terrorist Use of TATP
Terrorist groups have been making extensive use of triacetone triperox-
ide (TATP), which is unstable, but is relatively easy to make from
readily available materials. It has been a popular main-charge explosive
material among Palestinian terrorists. TATP has less than 90 percent of
the power of TNT and is extremely sensitive to friction and impact.
However, it is easily prepared from acetone, battery acid, and commer-
cial-grade (30 percent concentration) hydrogen peroxide. In addition to
being used in main charges, it can also be used as an initiator for more
A number of known explosive compositions contain hydrogen peroxide
(H202). Concentrated H2O2, when combined with many common organic
materials, will form an explosive mixture with performance properties
only slightly less than that of TNT. H2O2 will form an explosive mixture
when combined with a specific ratio of cellulose/starch materials, such as
cotton, flour, ground spices, or coffee grounds, none of which would trig-
ger an alarm in an explosives inspection. Shelf life of the explosive is 48
hours, and it has 80 percent explosive equivalent to TNT.
Future Trends for IEDs
As security measures continue to evolve, terrorist organizations will
seek to improve techniques for IED fabrication and use. Several trends
are emerging. For example, IEDs are being made smaller and bombers
are leaning toward the more stable military-grade explosives and means
of initiation. New techniques are also being developed to deliver the
explosive to the target more reliably, as in the use of tandem charges,
directed-energy IEDs, and the use of third parties to unwittingly deliver
The commercial explosives industry continues to improve detonation
devices, making them safer, more reliable, and smaller. As this technol-
ogy becomes available to terrorists, they will be able to make more
effective IEDs. The latest microdetonators may lead to smaller firing
circuits, which are more likely to pass through security checkpoints.
Shock Tube is an increasingly common device used in commercial and
military demolition and disposal operations. It has a plastic tube 1/8
inch in outer diameter, and the inner surface of the tube is layered with a
thin film of HMX dust (10 grams per 100 feet). An igniter is placed on
one end of the tube, and a non-electric detonator is placed on the other.
Shock Tube contains considerably less explosive than is found in typical
detonating cord, and therefore storage and handling requirements are
less restrictive. Also, when combined with a non-electric detonator, the
chance of detection is further reduced.
Several new techniques have been developed by terrorist organizations
in order to more effectively deliver the device to the target. Because sui-
cide bombers may be unreliable, or may exhibit external signs that
would alert security forces, terrorist groups are beginning to use third
parties who are unaware that they are carrying explosives. This tech-
nique was demonstrated most recently by the FARC. FARC members
forced kidnapped civilians to drive large VBIEDs to predetermined
locations; the civilians were unaware that they were transporting explo-
sives. When the VBIED arrived at the target location, FARC operatives
detonated the explosives, killing the driver and damaging the target.
Unless prior knowledge is available, these operations are nearly impos-
sible to stop.
The use of remote-controlled vehicles is becoming increasingly popular
among terrorist organizations. These devices provide a reliable means of
getting the ordnance to the target as long as the target is within range of
the remote-control device. However, this type of operation does require
a more sophisticated knowledge of electronic devices, as well as a sig-
nificant amount of practice.
Arctic Ocean Severnaya
M o u ld B ay Islands
R e so lu te S tandard tim e is advanced one N o rd vik
hour, the year round, in R ussia D ickso n
M u rm a n sk A m b a rch ik
Ta a siila q N o vyy Ve rkh o ya n sk
Nom e R eykjavik A n a d yr
Fa irb a n ks Po rt
W h ite h o rse H e lsin ki Ya ku tsk
Oslo M a ga d a n
International Time Zones
A n ch o ra ge C h u rch ill
Ju n e a u S to ckh o lmLe n in gra d S ve rd lo vsk N o vo sib irsk
M o sco w Aloutian
Ed m o n to n D u blin B e rlin Irku tsk Islands
Aloutian W a rsaw
Islands W in n ip e g -3h30m Lo n d o n K iyev
S eattle M o n tre a l S t. Jo h n s Pa ris B u d a p e st
D e tro it B e lgra d e
B o ise C hicago N ew Yo rk M a d rid R o m e Ista n bu l B a ku B e ijin g
r Tu n is Seoul
San Francisco D e nveS t. Lo u is W ashington D.C. Azores Lisb o n Te h ra n K a bu l La n zh o u
Lo s A n ge le s Bermuda A lgie rs B a gh d a d +3h30m +4h
H o u sto n Trip o li C a iro N ew
M ia m i Atlantic 30m D e lh i Pacific Ocean
H o n o lu lu M e cca C a lcu tta Taiwan Midway
M exico H ava n a Ocean K h a rto u m B om bay Hanoi H o n g Ko n g Wake
Hawaii Pacific D a ka r
M a n a gu a Sanaa +5h30m B a n gko k M a n illa Guam
Ocean C a ra ca s A d d is +6h30m
Pa n a m a -3h30m La go s Marshall
B o go ta M o n ro via A ccra Ababa C o lo m b o Caroline Islands
Galapagos Q u ito K am pala N a iro b i S in ga p o re Islands
Marquesas Islands K in sh a sa
Islands M anaus Dar es Indian
S a lva d o r Lu a n d a Ja ka rta
-9h30m Lim a S a la a m Ocean D a rw in Fiji
Samoa La Pa z B ra silia Lu sa ka
H a ra re A n ta n a n a rlvo New
Cook R io d e W in d h o e k
Islands A su n cio n +9h Caledonia
Janeiro M a p u to B risb a n e
S antiago Pe rth 30m
C ape Tow n S yd n ey
Buenos M e lb o u rn e
A ire s
W e llin gto n
S an Julian
Boundary representations are not
necessarily authoritative. Falkland B ro w n a n d Ye llo w : H o u rly Z o n e s
Islands G re e n : Irre gu la r T im e Z o n e s
-11 -10 -9 -8 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5 +6 +7 +8 +9 +10 +11 +12-
Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)
To use the table, go to the country you are interested in, and add the num-
ber of hours corresponding to the United States time zone to the current
time. The UTC is also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Country UTC Eastern Central Mountain Pacific
Afghanistan +4.5 H +9.5 H +10.5 H +11.5 H +12.5 H
Albania +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Algeria +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
American Samoa -11.0 H -6.0 H -5.0 H -4.0 H -3.0 H
Andorra +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Angola +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Antarctica -2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H +5.0 H +6.0 H
Antigua and Barbuda -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
Argentina -3.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H +5.0 H
Armenia +4.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H +12.0 H
Aruba -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
Ascension +0.0 H +5.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H
Australia North +9.5 H +14.5 H +15.5 H +16.5 H +17.5 H
Australia South +10.0 H +15.0 H +16.0 H +17.0 H +18.0 H
Australia West +8.0 H +13.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H +16.0 H
Australia East +10.0 H +15.0 H +16.0 H +17.0 H +18.0 H
Austria +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Azerbaijan +3.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H
Bahamas -5.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H
Bahrain +3.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H
Bangladesh +6.0 H +11.0 H +12.0 H +13.0 H +14.0 H
Barbados -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
Belarus +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Belgium +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Belize -6.0 H -1.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H
Benin +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Bermuda -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
Bhutan +6.0 H +11.0 H +12.0 H +13.0 H +14.0 H
Bolivia -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
Bosnia Herzegovina +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Botswana +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Country UTC Eastern Central Mountain Pacific
Brazil East -3.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H +5.0 H
Brazil West -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
British Virgin Islands -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
Brunei +8.0 H +13.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H +16.0 H
Bulgaria +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Burkina Faso +0.0 H +5.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H
Burundi +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Cambodia +7.0 H +12.0 H +13.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H
Cameroon +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Canada East -5.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H
Canada Central -6.0 H -1.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H
Canada Mountain -7.0 H -2.0 H -1.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H
Canada West -8.0 H -3.0 H -2.0 H -1.0 H +0.0 H
Cape Verde -1.0 H +4.0 H +5.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H
Cayman Islands -5.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H
Central African Rep. +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Chad Republic +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Chile -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
China +8.0 H +13.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H +16.0 H
Christmas Island -10.0 H -5.0 H -4.0 H -3.0 H -2.0 H
Colombia -5.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H
Congo +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Cook Island -10.0 H -5.0 H -4.0 H -3.0 H -2.0 H
Costa Rica -6.0 H -1.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H
Croatia +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Cuba -5.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H
Cyprus +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Czech Republic +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Denmark +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Djibouti +3.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H
Dominica -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
Dominican Republic -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
Ecuador -5.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H
Egypt +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
El Salvador -6.0 H -1.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H
Equatorial Guinea +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Country UTC Eastern Central Mountain Pacific
Eritrea +3.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H
Estonia +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Ethiopia +3.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H
Falkland Islands -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
Fiji Islands +12.0 H +17.0 H +18.0 H +19.0 H +20.0 H
Finland +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
France +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
French Antilles -3.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H +5.0 H
French Guinea -3.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H +5.0 H
French Polynesia -10.0 H -5.0 H -4.0 H -3.0 H -2.0 H
Gabon Republic +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Gambia +0.0 H +5.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H
Georgia +4.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H +12.0 H
Germany +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Ghana +0.0 H +5.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H
Gibraltar +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Greece +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Greenland -3.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H +5.0 H
Grenada -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
Guadeloupe -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
Guam +10.0 H +15.0 H +16.0 H +17.0 H +18.0 H
Guatemala -6.0 H -1.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H
