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  • 7/9/2003


Baghdad, the capital ofIraq, is situated in centralIraq, on both banks of the Tigris River. The city's principal economic activity is oil refining. Most of Iraq's other industries are inBaghdad, such as the making of carpets, leather, textiles, cement, and tobacco products and the distilling of arrack, a liquor. Military industries are also located there.

Baghdad has several museums, numerous archaeological sites, and three universities, the largest of which is the University of Baghdad (1958).

Al- Shaheed Monument and Museum

It is a national memorial in honor of Iraqi war heroes on a site comprising green areas, a children's playground, car parks, walkways and bridges, and a lake. Amid the lake is an island of two circular platforms - one above the other - on which the monument is set. The monument is a 40m shell split in two and slided to form an inverted and disjoined S in plan. Inside one of the dome shells is a circular water pool that cascades its contents to the courtyard below. The structure built on two levels under the platform comprises: a museum, a library, a cafeteria, lecture hall, exhibition gallery and support facilities. The shells are constructed of a galvanized steel frame with glazed ceramic tile cladding pre-cast in carbon fiber reinforced concrete.

Khulafa Central Mosque

A mosque built on the former site of a 9th century Abbasid mosque. At the time of construction only a Mongol minaret remained, and it was incorporated into the new structure. Two entrance porticoes give access to the mosque precinct. The passageway connecting the portico to the mosque is lined by glazed arches. The prayer hall, octagonal in plan, is crowned by a dome. In the interior an arched gallery runs under the base of the dome. The basic structure is clay brick, local stone, and wood.

Martyrs' Mosque

Inspired by Salah al- Din's Mosque in Cairo, the Martyr's Mosque is grandeur in scale. The main prayer space mounted by a dome is adjoined to an open courtyard with separate entrance. Exterior details and stonework are indicative of Egyptian influence.


Various invaders conquered the land after Nebuchadnezzar's death, including Cyrus the Great in 539BC and

Alexander the Great

in 331BC, who died there in 323 BC,Babylon declined after the founding of Seleucia, the New Greek capital. In the second century BC, it became part of thePersian Empire, remaining thus until the 7th century AD, when Arab Muslims captured it.

In 634AD, an army of 18,000 Arab Muslims, under the leadership of Khalid ibn al Walied, reached the perimeter of theEuphrates delta. Although the occupying Persian force was vastly superior in techniques and numbers, its soldiers were exhausted from their unremitting campaigns against the Byzantines. The Sassanid troops fought ineffectually, lacking sufficient reinforcement to do more.

The first battle of the Muslims campaign became known as Dhat Al-Salasil (the battle of the Chains) because Persian soldiers were reputedly chained together so that they could not flee. Muslims offered the inhabitants ofIraq an ultimatum: "Accept the faith and you are safe; otherwise pay tribute. If you refuse to do either, you have only yourself to blame. Person is already upon you, loving death as you love life". Most of the Iraqi tribes were Christian at the time of the Islamic conquest. They decided to pay the "jizya", the tax required of non-Muslims living in Muslim-ruled areas, and not further disturbed. The Persian rallied briefly under their hero, Rostam, and attacked the Muslims at Al-Hirah, west of theEuphrates. There, the Muslims soundly defeated them. The next year, in 635AD, the Muslims defeated the Persians at the Battle of Buwayb.

 Finally, in May 636AD at Al-Qadisiyah, a village south ofBaghdad on the Euphrates, Rostam was killed. The Persians, who outnumbered the Muslims six to one, were decisively beaten.
The Muslims continued the Sassanid office of the divan (Arabic form diwan). Essentially an institution to control income and expenditure through record keeping and the centralization of administration, the divan would be used henceforth throughout the lands of the Islamic conquest. Arabic replaced Persian as the official language and it slowly filtered into common language usage. Iraqis intermarried with Arabs and converted to Islam.
Baghdad was founded (762) on the west bank of theTigris by the Abbasid caliph


, who made it his capital. Its commercial position became generally unrivaled and under the caliph

Harun al-Rashid

,Baghdad rose to become one of the greatest cities of Islam.
 It was the home of many eminent scholars, artists, and poets, who enjoyed the city's wealth and culture. The period of its utmost glory is reflected in the thousand and One Nights, in which many of the tales are set in Baghdad.  

