The Reconstruction of Iraq, 1950-1957


Today a silent social and economic revolution is taking place in Iraq. Its inspirational roots go back to a glorious past when, during the Abbassid Caliphate (754 A. D.-1258 A. D.), the country is said to have supported a population of some twenty million people. During this era, Baghdad became the cultural center of the civilized world. The arts, philosophy, science, and medicine, as well as commerce and navigation, flourished and prospered. An intricate irrigation system was constructed, and Iraq was the granary of a great empire. The canal system being developed today follows, to an amazing degree, the ruins of its ancient counterpart.

In 1258, following a period of political decline, Iraq was invaded by Mongol hordes who reduced its splendor into dust. The canal system was virtually destroyed; the desert gradually encroached on the farmland; security was absent; the population decreased rapidly and nomadism spread. This era is regarded as the darkest period in Iraq's history. Only in recent years has the country begun to recover from the ravages wrought by the Mongol invasions.

In 1534 the Ottoman Turks under Sulaiman the Magnificent invaded Iraq. With the exception of a brief period (1621-38), the country remained an insignificant Ottoman province until World War I. Generally speaking, Ottoman rule was characterized by weakness and corruption. Governors were virtually independent from the central authorities; tribal chieftains ravaged the countryside, warred against each other, and were a constant menace to the cities.

In the nineteenth century some measures of reform were effected. The country was reorganized into three administrative provinces. The bureaucracy and the financial arrangements were improved. During the governorship of Midhat Pasha (1869-72), an enlightened reformer, land tenure reform was initiated, a more effective police system introduced, and an attempt at town-planning and at enforcement of modern laws was made. In addition, a few secular schools were established, and the tribes were brought under much closer discipline. The genesis of the modern irrigation system dates . . .

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1958


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