Guinea-Bissau +0.0 H +5.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H
Guinea +0.0 H +5.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H
Guyana -3.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H +5.0 H
Haiti -5.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H
Honduras -6.0 H -1.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H
Hong Kong +8.0 H +13.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H +16.0 H
Hungary +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Iceland +0.0 H +5.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H
India +5.5 H +10.5 H +11.5 H +12.5 H +13.5 H
Indonesia East +9.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H +16.0 H +17.0 H
Indonesia Central +8.0 H +13.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H +16.0 H
Indonesia West +7.0 H +12.0 H +13.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H
Iran +3.5 H +8.5 H +9.5 H +10.5 H +11.5 H
Iraq +3.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H
Country UTC Eastern Central Mountain Pacific
Ireland +0.0 H +5.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H
Israel +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Italy +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Jamaica -5.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H
Japan +9.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H +16.0 H +17.0 H
Kazakhstan +6.0 H +11.0 H +12.0 H +13.0 H +14.0 H
Kenya +3.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H
Kiribati +12.0 H +17.0 H +18.0 H +19.0 H +20.0 H
Korea, North +9.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H +16.0 H +17.0 H
Korea, South +9.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H +16.0 H +17.0 H
Kuwait +3.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H
Kyrgyzstan +5.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H +12.0 H +13.0 H
Laos +7.0 H +12.0 H +13.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H
Latvia +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Lebanon +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Lesotho +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Liberia +0.0 H +5.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H
Libya +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Liechtenstein +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Lithuania +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Luxembourg +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Macedonia +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Madagascar +3.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H
Malawi +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Malaysia +8.0 H +13.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H +16.0 H
Maldives +5.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H +12.0 H +13.0 H
Mali Republic +0.0 H +5.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H
Malta +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Marshall Islands +12.0 H +17.0 H +18.0 H +19.0 H +20.0 H
Mauritania +0.0 H +5.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H
Mauritius +4.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H +12.0 H
Mayotte +3.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H
Mexico East -5.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H
Mexico Central -6.0 H -1.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H
Mexico West -7.0 H -2.0 H -1.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H
Moldova +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Country UTC Eastern Central Mountain Pacific
Monaco +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Mongolia +8.0 H +13.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H +16.0 H
Morocco +0.0 H +5.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H
Mozambique +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Myanmar (Burma) +6.5 H +11.5 H +12.5 H +13.5 H +14.5 H
Namibia +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Nauru +12.0 H +17.0 H +18.0 H +19.0 H +20.0 H
Nepal +5.5 H +10.5 H +11.5 H +12.5 H +13.5 H
Netherlands +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Netherlands Antilles -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
New Caledonia +11.0 H +16.0 H +17.0 H +18.0 H +19.0 H
New Zealand +12.0 H +17.0 H +18.0 H +19.0 H +20.0 H
Newfoundland -3.5 H +1.5 H +2.5 H +3.5 H +4.5 H
Nicaragua -6.0 H -1.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H
Nigeria +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Niger Republic +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Norfolk Island +11.5 H +16.5 H +17.5 H +18.5 H +19.5 H
Norway +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Oman +4.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H +12.0 H
Pakistan +5.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H +12.0 H +13.0 H
Palau +9.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H +16.0 H +17.0 H
Panama, Rep. of -5.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H
Papua New Guinea +10.0 H +15.0 H +16.0 H +17.0 H +18.0 H
Paraguay -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
Peru -5.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H
Philippines +8.0 H +13.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H +16.0 H
Poland +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Portugal +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Puerto Rico -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
Qatar +3.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H
Reunion Island +4.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H +12.0 H
Romania +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Russia West +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Russia Central 1 +4.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H +12.0 H
Russia Central 2 +7.0 H +12.0 H +13.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H
Russia East +11.0 H +16.0 H +17.0 H +18.0 H +19.0 H
Country UTC Eastern Central Mountain Pacific
Rwanda +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Saba -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
Samoa -11.0 H -6.0 H -5.0 H -4.0 H -3.0 H
San Marino +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Sao Tome +0.0 H +5.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H
Saudi Arabia +3.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H
Senegal +0.0 H +5.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H
Seychelles Islands +4.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H +12.0 H
Sierra Leone +0.0 H +5.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H
Singapore +8.0 H +13.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H +16.0 H
Slovakia +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Slovenia +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Solomon Islands +11.0 H +16.0 H +17.0 H +18.0 H +19.0 H
Somalia +3.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H
South Africa +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Spain +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Sri Lanka +5.5 H +10.5 H +11.5 H +12.5 H +13.5 H
St. Lucia -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
St. Maarteen -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
St. Pierre & Miquelon -3.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H +5.0 H
St. Thomas -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
St. Vincent -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
Sudan +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Suriname -3.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H +5.0 H
Swaziland +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Sweden +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Switzerland +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Syria +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Taiwan +8.0 H +13.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H +16.0 H
Tajikistan +6.0 H +11.0 H +12.0 H +13.0 H +14.0 H
Tanzania +3.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H
Thailand +7.0 H +12.0 H +13.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H
Togo +0.0 H +5.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H
Tonga Islands +13.0 H +18.0 H +19.0 H +20.0 H +21.0 H
Trinidad and Tobago -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
Tunisia +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Country UTC Eastern Central Mountain Pacific
Turkey +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Turkmenistan +5.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H +12.0 H +13.0 H
Turks and Caicos -5.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H
Tuvalu +12.0 H +17.0 H +18.0 H +19.0 H +20.0 H
Uganda +3.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H
Ukraine +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
United Arab Emirates +4.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H +12.0 H
United Kingdom +0.0 H +5.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H
Uruguay -3.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H +5.0 H
USA Eastern -5.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H
USA Central -6.0 H -1.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H
USA Mountain -7.0 H -2.0 H -1.0 H +0.0 H +1.0 H
USA Western -8.0 H -3.0 H -2.0 H -1.0 H +0.0 H
USA Alaska -9.0 H -4.0 H -3.0 H -2.0 H -1.0 H
USA Hawaii -10.0 H -5.0 H -4.0 H -3.0 H -2.0 H
Uzbekistan +5.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H +12.0 H +13.0 H
Vanuatu +11.0 H +16.0 H +17.0 H +18.0 H +19.0 H
Vatican City +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Venezuela -4.0 H +1.0 H +2.0 H +3.0 H +4.0 H
Vietnam +7.0 H +12.0 H +13.0 H +14.0 H +15.0 H
Wallis & Futuna Islands +12.0 H +17.0 H +18.0 H +19.0 H +20.0 H
Yemen +3.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H +11.0 H
Yugoslavia +1.0 H +6.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H
Zaire +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Zambia +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
Zimbabwe +2.0 H +7.0 H +8.0 H +9.0 H +10.0 H
When You Know
Units of Length Multiply by To find
Millimeters 0.04 Inches
Centimeters 0.39 Inches
Meters 3.28 Feet
Meters 1.09 Yards
Kilometers 0.62 Miles
Inches 25.40 Millimeters
Inches 2.54 Centimeters
Feet 30.48 Centimeters
Yards 0.91 Meters
Miles 1.61 Kilometers
Units of Area
Sq. Centimeters 0.16 Sq. Inches
Sq. Meters 1.20 Sq. Yards
Sq. Kilometers 0.39 Sq. Miles
Hectares 2.47 Acres
Sq. Inches 6.45 Sq. Cm
Sq. Feet 0.09 Sq. Meters
Sq. Yards 0.84 Sq. Meters
Sq. Miles 2.60 Sq. Km
Acres 0.40 Hectares
Units of Mass and Weight
Grams 0.035 Ounces
Kilograms 2.21 Pounds
Tons (100kg) 1.10 Short Tons
Ounces 28.35 Grams
Pounds 0.45 Kilograms
Short Tons 2.12 Tons
Units of Volume Multiply by To find
Milliliters 0.20 Teaspoons
Milliliters 0.06 Tablespoons
Milliliters 0.03 Fluid Ounces
Liters 4.23 Cups
Liters 2.12 Pints
Liters 1.06 Quarts
Liters 0.26 Gallons
Cubic Meters 35.32 Cubic Feet
Cubic Meters 1.35 Cubic Yards
Teaspoons 4.93 Milliliters
Tablespoons 14.78 Milliliters
Fluid Ounces 29.57 Milliliters
Cups 0.24 Liters
Pints 0.47 Liters
Quarts 0.95 Liters
Gallons 3.79 Liters
Cubic Feet 0.03 Cubic Meters
Cubic Yards 0.76 Cubic Meters
Units of Speed
Miles per Hour 1.61 Km per Hour
Km per Hour 0.62 Miles per Hour
To convert Celsius into degrees Fahrenheit, multiply Celsius by 1.8 and
add 32. To convert degrees Fahrenheit to Celsius, subtract 32 and
divide by 1.8.
100 212 © Boiling Point of Water
Heat Wave © 40 105
98.6 © Normal Body Temperature
A Hot Summer Day © 30
70 © A Mild Spring Day
A Warm Winter Day © 10
© Freezing Point of Water
Currency Conversion Chart
Currency Conversion: MIDDLE EAST CURRENCY to U.S. DOLLAR
Rate 3.217 Rate 3.745 Rate 0.299 Rate 3.217 Rate 3.745 Rate 0.299
I 1 $0.31 S 1 $0.27 K 1 $3.34 I 19 $5.91 S 19 $5.07 K 19 $63.55
R 2 $0.62 A 2 $0.53 U 2 $6.69 R 20 $6.22 A 20 $5.34 U 20 $66.89
A U W A U W
Q 3 $0.93 D 3 $0.80 A 3 $10.03 Q 25 $7.77 D 25 $6.68 A 25 $83.61
4 $1.24 I 4 $1.07 I 4 $13.38 30 $9.33 I 30 $8.01 I 30 $100.33
D 5 $1.55 5 $1.34 T 5 $16.72 D 35 $10.88 35 $9.35 T 35 $117.06
