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Monday, July 6, 2015

Iraq, Cool Facts #41

<= 40. Morocco                                                                                                     42. Saudi-Arabia =>

1. Abbasid Caliphate 

The Abbasid Caliphate was the third caliphate to succeed prophet Muhammad. For 500 years it was the center of the Arab world. This was the Golden Age of Islam. Baghdad was the biggest city in medieval Middle East with a population of over 1 million people. During this time science, art, philosophy and invention flourished in the Arab world. As time passed the caliphate fractured into several smaller caliphates. The Abbasid Caliphate fell finally when Gengis Khan's son Hulegu attacked Baghdad in 1258. Baghdad never recovered fully from this event and after the attack, the center of the Arab world shifted to Cairo in Egypt.

Abbasid Caliphate

2. House of Wisdom in Baghdad

Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid founded the House of Wisdom in Baghdad during his reign (786-809). It was a research and educational center where leading scholars from various fields came to share their knowledge. The House of Wisdom was the largest repository of books in the whole world already by the middle of the ninth century. It was the leading center for the study of mathematics, astronomy, medicine, alchemy, chemistry, zoology, geography and cartography. Unluckily the mongols destroyed the House of Wisdom when they attacked Baghdad in 1258.

House of Wisdom

3. Hashemite Dynasty 

For a moment in the 1920s the Hashemite family ruled the whole Middle East. They belong to the Quraysh tribe. The founder of this dynasty was Hussein bin Ali in 1916, he had 5 sons which were kings in several Arab countries. In 1958 the Hashemite kings of Iraq and Jordan established the Arab Federation, but the Federation was short-lived when the nationalist officers realized a coup and murdered king Faisal II and his family.

Hashemite kings: 

Hejaz 1917-1924: Hussein bin Ali ruled the independent Hejaz, later this region was incorporated into Saudi Arabia and the Saud family started ruling it. Before that one of Hussein bin Ali's son ruled Hejaz for a short period of time.
Transjordan 1920s: Abdullah became the king of Transjordan, current Jordan. The Hashemites of Jordan still rule the country.
Syria 1920: Faisal was the king of Syria only a couple of months
Iraq 1921-1933: After leaving Syria, Faisal became the king of Iraq

King Faisal II of Iraq and his fiancee (right), 1957

4. Gulf War and Iraq's flag 

In 1990 Saddam Hussein occupied Kuwait claiming that it was part of Iraq's ancient part of the Basra province, which the British had stolen during their rule. So therefore Iraq didn't recognize Kuwait's independence and Saddam declared the Gulf War as the holy war "jihad" against the western imperialists. As a mark of that the words "Allahu Akbar" were added to the flag of Iraq in the middle of the three stars. The words were in Saddam's own handwriting.

Iraq flag with Saddam's handwriting in "Allahu Akbar" text

5. Eannatum of Lagash 

Around 2600-2340 BC the Sumerian king Eannatum created the first verifiable Empire in the history at Lagash. The Empire was short lived as the priest-king of Umma, Lugal-Zage-si, overthrew the Lagash dynasty in the area and claimed an empire extending from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean. The Epic of Gilgamesh originates from this period of time, including the tale of The Great Flood.



8000 years ago Sumerians moved to the area
3500BC Babylon was founded close to the current Bagdad
2000-1800BC Old Babylonia flourished
1100-600BC Assyrian kingdom ruled the area
600BC Assyria fell and the New Babylonia was born, which was conquered by the Persians the next century
330BC Alexander the Great conquered the whole Persia
600 Arabs spread Islam and Arabic language to the area
750-1258 Baghdad is the capital of the Arab world
1258 Mongol ruler Hulegu, son of Gengis Khan, conquers Baghdad
1534 Iraq is annexed to Ottoman Empire
1920 Iraq becomes a mandate area of Great Britain
1932 British mandate ends when the country is declared independent
1958 Irak and Jordan establish the Arab Federation as a response for the United Arab Republic established by Egypt and Syria
1963 Baath party overtakes power
1968 Ahmed Hasan al-Bakr into power, a land reform is carried out, oil industry is nationalized, education is improved and the influence of islam is decreased
1974 Another Kurdish rebellion, it's defeated and 130,000 Kurds flee into Iran
1979 Saddam Hussein supersedes president al-Bakr
1980 Irak attacks to Iran
1981 Israel executes an aerial attack which destroys the partly finished Osirak nuclear power plant
1988 War against Iran and Kurds ends
1990 Saddam occupies Kuwait and declares it to be part of Iraq for historical reasons
1991 Multinational troops led by USA conquer Kuwait back from Iraq
2003 USA bombs Iraq trying to find weapons of mass destruction which were never found
2005 Kurdish Jalal Talabani is the first non-Arab president in Iraq
2011 USA withdraws its troops from Iraq

"Maailman liput maat ja historia" by Kimmo Kiljunen

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