In the early years of the thirteenth century, a powerful Mongol leader named Temujin brought together a majority of the Mongol tribes, whom were nomadic people, and led them on a devastating sweep through China. At about this time, he changed his name to

Chinggis (Genghis) Khan


meaning "World Conqueror." In 1219 he turned his force of 700,000 west and quickly devastated Bokhara, Samarkand (in Uzbekistan), Balkh (in Afghanistan), Merv capital of the great Seljuk Empire (in Turkmenistan), and Neyshabur (in present-day Iran), where he slaughtered every living thing. Before his death in 1227, Chinnggis Khan, pillaging and burning cities along the way, had reached western Azarbaijan in Iran. After Chinggis's death, the area enjoyed a brief respite that ended with the arrival of Hulagu Khan (1217-65), Chinggis's grandson. The Mongols under the leadership of Hulagu, the Mongol ruler, from theFar East swept west and gained control of the land, he marched on Baghdad with two hundred thousand Tartars. Al-Musta'sim Billah's army and the people of Baghdad jointly faced them, but it was not in their power to stop this torrent of calamity. The result was that the Tartars enteredBaghdad on the day of "Ashura" in AD1258 carrying with them bloodshed and ruin. They remained busy in killing for forty days. Rivers of blood flowed in the streets and all the alleys were filled with dead bodies. Hundred of thousands of people were put to the sword while al-Musta'sim Billah, the last Abbasid caliph, was murdered, trampled to death under foot. The Mongol (Tartar) left the countryside the way they left much other countryside, totally ruined. While in Baghdad, Hulagu deliberately destroyed what remained of Iraq's canal head works. The material and artistic production of centuries was swept away. Iraq became a neglected frontier province ruled from the Mongol capital of Tabriz in Iran.

By that time the city's population had dwindle d from a peak of c.1, 000,000 to only a few thousand.

After the death in 1335 of the last great Mongol khan, Abu Said (also known as Bahadur the Brave), a period of political confusion ensued in Iraq until a local petty dynasty, the Jalayirids, seized power. The Jalayirids ruled until the beginning of the fifteenth century. Jalayirid rule was abruptly checked by the rising power of a Mongol, Tamerlane (or Timur the Lame, 1336-1405), who had been atabeg of the reigning prince of the capital Samarkand (Uzbekistan). In 1401 he sacked Baghdad and massacred many of its inhabitants. Tamerlane killed thousands of Iraqis and devastated hundreds of towns.

From the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries, the course of Iraqi history was affected by the continuing conflicts between the Safavid Empire in Iran and the Ottoman Turks. The Ottomans, fearing that Shi'a Islam would spread to Anatolia (Asia Minor), sought to maintain Iraq as a Sunni-controlled buffer state. In 1509 the Safavids, led by Ismail Shah (1502-24), conquered Iraq, thereby initiating a series of protracted battles with the Ottomans. In 1514

Sultan Selim

the Grim attacked Ismail's forces and in 1535 the Ottomans, led by Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent (1520-66), conquered Baghdad from the Safavids.
 The Safavids re-conquered Baghdad in 1623 under the leadership of Shah Abbas (1587-1629), but they were expelled in 1638 after a series of brilliant military maneuvers by the dynamic Ottoman sultan,

Murad IV,

and became part of the

Ottoman Empire

. It had become a frontier outpost of theOttoman Empire. The Ottomans conquered much of Eastern Europe and nearly the whole of the Arab world, onlyMorocco and Mauritania in the West and Yemen, Hadramaut and parts of the Arabian Peninsula remaining beyond their control. The Ottomans brought the Arab Middle East under strong central rule.

The final Ottoman legacy inIraq is related to the policies of the Young Turks and to the creation of a small but vocal Iraqi intelligentsia. Faced with the rapidly encroaching West, the Young Turks attempted to centralize the empire by imposing upon it the Turkish language and culture and by clamping down on newly won political freedoms. These Turkification policies alienated many of the Ottoman-trained intellectuals who had originally aligned themselves with the Young Turks in the hope of obtaining greater Arab autonomy.

Turkish rule continued unchecked, and with very little development, until the end of the 19th century, on the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War.

 Baghdad was captured by the British in 1917, and in 1920 it became the capital of the newly constituted kingdom of Iraq. In the early 1950s the majority ofBaghdad's large Jewish population, who were present there since the city's founding, left on organized flights to.Israel.The war also had a negative impact on the Iraqi economy. The government allocated 40 percent of available funds for the army and for Palestinian refugees. Oil royalties paid to Iraq were halved when the pipeline to Haifa was cut off in 1948.

Iraq's general policy during these years was one of Arab National. Iraq was on the head of the other Arab troops during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, and in the liberation war of 1973, gave material aid to Syria. Iraq was heavily opposed to the cease-fire, which ended the conflict.

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