I 6 $1.87 A 6 $1.60 6 $20.07 I 40 $12.43 A 40 $10.68 40 $133.78
N R D N R D
A 7 $2.18 A 7 $1.87 I 7 $23.41 A 45 $13.99 A 45 $12.02 I 45 $150.50
R 8 $2.49 B 8 $2.14 N 8 $26.76 R 50 $15.54 B 50 $13.35 N 50 $167.22
9 $2.80 I 9 $2.40 A 9 $30.10 60 $18.65 I 60 $16.02 A 60 $200.67
A R A R
10 $3.11 10 $2.67 10 $33.44 70 $21.76 70 $18.69 70 $234.11
11 $3.42 R 11 $2.94 11 $36.79 80 $24.87 R 80 $21.36 80 $267.56
12 $3.73 I 12 $3.20 12 $40.13 90 $27.98 I 90 $24.03 90 $301.00
13 $4.04 Y 13 $3.47 13 $43.48 100 $31.09 Y 100 $26.70 100 $334.45
14 $4.35 L 14 $3.74 14 $46.82 200 $62.17 L 200 $53.40 200 $668.90
15 $4.66 15 $4.01 15 $50.17 300 $93.26 300 $80.11 300 $1003.34
16 $4.97 16 $4.27 16 $53.51 400 $124.34 400 $106.81 400 $1337.79
17 $5.28 17 $4.54 17 $56.86 500 $155.43 500 $133.51 500 $1672.24
18 $5.60 18 $4.81 18 $60.20 1000 $310.86 1000 $267.02 1000 $3344.48
Currency Conversion: U.S. DOLLAR to MIDDLE EAST CURRENCY
Rate 3.217 3.745 0.299 Rate 3.217 3.745 0.299
U $1 I 3.22 S 3.74 K 0.30 U $19 I 61.12 S 71.15 K 5.68
S $2 R 6.43 A 7.49 U 0.60 S $20 R 64.34 A 74.90 U 5.98
A U W A U W
D $3 Q 9.65 D 11.23 A 0.90 $25 Q 80.42 D 93.62 A 7.47
O $4 12.87 I 14.98 I 1.20 O $30 96.51 I 112.35 I 8.97
L $5 D 16.08 18.72 T 1.49 L $35 D 112.59 A 131.07 T 10.46
L $6 I 19.30 A 22.47 1.79 L $40 I 128.68 R 149.80 11.96
A N R D A N A D
R $7 A 22.52 A 26.22 I 2.09 R $45 A 144.76 B 168.52 I 13.45
$8 R 25.74 B 29.96 N 2.39 $50 R 160.85 I 187.25 N 14.95
$9 28.95 I 33.70 A 2.69 $60 193.01 A 224.70 A 17.94
A R R R
$10 32.17 37.45 2.99 $70 225.18 I 262.15 20.93
$11 35.39 R 41.19 3.29 $80 257.35 Y 299.60 23.92
$12 38.60 I 44.94 3.59 $90 289.52 A 337.05 26.91
$13 41.82 Y 48.68 3.89 $100 321.69 L 374.50 29.90
$14 45.04 L 52.43 4.19 $200 643.38 749.00 59.80
$15 48.25 56.17 4.48 $300 965.07 1123.50 89.70
$16 51.47 59.92 4.78 $400 1286.76 1498.00 119.60
$17 54.69 63.66 5.08 $500 1608.45 1872.50 149.50
$18 57.90 67.41 5.38 $1000 3216.90 3745.00 299.00
Travel Distances in Middle East
B A D R
Distances A M H U J J M M N R T
in Miles A G C A A S I U A M E A I S T E
M H A S H A D B N E D J Y A A H
M D I C R L D A A C I R A N B R
A A R U A E A I M C N A D A U A
N D O S N M H L A A A N H A K N
AMMAN, Jordan 500 307 110 943 46 744 894 966 760 558 1121 839 1256 251 929
BAGHDAD, Iraq 500 807 469 596 545 876 541 614 865 677 1092 627 1239 577 439
CAIRO, Egypt 307 807 384 1179 263 763 1134 1203 792 639 1185 1022 1300 338 1240
DAMASCUS, Syria 110 469 384 968 138 844 916 993 857 653 1207 888 1343 355 878
DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia 943 596 1179 968 981 769 59 26 734 673 714 243 846 847 658
JERUSALEM, Israel 46 545 263 138 981 746 932 1003 763 570 1133 866 1265 250 973
JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia 744 876 763 844 769 746 763 793 43 208 428 532 537 500 1234
JUBAIL, Saudi Arabia 894 541 1134 916 59 932 763 76 731 649 742 247 877 809 613
MANAMA, Bahrain 966 614 1203 993 26 1003 793 76 756 696 728 261 853 875 655
MECCA, Saudi Arabia 760 865 792 857 734 763 43 731 756 208 395 492 508 520 1214
MEDINA, Saudi Arabia 558 677 639 653 673 570 208 649 696 208 561 451 694 330 1056
NAJRAN, Saudi Arabia 1121 1092 1185 1207 714 1133 428 742 728 395 561 512 149 892 1333
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia 839 627 1022 888 243 866 532 247 261 492 451 512 653 689 821
SANAA, Yemen 1256 1239 1300 1343 846 1265 537 877 853 508 694 149 653 1022 1472
TABUK, Saudi Arabia 251 577 338 355 847 250 500 809 875 520 330 892 689 1022 1012
TEHRAN, Iran 929 439 1240 878 658 973 1234 613 655 1214 1056 1333 821 1472 1012
Travel Distances in Iraq
Distances A A A A N
in Miles L L L Y A S
M B K S A
B H A R A A A K I M
A I L A A N G I R I M N R A
S L M M I H R B R O A I R
R L K A A Y D B A K S J Y R
A A U D R A A I L U U A A A
H H T I A H D L A K L F H H
AL BASRAH, Iraq 243 182 334 102 376 282 451 371 397 486 231 100 345
ALHILLAH, Iraq 243 82 92 167 220 59 257 142 205 276 35 148 123
AL KUT, Iraq 182 82 161 91 212 103 275 224 221 307 95 104 163
AL RAMADI, Iraq 334 92 161 251 191 64 195 99 154 202 117 241 63
AMARA, Iraq 102 167 91 251 275 193 350 307 297 388 168 78 252
AS SULAYMANIYAH, Iraq 376 220 212 191 275 165 91 289 60 141 255 316 130
BAGHDAD, Iraq 282 59 103 64 193 165 198 150 147 220 94 194 67
IRBIL, Iraq 451 257 275 195 350 91 198 279 54 51 291 379 137
KARBALA, Iraq 371 142 224 99 307 289 150 279 247 272 141 271 160
KIRKUK, Iraq 397 205 221 154 297 60 147 54 247 94 241 325 93
MOSUL, Iraq 486 276 307 202 388 141 220 51 272 94 309 409 154
NAJAF, Iraq 231 35 95 117 168 255 94 291 141 241 309 132 156
NASIRIYAH, Iraq 100 148 104 241 78 316 194 379 271 325 409 132 260
SAMARRAH, Iraq 345 123 163 63 252 130 67 137 160 93 154 156 260
1 January New Year’s Day
6 January Army Day (1921)
8 February 8th of February Revolution
21 March Spring Day
17 April Liberation Day
1 May Labor Day
14 July July Revolution
17 July National Day
8 August Victory Day
There are several religious holidays celebrated by Muslims. These holi-
days are based on the lunar calendar, so the actual day of celebration
may vary. They includethe following:
The first of this month marks the Islamic new year. It is the anniversary
of Mohammed’s Hajra from Mecca to Medina.
The tenth of Muharram began a fast that lasted 24 hours. Called
’ashoora, meaning tenth, this holy day at the beginning of the Prophet’s
mission coincided with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement in Judaism.
For Shi’ites, ’ashoora is much more significant. It is the anniversary of
the martyrdom of Hussein, the son of Ali, and Mohammed’s grandson.
This is the most important Shi’a holiday and is commemorated by the
passion plays reenacting Hussein’s betrayal and murder, as well as by
processions of Shi’a men who engage in self-flagellation as atonement
for sin. These festivities are viewed with great suspicion by the ruling
Sunni families in the Gulf; however, they are permitted in Bahrain,
Kuwait, and the UAE. While not necessarily dangerous, non-Muslims
would do well to avoid Shi’a celebrations of ‘ashoors.
This day occurs in the month of Rajab and commemorates the Ascen-
sion of the Prophet Mohammed to heaven and his return to Medina.
The feast occurs at the end of the fast of Ramadan or the 1st day of the
month of Shawwal and lasts 3 days. This holiday is also known as Eid
al-Sagheer (the small eid).
Also known as Eid al-Kabeer (the big eid) or the Day of the Sacrifice,
this feast begins on the 10th of Dhu al-Hijjah and lasts 3 days. It com-
memorates Abraham’s attempt to sacrifice his son.
This day celebrates the birth of the Prophet Mohammed on the 12th of
Rabi I. The year of his birth is disputed, but was about 50 years before
the Hijra, approximately A.D. 570. The birth of Mohammed’s son, Hus-
sein, is also celebrated during the month of Rabi II.
The Islamic calendar is computed from the Hajra (or the flight of
Mohammed from Mecca to Medina) and often designated with the let-
ters A.H. (for Anno Hegirae). The calendar is lunar and consists of 354
days-11 days shorter than the solar year of 365 days. Leap years occur
every 2 or 3 years. The following Western dates indicate the beginning
of contemporary Islamic years:
Islamic Date Western Date Islamic Date Western Date
1422 26 March 2001 1427 31 January 2006
1423 15 March 2002 1428 21January 2007
1424 4 March 2003 1429 10 January 2008
1425 22 February 2004 1430 29 December 2008
1426 10 February 2005
The calendar months begin with the first crescent of the new moon and
alternately contain 30 or 29 days and are named as follows:
I Muharram I Jumada I I Ramadan
I Safar I Jumada II I Shawwal
I Rabi I I Rajab I Dhu al-Qada
I Rabi II I Shaban I Dhu al-Hijjah
The Islamic calendar has 7-day weeks; begining with Sunday, Yowm al-
Ahed, which means the first day. Yowm al-Sabt means the seventh day.
Yowm al-Jumah, or “the day of gathering,” is the day Muslims gather for
the larger prayer sessions. The name originated through Arabic tradition
when Fridays were days people would bring their goods to the local
market and catch up on local gossip and politics. It is equivalent to the
Jewish Sabbath or Christian Sunday. The workweek runs from Saturday
through Wednesday. Thursday and Friday are the weekend. The Islamic
day lasts from sundown to sundown.
Islamic Day Western Day Islamic Day Western Day
Yowm al-Ahed Sunday Yowm al-Khamiys Thursday
Yowm al-Ithnayn Monday Yowm al-Juma’a Friday
Yowm al-Thulaatha Tuesday Yowm as-Sabt Saturday
Yowm al-Arba’a Wednesday
Arabic Language Guide
Arabic is considered to be the language of Allah. The Koran is written
in Arabic, as is some of the world’s finest poetry. It is the official lan-
guage of Iraq and Kuwait, and is spoken by over 197 million persons
worldwide. English is widely spoken in official and business circles in
Kuwait, less so in Iraq. Kurdish, Assyrian, and Armenian are also spo-
ken in Iraq.
The Arabic alphabet is written from right to left, but numerals are
written from left to right. There are 28 characters, all of which are con-
sonants, and 10 numerals. Vowels are unwritten, although three mark-
ers are used to ensure proper pronunciation. While there is no
capitalization in Arabic, each letter has a different form depending on
where it falls in the word — at the beginning, the middle, the end, or
Arabic is a semitic language; its structure and grammar are differ-
ent from English. Words are formed from roots by changing the
vowels between the consonants that usually begin and end the
word. For example, the word for book is Ketab and the word for
library is Maktabah.
theh teh beh alif
dal kha ha jeem
seen zain ra thai
tah dhad sad sheen
feh ghain ain zah
meem lam kaf qaf
yeh waw heh noon
(Capital letters indicate stress and apostrophe indicates a stop.)
Please? men FADlek
Thank you. SHUKran
How much/many? kaam
How are you? Kayfu HALukum?
I am fine, thank you. Anna KWAIsa, SHUKran
Good morning. soBAH alKHAIR
Good morning. (reply) soBAH alNOOR
Good evening. meSAH alKHAIR
Good evening. (reply) meSAH alNOOR
Good night. layla SAIDa
Welcome. AHlen wa SAHlen
Praise God. alHUMD’allah
Excuse me. AFwaan
What is this? Ma HAZa
This is mine. HAZa li
This is not mine. HAZa LAISa li
What does this mean? Ma MA’Na HAZa
Do you speak English? hal tetaKALum enGLIzi
I am an American. anna amRIKi
I understand. anna AFhaam
I don’t understand. anna la AFhaam
Can you help me? MOOMkin tiSA’ADni
I’m hungry. anna ga’ANna
I’m tired. anna ta’aBAAN
I’m lost. anna toht
No smoking. memNOOR aTADkhin
American Embassy siFAARa amriKIya
arm (body) ziRAA
first aid kit A’Lba tis’aFAAT awaLIya
flashlight bataRIya GAeb
insect repellent daHAN dud alhashaRAT
passport joWAZ aSAfar
seacoast shaTI alBAhr
aircraft carrier hamLEH ata’aRAT
air defense deFA’ ata’aRET
antiair artillery madeFAIya dud ata’aRET
antilanding defense deFA’ alABrar
antitank artillery madeFAIya dud alDABabat
cruise (ship) toRAD
chemical weapon saLAH kemeWIya
coastal defense deFA’ saHELi
destroyer (ship) moDEMorah
handgrenade KOONbaleh alyedeWIya
latitude khat alARad
longitude khat aTOOL
machine gun reSHASHa
minefield haql allaGHAM
nuclear weapon saLAH atomiKIya
submachine gun raSHASHa kaSIRa
Private First Class joondee awwal
Sergeant Major rakeebawwal
Second Lieutenant moolazim
First Lieutenant moolazim awwal
Lieutenant Colonel mookaddam
Brigadier General ameed
English Arabic English Arabic
One wahid Eleven ihdash
Two thnayn Twelve thnash
Three thalatha Thirteen thalattash
Four arbaa Fourteen arbaatash
Five khamsa Fifteen khamastash
Six sitta Sixteen sittash
Seven sabaa Seventeen sabaatash
Eight thmanya Eighteen thamantash
Nine tisaa Nineteen tisaatash
Ten ashara Twenty ishreen
International Road Signs
Crossroads Maximum speed No through road Road narrows
S TO P
Fallen/falling rock No entry for Motorway Stop and give way
ON E W AY Tourist
Low flying aircraft or One way street Tourist
sudden aircraft noise No left turn information point
Traffic signals No u-turn 16 - 6
Overhead cables, Failure of
Maximum height traffic light signals
Arabic Road Signs
N o U turn N o left turn N o entry N o right turn
M a xim u m M a xim u m M a xim u m M a xim u m
load 10 tons speed 60 kph. height 4 m . w idth 2 m .
N o stopping R oad closed Pa rkin g N o parking
H ospital N o honking A nim a l-draw n H andcarts
vehicles prohibited p ro h ib ite d
First-aid post Petrol G arage One w ay
level (railroad) crossing M axim um M axim um Opening or
w ithout barrier w idth 3 m . height 4 m . sw ing bridge
D ip U neven road W inding road S teep hill
Location of level
S top at m ajor S ide road (railroad) crossing w ithou
road ahead gate or barrier
7.62-mm Tokarev TT-33/Type 51
Effective Range 40 m
Caliber 7.62 x 25-mm
System of Operation Recoil, semiautomatic
Overall Length 7.68 in.
Feed Device 8-round, in-line detachable magazine
Weight 1.88 lbs
NOTE: This weapon HAS NO SAFETY.
Maximum Effective Range 40 m
Caliber 9 x 18-mm
System of Operation Recoil, semiautomatic
Overall Length 6.34 in.
Feed Device 8-round, in-line detachable magazine
Weight 1.56 lbs
9-mm Beretta M1951 (TARIQ)
Maximum Effective Range 40 m
Caliber 9 x 19-mm
System of Operation Recoil, semiautomatic
Overall Length 203 mm
Feed Device 8-rd detachable box magazine
Weight 870 g
9-mm FN 35 (Browning Hi Power)
Maximum Effective Range 40m
Caliber 9 x 19-mm
System of Operation Recoil, semiautomatic
Overall Length 200 mm
Magazine Capacity 13-round, detachable box magazine
Weight (Loaded) 882 g
Maximum Effective Range 400 m
Caliber 7.62 x 39-mm
System of Operation Gas, semiautomatic
Overall Length 40.16 in.
Magazine Capacity 10-round, staggered row, non-detachable
Weight (Loaded) 8.7 lbs
Using the SKS: (1) Set weapon on SAFE by turning the safety lever up as far as it will
go. (2) Pull the operating handle, located on the right side of the receiver, to the rear
[The bolt will lock in place]. (3) Insert one end of the 10-rd charger clip into the charger
guide at the forward end of the bolt carrier. (4) Strip the rounds down into the magazine
and remove empty charger clip. (5) Pull back on operating handle, the bolt will unlock
and run forward chambering the first round. (6) Turn Safety down as far as it will go to
FIRE. (7) WEAPON IS READY TO FIRE.
Field Stripping the SKS/M59
with the gre-
nade sight raised
(sight folds back
over gas tube
when not in use).
An AKM (Iraqi
can be converted
to FAZ with the
installation of a
Maximum Effective Range 400 m
Caliber 7.62 x 39-mm
System of Operation Gas, selective-fire
Overall Length 34.25 in.
Magazine Capacity 30-rd, staggered row detachable box magazine
Weight (Loaded) 8.7 lbs
Using the AK-47/AKM: (1) Insert the 30-rd magazine into the underside of the
receiver, forward end first, then draw up the rear end of the magazine until a click is
heard or until the magazine catch is felt to engage. (2) Pull the operating handle,
located on the right side of the receiver, smartly to the rear and release it [the bolt will
run home and chamber a round]. (3) Push the safety lever from the uppermost
position: SAFE, to the middle position: AUTO or all the way down to SEMI.
(4) WEAPON IS READY TO FIRE.
NOTE: While the AK is a heavy weapon it climbs rapidly during automatic fire.
Field Stripping the AK-47/AKM/TABUK
Iraqi Rifle Grenades
M 60 AT HEAT
M 60 AP P1
M 62 Smoke/Illumination
Each 10-man regular infantry section (equivalent to a US squad) is
authorized one FAZ rifle. Mechanized infantry units are authorized two
FAZ rifles per 8-man section. Commando units are authorized two FAZ
rifles per 10-man section.
These rifle grenades provide a multitude of capabilities to the individual
rifleman similar to those of US forces provided by the 40-mm grenade
family of ordnance. Filling the short-range void left by mortar systems,
these grenades allow the engagement of armored targets, fortifications,
transport vechicles and personnel.
Rifle Grenade Firing
Because of the tremendous recoil, the Iraqis are trained to fire rifle gre-
nades with the butt of the weapon tucked under the arm rather than on
the shoulder. This makes for an inherently less accurate system than the
U.S. M203 grenade launcher. Iraqi grenadiers generally carry four gre-
nades of various types plus the screw-on launcher and special blank car-
tridges with adapters in a specially-designed pouch.
7.62-mm Dragunov SVD/Al-Kadissiya
Maximum Effective Range 1300 m
Caliber 7.62 x 54-mm
System of Operation Gas, semiautomatic
Overall Length 48.2 in.
Magazine Capacity 10-rd, staggered row detachable box
Weight (Loaded) 9.5 lbs
7.62-mm Tabuk Sniper Rifle
Maximum Effective Range 800 m
Caliber 7.62 x 39-mm
System of Operation Gas, semiautomatic
Overall Length 48.2 in.
Magazine Capacity 10-rd, staggered row detachable box magazine
Weight (Loaded) 9.5 lbs
Using the Dragunov SVD/Al-Kadissiya or Tabuk Sniper Rifle: (1) Insert the 10-rd
magazine into the underside of the receiver, forward end first, then draw up the rear end
of the magazine until a click is heard or until the magazine cathc is felt to engage. (2)
Pull the operating handle, located on the right side of the receiver, smartly to the rear
and release it [the bolt will run home and chamber a round]. (3) Push the safety lever
from the uppermost position: SAFE, or all the way down to SEMI. (4) WEAPON IS
READY TO FIRE.
Maximum Effective Range 800 m
Caliber 7.62 x 39-mm
System of Operation Gas, selective fire
Overall Length 48.2 in.
Magazine Capacity 40-rd, staggered row detachable box magazine or 75-
rd drum magazine. Can also use 30-rd AK magazine.
Weight (Loaded) 1.13 kg (40-rd box) 2.1 kg (75-rd drum)
Using the RPK: (1) Insert the 30-, 40-, or 75-rd magazine or drum into the underside
of the receiver, forward end first, then draw up the rear end of the magazine until a click
is heard or until the magazine catch is felt to engage. (2) Pull the operating handle,
located on the right side of the receiver, smartly to the rear and release it [the bolt will
run home and chamber a round]. (3) Push the safety lever from the uppermost position:
SAFE, to the middle position: AUTO or all the way down to SEMI. (4) WEAPON IS
READY TO FIRE. Bottom image is al-Quds LMG.
Maximum Effective Range 800 m
Caliber 7.62 x 39-mm
System of Operation Gas, automatic
Overall Length 40.8 in.
Magazine Capacity 100-rd metallic link belt in drum
Weight 15.6 lbs
Using the RPD: (1) Fit the drum by sliding its top dovetail to mating surfaces under
receiver. (2) Pull operating handle to the rear [Older models will remain in place, on
newer models the handle should be pushed forward after cocking]. (3) Open cover by
pushing forward on cover latch and lifiting cover. (4) Lay belt on feedway so lead round
lies beside cartridge stop. WEAPON IS READY TO FIRE Note: Safety is on the right
side of the pistol grip: Forward SAFE...Rear FIRE
Maximum Effective Range 800 m
Caliber 7.62 x 54-mm
System of Operation Gas, automatic
Overall Length 47.2 in.
Magazine Capacity 100, 200, or 250-rd metallic link belt
Weight 19.8 lbs
Using the PK: (1) Open cover by pressing catch at top rear of cover. (2) Lay Belt in
feedway, first round flush against cartridge stop. (3) Close cover, pull operating handle
to rear. WEAPON IS NOW READY TO FIRE. Note: Safety located on receiver at rear
12.7-mm DShK-38/Model 38/46
Maximum Effective Range 1,000 m
System of Operation Gas, automatic
Overall Length 62.5 in
Magazine Capacity 50-rd metallic link belt
Weight w/Mount 259 lbs
Using the DShK: (1) Push forward feed latch located at top rear of feed cover and lift
cover. (2) Place belt on revolving block so first round can be put in the upper recess of
feed block. (3) Hold free end of belt w/right hand and press feed belt against revolving
block. (3) Rapidly rotate block w/belt as far to the right as possible. (4) Close
cover, Pull operating handle to rear until slide is engaged. WEAPON IS READY TO
FIRE. (5) Hold both spade grips and depress trigger.
GRENADES, MORTARS, AND MINES
Maximum Effective Range 330 m (moving targets) 500 m (stationary targets)
Caliber 40-mm (launcher diameter) 85-mm (grenade)
Overall Length 1.1 m
Using the RPG: (1) Insert grenade tail first into the muzzle of the launcher [Ensure
that the small projection mates with the muzzle to line up the percussion cap with
the hammer] (2) Remove nosecap, pull safety pin. RPG IS READY TO FIRE (3)
Place launcher over shoulder, sight target, squeeze trigger. WARNING: ENSURE
BACKBLAST AREA CLEAR.
Al-Jaleel (M70) 60-mm Commando Mortar
Maximum Range 2,540 m.
Rate of Fire 20-25 rds/min.
Combat Weight 7.6 kg.
Iraqi Hand Grenades
Fragmentation Grenade Fragmentation Grenade
Fragmentation Grenade Fragmentation Grenade
RKG-3 No. 2
Antitank Grenade Offensive Grenade
Iraq is known to have a vast arsenal of mines. Many of these have delay,
anti-handling or otherwise sensitives fuses. IF MINES ARE
ENCOUNTERED; MARK THE AREA, MOVE AROUND AND
CONTACT EOD OR COMBAT ENGINEERS. DO NOT
ATTEMPT TO DISARM OR REMOVE!
Type 72 AP Mine
Valmara 69 AP Mine
TM-62M AT Mine
TMN-46M AT Mine
VS-50 AP Mine
Other Explosive Ordinance Hazards
There is a possibility for personnel to encounter live, unexploded ordi-
nance while in the Iraq area of operations. THIS ORDNANCE IS
LIVE AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS! UNDER NO CIRCUM-
STANCES SHOULD PERSONNEL TAMPER WITH OR DIS-
TURB IT. MARK THE ITEM, MOVE AROUND IT, AND
CONTACT EOD OR COMBAT ENGINEERS.
Mark 118 Bomblet
BLU-97/B Bomblet BLU-43/B Dragons
Type Wire-guided SACLOS
Maximum Range 70 - 2,000 m (9M111) 70 - 2,500 m (9M111-2)
Launch Weight 12.5 kg
Armor Penetration 400 mm (9M111) 460 mm (9M111-2)
120-mm Al-Jaleel Mortar
Maximum Range 5,400 m
Rate of Fire 5-8 rds/min
Combat Weight 148 kg (firing position)
82-mm Al-Jaleel Mortar
Maximum Range 4,900 m
Rate of Fire 20-25 rds/min
Combat Weight 63 kg (firing position)
14.5-mm ZPU-4 (Quad)
Maximum Range 8,000 m (horizontal) 5,000 m (vertical)
Tactical AA Range 1,400 m
Rate of Fire (Per Barrel) 550 - 600 rds/min
Combat Weight 1,810 kg
Length 4.53 m
Width 1.72 m
Height 2.13 m
Maximum Range 8,000 m (horizontal) 5,000 m (vertical)
Tactical AA Range 2,500 m
Rate of Fire (Per Barrel) 800-1,000 rds/min
Combat Weight 950 kg
Length 4.57 m
Width 1.83 m
Height 1.87 m
Maximum Range 3,200 m
Combat Weight 9.15 kg
Length 1.49 m
Guidance Passive IR homing FM tracking logic seeker
Maximum Range 2,000 m (approaching jet) 4,500 m
(approaching prop A/C or Helicopter)
Combat Weight 16 kg
Length 1.5 m
Guidance Passive IR homing Fm tracking logic seeker
Maximum Range 4,500 m (approaching target) 5,200 m (receding target)
Combat Weight 16.65 kg
Length 1.7 m
Individual Protective Measures
Individual protective measures are the conscious actions which people
take to guard themselves against physical harm. These measures can
involve simple acts such as locking your car and avoiding areas where
crime is rampant. When physical protection measures are combined
they form a personal security program, the object of which is to make
yourself a harder target. The following checklists contain basic individ-
ual protective measures that, if understood and followed, may signifi-
cantly reduce your vulnerability to the security threats overseas (foreign
intelligence, security services, and terrorist organizations). If you are
detained or taken hostage, following the measures listed in these check-
lists may influence or improve your treatment.
Foreign Intelligence and Security Services
I Avoid any actions or activities that are illegal, improper, or indiscreet.
I Guard your conversation and keep sensitive papers in your custody at
I Take it for granted that you are under surveillance by both technical
and physical means, including:
❏ Communications monitoring (telephone, telex, mail, and radio)
❏ Eavesdropping in hotels, offices, and apartments
I Do not discuss sensitive matters:
❏ On the telephone
❏ In your room
❏ In a car, particularly in front of an assigned driver
I Do not leave sensitive personal or business papers:
❏ In your room
❏ In the hotel safe
❏ In a locked suitcase or briefcase
❏ In unattended cars, offices, trains, or planes
❏ Open to photography from the ceiling
❏ In wastebaskets as drafts or doodles
I Do not try to defeat surveillance by trying to slip away from follow-
ers or by trying to locate “bugs” in your room. These actions will
only generate more interest in you. If you feel you are under surveil-
lance, act as naturally as possible, go to a safe location (your office,
hotel, U.S. Embassy), and contact your superior.
I Avoid offers of sexual companionship. They may lead to a room raid,
photography, and blackmail. Prostitutes in many countries report to
the police, work for a criminal organization, or are sympathetic to
insurgent or terrorist organizations; in other words, are anti-U.S. Oth-
ers may be employed by an intelligence service.
I Be suspicious of casual acquaintances and quick friendships with
local citizens in intelligence/terrorist threat countries. In many
countries, people tend to stay away from foreigners and do not
readily or easily make contact. Many who actively seek out friend-
ships with Americans may do so as a result of government orders or
for personal gain.
In your personal contacts, follow these guidelines:
I Do not attempt to keep up with your hosts in social drinking.
I Do not engage in black market activity for money or goods.
I Do not sell your possessions.
I Do not bring in or purchase illegal drugs.
I Do not bring in pornography.
I Do not bring in religious literature for distribution. (You may bring one
Bible, Koran, or other religious material for your own personal use.)
I Do not seek out religious or political dissidents.
I Do not take ashtrays, towels, menus, glasses, or other mementos from
hotels or restaurants.
I Do not accept packages, letters, etc., from local citizens for delivery
to the U.S.
I Do not make political comments or engage in political activity.
I Do not be lured into clandestine meetings with would-be informants
I Be careful about taking pictures. In some countries it is unwise to
take photographs of scenes that could be used to make unfavorable
comparisons between U.S. and local standards of living or other cul-
tural differences. Avoid taking any photographs from moving buses,
trains, or aircraft.
The following picture subjects are clearly prohibited in most coun-
tries where an intelligence or terrorist/insurgent threat is evident:
❏ Police or military installations and personnel
❏ Railroad facilities
❏ Elevated trains
❏ Border areas
❏ Industrial complexes
❏ Port complexes
Most intelligence and security services in threat countries detain persons
for a wide range of real or imagined wrongs. The best advice, of course,
is to do nothing that would give a foreign service the least reason to pick
you up. If you are arrested or detained by host nation intelligence or
security, however, remember the following:
I Always ask to contact the U.S. Embassy. You are entitled to do so
under international diplomatic and consular agreements, to which
most countries are signatories.
I Phrase your request appropriately. In Third World countries, how-
ever, making demands could lead to physical abuse.
I Do not admit to wrongdoing or sign anything. Part of the detention
ritual in some threat countries is a written report you will be asked or
told to sign. Decline to do so, and continue demanding to contact the
Embassy or consulate.
I Do not agree to help your detainer. The foreign intelligence or security
service may offer you the opportunity to help them in return for releas-
ing you, foregoing prosecution, or not informing your employer or
spouse of your indiscretion. If they will not take a simple no, delay a
firm commitment by saying that you have to think it over.
I Report to your supervisor immediately. Once your supervisor is
informed, the Embassy or consulate security officer needs to be
informed. Depending on the circumstances and your status, the
Embassy or consulate may have to provide you assistance in depart-
ing the country expeditiously.
I Report to your unit’s security officer and your service’s criminal inves-
tigative branch upon returning to the U.S. This is especially important
if you were unable to report to the Embassy or consulate in country.
Remember, you will not be able to outwit a foreign intelligence organi-
zation. Do not compound your error by betraying your country.
Foreign Terrorist Threat
Terrorism may seem like mindless violence committed without logic or
purpose, but it is not. Terrorists attack soft and undefended targets, both
people and facilities, to gain political objectives they see as out of reach
by less violent means. Many of today’s terrorists view no one as inno-
cent. Thus, injury and loss of life are justified as acceptable means to gain
the notoriety generated by a violent act in order to support their cause.
Because of their distinctive dress, speech patterns, and outgoing person-
alities, Americans are often highly visible and easily recognized when
they are abroad. The obvious association of U.S. military personnel with
their government enhances their potential media and political worth as
casualties or hostages. Other U.S. citizens are also at risk, including
political figures, police, intelligence personnel, and VIPs (such as busi-
nessmen and celebrities).
Therefore, you must develop a comprehensive personal security pro-
gram to safeguard yourself while traveling abroad. An awareness of the
threat and the practice of security procedures like those advocated in
crime prevention programs are adequate precautions for the majority of
people. While total protection is impossible, basic common sense pre-
cautions such as an awareness of any local threat, elimination of predict-
able travel and lifestyle routines, and security consciousness at your
quarters or work locations significantly reduce the probability of suc-
cess of terrorist attacks.
To realistically evaluate your individual security program, you must
understand how terrorists select and identify their victims. Terrorists
generally classify targets in terms of accessibility, vulnerability, and
political worth (symbolic nature). These perceptions may not be based
on the person’s actual position, but rather the image of wealth or impor-
tance they represent to the public. For each potential target, a risk versus
gain assessment is conducted to determine if a terrorist can victimize a
target without ramifications to the terrorist organization. It is during this
phase that the terrorist determines if a target is “hard or soft.” A hard
target is someone who is aware of the threat of terrorism and adjusts his
personal habits accordingly. Soft targets are oblivious to the threat and
their surroundings, making an easy target.
Identification by name is another targeting method gathered from air-
craft manifests, unit/duty rosters, public documents (Who’s Who or the
Social Register), personnel files, discarded mail, or personal papers in
trash. Many targets are selected based upon their easily identifiable
symbols or trademarks, such as uniforms, luggage (seabags or duffle
bags), blatant national symbols (currency, tatoos, and clothing), and
decals and bumper stickers.
Travel on temporary duty (TAD/TDY) abroad may require you to stay
in commercial hotels. Being away from your home duty station
requires increasing your security planning and awareness; this is espe-
cially important when choosing and checking into a hotel and during
your residence there.
The recent experiences with airport bombings and airplane hijacking
suggest some simple precautions:
I You should not travel on commercial aircraft outside the continental
U.S. in uniform.
I Prior to traveling by commercial aircraft, you should screen your
wallet and other personal items, removing any documents (that is,
credit cards, club membership cards, etc.) which would reveal your
NOTE: Current USMC policy requires service members to wear two
I.D. tags with metal necklaces when on official business. Also, the
current I.D. card must be in possession at all times. These require-
ments include travel to or through terrorist areas. In view of these
requirements, the service member must be prepared to remove and
conceal these and any other items which would identify them as mil-
itary personnel in the event of a skyjacking.
I You should stay alert to any suspicious activity when traveling.
Keep in mind that the less time spent in waiting areas and lobbies,
the better. This means adjusting your schedule to reduce your wait at
I You should not discuss your military affiliation with anyone during
your travels because it increases your chances of being singled out as
a symbolic victim.
I In case of an incident, you should not confront a terrorist or present a
threatening image. The lower profile you present, the less likely you
will become a victim or bargaining chip for the terrorists, and your
The probability of anyone becoming a hostage is very remote. However,
as a member of the Armed Forces, you should always consider yourself
a potential hostage or terrorist victim and reflect this in planning your
affairs, both personal and professional. You should have an up-to-date
will, provide next of kin with an appropriate power-of-attorney, and take
measures to ensure your dependents’ financial security if necessary.
Experience has shown that concern for the welfare of family members is
a source of great stress to kidnap victims.
Do not be depressed if negotiation efforts appear to be taking a long time.
Remember, chance of survival actually increases with time. The physical
and psychological stress while a hostage could seem overpowering, but
the key to your well-being is to approach captivity as a mission. Main-
taining emotional control, alertness, and introducing order into each day
of captivity will ensure your success and survival with honor.
During interaction with captors, maintaining self respect and dignity can
be keys to retaining status as a human being in the captor’s eyes. Com-
plying with instructions, avoiding provocative conversations (political,
religious, etc.), and establishing a positive relationship will increase sur-
vivability. Being polite and freely discussing insignificant and nonessen-
tial matters can reinforce this relationship. Under no circumstance
should classified information be divulged. If forced to present terrorist
demands to the media, make it clear that the demands are those of the
captor and that the plea is not made on your behalf. You must remember
that you are an American service member; conduct yourself with dignity
and honor while maintaining your bearing.
Hostages sometimes are killed during rescue attempts; consequently,
you should take measures to protect yourself during such an action.
Drop to the floor immediately, remain still and avoiding any sudden
movement; select a safe corner if it offers more security than the floor.
Do not attempt to assist the rescuing forces but wait for instructions.
After the rescue, do not make any comment to the media until you have
been debriefed by appropriate U.S. authorities.
Dangerous Animals and Plants
Desert black snake
Adult length usually
0.9 to 1.2 meters; mod-
erately stout snake.
glossy black some-
times with brownish
tinge; belly more pale.
Found in various habi-
tats, including open
desert, cultivated fields, gardens, oases, irrigated areas, and around
buildings. Also barren, rocky mountain hillsides and sandy desert with
Activity and Behavioral Patterns:
Nocturnal; spends much time underground. Can be very aggressive.
When molested, threatened, or provoked, will hiss violently and strike.
Venom strongly neurotoxic.
Gasperetti’s horned desert viper
No photograph available
Adult length usually 0.3 to 06 meter, maximum of 0.85 meter. Back-
ground generally yellowish, yellowish brown, pale gray, pinkish, or pale
brown with rows of dark spots along the back. Belly whitish. Tip of tail
may be black. May have a long spine-like horn above each eye.
Found in deserts with rock outcroppings and fine sand. Often in very arid
places, however, may be found near oases.
Activity and Behavioral Patterns:
Nocturnal. Can make itself almost invisible by wriggling down into loose
sand. Hides in rodent holes and under stones. When angered, rubs inflated
loops of body together to make rasping hiss. Can strike quickly if disturbed.
Venom primarily hemotoxic. Local symptoms include pain, edema, red-
ness, possible hematoma at site of bite. No fatalities reported.
Sochurek’s Saw-scaled Viper
No photograph available
Maximum length of 0.8 meter. Background color gray-beige; belly whit-
ish, usually with dark gray spots. Series of pale, dark-edged dorsal spots,
which may connect in zig-zag line. Incomplete undulating pale line along
sides. Distinctive gray cross pattern on top of head.
Found in variety of habitats in sandy, rocky, and cultivated areas. Avoids
wet terrain, but may enter water if necessary.
Activity and behavioral patterns:
Primarily nocturnal and terrestrial; but climbs low bushes and trees.
Potent hemotoxin. Pain and swelling start soon after bite. Systemic
bleeding may start within 6 hours after bite. Other symptoms may
include vomiting, abdominal pain, regional lymph node enlargement,
hematuria, and shock. Deaths recorded.
Adult length usually 0.5
to 0.7 meter, maximum of
0.9 meter. Background
generally pale or bluish
gray to khaki; gray or
on back. Alternating faint
spots on throat and body
sides. Ventral side white; tail black. Head very broad; distinct from
neck. Horn, composed of several overlapping scales, above each eye.
Most often found in desert bush. Also found in sandy, rocky terrain, as
well as burrows and crevices in elevations of up to 2,000 meters.
Activity and behavioral patterns:
Nocturnal. Sluggish, placid, less likely to bite during the day. Danger-
ously active and aggressive at night. When disturbed, hisses loudly but
not particularly vicious. Locomotion characteristically sidewinding. Fre-
quently hides in rodent tunnels and beneath rocks.
Primarily neurotoxic. May produce local symptoms such as minor pain,
tingling, and stiffness; more serious bite causes weakness followed by
ptosis. Victim may be conscious, but unable to respond due to paralysis.
Blunt-nosed or Levantine Viper.
No Photograph Available
Adult length usually 0.7 to 1 meter; maximum of 1.5 meter. Background
color generally light gray, khaki, or buff, with double row of opposing or
alternating spots from head to tail along back. Belly light gray to yellow,
with small dark brown spots; tail pinkish brown.
Wide variety of habitats from marshes and plains at sea level to moun-
tainous areas at elevations up to 2,000 meters. also semi-desert areas and
rocky, hilly country at moderate elevations, with scattered bushes and
adequate water supply. Often near farms and grazing areas.
Activity and behavioral patterns:
Primarily nocturnal. Sluggish. Most active and alert at night, usually very
slow-moving and almost oblivious to stimuli when encountered during
day. However, temperament is unpredictable; may strike quickly and
savagely at any time.
Primarily hemotoxic. Bite causes sharp pain at site, followed by local
swelling and necrosis. Deaths reported.
Although many scorpi-
ons in the region are
capable of inflicting a
painful sting, some,
such as the Fat-tailed
scorpion, are known to
Found in dry and desert areas, usually in stony soils, cactus hedges and
arid mountainous regions and high plateaux. Also found on steep slopes
of drifting sand dunes. Avoids humidity. Often found hear human habita-
tions (such as in cracks in walls).
One of the most potent scorpion venoms in the world. Species causes
several deaths each year.
Although there are several spider
species found in the region that
are capable of inflicting a painful
bite, only the widow spider is
There is little specific information of medical importance regarding
insects. However, nearly all countries have at least one species of moth or
caterpillar with venomous spines. Some are very hairy (such as puss
moths and flannel moths) and almost unrecognizable as caterpillars. Oth-
ers bear prominent clumps of still, venomous spines. Contact with these
caterpillars can be very painful. Some are brightly colored.
Paederus are small (usually 4 to 7 millimeters), slender rove beetles that
do not look like typical beetles and have very short wing covers that
expose most of their flexible abdomens. When crushed, their body fluid
contains an agent that blister skin on contact. The lesions take a week to
heal and the area remains painful for two weeks. The substance is
extremely irritating to the eyes; temporary blindness has been reported.
Although area centi-
pedes can inflict a pain-
ful bite, none are known
to be life-threatening.
Millipedes do not bite
and in general are harm-
less to humans. How-
ever, when handled, some larger millipedes (may be more than 50
millimeters long) secrete a very noxious fluid that can cause severe blis-
tering upon contact; some can squirt this fluid at least 2 feet.
Ciega-vista, purging croton.
Mechanisms of toxicity:
Long-lasting vesicular der-
matitis results from con-
tact with the toxic resin.
The cathartic and purga-
tive properties of the toxins
(croton oil, a "phorbol," in
leaves, stems, and seeds) causes severe gastroenteritis, even death; 20
drops potentially lethal (the oil applied externally will blister the skin).
Many types covered with hundreds of sticky hairs that cling to skin on
contact. Contact with the eyes can be serious.
Croton is a wooly-haired annual herb, evergreen bush, or small tree with
smooth ash-colored bark, yellow-green leaves, small flowers, and fruit.
Mechanisms of toxicity:
The entire plant is toxic
because of tropane alka-
loids. Fragrance from the
flowers may cause respira-
tory irritation, and the sap can cause contact dermatitis. People have been
poisoned through consumption of crushed seeds accidentally included in
flour; also through attempting to experience the hallucinogenic “high.”
Can kill. Jimsonweed has a quickly fatal potential.
Originally called Jamestown weed after mass poisoning of soldiers sent
to quell "Bacon’s Rebellion" in 1666 ate the seeds during a severe food
shortage. Jimsonweed is often confused with Angel’s Trumpet.
Caper spurge, Mexican
fire plant, milkweed, red
spurge, poison spurge,
cypress spurge, cat's
milk, mala mujer, sun
spurge, candelabra cac-
tus, Indian spurge tree,
pencil tree, pencil cactus,
Mechanisms of toxicity:
Herbs, often with colored or milky sap, containing complex terpenes; irri-
tate the eyes, mouth, and gastrointestinal tract, and many cause dermatitis
on contact. Rain water dripping from the plant can contain enough toxic
principle to produce dermatitis and keratoconjunctivitis; can blind. Some
contain urticating hairs (skin contact breaks off ends and toxic chemicals
are injected). The caper spurge has killed those who mistook the fruit for
capers. The Mexican fire plant was known for medicinal properties in the
first century and has killed children. Red spurge causes dermatitis. The
pencil cactus has an abundant, white, acrid sap extremely irritating to the
skin; has caused temporary blindness when accidentally splashed in the
eyes, and has killed as a result of severe gastroenteritis after ingestion.
Approximately 2,000 species of extremely variable form; may appear as
herbs, shrubs or trees — many are cactus-like. Fruit is usually a capsule
opening in three parts, each one seeded; sometimes a drupe.
Mechanisms of toxicity:
Berries, leaves, and roots
contain tropane alkaloids
that can cause death from
Perennial plants to 3 feet
high. Native to Eurasia and North Africa.
No Photograph Available
Mechanism of toxicity:
Primary injurious agents are calcium oxalate crystals, which cause severe
irritation of oral mucosa, nausea, and diarrhea if ingested and are irritat-
ing to the skin. The attractive bright red berries are the part most likely to
be eaten by children. Fresh rootstock contains a histamine like substance
that has caused severe burning of the skin with erythema, painful swell-
ings, and sometimes allergic reactions. Alkaloids, saponins and photo-
sensitizing phenanthrene derivatives are also present in the leaves and
tubers, but only in trace amounts; therefore, there is little or no effect on
Perennial herb with a twining stem found at edges of woods and hedg-
erows, and in thickets on rich calcareous soils. Young shoots lack cal-
cium oxalate crystals, and are eaten in Dalmatia as a vegetable. Also
used to treat rheumatic conditions in Hungary by rubbing the freshly cut,
sticky, shiny surface of roots on the skin.
Castor Oil Plant
Mechanisms of toxicity:
Used to make a feed sup-
plement; a lecithin, which
is a highly toxic chemical,
and some low-molecular
weight glycoproteins with
allerenic activity have
resulted in serious poison-
ing. Factors making this a
high-risk plant threat are
its attractive nuts with a
hazelnut-like taste; the
highly toxic ricin present
in high concentration (2-6
seeds can be fatal); and stability of ricin in the presence of gastric
enzymes. The seeds are used to make necklaces, requiring boring a hole
through the seed, and breaking the otherwise impermeable coat, allow-
ing the possibility of toxin to reach the skin and enter the body through
minor abrasions. Poisoning becomes evident after several hours.
The seeds of this ancient plant have been found in Egyptian graves dat-
ing as far back as 4,000 B.C. Cultivated worldwide for 6,000 years for
producing castor oil.
No Photograph Available
Mechanisms of toxicity:
Shrubs or small trees with extremely irritating resin. The root and flower
of many species are strongly purgative — is the source of the drug radjo.
Some species have been shown to contain mezereine (irritant resin) and
daphnine (an alkaloid).
More than 140 species found from tropical and southern Africa to the
Arabian peninsula, and from Madagascar to western India and Sri Lanka.
Cherry pie, scorpion’s tail,
Mechanisms of toxicity:
Contains pyrrolizidine alka-
loids. Cause of large epidemics
(Afghanistan, India) of illness
following ingestion of bread
made with flour contaminated
with members of this genus. The
pathologic effects (Budd-Chiari
syndrome) take weeks to
months, and death comes slowly
over years. Chronic copper poi-
soning has occurred associated
with this plant.
Large genus, found worldwide
(250 tropical, temperate trees and shrubs).
Mechanisms of toxicity:
The entire plant, includ-
ing the seeds, contains
the powerfully acting
indole alkaloid strych-
nine, which can kill.
Genus of 190 different species of trees, shrubs and vines with berry-like
fruits, found in most tropical regions. Some have the reputation of having
edible fruit despite dangerous seeds. It is a source of curare obtained by
stripping and macerating its bark. Curare, now used as a muscle relaxant,
was formerly used as an arrow poison by South American Indians.
Ground hemlock, Ameri-
can yew, Japanese yew.
Mechanisms of toxicity:
Taxine A and B, classed
as steroid alkaloids, are
present in all plant parts
except the aril. A single
chewed seed is deadly.
An hour after ingestion, nausea, dizziness, and abdominal pain begin.
This is followed by reddening of the lips, dilatation of the pupils, shal-
low breathing, tachycardia, and coma. Then the pulse slows, blood
pressure drops, and death occurs through respiratory paralysis. No
proven treatment exists. Emptying the stomach hours after ingestion
may be helpful as leaves may not pass through the GI tract expedi-
tiously. Various clinical measures (circulatory stimulants, artificial res-
piration, cardiac pacemaker) have not prevented death in suicide cases.
An evergreen shrub or small tree bearing a characteristic fleshy, red,
sweet-tasting aril with a single green to black, partly exposed, hard-
shelled seed within. In North America, the Japanese yew, the toxicity of
which may exceed that of the English yew, has repeatedly caused fatal
animal poisonings. Was once known as the “tree of death.”
International Telephone Codes
International Telephone Codes
Algeria 213 Malta 356
Australia 61 Mexico 52
Austria 43 Morocco 212
Bahrain 973 Netherlands 31
Belgium 32 Nigeria 234
Brazil 55 New Zealand 64
Canada 1 Norway 47
China 86 Oman 968
Cyprus 357 Philippines 63
Denmark 45 Portugal 351
Djibouti 253 Qatar 974
Egypt 20 Republic of Korea 82
Ethiopia 251 Saudi Arabia 966
Finland 358 Senegal 221
France 33 Seychelles 248
Gabon 241 Singapore 65
Germany 49 Somalia 252
Greece 30 South Africa 27
Hawaii 1 Spain 34
Hong Kong 852 Sweden 46
Indonesia 62 Switzerland 41
Iran 98 Syria 963
Iraq 964 Taiwan 886
Ireland 353 Tanzania 255
Israel 972 Thailand 66
Ivory Coast 225 Tunisia 216
Japan 81 Turkey 90
Jordan 962 UAE 971
Kenya 254 United Kingdom 44
Kuwait 965 United States 1
Libya 218 Yemen 967
Madagascar 261 Zambia 260
Malaysia 60 Zimbabwe 263
AT&T (public phones) 0072-911 On-base 550-HOME or
or 0030-911 550-2USA
The following is a guide to the various identification documents used in
Iraq. This is by no means an exhaustive listing of all forms of identification.
Military Service Document - Front and Back Cover, circa 1996
1 Republic of Iraq
2 Minister of Defense
3 Public Recruitment Directorate
4 Military Service Book
Personal Identification Card, circa 2000; Ministry of Interior Identification
Card, circa 1992; Ministry of Oil Identification Card, circa 2000
1 Ministry of Interior 18 Full name
2 Identification number 19 Witnessing officer’s signature
3 General Civil Affairs and 20 Left thumb print
4 Issued in accordance with the 21 Occupation
legal statute number 60; 1979
5 Republic of Iraq 22 Religion
6 Agency 23 Date of birth, date in long form
7 Serial 24 Place of birth
8 Age 25 Distinguishing marks
9 Identification number 26 Marital status
10 Name 27 Husband’s name
11 Father’s and Grandfather’s name 28 Place of registry
12 Family name 29 Description
13 Mother and grandfather’s name 30 Eye color
14 Gender 31 Complexion
15 Approving official’s signature 32 Hair color
16 Preparation date 33 Height
17 Preparer’s signature 34 Blood type
Military Service Document - Pages 1 and 2, circa 1996
1 Unified military number 9 Occupation
2 Military service ID series 10 Level of education
3 Primary registration series 11 Enlistment officer
4 Place and date of birth 12 Date
5 Full name and title 13 Ministry of Defense
6 Mother’s full name 14 General Enlistment Directorate
7 Civilian registration number 15 Area enlistment office
8 Iraqi citizenship certificate 16 Enlistee
Military Service Document - pages 3 and 4, circa 1996
1 Photo of military service book holder 9 Height
2 Military service number 10 Weight
3 Full name and title 11 Eye color
4 Place and date of birth 12 Hair color
5 Rank and name 13 Distinguishing marks
6 Enlistment officer 14 Blood type
7 Date issued 15 Full address
8 Description 16 Thumb print
Military Service Document - pages 5 and 6, circa 1996
1 Continuation - examination 8 Board director
2 Medical examination result 9 Member
3 X-ray 10 Attended
4 Examination number 11 Date
5 Examination date 12 Findings
6 Findings 13 Member
7 Examination board decision
Military Service Document - pages 7 and8, circa 1996
1 Educational Postponement 4 No prior service verification
2 Enlistment officer 5 Bearer’s signature
3 Personal oath 6 Date
Military Service Document - pages 9 and 10, circa 1996
1 Educational postponement 3 Educational postponement
2 Enlistment officer 4 Enlistment officer
Military Service Card, circa 1995
1 Ministry of Defense 9 Military service status
2 General enlistment directorate 10 Identification number
3 Service discharge doctorate 11 Civilian identification number
4 Number 12 Assigned unit name
5 Name 13 Name of unit released from
6 Date of birth 14 Release date
7 Place of enlistment 15 Card serial number
8 Occupation or branch 16 Issue date
Ministry of Defense “Friends of Saddam
Hussein” Card, circa 1992
1 Officer’s 6 Identification number
2 Ministry of Defense 7 Issue date
3 Officer’s 8 Friends of President Saddam
administration directorate Hussein Identification card
4 Rank 9 Benefits
Republican Guard Identification Card, circa 1994
1 Unclear 8 Blood type
2 Cdr. Republican Guard Forces 9 Identification number
3 Republican Guard Forces HQ 10 Issue date
4 Administration 11 Citizenship certificate serial number
5 Statistic number 12 Date issued
6 Rank 13 Date of birth
7 Name 14 Republican Guard Forces HQ Officer
on duty identification
Army Officer Identification Card, circa 1995
1 Officer’s administration directorate 7 Identification number
2 Ministry of defense 8 Issue date
3 Officer’s administration directorate 9 Issue date
4 Rank 10 Identificaton number
5 Name 11 Citizenship
certificate serial number
6 Blood type 12 Army officers
Army Enlisted Identification Card, circa 1988
1 Division Admin. Director 8 Brigade commander
2 Number 9 Iraqi military non-commissioned
officer and enlisted soldier ID card
3 Rank 10 Army sample numbered 431 A
4 Name 11 Identification number
5 Date of birth 12 Issue date
6 Blood type 13 Citizenship certificate serial num-
7 Unit number 14 Issue date
“Fighters of Bin Firas Al-Hamadani Companies”
ID Card, circa 2000
1 Unit commander 7 Date of birth
2 ABI Firas Al Hamdani Companies 8 Address
3 Full name 9 Identification number
4 Occupation 10 Issue date
5 Fighter number 11 Expiration date
6 Company number
Office of the Presidency Special Service
Organization Identification Card, circa 1994
1 Republic of Iraq 5 Identification number
2 Presidency of the Republic 6 Issue date
3 Special Security Organization 7 Name
4 Position 8 Blood type
Office of the Presidency Identification Card, circa 1987
1 Head of the office of the presidency 7 Dated
2 Republic of Iraq 8 Citizenship
certificate serial number
3 Office of the presidency 9 Dated
4 Full name 10 Blood type
5 Position 11 Signature of
identification card holder
6 Identification number
Office of the Presidency Identification Card,
1 Head of the office of the 6 Identification number
2 Republic of Iraq 7 Issue date
3 Office of the presidency 8 Citizenship certificate serial
4 Name 9 Blood type
Ninawa Governorate Police Identification Card,
1 Republic of Iraq 8 Document number
2 Ministry of Interior 9 Signature
3 Ninawa Governate Police 10 Rank
4 Department of Information 11 Document controller’s name
5 Information office 12 Date
6 Head of household name 13 Remarks
7 Address and house number 14 Information office use
Baghdad University Identification Card,
1 Name 5 Ministry of Higher Education and Sci-
entific Research - Baghdad University
2 Class 6 Night studies
3 Citizenship certificate 7 Number
4 Date issued 8 Issue date
Basrah University Identification Card - circa 1995
1 Blood type 7 Full name and title
2 Name 8 Place and date of birth
3 College dean 9 Department
4 Ministry of Higher Education and 10 Issue date
5 Basrah University 11 Expiration date
6 For use only with university 12 Identification number
Al-Rafidain University Identification Card,
1 Dean 7 Place and date of birth
2 Al-Rafidain University 8 For use within the university
3 Student ID 9 Iraqi citizenship certificate number
4 Full name 10 Issue year
5 Department 11 Expiration date
6 ID number 12 Permanent address
Mosul University Identification Card - circa 1993
1 Ministry of Higher Education and 6 Date of birth
2 Mosul University Bureau/ 7 Issue date
College of Engineering
3 Name 8 Republic of Iraq
4 Occupation 9 Identification of country
5 Citizenship certificate number 10 Identification number
Political Groups, Religious Groups, and Tribes
Political Groups (and common acronyms)
Assyrian Democratic Movement ADM
Al-Hawza al-Ilmiya Movement & Popularity Movement AHAIMPM
Ansar Al Islam AI
Arab Socialist Movement ASM
Coalition for Iraqi National Unity CINU
Collective Iraqi Revolutionaries Movement CIRM
Constitutional Monarchy Movement CMM
Communist Party of Iraq (may be same as ICP) CPI
Democratic Communist Party DCP
Destorial Kingdom Movement DKM
Democratic Nationalist Party DNP
Democratic National Union of Kurdistan DNUK
Democratic Party DP
Democratic Popular Movement DPM
Democratic Solution Party Kurdistan DSPK
Political front for Hawza AKA The Mighty One Fadilah
Free Iraq Fighting Forces FIFF
Free Iraqi Officers and Civilian Movement FIOCM
Formation of the Mighty One FMO
Hizb al-Awda (Party of Return) HAA
High Council for Iraqi Liberation HCIL
Higher Council National Salvation (Prob SCNS) HCNS
Islamic Ashia IA
Islamic Accord Movement IAM
Islamic Al Dawa Party IADP
Islamic Amal Organization of Iraq IAOI
Iraqi Communist Party (may be same as CPI) ICP
Islamic Democratic Party of Iraq IDPI
Iraqi Education Party IEP
Islamic Group of Kurdistan IGK
Iraqi Hizballah (Shia based opposition party) IH
Iraqi Harmony Movement IHM
Iraqi Homeland Party IHP
Islamic Higher Union IHU
Independent Iraqis for Democracy IID
Iraqi Islamic Forces Union IIFU
Islamic Iraqi Party IIP
Islamic Justice Party IJP
Iraqi Liberation Army ILA
Islamic Loyalty Movement ILM
Islamic Movement IM
Iraqi Military Council IMC
Islamic Movement of Iraqi Kurdistan IMIK
Iraqi National Accord INA
Iraqi National Congress INC
Iraqi National Front INF
Islamic National Front of Iraq INFI
Iraqi National Gathering ING
Iraqi National Movement INM
Iraqi Turkomen Front ITF
Iraqi Turkomen People’s Party ITPP
Iraqi Turkomen Union Movement ITUM
Islamic Union Party for Turkomen IUPT
Islamic Work Organization IWO
Iraqi Youth Society IYS
Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress KADEK
Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP
Kurdistan Freedom Congress KFC
Kurdish Democratic Workers Party KDWP
Kurdistan Freedom & Democracy Party (Prob KADEK) KFDP
Kurdistan National Congress KNK
Kurdish Revolutionary Hizbollah Party KRHP
Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party KSDP
Liberal Democratic Movement LDM
Liberty Democratic Party LDP
Muslim Brotherhood Iraq MBI
Movement for Iraqi Unity MIU
National Congress to Free Iraq NCFI
National Congress Party NCP
National Democratic Party NDP
National Front for Democratic Kurdistan NFDK
National Front for Salvation of Iraq NFSI
National Harmony Movement NHM
National Liberation Movement NLM
National Unity Coalition NUC
National Unity Party NUP
Party for Unity of Iraq PUI
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK
Revolutionary Islamic Vanguard RSV
Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq SCIRI
Supreme Council National Salvation SCNS
Syrians Social Progressive SSP
Turan Party TP
Turkomen Peasant Group TPG
Union for Democratic Free Movement UDFM
United Islamic Party UIP
Worker Communist Party of Iraq WCPI
Neo Ba’ath Party Groups (and common acronyms)
Iraqi National Party INP
Iraqi Vanguard Organization IVO
Islamic Youth Organization IYO
Iraqi Patriotic Party IPP
Tala’I Organization of Iraq TOI
Freedom of Iraq Party FIP
The National Party NP
The Gathering of Warriors GW
Al-Tanthim Al -Tala’a Party
Liberation of Iraq LOI
The Party of the Return POR
The National People’s Democratic Party NPDP
National Peoples Party NPP
Free Officers Coalition Group FOCG
Jibur Confederation Zubayd Confederation
Dulaym Confederation Muntafiq Confederation
Al -Shammar Ubayd
Al Abed Al Amara
Al Badur Al Ghiza
Al Ghizi Al Gubor
Al Hassan Al Hussein
Al Hatim Al Juaber
Al Joubir Tikrit
Al Juwamil Um Zara’
Al Feidaliya Bani Said
Beni Tamim Bani Lam
Albu Aluwan Albu Ghayat
Albu Husayn Albu Julaybib
Albu Mohammed Al Dikhaynat
Al Sudan Bani Malik
Bani Sulayyim Bani Asad
Fatla Al Rumayth
Ti Al Halu
Al Rahhal Albu Kashman
Albu Salih A'Abid
Ahmed Chalabi Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim
Ayed Alawi Massoud Barzani
Jalal Talabani Naseer al-Chadirchi
Ibrahim Jafari Adnan Pachachi
Kazem al-Haeri Maqtadah al-Sadr
Sayyed Ali Sistani Bahr al-Ulum
Abu Hatem Muhammad al-Fartusi
Ahmad Qubaysi Sharif Ali Bin al-Husayn
Mishan Jibburri Abdul Munem
Muzhir al Dulaymi Mustafa Sheibani
Iskandir WitWit Ghanim al-Basso
Hazen al-Sha’lan Ali Abdul Hasan Tamimi
Abd al Karim Burjis Taha Bedaiwi al Alwan
Najim abd Mahdi Ali Abdul Hasan Kammouna
Religious Groups (and their membership)
Shi’a or Shi’ite
Al-Hawza Ai-Ilmiya or
Al-Hawza or Hawza Shi'a
Twelver or Ithna-Ashari Shi'a
Faili Kurds Shi'a
Sufi or Sufism Muslim Group
Yazidi Non Muslim, Non Christian Group
Mandaean Non Muslim, Non Christian Group
Alevism Non Muslim, Non Christian Group
Developing Effective Relationships
Effective relationships are the building blocks of power in the Middle
East. Professional dealings with Iraqis can be politically and personally
rewarding. However, the relationships must be developed and nurtured,
a task that can be both challenging and risky. Cultural and personal mis-
understandings have a strong potential to strain relationships and com-
plicate critical discussions between Coalition leaders and their Arab
counterparts in Iraq.
The attitudes, perceptions, and emotional and behavioral responses of
Iraqi leaders are shaped by their culture. Already complex interaction
between Iraqi and Coalition leaders of different cultures can be further
complicated because Coalition leaders generally have too many priori-
ties and too limited time to invest in any one relationship.
One of the qualities most prized by Iraqis in a relationship is trustwor-
thiness. From the Arab point of view, a person is trustworthy if he keeps
a confidence and follows through on his word, ensuring that the rela-
tionship remains healthy.
Iraqis value frank discussions with Coalition leaders. Such discussions
are necessary for the sake of the relationship, and should be conducted
in a respectful manner, usually in private. Leaders must allow time for
treating the issue in depth. To an Iraqi, what is said is often as important
as what is left unsaid.
Iraqis often assume that an unsatisfactory, high-level decision can be
modified or even reversed with the right amount of persuasion, and that
a special relationship with a Coalition leader grants them the right to ask
for such consideration. Coalition leaders can respond to a difficult
request by stating that they will look into the matter, and by providing
feedback, even if the results are negative.
There are different ways an Iraqi might treat a Coalition leader to indi-
cate displeasure with a personal or political action; Some ways include:
I Maintaining silence. Iraqis signify their disapproval by refraining
from speaking directly to an individual or refusing to take telephone
calls. Iraqis have been known to isolate themselves when they are
upset with the way they have been treated.
I Delaying a reply or action. Iraqis may even refrain from attending
significant events to avoid action.
I Providing irrelevant excuses. It is common for regional leaders to tell
Coalition officials planning trips to the region that travel is unsafe
rather than admit that they do not wish to meet with them.
I Responding to a Coalition request with a non-substantive phrase such
as “inshallah” (God willing). This is a common response to hardship or
disappointment. Iraqis tend to understand and respect when foreigners
use these phrases to couch commitments that are less than solid.
Some gestures that require a small investment from Coalition perspec-
tive often carry more weight in cementing a relationship with an Iraqi
than significant movement on substantive issues.
Individuals who engage in non-political activities when visiting a coun-
try in the Middle East are usually welcomed in the Arab culture. A Coa-
lition leader’s visit to a mosque, church, school, or hospital, or his eating
a meal in a local restaurant, is often taken as a sign of respect.
Most Iraqis are not comfortable talking with Coalition leaders about
sensitive matters over the telephone and prefer to discuss such issues in
one-on-one meetings or through a trusted personal emissary. Iraqis look
for emissaries who have a well-known connection to their Coalition
counterparts and a good reputation for keeping a confidence.
Rushing through talking points in an effort to convince Iraqis to expe-
dite their response to a Coalition request is often taken as a lack of inter-
est in building the relationship. If the time needed to respond to a
Coalition request is truly limited, it is often helpful to take longer to
explain the logic behind the urgency. Without investing the time to make
a case for swift action, delay is more likely to be the result.
Displays of emotion
Iraqis are partial to presentations with strong emotional content. Public
speeches are deeply rooted in emotion-laden language, as are the elec-
tronic and print media. Al Jazirah reports often appeal to the emotions
of its audience, repeatedly showing images of severed limbs, bloody
corpses, and physical abuse that would shock most non-Arab viewers.
Emotion is culturally linked to a sense of what is morally just and reli-
giously right and is especially evident in Arab reactions to Israeli attacks
Displays of emotion also allow leaders to assess relationships. Iraqis
value the expression of strong feelings — even anger — because such
manifestations connote deep and sincere concern.
Some Iraqis have been known to be long-winded in meetings, even with
the most senior policymakers. Others have tried to intimidate Coalition
contacts. This approach is often employed to test officials to see if they
are willing to engage.
It may be helpful to capitalize on the strong emotional sense of history
Iraqis share, suggesting that leaders take inspiration from the glories of
the past to create a better future for their people. In southern Iraq, great
respect is shown to Americans who are willing to constructively discuss
the U.S. actions and shortfalls during the Shi’a uprising of of 1991.
Iraqis view physical gestures, such as hand holding, extended hand-
shakes, double handshakes, kissing on each cheek (first to the right, then
to the left and back to the right) and hugs as signs of special closeness.
Placing one’s right hand on the shoulder of an Iraqi indicates a sense of
closeness and a sense of power.
Understanding cultural and personal expectations and knowing how to
identify indicators of effective communication can help to establish and
deepen relationships with Iraqis. It is also helpful to clarify differences
of substance from those of interpretation. Critical issues that have a
strong potential for creating misunderstandings that will strain relations
with Arab counterparts are:
I Establishing credibility with and obtaining backing from moderate
Iraqis for the U.S. sponsored “Roadmap” for reenergizing Israel-Pal-
estinian peace negotiations.
I Gaining support from regional leaders for Coalition policies in Iraq
that will allow these leaders to engage in reconstruction efforts.
I Supporting Iraqis in risk taking, a capacity essential for them to make
changes in their societies that are deep enough to allow political and
economic reform to take hold.
Language as a Cultural Key
By carefully reviewing talking points and other comments for cultural
appropriateness, Coalition leaders are less likely to offend an Arab with
a remark perceived as insulting or uninformed. Sports and other meta-
phors, jokes, quotations from American songs or movies, and references
from U.S. history do not carry well across cultures. At a minimum, Ira-
qis may misunderstand or only partially comprehend the meaning of an
American metaphor. In a worse case scenario, an Iraqi may become con-
fused, embarrassed at his confusion, and then feel angry.
Some tribal, religious and political leaders in Iraq have a strong command
of English and familiarity with American culture. Speaking Arabic can
help to establish and develop a relationship with an Iraqi even if it is a
minimal command of the language. A careful selection of Arabic meta-
phors and proverbs translated into English, Polish, Spanish, etc., or deliv-
ered by an interpreter can help to drive home a particularly difficult point
with little chance that the Iraqi will misunderstand. Appealing to cultural
wisdom also shows respect, giving the message additional weight.
Using Arabic terms when delivering a speech in English directed toward
Arabs can increase its appeal; however, it is important to pronounce the
Arabic words correctly.
Using Qur’anic Arabic phrases to greet a leader can be awkward,
because several formulations are specifically Islamic, and their use by
U.S. leaders might be considered offensive by Christian Arabs.
Venues of Distinction
Iraqis especially appreciate being publicly received in venues that com-
bine a sense of power and personal favor (for example, at President
Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas; aboard Air Force One; at Camp David
and in the Oval Office). They might lobby to be invited to these types of
places. Iraqis with regular access to these venues may be asked by other
regional leaders to deliver messages. In the case of the Coalition Provi-
sional Authority in Iraq, Iraqi’s prefer to be received or invited to U.S.
military controlled facilities like the CPA or CJTF-VII headquarters in
Baghdad or the Polish Multinational Division Headquarters at Babylon.
Iraqis carefully assess treatment accorded sons of regional rulers by
Coalition leaders, especially when these young men visit the United
States. Special treatment, even if unintended, can be interpreted in the
region as Coalition endorsement of a leader’s son as his heir apparent.
When a high-level Coalition official stays overnight in Iraq, especially
in response to an invitation, the gesture is treasured; refusing an invita-
tion to overnight without a strong reason to do so is taken to indicate a
lack of interest in deepening the relationship.
Gestures toward an Iraqi or official, even when positive, can affect rela-
tions with another leader without Coalition officials necessarily becom-
ing aware of the complication.
Certain Iraqi officials have been known to take advantage of meetings
with Coalition officials to badmouth other Iraqi officials to make them-
selves appear closer to the Coalition or more deserving of support.
What to Avoid
Many actions that would complicate relations with an Iraqi are personal
and specific to Iraq, but behavior by Coalition officials that have nega-
tive cultural connotations includes:
I Publicly committing to an action without giving a clear statement of
necessary additional conditions. For example, brief statements by
U.S. officials committing to moving the peace process forward are
often interpreted in the region to mean that U.S. policymakers are
now prepared to push Israel to make major concessions.
I Referring to the Qur’an in causal conversation. Regardless of whether
a particular Iraqi is a practicing Muslim, his public statements are usu-
ally imbued with Islamic symbolism and references; however, the
same consideration does not extend to non-Muslims in leadership
positions. CPA made this mistake in its Ba’ath Party Denunciation
forms, which ended with the phrase, “…as God is my witness.”
I Using Israeli achievements as a yardstick for gauging the behavior of
Iraq or another Arab state.
I Calling a leader by his first name. Political, religious, and scholarly
titles (i.e. President, Minister, Imam, Sheik, “Sa’id,” etc.) are a source of
pride and status to Arabs and a host would react positively to them. This
caveat does not hold in private meetings, but it is advisable to wait until
a leader has asked to be addressed by his first name before doing so.